Do you know any horses who, even if strong or willful around adults, become gentle giants around children? Erin Long shares the story of her kid-loving horse, Sid.
Allow me to introduce you to Obsidian (Sid). Sid is a 12-year-old dark dapple grey Oldenburg gelding with a heart of gold. When I ride Sid, he is what I affectionately refer to as a “noodle-brain.” He’s distractable, goofy and very opinionated, while he usually does try his very best to do as I ask. His favorite thing in the world is to gallop around a 3’ jumper course, head and tail high, at his very top speed, then come prancing out of the arena like a prized Olympic horse. He’s high strung, strong and while I’m certain he never has malicious intentions, is generally a bit of a handful.
However, with kids it’s another story.
Never have I seen my horse more gentle, more calm, more careful than he is around kids (and less experienced riders). Normally he dances around in the crossties as I attempt to saddle him, ears pricked toward the arena where he knows we’ll be jumping soon. Now he stands with one hind leg cocked, eyes half closed, ears flopped out to the sides as (cliche as it is) a 3-year-old and a kitten run around him, the child barely able to reach his shoulder.
Just a few nights ago I was riding bareback when one of my trainer’s other families came to watch. There were two little girls, probably 10 and 7, standing by the side of the ring, and Sid just couldn’t help himself. He immediately went over to them and began gently wuffling coats and hair, amiably searching for treats while they giggled and patted his large grey nose.
I think horses know who they’re working around, and adjust accordingly. He knows I can handle tough love. He knows if he launches me into the dirt that I’ll hop up, brush myself off, and go at whatever exercise we were doing before with even more determination.
He also knows little kids are fragile. He knows they are shaken much more easily, and a tumble into the dirt for some means months off from riding. Horses, with their big hearts of gold, want nothing more than to please and love, and that is made most apparent when they work with children.
Erin is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh studying Neuroscience. Besides riding her horse Sid, Erin is captain of the Pitt Equestrian Team, a member of the concert band, and owns her own equine photography and art business. Erin and Sid are also JustWorld International Ambassadors and are starting their own horsemanship site called Obsidian Horsemanship.
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