It is not by accident that every modern sitcom surrounding family life makes jokes about kids who are sweet one minute, and acting like a brat the next. I have known many a parent who will remark how much they love their teenager, but will follow it with “But sometimes …” This aspect of adolescence is, by no means, limited to humans – I have watched many a young thing grow up, and all of them seem to have phases where they’re loving and mannerly one minute, and seemingly possessed by demons in the next. None have been more like that than Noble – and now approaching 1500 pounds, I’d really like him to get past it!
Noble has been doing well for several months now, but the demons decided to make a visit this past week. It started when he decided that he would no longer go to the arena. Each time we’d approach, he’d zip to the right and power away. For all of this bratty behavior, he is surprisingly well educated – in an effort to keep his head toward me, I decided to do “shoulder-in” to the arena, and he willingly obliged. I was pleased and surprised at how easily and correctly he executed the movement … until that moment that I had to make that last turn! Gone again!
So, we’ve been working through that this week, in spite of the blistering heat wave. As tired as I was, after each day at the office, I was determined to have our nightly sessions. By the end of the week, he was back to the well mannered boy I love. Then there was today …
The farrier was coming today, for trims and shoes. As I prepared to turn Noble and Java out for the morning, I realized that Noble had breached the covering on our weeping elm, and had all but stripped it of leaves. With little time to prepare before the farrier arrived, we had to wrangle some fence panels out to the back in an attempt to protect the tree from certain “death by Noble”. I knew what would come next …
The tree now surrounded, and an extra cover over the top, we took the boys out. Noble immediately noticed the difference. Head high, on full alert, he stood by me at the gate. So far, so good. But we had to go through the gate … and that’s when he left at top speed! To give him a little credit, after his initial bolt, he did circle back and come sliding to a stop next to Java. I had another of those moments of wondering why, at my age, I thought I should keep this colt. No reflection on him – he’s just young. But he’s young, big, and energetic. I often wonder whether I have the time and energy to get him past all this impetuousness. However, to be honest, I think I’ve wondered similar things about every single horse I’ve raised, at about this age!
Just to prove the capriciousness of youth, and to ensure that I don’t put him in the yard with a big “For Sale” sign, Noble decided to prove that there is a good boy buried somewhere in that massive body. He was literally the best he’s ever been for his hoof trim. He never even so much as jiggled a leg, let alone yank one back … and I can’t remember a trim when he didn’t yank at least one leg away! He was also near perfect for the foot on the stand maneuver, to get his final bevel. What made this particular behavior all the more remarkable was that we had large fans going in front and behind him – something completely new! He noticed them, with a head tilt and ear flick, but made no fuss. Here was the good boy I was sure I’ve been raising!
So, like most parents of teenagers, I will continue to do my job of raising the big lug, through good times and bad, with the hope that a decent adult will come out on the other end. Although, I must confess that if Military School was an option, I might be filling out an application at this very moment!
Afterward: In the couple of days since I wrote this, Noble has once again shown both the best and worst of his behavior. Two days ago, he repeatedly broke away; however, after being blocked from his favorite destinations, and receiving a strong verbal scolding (yes, it does work with him), he relented and behaved himself. Tonight, he was once again a mannerly young man. Which Noble will show up tomorrow?
Be good to your horses!