Don't Wake the sleeping baby!
Feb 16, 2017
We all know the story of the poor mums who creep around while their baby sleeps soundly... well until they're woken by a bird outside, the vacuum cleaner or dishes being stacked away. A recipe for a stressed out and exhausted mumma!
Thankfully, through luck (not an educated decision) and probably slight selfishness, I was one of those mums who carted my baby around to horse shows or whatever I was doing so she got pretty good at sleeping in her stroller and through the noise... bonus for a busy mum who needed to get things done!
I love finding parallels in life and horse training, and I think that this is a great example of what is all too common and such an easy trap to fall in to - the "don't wake my sleeping baby" syndrome, or horse in this case.
When we get a horse that is sensitive or has problems, we quite often tiptoe around for fear of having to deal with the outcome - not knowing how to deal with it or just not wanting to deal with it because this is meant to be our sanity time right?! Sometimes this is a conscious decision and other times subconscious. And certainly, something that takes practice to consciously choose to not tiptoe around. This does not mean we have to jump around, be rough or abrupt or even 'get tough' like I was told many a time, but to mindfully arm ones self with the right mental tools.
In doing this, you're not letting the potential of disturbance throw you and the training tools to help overcome the situation out the window - the cycle of 'Don't Wake the Sleeping Baby Syndrome' becomes a thing of the past.
While I was working with Tama, my wild Kaimanawa Stallion, I had to do a lot of just being there at the beginning. I found if I carried too much energy that was enough to make him feel threatened, but after a while, he was ready to accept more pressure, and talking and movement wasn't a threat.
I found this difficult and constantly had to be checking myself to make sure I wasn't tiptoeing around. I knew that this wouldn't serve him and instead make him more nervous. I also knew that the time would come where I wouldn't be in control of the environment or the situation, especially since he was due to compete in front of thousands of people in just a few months time and then go on to be my daughters' pony.
So I kept in my mind a line from the Buck Brannaman movie,
"Climb on up like he is Grandma's horse".
Of course not quite so literally, but this kept me from treating him like a wild horse and creeping about so I didn't disturb the peace.
Now 10 months on he is still a work in progress (trying to convince a mature wild Stallion to be enthused by a domestic lifestyle isn't so easy), but he has learnt that noise, children, dogs, loudspeakers, etc aren't something he needs to react to.
We made a conscious decision that we weren't afraid to 'Wake the Sleeping Baby' - are you?
Feb 17th 2017