I get to be the mother of two pretty cool kids! Clayton is my old soul and Rebecca…well let’s just say she’s my outlaw mustang 😉 It’s pretty lucky for me, the kids too, but mostly for me, to have been gifted with the ability to successfully partner with difficult horses because much of it applies to raising wild hearted children too! LOL!
I’ve always been drawn to the tougher horses. The outlaws that no one else wants to deal with. I learned long, long ago that each sorely misunderstood horse is unique, with their own set of opinions about things. They don’t fit in a box and their retraining has to be handled with care and a little tongue in cheek sense of humor at times. The multitude of life’s lessons these horses have shared with me I’ve tried to apply to raising these kids. One of the most important lessons has been about shaping and not breaking.
Rebecca is wild at heart. She is this beautiful mix of rich love, exuberant life, and dirt! The girliest tomboy you will ever meet. She can rock a pink tutu, a pretty little headband with a huge pink flower on it all while drawing back on her bow aimed at a target! Although she combs her hair now (boys to impress), once upon a time we called her regular hairdo, “prairie hair”. Whichever way the prairie wind blew her hair that’s how it was going to be for the day and you didn’t mess with it! Trying to “do” her hair was insulting to her very core!
Along with being wild at heart, the kid has her own thoughts on things and if she believes that something is wrong or someone is being wronged, well … she has no problem letting you know! She’s tough and she’ll call you out. She’s the kind of person you want in your corner. She’s got your back and she’ll go down swinging. I tell her that beautiful, smart and wild rarely show up in the same package and yet here she is, all of those things! Her beautiful hazel eyes flash back a wild twinkle at me and I know that her wild little spirit feels validated.
We had fairly regular Mexican standoffs when she was much smaller over little things like napping, picking up toys or going to the house after being outside with the horses. The kid had met her match in me, I already had years of experience dealing with horses who were also wild at heart, opinionated, nonconforming beauties and I knew to handle her with care. Rebecca was known to throw herself in the dirt face down, snotting and crying, kicking and cussing (toddler cussing, not what you’re thinking!), looking up periodically to see if she was making much headway getting a reaction out of whomever her wrath was directed at. Poor little beauty, I’d let her flail on the ground and wait her out! LOL! Most people would scramble for cover or try to physically restrain her (talk about things getting really western … ugh). I wasn’t real fazed by it. After having 1200 lbs of horse flesh do that same kind of thing, a pretty little, now boogery, mud, crusted faced beauty, didn’t bother me one bit! I laugh now thinking about it. She’s tough alright but I’m tougher and far more patient 😉 These tantrums usually ended with the same dazed look on her face that I see in the horses. Their reaction to my non reaction is usually the same, slightly perplexed, eyes softened, ambling up to me for a little contact be it a hand on their shoulder or a full on hug. How grateful am I to the horses that have taught me to ride out the storm.
I have always approached both kids with the same common goal at heart, to never, ever, never attempt to change who they were innately born to be. To keep their spirit in tact instead of breaking it. Clayton was born an old soul. He loves old pick up trucks, antique treasures and Bob Seger (which actually makes him pretty damn cool because I love Bob too!). Rebecca was born to be wild as the the wind (in that nonconforming, be her own person kind of way). I learned early on to handle the horses that crossed my path with gentle reassurance. I want them to know that they are safe to be the individual God created them to be, with me. The horses I work with are welcome to express their opinions … as long as it isn’t dangerous. I’d much rather be as soft as possible and only as firm as necessary. So many of these horses have been in the hands of individuals who demand they conform and take on the shape of a cube that fits so easily into ‘The Box’. When these horses don’t conform, the attempt is made at breaking their spirit, knock them down a few notches so they’re easier to handle. Rebecca has also experienced this and it utterly breaks my heart.
She knows she’s safe here at home. She knows she can be who God made her to be and she’s learning the same tough lessons these horses have. That people you trust, that claim to “love” you and whom you are dependent upon for your care will go to great lengths to try and tame your wildness and break your spirit. And much like the horses, she has a choice to make. She can conform and settle for a square existence (really isn’t this the easier path to follow after so many have beat down this road ahead of her?). She can be bitter, hateful, spite filled, rebellious and pissed (plenty of angry individuals out in the world who have beat down this trail too)! Or, she can find her way back into the arms of those who love her wild, non conforming beautiful self and rest.
We joke that Rebecca will live with us forever! It will take a very secure and loving man to keep up with her. It won’t be easy to love her for the wild, untamed beauty she is. To peek through that wind blown auburn hair, peer into those dancing hazel eyes and embrace that outlaw mustang galloping through her soul….. That will take a special person and God help him if he ever attempts to break her spirit and tame her wildness. If she doesn’t bust in two and send him packing, her mama sure as hell will!