pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

The Nature of Learning

Some people get upset when I compare children/people to horses, but I have to -- they are my children, and oh, do they ever get into stuff!

I leased a horse from my cousin in Wyoming, nearly 1000 miles from here, who has welded fences -- steel pipe and the cable used to support industrial cranes. He welded huge iron bolts onto the pipe, then strung the cable through them. SOLID. The horse went right through the native oak lumber fences here (6' high, boards on the INSIDE, so to remove them, he had to break them...) and went down the road to the neighbor's. He was nearly hit on the highway. He tore out all the stud pens somewhere, and nothing I had would hold him. In between, he spent time locked in a stall in the barn (too small for permanent housing), healing from the wounds he got running splinters, some a foot long, into his chest, neck, and legs.

I had to take him back home to Wyoming.

Another time, I sold a gelding who had always been here, behind woven wire, or wooden fences. He was put in a new place, and ran through the five strand barb wire before he'd stand up to be kicked/bit by the other horses there. He was not a pretty sight afterward. It took tons of doctoring to fix him up. The trouble was, he did not see a strand of wire as a containment. It was not a "fence" to him. If I had it to do over again, we'd have put him in the front yard and coaxed him into putting his nose on the electric wire, so that thin line became a "fence" in his mind.

Maybe I'm the only one who sees a connection between the two ways of setting limits... and what happens when the young don't recognize/cooperate with those limits... what a mother does with her children that either does or does not teach them of the value of rules, man-made or natural, that need to be followed in life.

I heard a really good interview on NPR about some real-life cowboys who work the border. I forget the picturesque name they call them. Dippers, or Tickers... their job is to capture and return livestock that crosses the border between Texas and Mexico. There's some nasty tick-borne illness that comes in on the strays. To eradicate it, farmers have to dip the animals totally for up to nine months straight. Red (Tick?) Fever, I think was the name.

The country is nasty brush that tears up livestock and rider's legs if they are unprotected. Along the way, the interviewer asked what it took to be that kind of a cowboy. Wow, was that ever an eye opener. Among all the qualities a person had to have were extreme patience (ex., once a ticker or whatever they're called, ropes a bull, it can take four of them several hours to go a mile and a half with him), perseverance (once you rope one, you DON'T let go, no matter what), good people skills (you have to talk to ___ ___ poor Mexican farmer with just one burro, who has strayed, with just as much respect and understanding as you'd use with ___ ___ big rancher with 5-10 thousand head. You have to be able to educate without recriminations,) be a good roper, have the ability to face adversity (temps of 100, dust, wind, rain, cold in season,) able to stand solitude, and OWN your own horse, which had to be native to the area so it knew how to handle itself in the brush.

He was a super interview... During the taping, we heard sounds of the brush he was using on the horse after it clanked backward out of the trailer, and he explained why it was so important and told how much the horse enjoyed it... Everything he did had a reason, and his delivery was slow and easy, a time to every purpose under heaven sort. He was contented with his job, 53 years old, I think he said, and pointed out how many of the men working the border had been doing it for a LONG time. He told about the personality types that would NOT work out, and he was pretty funny about it. Control freaks (not what he called them) need not apply -- they'll just be constantly frustrated.

The part about the horse suiting the environment really hit home with me. A non-local horse would not know the ropes, so to speak. As he was talking, I thought about life in general. Most of the non-specific qualities (throwing a rope, owning a horse) were what a mother needs to teach her children... and they have to survive the lessons.

I'm not tough enough to be a mom.

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