On Being Three

It must be interesting being three years old. I can’t really remember it but if I could, I know we lived next door to the old Woodbine Racetrack, at Woodbine and Queen, and the smell of the stable must have wafted in to my room and caused my lifelong addiction to horses.
At that time the Beatles would have been just bugs to me and I wouldn’t have understood the concept of peace, joy and love because, at three, I would have thought that’s just the way the world works.
That’s what Jake tells me anyway. Peace, joy and fun. He’s our three-year-old Paint gelding, born and raised here on our farm. He has never known what it is like to not have the security of the herd – his family. His ‘Papa’ (or he thinks so anyway) - the big, strong Cody, was the first thing he saw when he was born in the field. They have a special bond. His real daddy lives in behind the grocery store in town - it was a whirlwind romance. His dam, Tatti, is Jake’s security blanket and initial source of food and comfort, but Cody has been his biggest behavioral influence.
He also has an Aunt Gypsy, a welsh pony that he herds around mercilessly, all in fun, of course. Jake is bred to work cattle but we don’t have cows so the pony has to do. Aunt Holly is his bossy friend; younger cousin Spike is a sissy as far as Jake is concerned. Spike is a ‘show’ horse, not a tough rugged cow chasing kind of guy like Jake. Spike gets bubble baths and has to wear a fancy halter; Jake reaches over and licks off the soap suds, jealous of the attention.
Jake has now likely reached his full height but he’ll still add a few hundred pounds yet to his 1,000 pound stocky frame. He’s shed his first baby teeth and he’s due to lose more soon, at three and a half years of age.
What really got me thinking about what it must be like being three was a recent visit to our farm from a three-year old little girl, the human kind. She wanted to go to the hayloft to explore but when she climbed up on the small square bales, stacked about four high, she got scared and started to cry. I can’t blame her; it was a new experience, even when a friend was holding her hand, but it’s okay to say you’re scared and to cry when you’re three; it’s okay for your thoughts to be pure and your fears to end up as tears.
The little girl came down off that part of the mow but she was still curious so I led her around a few round bales and we pretended it was a hay maze. That was good. She could wrap her head around that. Hmmm, I’m thinking, this is like horse training (everything relates to horses to me). Make it a game and get her curious, give her some guidelines to follow, like don’t go past the third bale, so she could have something to think about besides being scared. Pretty soon we were having so much fun her thoughts turned back to those square bales.
I suggested that we build a stairway to the top of the squares. One bale, one small step at a time, she climbed, stood, got her balance and her courage, and eventually went to the top, of her own accord. I just built the stairs; she climbed them.
When she reached the fourth tier, she turned to me and said, “When I dream of trolls and get scared, I think of bunnies.” I didn’t expect such wisdom from a three-year old. Smart kid. I could hear myself using that advice when I ride Jake: note to self, think bunnies.
She taught me some other things that day about being three. Like it’s okay to wear your dress inside out and backwards. It’s okay to dance at any time, anywhere, without any music, while your friend holds your stuffed unicorn. Oh, and when there’s a wet patch on that dress, it’s just water. No big deal. It reminded me of that saying, when you hear hoof beats, it is probably just a horse, not a giraffe.
As far as Jake’s concerned, being a three-year-old horse is about the equivalent of a being a 15-year-old boy. He’s bold, over-confident, and has little sense of self-preservation. Most simple tasks are prefaced by the question, “How can I make this more exciting?” followed by, “where’s my mom?” I’m just waiting for his next stunt.
I am looking forward to watching both horse and little girl grow up, but not too fast – there’s just so much magic to enjoy in the number three.
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©2014 K. Dallimore. All Rights Reserved.