Learning how to behave around farm animals is paramount to my child’s safety. The goal is to teach them how to behave around animals without being scared of them. A healthy dose of respect is needed.
How do I find that line between respect and fear? Honestly, I’m still working on it. I’d rather my son be a bit more afraid than bold with farm animals, because the bottom line is that he could be injured by them if he is not minding safety rules.
What are safety rules?
- Stay out of animal pens/pastures unless mom or dad are with you!
- Do not walk up behind the horse.
- Do not go by the billy goat.
- Running and yelling in the barn is not okay! It scares the animals and scared animals will run right over you.
- Walk slowly and calmly up to the animals.
The first three rules are non-negotiable rules while the last two are works in progress as my son is 3 and forgets not to yell.
Teaching my son that the first three rules are incredibly important started by not speaking down to him. I made him understand that it is dangerous to be in the animal pens by himself and he could be hurt. Children understand more than you think.
Follow through! Not only do I have to tell him why he has to follow the rules but I have to make sure he does and add consequences when he doesn’t. Understand that consequences do not need to be harsh but they need to be directly after rules are broken there shouldn’t be lag time. Also rewards for following the rules are just as important as the consequences for breaking them.
When my son was 2 I started him on lessons with my horse Jack. Jack is an 18 year old Appaloosa who should be mellow at his age but isn’t always. He is the greatest with kids but can be a stubborn pain to adults.
Lucian started by helping me groom Jack while I taught Lucian the rules of being around horses. He listened avidly and tried to remember but being 2 he sometimes forgot but overall he did great and Jack stood there and slept while we worked around him.
After Jack was groomed and saddled Lucian went on his first horseback ride and enjoyed every minute of it!