The One Trick Pony
Bully Behavior Curriculum Page 23
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D
A boy once had the choice of any of the ponies in the pasture. As he stood there making his decision, a bee buzzed by one of the ponies. The pony had been stung badly before so he bucked and kicked to chase the bee away. What a trick! That pony has spunk, said the boy. He is full of spit and vinegar. I choose him. So the boy became the proud owner of the pony. Things went well for a while until the day the pony felt threatened by the other animals while they were eating. The pony feared that the others would take his share of food; so he snorted and kicked. The other animals moved quickly to miss his flying hooves. Another day when a cow came too close the pony, feeling his oats, went into his one trick of jumping and kicking. Sure enough, the cow moved away to a safe distance.
The pony had many rules of what the other animals should do and he bucked and kicked to let them know. He felt powerful as the other animals gave into him. The boy became worried. All that pony does is kick and buck, he said. I would like to ride him but he has too much fire in his belly. He is not safe to be around. He is no fun. Soon all the animals and the boy himself began to leave the pony alone. The word went out in the barnyard–stay away from the one-trick pony! The time came when no one wanted to go near him.
Soon the pony did not have any friends. No one would play with him and he was lonely. The fire in his belly grew and grew bigger and bigger. Well, I’ll just change, said the pony. I don’t need anyone to help me. I can do it myself. But he couldn’t because he was too close to his own fire. And it got worse. Now the pony snorted and kicked often because no one would give him what he wanted. He didn’t even know what he wanted, although he felt wistful when he saw the other animals having fun with each other.
The boy’s dad was very wise. He saw how the pony snorted and kicked when he felt stressed or threatened. That pony keeps doing what he has always done and he keeps ending up with the same old thing, said the dad. He learned that one trick when he was young and was hurt by someone. Now it is all he knows how to do. We have to teach him some new tricks in a gentle, loving way. So the dad and the boy showed the pony how to act in different ways when he was upset. The pony was given love and lumps of sugar when he tried something new. When he bucked and kicked, they put him back in the corral by himself. Gradually they introduced a saddle to him and praised him when he allowed it to be placed on his back. With all the positive attention and love, the spit and vinegar in the pony grew less and less. Gradually he stopped using his old trick and learned some new ones!
Observation Number 1: It is no fun to be the owner of a one trick pony who is full of spit and vinegar. No one wants to play with someone who is spiteful and angry.
Observation Number 2: Fires are fanned by feeling hurt and demanding to have your own way.
Observation Number 3: With love and caring, even an old pony can learn new tricks.