I took in a new and free horse on Friday. A young mare who has the potential of being the horse who carries me into my 80s.
One of her first gifts to me is an increased appreciation of the horses I already have here. We have worked out space and boundaries and have pretty clear communication about what's expected. Maddie on the other hand comes with some determined ideas about what she can and cannot do. Most of those ideas are about what she can do and leaves her questioning -- sometimes ignoring -- my ideas.
She, being a Morgan, is a quick learner. Ok, all horses are quick learners under the right conditions, but I like to brag on my favorite breed so please ignore or forgive my self-indulgence.
She quickly told me she did not like things touching her hind legs. We have many dried vines curling around the ground and it bothered her just the act of being led to her paddock. I envisioned some serious stomping on trail rides and decided I'd help her feel better about stuff around her hind legs. We figured this out nicely with the help of a soft rope and a patient, determined human.
Today we reviewed my expectation that she stand still and quiet-minded while I mounted her. She picked up on the still while I'm mounting her, but struggled with the quiet-minded and staying still until I asked her to walk off once mounted. We made good progress with this today as well.
I love coming back the next day and seeing how much she retained from the last time together. So far so good. In fact, excellent to the point where I feel 85% confident she would not run me over in the herd should another horse crowd her. So I remain on hyperalert status when feeding hay for example, and will do what I can to help that 85% grow to 100%.
Meanwhile my appreciation of the horses I already have here ... especially thinking about little Riza. I am ready to resume getting her started under saddle now that I realize she is already a quiet minded, attentive, ready-to-do-things-with-me horse. Maddie came to me with some saddle hours on her. With Riza I will be the one putting those saddle hours on. And we started this weekend where I proceeded from mounting and dismounting to mounting and walking and halting and dismounting. A good next step for both of us.
I have started other horses in years past without really, really noticing how OK the horse was feeling deep inside about the new things I was introducing. With Riza I am practicing making sure she's ok with each step. So instead of 'colt starting' in three days, it's 'colt starting' in three years. Even if I'm not addressing the riding part of our relationship with her every day or every month, I'm daily addressing our feeling good together and her comfort and readiness to let go of her thoughts and follow my direction.
We're doing well. Life is good. And I can say that with certainty after spending a few hours with my equine buddies here at Fine Fettle Farm.