Horsey Therapist

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Riding on New Years

I was busy doing indoorsy things for much of the New Years Day list, and finally got around to the Ride part. The daylight was gone, it was still snowing, and I was ambivalent about which horse to ride. I invited Rusty and Soli into the barn for some hay and drying off.

I figured I'd take the safe route and ride Soli, wanting to support my own decisions to take fewer risks, to be sane about my riding adventures, to embark on a ride feeling confident not uncertain. But as I thought about it, I remembered that Rusty is a very safe and sane horse when I give him the support and guidance he so loves from me. I realized then that I was going to ride him, on this dark, quiet evening of January 1st.

He was perfect. I noticed many of his behaviors as questions, not as statements, and he was with me. He stood for saddling, he bridled easily, he went out from the barn as softly as the falling snow.

It was a different ride with me feeling his questions as questions. I think I have misinterpreted them in the past, perhaps feeling his questions as 'rather-nots'. His questions are simple -- are you saying something to me? is this what you want? what now? His responses were a wordless flow...

This particular change in me started yesterday. I wanted to ride out in the big field, and thought about riding Sofia out there, knowing it would very likely be a little wild, but hey, why not enjoy a bit of fun in a safe even though very large area?!

Then it occurred to me that it may not be a bit of fun in Sofia's mind, that the little bit of wild I was expecting is not enjoyable for her, it is stressful. I got thinking about those little blocks of knowledge that we want to build in our horse's foundation, and the links in their chain of knowledge that build a confident horse who trusts our judgment, our leadership. What would a lively ride with a slightly upset, slightly confused horse add to her confidence in me? Nothing that I could think of!

So I chose our Haflinger, Soli, for yesterday's ride and never got out of the winter paddock, but did 'get my ride' that I'd wanted. I never even put a halter on him in fact.

This new interest in attending to the finer points of how well my horses understand their jobs, understand my expectations and requests, will bring delightful changes in our relationships, I'm sure. I think that is central to why this evening's ride with Rusty was so sweet despite my earlier misgivings. He is very capable of acting like an old school horse, as long as I do my part and not leave too much to him. It was endearing to see how he looked to me with questions after our ride, what do you want now? Well, my dear Rusty, I want you to hang in the stall and munch hay. Thanks for asking.


At 02 January, 2008 18:49, Blogger Victoria Cummings said...

I love the descriptions of your thoughts and your rides. It's the way I try to think about my horses, and many times, I have a feeling that everyone else probably thinks I'm crazy - but the horses know the difference, don't they?


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