If there is one thing that life with animals teaches you, it is to accept the cycles of life. Life begins, life ends, and in between there are many difficult decisions. Those lessons will always repeat, as your life with animals goes on – but sometimes they seem to come at an accelerated rate. Just this month, we added a new life to our menagerie, contemplated how much longer one may hang on, and lost yet another.
With all of us finally sound and healthy, I took a day off work to make a long weekend and get some momentum with the horses. Coffee, Roxie, and Tally are beginning to gain some fitness. It is wonderful to see Coffee and Tally getting their carriage back. Roxie, finally rid of the soreness in her feet, is rapidly improving her balance and carriage. But it is Noble, once again, who is making the greatest strides – even as we experienced a brief backward step today.
It was Monday and, in the words of The Bangles, it had been a Manic Monday. But the evening was cool, and well suited for working with the horses. I was probably too tired, but I’d been unable to work them for so long that I was determined to get at least someone out. Roxie was my candidate – but Noble had other ideas. He was ignoring his snack, and talking to me as I prepared to get a horse out. “After I do Roxie, if there’s light left, big boy,” I told him. But he was insistent. I looked around at everyone else peacefully munching, then back to his expectant look. “Fine! I’ll get you out first.” It was probably a bad idea – but if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have learned just how far we’ve come.
I have not been in the saddle for over six months. One of the longest rainy seasons on record, followed by horse injuries, then my own, have created a formula for stagnation on the horse training front. It’s a formula that has repeated many times over the last six years, as I’ve struggled to return to serious riding. At times it can feel like some cosmic message that perhaps my riding days are in the past. I will admit that I have considered heeding that message many times, over those years. Yet, this year is somehow different. I am certainly frustrated at the issues we’ve been dealing with – but I’m no longer haunted by the doubts that have plagued me in previous years. This time it really just feels like an large blip in the chart of progress.
I was combing through some photos from earlier in the year, when I found this series of Coffee. I’ve been meaning to do something with them, as they are such a clear example of how horses try to communicate with us (and I like how they portray the relationship he has with his ‘mom’). So, just for fun, with my translations of Coffee’s ‘words’ …
It’s been the same story every year. The flies come out. Coffee and Tally do the Cha-Cha when the fly spray touches their sensitive hides. And Noble remembers that he’s much taller than we are, when it’s time to wear his fly mask. Last year, in an effort to mitigate the challenges with Noble’s ‘coyness’ about his fly mask, I worked on a visual cue for him to lower his head. It seemed to have done the trick last year, as he would politely lower his head so even my mom could get his mask over his ears. However, this year he developed selective amnesia!
I have been pondering, for a while, where I want to take this blog. It started as a way to share my journey, in the hopes that it might resonate with others. But the journey has taken so long, that there often seems little to document any more. That is how life goes, with a full time job, and arguably too many horses in our herd. But they are happy, as are we – and they certainly have no specific ambitions. So it is only a human judgment call as to how long the journey should take.
I’ve taken some turns at giving it a more educational focus, but increasingly I feel the need to offer my own examples to support my topics. Unfortunately, even when we are in full swing, and might have those examples, I am not set up for film or photography to capture most of it. So, many of the topics I start are left hanging.
I have often taken a more philosophical focus on horses, and our relationships with them. But I have largely said what I have to say on that topic, finding myself lately feeling like I’m repeating things I’ve said before. Often those topics have been inspired by activity on Facebook – but I have been taking a refreshing break from the platform. I check in about once a week, to stay in touch with some wonderful people I’ve met there – but by and large I have not missed the redundant, often judgmental, activity there.
I have been at this blog for five years, and I have enjoyed all (but one) of the interactions with those who read it. But I feel the time has come to take a pause and refresh my outlook. My life has changed a lot over the past year – largely for the positive. Part of that change will be advantageous to my time with the horses. So, for now, I am going to place my focus on the horses, and the home we share with them. I will be back when I have refreshed my outlook and feel that I have more to say.
In the meantime, I will be making occasional contributions (on decidedly non-horsey topics) to my mother’s blog, The Freedom of Age. She’s a good writer, with strong opinions – I think she gets it from me! 😉
Until I return, be good to your horses!