The horses provide perspective

While I’ve been pining to be back in the saddle, the horses decided it was time to remind me that the journey can be amazing, even from the ground.  The stars, this time, were Tally and Nash.

Tally set the tone for the weekend.  Saturday morning, turned out for some play time, she decided she’d rather hang out with me.  I decided to do a little liberty work, just for fun.  While trying to back up, Tally offered a turn on the forehand.  She seemed rather certain, so, after confirming the backing up, I asked and received it.  Seeing how focused she was on me, I decided to go a step further.

A couple of weeks ago, I started doing some “leg yield” work in hand.  The first couple of times she struggled to understand and comply.  By the weekend before, she was beginning to get a sense for it.  So, on a whim, I decided to act as if I had the equipment, and ask with my body language.  Success!  Leg yield in both directions, just from pointing toward her head and flank!  I was grinning hugely as I hugged and kissed her big neck!

Later that day, Tally was bugging me for more attention, so I decided to take her out to lunge.  I hesitated for a moment, as the winds had picked up – typically making a working session with Tally a pointless exercise.  Our arena is flanked by tall eucalyptus trees on one side, and they make their own music in high winds.  But I decided it would be a good test of her newfound focus.

Tally just cruising, in spite of strong winds
Tally just cruising, in spite of strong winds

Willing to accept that it might be fruitless, I led her to the arena.  I could not have been more surprised!  She cruised around, mane blowing in the wind, looking like an old campaigner!  She was so calm, we did more canter work than ever – and each time she’d return to a relaxed stretchy trot.  This is truly not the same mare she once was!

Nash was the other surprise of the weekend.  Mom and I have been noticing that the old crank is getting a bit more friendly these days.  Generally aloof, the smallest signs were not hard to notice – a little reach out as we passed, or the odd nose bump.  He’s never been fond of his face being touched, and is the only one in the barn who doesn’t appreciate a face rub when the bridle is removed.

Imagine my surprise at the following developments … First, after his halter was removed in order to bridle him, Nash placed his face against my chest.  Surprised by this obvious sign of affection, I began rubbing his eyes and the base of his ears.  He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against me, tilting his face into my softly rubbing hands. In twelve years he’s never gotten that snuggly!

After our workout, when I removed his bridle, he actually enjoyed a face rub!  I’ve been trying to show him, a little at a time, how it might feel good to have the sweaty parts rubbed – but it’s only resulted in looks of tolerance, not pleasure.  This time he clearly enjoyed it!  As I rubbed his eyes, the base of his ears, the sides of his muzzle, he’d lean into my hands and close his eyes.  There’s something so wonderful in providing so much pleasure!

In the midst of the weekend, as I marveled at my two pupils, a Facebook friend shared the following quote:

“You’re always, always, always going to be on your way to something more – always. And when you relax and accept that and stop beating up on yourself for not being someplace that you’re not, and instead, start embracing where you are while you keep your eye on where you’re going – now life becomes really, really fun.”

– Abraham Hicks

It was a timely reminder that this is all about the journey – the destination may or may not be reached, so you might as well enjoy the trip!  Whatever detours we’ve encountered, however long it takes me to get back in the saddle, the horses made it clear that there is progress and joy in this journey!

On the subject of a horse to ride, my wish from the last post, some prospects have come up from friends.  Exciting to consider!  More as I explore the options …

Be good to your horses … and enjoy the journey!


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