Thursday, March 26, 2009

He knows how to love you without being told

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I was seriously considering selling my horse. We had been in the riding program but things 'weren't working out'. Everyone was telling me that. "You're a good rider, but maybe he's not the horse for you". "He's too much, he needs something better. You're good, but not enough to get him to where he can go".

Even when I took the semester off and he and I were tooling around in a barn in the middle of farmland and no one else was around but us-I still had a hell of a time. I still thought that selling him might, just might, be my best option.

And even now, at home, with people who know him and I both-sometimes there's a niggling thought in the back of my brain saying "Sell him. You know you'll never amount to anything unless you do".

Today, I remembered why I love my horse. It's not about the ride. It's not about the work, it's not about talent. He doesn't care if he lives up to expectations or not. All he wants is to be taken care of.
And me? He, as much as any animal can, 'loves' me.

He won't do it for anyone else, but when I come up the aisle, he'll nicker at me. And no, I don't give him treats and fluffy pats every time I see him. Sometimes he gets nothing after a ride. Horrible, I know.

But I took him out today and was grooming him before a ride and.. he did a very 'Eagle' thing to do-only to me, though. Only, ever, to me. I was facing his right shoulder currying the mud out (aaah, the mud-lover. Every day.) and his neck curves around my left shoulder. His nose is nearly on his own shoulder, as he just wrapped around me. And 'held' or 'hugged' me.
He does that, you know.

But it was a rough day at my therapist's, and I had gone straight out to the barn to make my mother's lesson time, so I could watch her ride while I rode. So I'm a bit emotionally raw. I hate baring my emotions, my heart and my soul. My therapist is very good at picking down to the bones of the matter.

And I'm left, raw.

Eagle, for all he's a 'Ican'tstandstill!' kind of guy, will do things like this out of nowhere. He'll groom me, 'pet' me with his upper lip, 'hug' and 'hold' me. So here I am, hormonal (Yay PMS and cramps!) and emotional.. and he just held me. And I started to cry.

It's rather embarassing, really, but for all the things in the world, I wouldn't trade any of it for my horse. They know how to love you without being told, without being prompted. Nothing else matters.
And that's why I won't sell him, not now, at least. He's the rock to my tempest. As much of a mess as I can be, and he is-we work. I sit down and focus and he comes up under me and gets serious.
Because it matters to me, I will give everything I am to make it work. And so long as it does, Eagle will be mine. My horse, my partner, my team.
And my heart.

Regardless, today's the first day I've ridden him since my lesson. He was better at the mounting block-I only had 'one' failed attempt with him. Well, really, two-but one 'turning' session and he was good. Mom got on him after I rode and I 'held' him and he didn't even think about moving-and when I got on after she got off, just to 'see' how he'd be, he didn't require any turning.
He still moved away, but not far enough to prevent me from getting on-and when I got on he stood! Yay, progress!!

I've decided that, since I have a hard time remembering so many things at once (Outside rein steady, 'leave him alone' when he's good, shoulder back, weight up) ect, I need to pick one thing or two, to focus on.
Today was 'leaving him alone when he's good' (and just getting him to "Be good") and short, quick halfhalts. (along with my posture.)

He was, all in all, pretty good. My trouble is that I get tight in my arms and then 'short quick halfhalts' get harder, when I can't move my wrist that quickly. We're working though! He was carrying himself very well, and we went over poles-and he loves to 'rush' or just get so quick and unbalanced over them.
Poles and Eagle are not friendly.

However, he was fairly consistant-and he never broke into the canter, which is definite progress even from last week. His canter still wanted to get quick, but going to the right he was very, very good.
It wasn't a 'phenomenal' ride, but it was good.

The real fun part of this was that when I was done, I hopped off and set my mom on him. She, I suspect, has some ambition to ride him in a dressage show or two over the summer. A re-rider, she stopped at the age of eighteen. She used to be a catch-rider on the hunter circut up in Michigan, and she was good at what she did.
But she stopped at the beginning of college and hasn't been on a horse more than five times in the past thirty-two years. Watching her take lessons again has been remarkable. She's been riding a big grey thoroughbred by the name of Gus-I'm familiar with him, actually. I helped bring him into the lesson program.
He's honest enough, stiff to the right. Lazy, quiet. He's good for her.

But we're now gonna have her up on Eagle to cool him down for me. Today was the first day and I stuck around to see how it'd go (and for damage control if it was needed) and just see. So I held him when she got on, and the first thing she does is shove him with her leg-she's used to a pokey, school horse.
Eagle launches forward, trying to trot. And she gets him down to a walk and all, but she looks at me and goes "Wow, he's sensitive!". I was laughing.

She looked tiny on him. She was tight and he was nervous. The "mommy complex" showed up again. He kept trying to get back to me, which I thought was adorable. When he relaxed though, it was really a sight to see. Mom doesn't fit in my saddle, but I had shortened the stirrups. And she's not the best rider now, not having the muscle or the experience.
But really, it was a pretty sight to see him reaching down into the bridle and overstepping the way he was.
Still a bit nervous about it all though, and he wanted nothing really, to do with it. He is, apparently, a Momma's boy-and will suffer my instructor, as she bribes him shamelessly.
Mom is just the 'cookie lady'. He had no clue what to make of her actually riding him.

Nothing 'technichal' came up, but it's a start.

Tonight I'll go out again with a friend, and her camera. Hopefully he and I are better this evening-but if we're not, there's no real loss. He and I are coming along.
It's progress-and I'll take that, over anything.

"Now there's an aching in my back,
A stabbing pain that says I lack
The common sense and confidence,
To bring an end to promises".

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