Horse are great teachers of humility. When your ego shows up they will squish it without a doubt, but on a quieter side, they also teach you a different lesson in humility and enlightenment in how they go about their interaction with humans.
I brought Mia home on June 17, 2017. I did almost nothing with her for the first couple of weeks for a variety of reasons.. At the top of my list was the overwhelming buyers remorse.. Can I do this? What WAS I thinking? What if I can’t do it? I should have gotten an OTTB. She hates dogs!? I can’t sell a horse that hates dogs?! Can I? What if.. What if.. What if… Well, what if comes from anxiety and fear of the unknown and you don’t know until you try , right? Well it also comes from money, hauling a horse trailer through Cape Cod bound, Boston traffic, hauling a, “formerly” wild, horse who’s only been trailered twice in her life back north through Boston. That anxiety comes from the knowledge that this horse doesn’t lead well and who 30 minutes post travel, kicks my dog in the face, after-hours emergency OF Course. HOWEVER.. If you can calm those lil voices; the haters in your mind that literally come from no one else, you will see that things are not what they seem.
As it turns out, dogs can eat without a few less teeth and still catch a ball (THANK GOD!), A horse that can’t lead is just looking for some leadership, money comes every other Friday and you do not have to haul another trailer through Boston ever, if you don’t want to!
Fast forward to July. Mia has a chance to settle in, I have a chance to let it go.. let it goooo… Day one, Keep in mind that I have no round pen. We have solid round pen panels set up as fencing right now to ensure safety. The fencing is connected to the run-in. Mia dragged me all over the place., Reared and almost flipped over, Broke a lead snap. She ran back to her stall. The train left the station and I immediately sat down in the Unicorn’s stall, Is defeat an option? I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to do this or where to start.
Round two.. Adjust the fence. Make the area smaller, Use the one extra round pen panel as a fence. Stand back and enjoy the view of a small step in the right direction!
Step one: Bring Mia into the improvised pen, shut the gate. Let Mia free. No halter, no lead rope. Use ALLLL that energy and send the horse forward, from behind the drive line. DONE. Oh my Lord, Did I just do that? Yep. WELL S*&#. OK. QUIT WHILE YOU ARE AHEAD AND LET YOURSELF ENJOY IT.
Step two: Go back the next time and do the same thing… Wait…. She actually turned into me and walked a few steps towards me, instead of standing and facing me but waiting, unsure of what I want. WOW.. BIG small steps. Will she stand if I touch her foot? NOPE. .. How about her shoulder… ok? How about your leg? OK! Now see how easy that was?! Done.
So you see.. Sometimes all you need to do is remember that A. The world is not actually ON your shoulders. If it seems like you can’t do it, you’re actually trying too hard and making everything too big, including your energy, which apparently wild horses are very sensitive to.
June 29: Circles… Um yaaahh, if you could just keep going past that one spot that would be great. Can I please touch your foot again? Thank you! Such a lil smahtie. How about some target training?! This is a fly spray bottle, if you touch it with your nose I will give you a treat… SEEEEEE… IT’S GOOOODDDD. Now touch the saddle pad. Now touch the pool noodle. GREAT JOB!
July 6: Circles… Could you please just keep going forward? Thank you. FINALLY. All these fricken circles… Ok can I have one foot? Thankkkk you!! Touch the pool noodle. OK, Now can I touch you with it? Thank yooouuuu!! See, YOU’RE SO SMART!
July 7: Circles; Control the pace. Yield haunches.. Yield Shoulders.. Pick up both front feet.. Can I trim? No..? OK.. Moooore circles.. Now? ok, one foot? two feet? Great, that’s amazing.
July 9: Circles; Control the pace. CHECK. A change in direction? Yes?! AWESOME Yield the shoulders with smaaaall energy.. Yield Haunches.. Small energy.. Check.Check, Add Saddle. Walk with a saddle, in a circle or two… Trot in a saddle for a couple circles? YES.
Do you see a pattern? When things are broken down it’s easy to do it and it’s easy to do it right. When you add all those small things up suddenly you’ve done a lot, and you did it right, and it’s amazing, you’re amazing, you feel amazing, you’re horse is amazing and your whole world is amazing and you forget why you were feeling crappy about it.