Sunday, February 3, 2008

Snow Angels

I want to get a couple of posts out, because I suspect that I have another busy week ahead. Pictured up above is my first horse, Bombay. I love leading him out of his stall to his pen in the mornings, because he prances beside me with nostrils flared and tail arched, but without pushing or pulling. He feels like power on a string. I am constantly in awe of his handsomeness. Up until winter came, I had been training him to keep his head set low with his neck arched, jog slowly, and work on a single rein like they do in Arabian Western Pleasure classes. He is such a joy to ride. He is an honest horse and always tries his best to learn new things. People have told me that he would make a great school horse for beginning riders.

I had an interesting incident the other night that is probably worth sharing. Gabbrielle has been uncooperative about getting back into her stall in the evenings, and I really want to get her to the point where she just walks in when I open the stall door, like my other two horses do. I know I can easily get her in if I put a halter on her and lead her in, but I prefer the challenge of working out an agreement, so that she chooses to go inside without the incentive of hay already being in the stall.

The other evening, I managed to herd her in, but she immediately whipped around to bolt back out. I was approaching the door so that I could close it, and knew that if she bolted, she would probably plow me down. Normally, I would jump to the side in an effort to save my hide, but my reaction on this night surprised me. I stepped toward her, stuck my chest out, and said in a very firm voice, "Ho!" Just as she was leaping out the doorway, she hit the ground and froze, then looked around to see why I was commanding her to hold still. I then backed her into the stall by saying, "Back! Back! Back!" Each time I said, "Back!" she took a giant step back until she was all the way in her stall and I could close her door.

This was a milestone for me, as I realized that I do have the power to control a young horse that is "off leash". I'm a nervous person, so I'm not the ideal person to have around horses. If I hear a loud noise, I jump, which causes the horse to jump, or if the horse jumps first, I jump out of fear that the horse will jump on me. I have had to work very hard to control my reactions and not feel or show fear. This is one of the many reasons why I love to work with horses. They force me to change my own behavior for the better. Though horses are big, scary animals, they are also angels and healers. They teach us stuff about ourselves we'd rather not know, and then they help us change it.

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