Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2014 > Daily Dispatch #207

July 30, 2014: Lessons Learned: Only Connect

I have talked with friends about having relationships with given horses. I used this word because it was available and sort of fitting; the word relationship implies a kind of togetherness. But it’s odd, really, we have relationships with people – horses, they have relationships with other horses. It’s better this way; otherwise you’d have more Minotaur. I’m sure that if horses talked, that they’d voice the same opinion.

A better, more appropriate word to describe the horse/human exchange might be connection. One can feel connected when brushing or just hanging out with their horse. But at the same

time, connection involves being in agreement about the task that the rider is attempting to accomplish.

I feel this sense of connection with Raudi more than I used to. It on my part is fear free. I don’t know what it is on her part, but her soft snorts indicate that she’s feeling in agreement about what we’re doing together. I used to feel it in piecemeal, say when crossing a creek or going up a steep hill. Now I feel it when crossing rivers and going down steep hills. Now I feel connection in a more continuous fashion. In this respect, today was a good day.

First of all, it occurred the entire length of a trail ride. Pete and I went for an outing this afternoon with Claudia and my friend Victoria. We went up to the bench. Raudi followed Tinni and Hrimmi. It was humid, a hot and tiring ride. Then we went downhill with Raudi in the lead. Raudi did not rush or in any way attempt to take off. And the footing was in places steep and slippery. We continued, after reaching the base of the hill, to lead – Raudi and I finished up by cantering back to the trailhead, her falling into that wonderful rocking horse gait.

Next on the agenda was a lesson. I knew that I took a risk in taking Raudi on a strenuous ride, in that she might be too tired to do as asked. I figured that I’d chance it, and if she was spent I would cut the lesson short. As it turned out, she was a bit fatigued by the trail ride. However, she was up for doing as asked.

We three students started out working at the trot, going around the perimeter of the arena. Beth was of course her usual complementary self, saying that she liked Rosie’s enthusiasm (this was a first!). She then gave me some pointers as to how I might improve my two point position, by having my butt back further on the saddle, this way, establishing a better balance. Her rationale made sense – she said that my being too far forward was inhibiting Rosie’s forward movement. I did as Beth asked, and it worked just fine.

Next came the jumping portion of the class. Rosie refused the first cross jump, but then quickly got her act together and took several individual jumps. We then were asked to take several jumps in succession. This included a vertical. Rosie took it the first time. However, we kept going. She next refused a cross jump. This time, I knew what to do, which was to look up and use lots of leg. This time she went over. The second time Rosie knocked down the vertical, but she took the remaining four cross jumps, and in fine form. Beth wisely then said that we were done. I was okay with this because I too knew the value of ending a lesson on a good note.

What now is most interesting to me is the sense of connection that I felt today, both on the trail and in the arena. It’s hard to describe. Suffice to say that Rosie and I are communicating with one another on both a tangible and intangible level. There are many people who get to a certain level of proficiency at, say, jumping or dressage, and then opt to get a horse that will continue to challenge them. This is not the situation here. Rosie and I are joined at the hips, and will continue to do what we do well, together.

Sunday, we were not communicating. I think this was to a large part because I became unhinged. If this is so, it’s a revelatory commentary, the meaning being that horses might very well intuit through our voices, seat, legs, and hands. If we’re having a bad day, they take action accordingly.

If Rosie were in charge, and I’d acted up, she’d undoubtedly have some say in the matter. My only hope is that if I were the one who was asked to wear a rope halter, that she’d put her hoof down and say no.

Next: 208. 7/31/14: Road Trip