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December 23, 2017: The Horse Life: Pony Brain

I was sorting through my stuff this morning – the project continues – and I came across a picture of my first horse. I am in show attire and Josie is in hers. Her mane and tail are braided and her coat is glossy. A neighbor kid is holding her.

Oddly enough, Josie looks really small. She was 14.2 hands, which is pony-sized. However, she was a Standardbred, not a pony. She was also, quite obviously, a mare. I was the first person to ride her. I was then fearless and so was she. I came off a few times, but overall, I found her to be a willing partner. She was my spirit horse – she got me through a very rocky adolescence.

There was a thirty-year lapse in between Josie’s passing and my acquiring Raudi. Icelandics have pony breeding, which might explain why in temperament they can be willful and opinionated. Raudi is an extreme in this respect. Fortunately, because she was only my second

horse, and because there was so much time in between my owning her and Josie, I presumed that all horses are like her. I am glad I presumed this because I would have been in for a rude awakening if it had been the other way around.

I have learned that Raudi has certain expectations, and that if I as a rider meet these expectations, then everything is just fine. For example, she will do as I ask if I am centered, that is if I focus on my breathing, center, soft eyes, and alignment. This is very tall order, and I don’t always comply with her wishes. For instance, today Pete and I went for a ride and Raudi rushed down the hills. I soon realized that the reason she was being rushy was because my lower back was tight. I had not done any body work in a few days, and I thought that I could get away with this today. I was wrong. Raudi did not think “oh, Alys is out of alignment so I am going to go hellbent for leather down this steep hill.” Rather, she simply was attempting to maintain her balance.

The ride ended on a very good note. On the road home we did serpentines and half-serpentines, using the center area of the road in doing the latter. This was something that I knew that we could do and do well. Raudi’s soft snorts indicated that she thought so too.

Raudi has a pony brain. And I got to thinking today, so do I. I am also of the mind that all things must go my way – or else. Given this truism, it is pretty amazing that Raudi and I have figured out how to co-exist. I can’t speak for her. But I can speak for me. She’s taught me to be open minded, to explore options, and to embrace training methodologies that I otherwise would have ignored. My interactions with her have also made me a more flexible human being, both mentally and physically. I am indebted to this remarkable mare, who is my second one-of-a-kind spirit horse.

Next: 355. 12/24/17: Minimalism: Part II

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