Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The horse I see

Sometimes it gets really frustrating owning an OTTB. "Oh, he's having a good day." "Lena must be rubbing off on him." "It's hot, so he's quieter."

There are some people who will never, ever be able to see how far Bar and I have come. They will only remember where we were--nearly three years ago--and that he's a Thoroughbred, so any good behavior must be attributed to something else. The stars being perfectly aligned, maybe? I know this, and yet it still manages to get under my skin. Steve tells me to let it go and he's right--it's just hard to do when I work with this horse every day and know, feel, see, sense who and how amazing he really is.

For example, after Bar's ground work tonight (I'm not riding because I'm still sore from being squashed by LENA, thank you very much), I climbed up on him bareback, with just the halter. My crazy Thoroughbred and I just stood and pondered the deepening colors of the sky outside the arena. We heard another rider come up the alley way--another Thoroughbred no less--and still he stood. Then we heard Lena and Katie coming up the driveway from their post-work trail ride. And still he stood. In fact, he cocked a back leg and relaxed even further.

Those are both things that, yes, originally would have been cause for dancing and snorting, possibly even nuclear explosions. I was prepared for it all, but consciously stayed calm and still up there on his back while he checked out the situation. I was rewarded by a horse who was alert, but settled and responsive.

No. I didn't run him into the ground in the round pen. (Hard to do and no fun in any case.)

No. He wasn't in any different humor than he normally is.

He is a good horse. He wants to please, and he does a damn good job of taking care of me.

He spooked today, at twilight in his pen, while standing six inches from me. Did he run into me? Did he shove me into the side of his corral? No. He jumped in place, felt my fingertips on his flank, and stopped.

My mom says it's because he loves me and perhaps, in his way, he does. Or maybe he just knows and trusts me the way I know and trust him. Either way, it is working for both of us and that's really all that matters. The doubters, the naysayers, will never understand and will never appreciate the gift this horse offers.

I'm beyond grateful that I do.

With special thanks to The Equus Ink for starting this conversation.


Anonymous said...

The ones you come the longest way with teach you the most. Dawn's getting there too - everyone comments on how much calmer she is. She's always going to be somewhat reactive and spooky, and she's an alpha, but if she can stay with me and not "go away", then we can deal with most things.

DockStart said...

Amen! Thank you so much for this post. It really hits home for anyone whose horse has ever done something "wild, crazy, and unpredictable" in the presence of others. For some reason, that's the only thing those people will ever remember about your horse and regardless of the breed, they always blame it on the breed. Those people never focus on the other 99% of the time when they are their quiet, sweat, and trusting selves. At least we know better!
Adventures In Colt Starting

Wendy said...

Great post!! and I hear ya!! I've been a little frustrated with some people's attitudes about my boy lately. Sigh... I can't wait to get him down to where I've moved and I can work with him again.

Dave (aka Buckskins Rule) said...

I will never understand people who have nothing better to do than discredit the accomplishment of others. I think it is a way to compensate for their own inadequacies and failings.

There is a small subset of experienced riders who can't or won't accept that us newbies are capable of learning this "horse thing" on our own.

The heck with them I say! (Well, I probably saying something else, but it's not fit for polite company)

Sarah said...

Awwww...I just found your blog but I love, love, love this post. Sometimes I'm guilty myself of saying or thinking my OTTB is being "a good boy" b/c of various factors. Really, it's because he IS a good boy. Great post!

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

What an awesome post. I have to say, I'm guilty of thinking that sometimes of my OTTB too...but it is just they do aim to please and are good babies :)