To further understand why and when I experiment, I must give you some back history to explain my path in horsemanship.
My progress through learning about horses and riding was pretty typical until about 18 years ago (I’m guessing, that’s an approx.). I had started to lease a horse after giving birth to our son. During that time, I suffered an extreme riding accident (on another horse) that sent me to the emergency room. It was quite traumatic and I won’t go into all the details here except to say that if I had a helmet on my head, I could have prevented the tractor blade from slicing my head like a ripe peach.
Coming back from that injury, I was still leasing the QH, TZ (not his real name), and I had some amazing experiences with him that were far more important and long lasting then a big scar under my hair. Those experiences started me down a completely different road: I realized that there was far more to the human-horse relationship then I ever dreamed.
TZ had a little game with me – he liked to pretend to shy at passing leaves. You could almost hear him snicker when I would startle too! He bucked me off once and got a good laugh about it though I got right back on.
After the accident, I wasn’t up for those games though and HE KNEW IT! Every ride he gave me after that accident had zero spooks; he took care of me as if I was a tiny baby sitting on his back. When I entered the barn he would call to me and we were friends on a deep level that I had never experienced before.
What ended the lease was the owners jealousy. I came into the show barn to help her get her horses’ ready, and from 10 stalls down, TZ started neighing to me! That pissed off the Dressage Queen royally and that, along with her drugging her Warmblood prior to competiting, led to my time with TZ ending.
Those experiences changed my life, and started me down a spiritual quest that had less and less to do with riding and training and more and more with understanding myself and the horse…
At that time I got interested in Dressage. Now, I will tell you right now that I have no interests in the high level movements so if dressage is your game, you may want to seek help elsewhere. My purpose for exploring dressage was that it was the only type of riding that seemed to understand horses intellectually rather then say hunter-jumper/English, or Western riding styles did.
When we moved here, I started leasing Buddy (not his real name) and again, started experiencing unusual events. For example, one day I was talking to his owner (the trainer/owner of the barn) and was stroking his ears. He was dozing and his head was nodding off while I did so. Halfway into the conversation, she stopped and commented: you know, Buddy doesn’t allow anyone to stroke his ears. He was harshly trained by a cowboy who twisted his ears to punish him – he actually is very ear shy. But here he was dozing in my arms like a big baby.
Another little event that bears noting is that at a horse show he was used by another rider before my dressage ride. The first rider took him over a cross country jump course out of sight. She brought him back, obviously angry, but since she was a teen that I never paid any sort of attention too, I didn’t ask her what was wrong.
I rode my dressage test and we did pretty good considering our experience and abilities. When I brought him back to the barn, I found out that he had repeatedly bucked off the teen rider just moments before I took him into the dressage arena.
Again, I had to say goodbye. I moved on to Dear One who I won’t go into at this time – it might make me cry – but it continued me down a path that wasn’t being followed by every Tom, Dick and Harry.
At this time, the horse movement into Natural was just beginning. Because I have the natural cynicism that every good new reporter needs, I also wasn’t wholeheartedly sucked into that movement. Many of the Big Name Trainers seemed more about Do as I Say, Not as I Do. There was a lot of huckstering going on and what I eventually would call the Medicine Show, because they were hawking their goods like the barker on the Midway. See my posts in the catagory Snake Oil if you want to read more…
This brief history is to further give background that in my own personal world of living with horses, I am more interested in the relationship then I might be in getting the perfect lateral movement. I am more interested in what the horse does when I do this, then taking a lesson from a Big Name Trainer.
I am more interested in exploring, because I have found – that if I listen – the horses ARE the best teacher.