Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Affirmation, Hope & Courage
So many possibilities in that little word...a whole world of potential outcomes. A feeling that I can do this. That's a beautiful thing.
I read on Aurora's blog today that her husband and his mare are feeling this coming to fruition. They've worked hard, they're developing a solid partnership based on trust and trials. Compassion, understanding, kindness, consistency and maybe most importantly, dreams. The realization that if you dream and you really concentrate on taking the steps to make that dream a reality; you will see affirmation of your dreams. That epiphany of "I really can do this" happens. *nice* Congratulations you two!
Speaking of affirmations, I had one last night too. Maybe for the first time since I've been riding Eagle, I actually smiled and thought to myself, "maybe I really can do this". There was nothing miraculous that happened. But I had a good ride on my horse. Another good ride. But this time, something I can't fully describe happened. I had this little feeling of gumption inside. It felt good. My horse felt solid and reliable underneath me. He argued a little bit with me, and I said, come on now, we got this. And then he responded. :) I kept encouraging through my discomfort and he complied. It sort of felt like he was saying, alright if you say so, I'll do it. I felt as if maybe for the first time, I really was behaving like the leader, and that his trust was well-placed in me. That felt really nice. I've been feeling kind of pumped ever since.
Last night when I got home from work it was really windy. Not what I'd hoped for. But the weather otherwise was perfect for an evening ride. So, I got Eagle out of the pasture, groomed and tacked him up and let him stand in his stall with a little bit of hay while I brought the other horses inside. I figured I'd give them all a flake of hay and leave them in their stalls while Jess and I rode. We'd made plans to ride around the orchard, do a little in the corral and then ride down and around the pasture as well. In the 21 years we've lived here, I've never ridden any horses in their pasture. I've always thought of that as "their space" - not really for anything other than whatever they choose to do there. Anyway, it was Jessica's suggestion so I was game to try. Anyway, I got a bale of hay out of the barn and a giant moth miller flew down my blouse. I totally freaked, practically ripped my shirt and bra off before said moth miller flew out of my shirt. I retrieved my sunglasses, straightened myself out and commenced to getting the hay. I fed the horses their flakes, groomed Missy and got her saddle. In the process of lifting the saddle on her back, I bent a fingernail backwards, said a few choice words and promptly dropped hubby's saddle in the gravel, resulting in a scolding to me from him, and then while placing the saddle on Missy's back, somehow I managed to left one of the ginormous stirrups fall back onto my elbow. Oh man, I thought I'd broken a bone for sure. It's still quite sore and bruised today. At that point I looked heavenward and requested, "please Lord, don't let this be one of those nights?". I was starting to question my intent of riding. Not a good way to start.
About that time, Jess shows up and we get the horses ready and head out to the orchard. Right from the beginning, I felt good on Missy. Eagle looked relaxed and like he was ready and willing for a little ride. *good deal* We got down to the end of the orchard where we make our first turn and the neighbor's 3-legged dog ran out barking. Eagle shied a little bit, no biggie. We continue on and then, get this - a fawn came running toward us from their yard. Totally adorable little baby deer! Little guy makes a beeline right to Eagle, where he proceeds to meander in and around his legs. Oh dear, little one, probably not a good idea. Jess hops off to shoo the little guy away, but he's having none of it, choosing instead to skirt in and around Eagle's back feet. We thought sure Eags might kick - but no, showing nothing but kindness and curiosity, he only drops his head and watches just like we did. Then the neighbor comes out, calls the little fella and he scampers back to their yard where we watch him frolic and play with their two dogs. Hmm, who knew? We just continue and from then on, Eagle and Missy are perfectly bright-eyed, alert but relaxed and enjoying their time immensely! Despite the wind, the dog, the deer, the blowing plastic bag that crossed our path, they remain confident and relaxed. On the second loop around the orchard, when we're just about back to our place, Eagle suddenly sees something new and different. Hubby had filled the water trough and left the water running which had overflowed into and across our driveway making it dark and very different than just a while before. I watch as Eagle's eyes dart back and forth, trying to process his escape. Missy trudges forward, oblivious to it all. Eagle takes it all in but is concerned nonetheless. Jess tells him to not worry, it's just water, and of course points him straight to it. Eagle does not want to touch the dark spot, so Missy steps through and across to the tall grass on the other side. *of course* Eagle takes it all in, and then tentatively steps up, lowers his nose to check it out and then marches in and stops. It was so cute. I'm watching his facial expressions and I swear he was saying to himself, "oh brother, I totally overreacted, it's only water!" We stood there for a few minutes, relaxed and then switched horses. My turn.
We did two half loops of the orchard, cutting through and shortening the ride to about half the total area we'd just done. I felt very good, more relaxed out there than I've ever felt yet. Jessica kept checking in with me, keeping her eye on me and offering words of encouragement - sit deep, relax your shoulders, look at the beautiful clouds, oh what a beautiful sunset, check him, take a couple of steps back now, good. Breathe...it was awesome. :) It wasn't technically perfect, plenty of room for improvement on the equitation part, but because I felt good and Eagle felt good, it was a beautiful ride. He was quiet, responsive and the sunset really was spectacular. *sigh*
We rode a little bit in the corral afterwards, where Eagle continued to be relaxed and forward. Then we rode down to about the halfway point in our pasture. Eagle was a bit argumentative at having to go down the pasture at all - after all, his hay was waiting for him back in the barn. This is where my newly-found gumption came in. :) He tried stopping, he tried rooting his nose down, he tried backing up, anything but forward, which was away from the barn. I kept looking up and out, asking for forward with my legs. He did it. Then he'd argue. More asking, more forward. More arguing. He did not win. We made it to our mark, then took our sweet time heading back to the barn, did some haunch turns, pivots, small circles, backing, flexing and relaxing. The ride back to the barn took a whole lot longer than the ride down the pasture did. :) Sweet success!!! You know what I really love about this horse? No matter how strongly he doesn't want to do something, he doesn't get stupid, he never feels like he's about to do anything other than go through his little bag of tricks and getting strong. No hint at bunching up to buck, no thoughts of bolting, rearing or anything dangerous at all. He is so sensible. He also has a stubborn streak, but it's short-lived when gumption comes into play.
This was our most successful ride yet. And I'm beginning to love this journey more and more...this big, bay mustang is amazing, and I really do love him. All that he is. And you know what? I am SO VERY GOOD at picking fantastic horses!! *happy dance*
I know we'll have our ups and downs, I realize there will be good rides and bad rides up ahead. But we'll get through them together, and we'll keep on this path. This wonderful path of discovery. This building of a solid partnership based on mutual trust. I'm loving it. I'm so, so thankful for Jessica's willingness to help me work through this. I cannot thank her enough. She is a Godsend, I'm pretty sure of that.
And so for today, I am filled with hope. And I am beginning to feel courage...
Until next time,
Lorie and Eags