Horsemanship. What is it? What is the mysterious bond between a horse and their rider? What makes it so special, so different? What makes it addictive?
I know for sure that I am an addict, I often find more comfort and company among my horses than surrounded by family and friends. Its amazing to think that this partnership is forged in silence, instead of wishing for people to quieten down I always long for the day my horse will speak up. But its not in words, whinnies or grunt he speaks to me- it’s with his body.
A simple ear twitch lets me know where his attention lies, the swish of a tail or flex of muscle can show what he’s feeling. The timing of a sneeze or sigh, and the way he faces his body towards mine. Such subtle movements, unnoticed by most but they all scream to me what my horses are trying to say.
I had fallen off of Andy in my last post. I was shaken as any rider would be, but I know the tell tale rule “always get back in the saddle”. I wasn’t afraid to ride and I wasn’t afraid to get hurt. What I was afraid of, was why I hadn’t seen it coming… Did I miss something that Andy was trying to say, did I simply not listen? Trust is such a huge part of the bond between horses and their riders, I felt like ours had been shattered.
Opinions. Opinions from everyone; friends, riders, trainers, family, farriers, vets. Everyone had an opinion, everyone wanted to help, everyone was trying to shout loudest over one another so their opinions were heard. “Ride him firmer”, “Tell him off”, “Let me ride him”, “He’s in pain”, “Not like that”. I listened to the most important and trustworthy one I could think of. I listened to Andy, and he showed me he needed some time. Some time to just be a horse.
So I turned him away. Out into the top field, where he would be undisturbed by anyone, where I could nip up to check on him without him even knowing I’d passed. I left him there, for several weeks. One day he noticed me come along to check on him and he came over. His heavy head looking for somewhere to rest and he sighed. He was ready to come back in and to start again.
Andy has come back in with a BANG. He has jumped straight into his training and works his heart out in everything he does. The grass belly is disappearing, the muscles are growing but most of all he is happy. I am happy too, happy that I didn’t do things how everyone else told me to. I stayed true to Andy and myself, which is all that truly matters and we overcame our fears in our own time. Who cares if it took a day, a week, a month or a year?! All that matters is looking back at everything you’ve ever done and not being upset with yourself or regretting how you handled different situations.
My horses have taught me another language, and it applies in all areas of life- not just with them. You don’t have to jump and scream to be heard. It is the smaller inconsequential things that create your path through life. Horses are kind and forgiving creatures, you needn’t force what you want out of them. You have to listen and work and help them grow into the horse you want and know they can be; and maybe sometimes with people too…
Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. -Rumi