He was high as a kite. I say that and you need to know that means something really different than what it did a few years ago. He stands like a stone to be groomed and saddled where once upon a time that swishy butt was in motion and his back was an ever moving target. Much has changed with us to the enormous positive.
Once saddled I turned Royal and Sam loose to blow some stink off. Sam, the OTTB trots off loose and easy. Royal rabbit steps a few feet and blows like a rodeo bronc. I have a pretty good idea what last September must have looked like as he bows up, all four feet off the ground, hairpin wither skyward and head buried between his toes. He gets to move then.
This is what happens with a high energy horse that eats good and works seldom. He is completely consistent.
I flagged my pair, controlling their direction asking them to turn toward me when changing directions. When one would spin off, I'd pick him up with my eyes, my body language and last, my flag. They didn't need to be afraid, they did need to respond with respect.
Sam and I worked circles on the halter rope. I pay attention to his outside front foot asking it to trak on an even path. His right shoulder wanted to transgress into my space as he awkwardly figures out what to do with all those legs and feet. I am gentle, insisting on what I want without being stressed out or critical. Time to ride, he's ready. Sam is easy going, knows nothing and is a "give me 40 acres and I'll turn this rig around" kind of guy. I don't allow him to get lost and worried. When he gets crooked, I direct his feet in long serpentines. When he can be straight I leave him to it.
Royal. He waits patiently for his turn. He does his groundwork almost flawlessly except wait. The right hind skips and dances as he evades giving his hip. I ask seriously. He says no thank you, I do not believe I will listen to you today. I ask again and he says something unprintable about what I can do with my request.
Royal went through quite a bit of resistance and determined effort to avoid releasing that hip. He used a lot of energy attempting everything else but. I was persistent, didn't get emotionally involved in his drama any more than I could avoid. When he did eventually find the release, he made a change. And, so did I.
I discovered my heart rate was up. My breathing was fast. My stomach was churning. I was a ball of stress and anxiety. So maybe I followed his drama more than I thought, huh.
Becoming self aware is a lifetime's journey as far as I can tell. It's tempting to compare my progress against those around me but how would I know, really?
A few weeks ago I listened to a motivational call. One of the tips is to become aware of judgmental thoughts of self and others. When such thoughts were discovered to pray to be released from those thoughts and to bless whomever they were directed against with abundance and riches.
The first day I tried this, I became a very spiritual person. I prayed all day long to Whoever was on duty. Please release me from these judgmental thoughts and bless so and so with riches.
Dang, I am judgmental!
Day two was not as bad and I found myself happier, lighter of spirit. I thought I had begun this as a 30 day experiment but I have lost track of the days and this is going to stay with me ongoing.
As time goes on, I still pray a lot (don't get hung up on the word "pray" if you don't have a Higher Power, send the intentions into the Universe. All has the same effect, anyway). My heart released tension. As I let go of bitterness,criticism, complaining and condemning (from the book How to Win Friends and Influence People) the cup that holds my soul makes space to receive other information.
During the course of the day, my friend Greg Queal, who runs the barn where my horses live, showed a friend and I some stretches. He told me they were "psoas releases." He explained where those muscles live (Google is your friend here) and that releasing them physically also releases emotional and spiritual trauma.
My morning routine now includes my best attempts at yoga poses along with some other type of physical activity to bring my body back to the strength and flexibility I desire. (I am going to mount Sam from the ground without stressing his back or my knees. That is going to happen.)
Now my reader scrunches up brow and says, dang it Terri! What does all this have to do with horses?
It is this. Our horses mirror what is inside of us. That is why they are amazing therapy animals. We cannot lie to them even when we are fooling our own selves. When we are a mass of stress, judgment, tied in physical, emotional and spiritual knots we are not going to have relaxed, supple, responding with respect horses. How can we even have energy leftover for them when it's all tangled up inside our inner selves?
End of the day, it was not the best ever with Royal. I rode him. There was a bad moment when horses left the arena and he wanted to throw a fit. Fortunately for me I was not wool gathering or distracted at the time and I stopped what was going to happen before it happened. I was still scared and angry.
His head to my knee, I pop him sharply with bit and heel to remind him that leaving me was not going to be an option. I knew I had to get more interesting than the horses leaving and for a moment, I had not the slightest idea how. Suddenly I remember short serpentines. I put him in tight Christmas candy figures, insisting on one step between not five. Yield your hip, bring your front around. Do it now.
When he was softer I cautiously allowed him to straighten and walk off. Royal was not completely let down but there was no bowling ball time bomb under my saddle either. We did some shoulder fore both ways. Lots of argument, disagreeing on whether it was worth the effort. Trotted semi-decent circles. His cadence would echo the brilliance I know he has and then we would lose it. We were tight, still.
Tracking right. Lift left rein, disengage hip to face the wall. Stop, wait. Rock back on hindquarters. Bring the front to the left. Stop in your tracks. Do NOT go forward until I tell you to. Soft feel around the arena tracking left. Repeat.
Loped a few circles. Noise from the barn told me it was feeding time and though I could bring his ears (and therefore his feet) back to me, the raised ante told me I was done. I am happy I can so clearly feel the change in him when his feet are right. That place happened, I stopped and got down.
Not everyday is going to be sunshine and roses. Every day is however a road map from where I am to where I want to be. Cluttering my mind judging and critiquing where the rest of the world is in their development only impedes my progress. It's not my business and I am generally wrong in my assessments of you anyway. Other than to know we are all creating our Karmic lesson plans, that the Universe is wise, kind, generous and merciless. We will face our lessons time and again.
Opportunities for growth are placed in our path though we, make that I, often think the opportunity is something to step over rather than through.
Things that stop growing are dead. I have no intention of becoming dead before I absolutely have to and then, who knows. Maybe just growing on a different plane, even then.
Royal was not upset with me when I put him up. Years past, I would have been unfair to him. Blamed him for where we were, been sharp and rude in my response, no respect. We have both come a very long way and far to go before we are finished. Keeps it interesting, yes?
Until next time, happy trails!