The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Plan for the Day

Today I had a plan. I was going to ask some questions and get some answers.

I've been thinking about Gus. Specifically about riding Gus. A couple of things I've read in the last few days got me thinking hard - Jenny's remarks, on Stormy May's blog, about fear; and the concept of "not quite right" described on Jenny Pearce's Books with Spirit website, again thanks to Stormy May's recommendation.

I often just don't feel "quite right" about riding Gus. Nothing bad has ever happened, and I feel that we have made excellent progress. However (there it is again), there's just that vague feeling in the back of my mind, like a thin wisp of smoke rising up in the distance. Gus recently, quite deliberately, bucked someone off. Now, he's always been very nice to me, and has never threatened to do anything like that. But still, maybe he's nice out of consideration for my feelings and not because he's actually on board with the whole project.

So today my plan was to invite him to the round pen, where we were going to examine, at liberty, the various accessories of riding: saddle, bridle (or how do you like this bitless one?), mounting block, etc.

As soon as I went into the pasture, however, I took one look at his brother Skipper's hoofs and decided that trimming them was the first order of the day. Skipper has been laminitic off and on, and has heel pain, and if we don't keep up with his feet, I fear he's likely to get worse again. So, Skipper came out with me, and we tidied up his feet a bit, and then I returned to the pasture to ask Gus if he'd like to come out.

To my surprise, as the pasture is chock full at the moment of yummy green plants, he said yes. Gus has a predilection for taking his time, and so when he crept forward at a snail's pace, I wasn't surprised. I sat down on the ground to wait for him, which actually speeded him up, as he thought it would be interesting to hurry forward to check out my boots and my knees. After a few minutes of this kind of thing, I think it struck both of us at the same time: Gee, it's getting awful hot out here - I don't think this is going to be much fun after all. But only Gus had enough sense to decide we should call it off.

He swung his head meaningfully back toward his gate, twice in a row. So of course I had to return him to his pasture. Once back in the pasture, I hung out with him and Skipper for a while, sometimes following along, sometimes walking off by myself, sometimes interacting.

Skipper kept coming up to me. He is a sweet horse. I'm not sure what Hempfling type he is - perhaps the Guardian of the Fire, perhaps the Modest One. If I ever get a good photo of him, I'll post it and see if anyone has any suggestions. He enjoys being scratched. Today I felt that he emanates a kind of motherly, welcoming warmth, which draws you to him, and and makes you want to stand close next to his side. You feel that he is content to have you there.


Gus, on the other hand, likes to meet you head-on. He wants to check out your pockets, chew on your watch, get hold of your cell phone. He does not really like for you to get into the space around his body and does not particularly care to be scratched, except sometimes his ears. I believe he is the "Prince." He has a very unusual face, not exactly like the illustration of the Prince in What Horses Reveal, but he has the "veiled" look that Hempfling describes. He is tactful and courteous; he likes humans, but maintains a certain distance, keeping his own counsel. He is also very dominant, and today politely inquired if he might be the boss of me perhaps.

What is that in your hand? Please give it to me.

So we never made it to the round pen, and we never discussed riding.  But we learned a number of things about each other.  Gus found out that I would take him back when he asked me.  He learned that I wasn't going to let him be my boss.  I realized for the first time how little he likes people being in the bubble around his body.  I learned that Skipper is just the opposite and is happy to provide a warm space for a person to enter into.

Somebody had put together a much better lesson plan than mine.

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