Earlier today when I was writing about the Phosphorescence book, I said that being with horses was the exercise that brings me joy. Yesterday and today certainly proved it to me. After my lesson with Apache yesterday, I was so happy that I smiled my way down the dirt road, and when a big ole roadrunner ran across in front of me, I laughed aloud, all by myself in the car. What makes me so happy?
Yes, making progress with my riding skills and relationship with Apache does make me happy, but I think it’s hard not to be happy when you’re outdoors, surrounded by the trees and water Julia Baird talked about as bringing joy, and with people who are full of positive energy and care for each other. Even though I’m not able to be around people much, I can be with Sara and Tarrin outdoors (masked near Sara) and working on something with friends is another thing that lifts my mood.
Yesterday’s work with Apache was really uplifting. He made it very clear that he feels much better after the bodywork he received last week. When Tarrin was riding him, he almost floated at the trot, with no head tossing or making of faces. He seemed happy to be working with her. He even started learning how to walk with his haunches in.
And when I got on him, it felt as good as or maybe better than when he was younger and following Spice around. I guess it was better, because he followed my instructions at a trot, even, and not a scary trot. I think he also feels better about trotting than he did before.
THEN, I got invited to go out of the round pen and do something he wasn’t expecting. First, I was supposed to turn left and walk around the outside of the round pen, rather than going into the arena area. Ooh, he wasn’t interested in that, but I was able to get him to do what he needed to do pretty easily. After three times doing that, we were supposed to turn right and head toward the trailer. Oh my, he did not want to do that.
However, Tarrin coached me on how to deal with his shenanigans and I kept at it. Much backing up on his part and much calmness on my part led to him eventually doing what we were asking him to do. By the third time, by gosh, I was in charge. I was so dang proud of him. We then went back in the round pen, circled, then stood nice and quiet. This is the kind of progress I’d hoped to get from all this training.
Today it warmed up pleasantly (though there was a LOT of frost this morning), so I made time for both of the horses.
Drew was so happy to get to do stuff. He is like a little doll sometimes. I managed to get the Western saddle on him (I’m supposed to saddle him for exercise, but last week was too hectic for me to do it) and off we went. He ran in circles, did his jumps in both directions, then went on a walk, where he was surprised to find out that he had to do more work. I finally found a spot to do his hill climbing, next to the arroyo. He circled up and down in both directions then reluctantly backed up the hill, so his back will stay okay. He is so much fun to work with. I love our time together and am so grateful for his training!
He went back and I got Apache, who pretended not to want to come to me, but then did. The scamp. He’s so much happier still. I didn’t plan to do much with him, since he worked hard yesterday, but I wanted to build on the success. Sure enough, we had a good ride in the round pen with lots of controlled trotting, turning and changing directions like we’ve been doing it forever. I felt a lot more in control using the Western saddle, which surprised me. And I figured out that the leg aid I was trying to use to move him to the side of the pen was an invitation to trot to him. I figured out what to do with my leg and after that all was well.
Then comes the funny part. I was trying to leave with the tack and grooming supplies when the gate opened up more than I intended and both horses, who’d been bonding and breathing into each other’s noses and rolling around (Drew), both took the chance to dash out into the yard. They seemed so happy. I said to myself, fine, enjoy yourselves. I got the food bowls, took the tack back, and then came to find Apache and Drew.
Drew was happily grazing in his favorite spot by the RV. I just walked up to him, asked him to raise his head, put on his halter, and off we went. He seemed just happy to be with me. He exudes joy.
Of course, Apache was hiding. He was behind the chickens, I guess thinking no one could see him. I went over to him, and he bolted in a most spectacular manner, wheeling, and flying (see he, feels good). I just watched to see where he was going. I just started laughing. He ran straight to the gate leading into the pens. I walked over to the gate into his feeding area and opened it. He came over and just walked in. Obviously, dinner is more important to him than freedom. What a guy.
No matter how irritated I am that we still have to be confined to the house and that none of the pool projects that were supposed to be finished today were finished, I have the joy that comes with being around the spirits of horses. Life is good, and I’m reminded of that repeatedly these days, even though they are dark days in many ways.