I really do not like surprises. I’m supremely spooky (no seriously, I spook…any one of you that have met me in person know that I spook EXACTLY like a horse) and am easily overwhelmed emotionally so for the love of all things furry and four legged, don’t try and surprise me.
I will, however, acquiesce to unexpected surprises from my horse.
I had a big, long post about last weekend 90% done, and then I hit a button and it all disappeared…so, I’ll be combining yesterday’s ride and last weekend’s ride into one big post about being pleasantly surprised with how quickly things seem to be falling into place with Sirius.
Both weekend rides have been a big change from the previous ones. I could attribute this to the bit change to something he likes better, the groundwork, or him just finally understanding his new “rules of the road”. It could also be because I took a good, hard look at myself after one of our tougher rides at the beginning of the month. I felt the familiar anxiety bubbling in my chest, very similar to Simba, over how to “handle” this horse — meaning, how to fix and “perfect” him. I realized that the amount of pressure I was putting on myself, and by proxy, on Sirius, was unfair…mostly to him. I was asking too much, too soon, and I needed to chill the fuck out.
So, I chilled the fuck out and broke down what I wanted from him into even smaller steps. For example, he has been allowed (and I contributed to this in the beginning!) to pretty much run like a bat out of hell up every hill he sees. I was beginning to fight to make him walk, or at the very least gait, up the hills he’s used to running. It turned into a battle up every hill and neither of us were pleased at the end of the ride. So, I changed my approach — I asked for a few moments of his attention and to make sure he was “checked in” before allowing him what he wanted, on MY terms. Plus, it meant we got to run and we both love that because this horse has turbo boosters on his ass. He was happy he got to run, and I was happy with the little bit of attention he gave me before I let him loose — both happy! It also meant he was more willing to come back to me when I asked him to, instead of fighting to break through my hands.
I also just…rode. I stopped trying to make every second a training opportunity. Yes, I want to better my horse and myself. Yes, we have things that need to be worked on. At the end of the day, though…I just want to ride, and he just wants to play. He LOVES going out. Loves it. His ears are always forward and he never, ever says no to exploring or going somewhere new. We had fun and that was more important. He wasn’t allowed to get away with bad manners or
Based on this, I’m chalking up most of our success of the past two rides to my mental shift. I really needed to take the pressure off of BOTH of us, and learn to work with him, specifically. He’s such a different animal than I’m used to. I knew he was going to challenge everything I’ve done up until now. Simba was a bully and you had to bully him back to get your point across. Sirius isn’t. He occasionally will give you a flippant answer when you ask him something, but if you get after him, he’s apologetic and quits almost immediately. I’ve realized that if he doesn’t quit, I’m asking the wrong way and need to reevaluate my questions. He is challenging because I have to basically restock my proverbial toolbox, but he isn’t actually overwhelming. He is a joy to work with and I need to remember that.
Despite all of this, I was still surprised at just how quickly this horse has picked up on the things I’m asking him to do. When I figure out how to get my point across to him, he “gets” it almost immediately. We do not have any head slinging, panicky circles at the mounting block anymore because implementing a “stand” cue has helped immensely. He is already lunging really well and is super soft on the end of the line 90% of the time. Flexing in the halter is not something I need to even consider drilling — you pick up that line and his nose is to you in a millisecond. He is ridiculously smart, probably smarter than I am, and that is going to be both fun and tricky to work with. Hmm. Tricky. Maybe some trick training books are in my immediate future…
What is most surprising, however, is just how quickly I’m becoming attached to him. It’s not the white hot, almost terrifying attachment I had to Image, but it’s there, slowly revealing itself as time goes on. I just wanted another horse so badly with Simba that I forgot that this is what it’s supposed to feel like: the little jolt of excitement and happiness when you get to go ride or see your critter, the having to remind yourself that people don’t want to hear every little detail about how perfect he is when people ask about your horse, the realization that this horse is yours and that you’re HAPPY he’s yours, wanting to squish his wittle face every time you see him…
THIS is right. I’m terrified of owning a horse and fucking it up again, but even with his greyness and littleness and goofy mane and inability to contain himself around hills…he’s mine and I’m so happy he’s mine.
So, surprises around every corner, and I don’t hate it. Well, I don’t hate THESE surprises. I do hate the surprise of my check engine light coming on randomly on the highway. I also hate surprise printer blow ups at work when I have a million reports that need printing. I also hate cancer and what it’s doing to a few really important people in my life.
And boys. I don’t like boys right now either.
Thank god for horses.
Up next…Sirius moves to Mason, NH this Saturday and I’m only a little freaked out about it!
AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD I WILL FINISH THAT POST ABOUT SARA BAREILLES IF IT KILLS ME.