There are a lot of chintzy sayings about horses out there. “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man,” etc. Well, to paraphrase a line from a very weird fantasy story I once read, horses don’t care about man’s stupid insides. Horses care about grass and wind and mares and foals and not being eaten by wolves. Fair point, I think.
(If you’ve read the story, gold star.)
And you know you’re always saying that your horses cheer you up. “Oh, whenever I feel bad, I just go ride my horse, I do all my best thinking on my horse.”
Really? I’m assuming you have a schoolmaster to pack you around, in that case. . .
I’m skeptical of how much critical thinking I may be able to achieve on horseback. Now, granted, I usually write my blog while I’m riding, but that’s about what I’m doing at that exact moment. So, one might argue, it makes my ride better, by helping me focus acutely on every move that he and I make together.
I focus on him because, as a trainer, it’s my job to focus on my horse, not on myself. I’m here to keep my horse safe, as far as I’m concerned. If I do a bad job on Final Call, and sell him off to someone who can’t ride him, and they amplify all the mistakes that I’ve made – all bets are off. And if there is one thing you don’t want to be these days, it is a horse in a downward spiral of bad behavior. They just don’t live as long, or as happily, as the charming ones.
That being said, there is something to be said for finding a rhythm, and sticking with it, that lifts you above the ordinary, and away from your problems, and lets you live in the moment.
Today was a day for a trot, a long and beautiful metronomic trot. We tried out a training yoke today (that’s running martingale to you sporthorse types) just to sort of steady out that nose, as it was getting a bit, you know, poking out here and there. Not so hot with the straightness and the throughness, if you follow my drift. He seemed pretty comfortable with it – I’m sure he wore one before – and so we just trotted, round and round, figure eights and serpentines and straight-aways, in a hypnotizing rhythm. Rising and falling evenly (feel that spring pull you forward), soft in the bit and light in the forehand, you felt that suppleness was just days away, in life as well as on horseback, and nothing else seemed to matter.
We trotted for ten minutes, and then I gave a gentle half-halt, sat, and was granted a sweet square halt. Good enough, son.
What a pleasure, to feel ten minutes of rhythm and partnership with a horse. Good enough. A high singing in your ears, a feeling of accomplishment, a feeling – almost as if – he made me feel good – pah, enough sentimentality. Final Call doesn’t care about my insides. All he wants from me is cookies.
(If only the feed store would get his brand of cookies back in stock. . . !)