I finished Mark Rashid's book, Horsemanship Through Life, in kindle edition. It was a great book and one of the over all themes was the idea of connection with your horse, to the point where thought was all that was necessary for movement from the horse. I had that once, with more than one horse, but I don't have it now.
I need to figure out why.
A thought came to me yesterday, as I was finishing my very frustrating ride with Ashke. (He is sore on the front right again, despite riding in boots. We couldn't trot. We tried to canter and failed. He was a little tender at the walk. I talked to N and decided to treat him with Bute for three days, give him the fourth day off and then see if he is sound on Thursday. If he isn't, then I don't ride. I treat with Bute and give him Thursday and Friday off. If he still isn't recovered on Saturday, I'm calling Michelle.) I realized that I have been making excuses in my head for his being able to go.
What does this mean? It means that I am expecting him to have feet issues, or for his back to be sore, or for him to be lethargic. I can say it stems from him being emaciated when I got him and I am just being paranoid and cautious. However, I don't really think this is about him. I think it's about me. I think that deep down I'm afraid.
I'm afraid to canter. I'm afraid of the pain. I'm afraid of feeling out of control. I'm afraid of being tossed off. I'm afraid to face the fact that this is so much harder than I ever imagined. The image I have in my mind doesn't drag her right leg as she is swinging on. The image I have in my mind doesn't feel so exhausted she can't see when she finishes a ride. The image I have in my mind doesn't have to work to get this right, because I didn't used to have to work at it, it just was. It was something I have taken for granted. I really thought it would be the same thing this time.
I remember the last year of 4-H, when I was riding with a friend named Sharon. There were some gymkhanas we attended. One of the events was a double rider event. Sharon had a huge, 16.2 QH dun gelding with the largest butt I have ever seen, that she used for team roping. He was an amazing horse and she rode him really well. The event had me standing at the far end of the arena, Sharon would ride down and I would get up behind her and we would ride back. We practiced that manuever a lot until we had it perfected. Sharon would charge down the arena at a dead run, slide her horse to a stop next to me, reach out with one arm and grab me by my forearm, in an arm to arm grip. As I vaulted up, she would turn her horse in a rollback, sliding his butt under my vaulting ass, and bolt for the far end of the arena. I would grab for any thing I could and we would ride like the wind. Everyone else in the event had to stop and allow their passenger to mount using the stirrup. Once the dun figured out what we were after, we could make that turn in about 4 seconds. Sometimes he was so enthusiastic about the turn and Sharon was really pulling on me and I was jumping so high, I actually flew all the way over him and landed in the dirt on the far side, laughing so hard I couldn't get up.
I remember riding a little bay mare for the Gamblins. They had purchased her but were having a really hard time getting her not to buck when she was being ridden. She had thrown Amy and her dad and they were both a bit hesitant to get back on her. I got on her bareback and rode her around the round pen for an hour or so. We worked it out so she understood that I wasn't going any where. She tried to buck a couple of times, but I just don't ever remember being concerned about her behavior. I knew she wasn't going to get rid of me. By the end of that afternoon, she had settled down fairly well and had stopped throwing her fit. We were moving forward very well and she was starting to respond to the cues I was using from my seat and legs. I don't think they had any more trouble with her after that.
I remember a trail ride along a canal bank. I was riding with two other people and the canal was only wide enough for two, which makes talking a difficult thing. I was riding Queenie at the time. I dropped my reins over the saddle horn, then turned around in the saddle, moved back behind the cantle and rode sitting on her butt with my legs crossed indian style. For the entire day. Often, when I rode out with friends, on my way home I would lean back on the sleeping bag tied to the back of my cantle, cross my legs at the ankles on my horn and read a Louis L'amour or some other paperback book while Queenie carried me home.
I could swing down from the saddle, tap both feet on the ground and vault back into the saddle. On either side. I could ride bareback with just a rope around her neck all over our county. I could stand in the saddle and move from one horse to another without fear. I was more comfortable on the back of a horse than I have ever been any where at any time. I spent hours and hours and hours riding. Even in the early 90's, I would go out for an eight or ten hour ride and think nothing of it. I love studying maps to find new trails to ride. I only ever felt whole when I was on a horse.
That is the reason J has encouraged me to get Ashke and why she no longer stresses about the cost of horse ownership.
Now, I'm fighting the movement, which makes Ashke stiff and unyeilding beneath me. He doesn't know what I'm afraid of, he just knows I'm afraid. I've never had to work at this before, so I'm not sure how to go forward from here.