Lucky has decided to take me under his hoof and teach me the fine art of equitation from a horse’s point of view.
And he had a condition on the agreement. No tack. Not even a cordeo.
Well, how can a lady refuse an offer like that?? I’m in! First, a bit of back story. Lucky and I have lived together for 11 years, since he was 6 and fresh off the racetrack.
Until recently, I only dreamed of having conversations with animals.
A few years back, an encounter with Kim Walnes and her horse Gideon planted seeds that recently took root and sprouted. I can hear the horses now. And they can hear me. It’s been quite an eye opener, and I have had to set aside many of my old training techniques and beliefs, as the horses have made it quite clear just how wrong they were.
So, a couple weeks back, I was playing with Lucky at liberty and got to thinking about riding. I was telling him how much I wanted to ride again, and describing why riding is important to me and he very clearly said “I will teach you”.
When I approached him with a bridle, he turned his head and said “no”.
I got out my soft braided neck rope (or cordeo) and placed it around his neck. He pinned his ears, raised his head and backed away from the mounting block.
O-kaaay, hmm… what to do now?
I got out my TTEAM neck rope (a stiffer cordeo) thinking maybe he just wanted a different neck rope. Nope. Ears pinned. Head high. And I very clearly heard “no tack”.
I asked again, do you really mean I cannot even use a neck rope. “No.”
Alrighty then. Keep in mind Lucky was a racehorse. My biggest fear in the past has been a runaway racehorse. So this is very challenging for me.
Lucky stood quietly while I brought the mounting block over. I took hold of a handful of mane to swing on, and he walked off. As he stepped away, one eye focused on me and I got “no mane”. Well, huh. How am I supposed to get on without any mane to hold.
He let me place the block again, I laid my hand (which would normally be grabbing mane)on his neck and he sighed and lowered his head. I swung my leg over and there I was, sitting on Lucky, nekkid.
I sat there for a bit, just feeling first amazed, then happy, then grateful. Here I was, sitting on Lucky, with NO tack, and he’s being calm and pleasant and helpful.
So then, being human, I started thinking about an agenda. What should I work on? Should I teach him to stop? To turn?
Before I could take that chain of thoughts any further, he sent quite clearly that he was in charge of the lesson. In fact, he said more. He took a careful step forward and started meandering around the square pen (no round pens here), picking up the occasional leaf and periodically changing speed or direction.
My brain started working again, wondering what I should work on. He sent very clearly “until you can learn to release your back, soften your seat and QUIT GRABBING ME with your legs, you have no business being in charge of the lesson, let alone teaching another inexperienced horse.”
Whoa. That was hard to hear. And yet, he was right. With every unexpected change he was making, I was clenching or grabbing. And what I thought was him wandering at random was quite deliberate. He was checking my seat and balance.
With that final statement, he walked to the mounting block and halted, and would not move again.
Lesson 1 was over.
Stay tuned for lesson 3, how to turn from the core.