Luna was a nutcase today. This may not seem particularly newsy, especially if you didn’t know that she had, in recent weeks, suddenly turned a corner and been acting ‘NORMAL”, to quote my trainer.
She had been walking. She had figured out that this was her job–to walk, to carry a rider like it was no big deal. To relax and think and listen and trust and enjoy staying in tune with the person on her back. To trot in a beautiful, steady rhythm, even over a short line of ground poles.
Then I went away for 10 days (over Christmas break, a trip to visit my ex so that our son could spend the Holidays with that side of the family.) Luna may only have been ridden a couple of times during that break, but I’d been back on her at least a few times since then, and so had our trainer, and we both felt that she was being soooo good.
So today felt like a little bit of a regression. It’s possible that I wouldn’t have labeled it as such, but a friend at the barn watched us careen around and try to settle and commented, “Oh, and she was just doing so well!”
Indeed she was.
Luna may have been up to her old tricks today, but up my sleeve were a few new ones. First was the trick of “get off before it gets dangerous–because you are mounted on a 1200# animal who is engaged in everything but you right now–and work her around on the ground a little bit.” This proved to be a useful trick. I used it twice, in fact.
Second was “Stay really calm and don’t get emotional about this. Don’t take it personally. This is not her ‘being a jerk.’ ” This kept me more patient. I could hear the words of my farrier and fellow horsemanship enthusiast explaining why the best horsepeople accomplish things which seem literally incredible: “They have patience. The horses figure that out.”
Third was, “How quiet can you be? Can you ask less? Softer? Release sooner?”
I went to a horsemanship clinic several weeks ago (sometime in mid-December) and was blown away by the–yes, seemingly incredible–mental change elicited in Luna by a few minutes working in hand with Jim Anderson. He basically just moved her around in a circle around him, changing direction without fanfare anytime she offered more than a walk, and within about 2 minutes she settled from testing to accepting. From trying to find all sorts of answers like run, crowd, leave, rear, snort, until she discovered that the easiest answer (walking) was the right one. And she relaxed. As Jim would say, “You can’t make a horse relax, any more than you can make a person relax. But you can redirect them.”