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Have you ever been in a situation where you were totally helpless and dependent upon someone else? Oh, c’mon. Sure you have. Remember what it was like to be a child? Well animals are the same. At least domesticated animals are. They rely on us to treat them fairly and humanely. To protect them and nurture them. But trust? Well, that’s earned. We can only gain their trust by proving that we’re worthy. First we need to be patient. Not something that I personally excel at and no, having a child does not make me patient by default. Next, do not yell. Oops, I mean DO NOT YELL!! That only scares him. Lastly take care of your horse yourself and be there as much as possible to strengthen your bond.
Unfortunately this doesn’t always work with a lesson horse. I don’t own him and we only see each other once a week. Wait. Make that every other week. I’m on a horse rotation schedule.
Lessons we learn
Gosh darn wiggly horse. Sigh.
I swear you can trust me. I’m a nice person. A really, really nice person. I know I’m asking more from you than your usual riders but I won’t push too much. That is, unless I’m told to push you. And even then you’re a strong horse. You can do it!
So, what do you say, huh? Let’s ride deep into the corners like we were told. OK?
Great! (Wait a minute. Was that sarcasm? From the horse?! Like I’m not getting enough from my teenager?) As we trot, I look straight ahead at the fence and suddenly I can feel him hesitating.
We’re gonna crash. We’re gonna crash. This psycho is riding me into the fence!
I’m not going to ride you into the fence. Trust me. We’ll turn in time, I promise. We’re just trotting deep into the corner.
See? I told you to trust me. Uh-oh, now what?
(I can feel him trying to plant his feet and his ears are perked forward.)
What’s that?! On the fence?! I swear it wasn’t there earlier!
Um, that’s a saddle. Just like the one on your back.
“Let’s change directions and when you’re ready pick up a canter down the long side. If he gets strong or unbalanced feel free to throw in a circle.”
You hear that? We’re going to canter. Down the long side, deep into the corner and transition to a walk. Are you ready? (Ha! Am I ready?)
I get to canter? You bet!
OK, there are a lot of people in the ring so we have to stay on the path I choose. (Deep breath.) Here goes. Canter.
I feel good. This is fun.
I’m looking straight at the gate at the end of the long side. We’ll canter deep into the corner.
Wait! We’re going to crash! Psycho rider is going to canter into the fence!!
He’s been so balanced. Hmm, something’s not quite right…
What’s that shiny thing on the ground?!
Uh-oh. I spoke too soon.
I’m outta here…
I apply my inside leg to keep him out on the curve and guess what?
I’m rewarded by…
but three bucks.
Silly horse. I told you we weren’t going to crash. Now when will you trust me?