Charlie’s foot is bothering him so now I’m riding Sam who is even bigger than Charlie, but he’s a smoother ride and starts out our lesson walking very slowly. Charlie on the other hand is a bit more spirited out of the gate and harder to balance on so changing to Sam whose gait is smoother was a good change for now. I am hoping Charlie heals soon though because he has a special place in my heart.
As I was grooming Sam, he sensed my hesitation in cleaning a little bit of mud off of his face. He stood patiently still as I groomed his body before riding. But when I got to his face, he gave me such a look that it stopped me in my tracks. I’m short, 5″2′ tall so he’s really big to me. With every brush, I showed it to him before I groomed him. I thought it was only fair that he should know what I was doing. But being a seasoned veteran of lessons and of newbies like me, it didn’t faze him in the least. Until I got to his face.
I was talking with him and commenting how he had a bit of mud on his face. At one point, he turned to face me and stared hard into my face. Those big eyes (you know they are the size of golf balls!) looked at me, but instead of seeing the full brown eye, I saw part of the whites of his eyes as he looked at me. I was tentative and a little scared for some reason. He’s so big that I got frightened even though he wasn’t doing anything but looking at me from the side. I felt a pulse of insecurity which was on my part and stepped back. Even as I write this, I only know that it was a significant moment because my fear was there. Fear of what I’ve asked myself, but there’s been so significant response. Maybe I thought he was going to bite me? I don’t know for sure because I’ve been told he’s not a biter. But I didn’t know that then.
So I stepped back and asked one of the girls nearby to help me get the mud off of his face. She calmly came over and brushed him, talking with him as I had done. When she was finished, he seemed to look at me as if to say, Man up little girl and face your fears because I’m not scary.
I walked into the paddock to mount him and then we started to walk, but he stopped and wouldn’t move. It was like he was testing me, not in a belligerent way, but in a have courage, do what we’re supposed to do and tell me what you want. It took a good few minutes of him standing stoically before he began to walk (after my trainer clucked to him multiple times and I used my legs to urge him to begin walking). Then he finally started.
Balancing on a horse was to me like playing the game Twister. Reins at a certain height, put your heels down, keep your legs relaxed and not on his shoulders, sit up straight, hold in your core, but stay relaxed! Yikes! It’s hard work! I tried (again!) the 2 point position that is the precursor to posting, but I was failing miserably even though Sam was so patient and gentle. So my trainer took me off Sam and rode him, showing me what I wasn’t getting on my own. What a difference that made!!
When I got back on Sam, because I could actually SEE what she meant, I was so much more comfortable and it showed! I was able to keep the 2 point position correctly and for longer even though my ab muscles were getting a workout. Sam, true to form, flowed with my learning curve, staying the course and making it easier for me to balance and concentrate on my form.
At the end of the lesson, for which once I finally was understanding the whole form thing, I begged to have another 1/2 hour because I felt in the zone! But there was another rider’s lesson after me. So when I dismounted, Sam and I had a few minutes alone while I waited for the next rider to come into the paddock.
I stood by Sam’s head and talked with him as we waited. I’m probably being silly here, but the tears are flowing as I type. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but as I was thanking him for all that we’d accomplished today, he nestled his head onto my shoulder and into my neck so softly as if to comfort me and say See, we’ve got this you and me. We’re a team and you can trust me and yourself. He gazed into my eyes and I melted with love for him, bravely kissing his face and petting him with so much appreciation and love. He nuzzled me again, rubbing his face onto mine as I cooed to him. It was such a magical moment for me. Truly. What I’m writing sounds so hollow because it was so much more. It was as if there were a breakthrough in healing for me and Sam helped me so much.
When the next rider came to take Sam, I kissed him good bye and thanked him. As I passed some people who had been watching, they said they didn’t know Sam was such an affectionate horse. I smiled and nodded because I had tears in my eyes, tears of healing and gratitude for my horse angel Sam.