Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Dance

I admit it. I've been a bit down on the horse thing. On the riding thing. On the New Hampshire thing. The ice storm took the wind out of my sails about my quaint little farmette.

Ice Storm Beauty...

I spent the drive home today ranting to my friend in Texas about how I just can't *think* about riding. I lack the time and the enthusiasm. I can't get excited about the little nuances of my hip angle. I can't wax philosophical about the virtues of the outside rein. I just can't. Riding sucks right now. It's been a week since we've ridden and that was in the indoor. I feel like we are falling behind... behind what I don't know. My friend pointed out that I am still in the "Texas year round" mindset where winter is where you train the hardest because it's too hot in summer. I need to ease myself into the "winter is for relaxation".

Anyway, I was not looking forward to riding tonight. Brego with a week off is one feral, hairy monster.

When I pulled open the door to the indoor, it was empty. An arena to myself. I will longe, I thought. I haven't done that in a while and it might do my addled brain some good to let Brego get his ya yas out while I am safely on the ground.

I attached the longe line and sent him out. Now, you must know, Brego is the WORLD'S WORST LONGER. He never moves forward and he knows exactly how long that whip is and if you're an inch too far away, he mocks you with his lethargy. When you get close enough of the whip, he explodes into dominant displays which melt the bravest heart. I hate longing him. But tonight, he was different. He moved out into the biggest, lightest, most uphill trot I have ever seen on this horse. Period. With no sidereins to lean on, he was elevated and pushing from his hind end. I was frankly in shock.

He threw in a couple of head tosses and showed me his "stallion" pose, but it was just a game. From the ground, I could see it was a game. He performed some unbelievable walk to canter departs and never once pulled on the line or acted up.

And you think that's good... under saddle he was even better. He moved with me. He breathed with me. I collected him with my seat. I asked for transitions with my abs and he spun around on turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches with the slightest leg aid.

I seriously began to wonder if someone had swapped Brego out with a well-trained horse. But then, he knew me too well. He knew what I wanted and did it, light as a feather. I rode for 20 minutes and called it a night. A week. A month. He was too perfect.

As I walked him home in the cold, dark night, I choked up a little. This horse, who is often a pain in the ass and a bully and eats way too much and destroys way too much, is a gift. He is a mirror into my deepest feelings. In one hour, he removed all doubt about the move, the farm, the weather. We can and will accomplish everything I desire because he *is* a well-trained horse. He's trained perfectly for me. And tonight, we danced.


22 comments:

Rhyadawn said...

Don't you love rides like that where everything works. I do.

As for the winter weather... I'm in Ontario. Winter is the time for snowy trailrides, and time spend just chilling out. Enjoy it while you can. There is always time to ride in the indoor, but winter is only here for so long.

Back in the saddle said...

I totally felt the gratitude. Don't they seem to always give us exactly what we need?

Slave Driver said...

Years ago I drove past a field with several people trail riding in it. I wanted to be those people. The sky was a beautiful blue, the temperature perfect, the wind a soft whisper on my skin.

I got a horse. My dream come true. We went trail riding and he wouldn't do any of the things he was supposed to do. We wrestled, we fought, he dumped me in a creek once, we went in small circles, often. That was life for a long, long, time.

One day I jumped on, we went for a ride, and half way through I realized that I WAS the person in the field. From the outside the picture looks perfect, from the inside you know there's a lot of work to do. But you're thankful for each moment of perfection.

Funder said...

Slave Driver, your story is perfect. Haven't we all BTDT...

Daun, I got the biggest goofiest grin on my face just reading about how proud you are of Brego. :3

Jean said...

Sent here by a friend to brighten my day. As I look out on the wet, soggy, snowy, NJ landscape, I too have a hard time finding the enthusiasm to ride.

Your post was the perfect inspiration.

Now if only I could get my opinionated Thorougbred to read it too!

One of the loveliest mares I ever rode was a Percheron. What a sweetheart she was.

SunnySD said...

So neat - sometimes I think they just know when you need a pick-me-up, and they share. Of course, sometimes they know when you need a pick-me-up, and they decide it should be an airborn dismount sort of pick-yourself-up, too! LOL

Gotta luv'm, the silly things. And I'm so totally jealous of the indoor arena access, I think I'm turning frog-green out here!

dp said...

Two things:

(1) Taking possession of an acreage in the winter (after city living) is hard because you don't have your routines practiced and ready to apply. We took possession in January 2007 and that first winter was insane with heavy snow, power outages, furnace failures and a roof that leaked like crazy. Now these things are just part of normal life, but I probably would have been beside myself if we had animals that first season. It's not weird to feel stressed out and to question your judgment.

(2) Over the past month I have been forced to accept the fact that my riding horse may never be sound for riding again. This essentially leaves me with two pasture ornaments and not enough money to support another trail horse. Disappointing, to say the least. But yesterday I went out to put Raven's new blanket on and when I was finished buckling her up she stuck her nose into the crook of my elbow and rested it there as if to say thanks. A much-needed reminder of how much pleasure I get from the simple acts of caring for these animals. Riding is icing on my particular cake.

Glad to hear that you got just what you needed and that you're feeling more positive again.

dp said...

Haha...we had the roof replaced, so leakage is NOT part of normal life!

Mama2Arden said...

Welcome back Daun... crazy couple of months but in the end... Brego just shows we don't throw the saddle over the back of the horse but rather over their hearts. (my old mentor said this to me, so I can't take credit)....

But suffice it to say that riding is an art of being able to communicate in a language built between the two of you, whose subtleties are known to only you and your horse. When enough miles have built up enough 'words' you get what you and Brego enjoy... magic.

Thanks for sharing the dance....it sounded like a ride to remember.

Heila said...

That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

CaitStClair said...

I've been there myself, so frustrated, losing the desire to ride, questioning if I even deserve owning a horse... And then I get on and my witchy little mare is perfect and we connect and I know why we're together.

I just wish they wouldn't wait until we're at our wits end to really show what they can do!

Maybe Mae said...

Aw, this post made me tear up. Your blog is so the best. :) And yeah, you've gone through a ton of major changes this year, and it will take a while to adjust. But it looks like you have Brego there with you every step of the way.

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Beautifully written post...I'm so glad that Brego was a good boy and was able to lift your spirits. He's lovely.

sugarmama said...

and i'm tearing up.

thanks for such a lovely post, daun. you and brego are beautiful together....don't be so hard on yourself. glad you had an excellent night together.

Bev said...

Your friend in Texas was so right. The first year will be difficult but afterwards you'll think differently. By next summer, on a miserable humid day, you'll recall a perfect winter morning and the sight and sound of Brego, in a paddock blanketed with 8" of fresh powder, every breath displayed as a cloud around his face and whiskers frosted with ice.

Beyond that, you'll have accumulated a much bigger and better assortment of winter clothing and become an expert on layering!!! I also highly recommend taking a daily dosage of 2,000 IU Vitamin D during the winter months. Seriously. Supposedly it helps the body adjust to the lower levels of sunlight and leads to increased dopamine levels in the brain.

Andrea said...

Those are the moments I live for. I had one of them yesterday - had a rather terrible ride on Gogo, and got off feeling miserable. When I came out of the tackroom after untacking, she was standing in the aisle with THE most cheerful, happy face on. She wasn't bothered by the ride and the progress that was or was not made, she was just happy to see me and wanted to know if she could have a cookie for being (in her mind) a good girl. And my heart melted. No hard feelings, no unhappiness, no worrying about the future or the past, no nothing. Just moments, and the present, and joy.

And I dunno about you, but we're supposed to get 6-12" of snow on Friday..... maybe we'll have a white Christmas after all!

Anonymous said...

Truly beautiful.

Andrea said...

Dunno if it's hitting you as hard as it's hitting us right now, but the storm has arrived and it is COMING DOWN, so stay inside safe and warm if you can!

enlightenedhorsemanship.net said...

We all go through those times. You lucked out when Brego rescued you from it. What a good boy. Aren't horses miraculous? Even in terrible weather and in a morale low, he managed to make you feel good.
I admire him. And you.

Jean said...

oooh, here's the commercial with the Clydesdales:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qccLJ-slFI

Melissa said...

That was a very inspiring post, thanks for sharing it with us. Its nice, how horses seem to know when we really need to be cheered up. My little sport pony that I show can be SUCH a pill sometimes, but its on days like the one you had with Brego that keep me motivated to keep riding and driving her and my beloved percherons. Just remember that riding is meant to be fun so don't be too hard on yourself. You are doing a fantastic job! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Oh, that story brought a tear to my eye!!

Why=ile I have been in school, I have done much less riding than desired, but I only too well remember those times when you've had a streak of dodgy rides and then one day, everything just comes together. It's the best feeling in the world!