Thursday, August 23, 2012
It's About the Journey
Sigh. Bob and I have sure been down a long road together in the last year, all documented here in my Posts. The loss and exit of the three other horses that lived here with Bob, which sent his confidence sideways...which impacted MY confidence in Bob had us both struggling to find a relationship.
And those darned shaking knees and front legs which suddenly gave out on three separate occasions resulted in my belief that our riding days were over.
What happened to turn our world around?
Physically, not much really. Lots of space with comfy places to lie down and an arthritis supplement that is added each night to Bob's grain.
A routine that starts with going out to greet Bob and spend time with him as part of my morning routine (my husband feeds Bob prior to leaving for work).
A morning hug. With my arms around Bob's neck I bury my face into him and stand there for minutes. Bob responds with his signature blubbering sighs. Initially those hugs were the result of my sadness regarding our situation. I think Bob was sad too.
But these days those hugs convey the love I have for this horse. Rain or shine, and as dirty as I come away after that hug, I wouldn't have it any other way.
After our hug I stand next to Bob while he gently lips my hair and face. If he needs his fly mask, he willingly lowers his head so I can put it on. I go over and open the gate to the 'summer' pasture.
Initially Bob ran through the gate and galloped away from me. These days we walk to the gate together and he stands next to me while I open it. He waits a few moments and then slowly walks through.
I take spontaneous trips into the pasture to hang out with Bob. I'll pet or groom him while he grazes. Sometimes we just stand together looking out at the scenery. He follows me around but I never leave until he's back to grazing. I want him to know I'm not there to take him away from his feeding time.
And as corny as it may sound, from all of the above something changed in our relationship. Something special happened.
Bob and I bonded. We've developed that silent communication. I can read his thoughts and I know he can read mine.
But so very special is the deep trust that has developed between the two of us.
So on Monday when I hauled Bob back up to the barn to take that first ride since we fell I found myself confident in riding him. Go figure, I used to be a nervous wreck to ride Bob if I hadn't been on him for seven days. But on this day I hadn't been on him for over 9 weeks and I was fine. My only concern being that I didn't push or hurt him.
I was joined by my riding buddy from the barn. It was just the two of us, alone in the arena. I enjoyed walking Bob next to her as we went round and round catching up and laughing.
Things went so well on Monday that I hauled up again yesterday. The arena was empty except for a trainer who was working a green horse. They were having quite the rodeo while I walked Bob around before I got on.
Bob wasn't so sure about this. He figured if this horse was having such a rough time that something must be wrong. His eyes bulged and he looked at me with a question in them. He was asking me for confirmation. I confirmed that all was well and I could see him visibly relax.
While the rodeo proceeded I got on Bob. Now that he knew he wasn't in trouble like that other horse, he stood quietly while I hopped on, the frantic activity around us forgotten.
As we were riding a horse in one of the stalls that aligns the arena started kicking the wall. In the past Bob would bolt at the loud sound. But today I felt him hesitate and stiffen in concern. Again I knew he was asking me for confirmation. I turned him slightly and asked him to move on, confirming all was well. I was met with a relaxed horse and blubbering sigh of relief.
I will continue to ride Bob but will no longer take lessons with him. Forget the confirmation, the shoulder falling in, how he can't properly lope or trots too quickly.