Monday, July 8, 2013

Banking on the Bond

The fireworks are over and things have settled down.  We would usually go to the cabin and participate in post holiday events but J and C both had to work until late Friday night.  The idea of driving up on Saturday morning and returning home Sunday afternoon in heavy holiday traffic didn't appeal to any of us.  We decided to stay home.

Saturday morning found me home alone by myself with J taking off with friends on an all day motorcycle ride.  C headed out with pals to the beach.  I wanted to go out and have fun too!  What should I do?

I've spent almost a year and considerable resources trying to address his issues.  He's had a long time to rest and heal.  It's been hard waiting for him but yet the waiting has brought us close.  It's time.

He's in the trailer behind me.  I'm excited but uncertain.  He hasn't left home since last October when I had to board him while he received medical treatment.

Today I am going to haul Bob to the barn and if all goes well, I will ride him.

I wasn't sure how Bob would handle being saddled.  In the past he's playfully bucked as I saddled him up.  Today he stands quietly, turning his head to nuzzle me as I adjust the pad and cinch him up.  I'm pleased.

But I'm still unsure how this is going to turn out.  I put my camera away at this point, wanting to have my hands free for the unknown.  Bob is such a sensitive horse; I've never known a horse such as this.  He's been known to run away at loud voices.  He gets upset if he's around a horse being disciplined.  Loud noises cause him to flee (forward at a fast pace).

Will the bond we've built hold up through this event?  I will bank on that bond and hope for the best.

As I walk Bob into the indoor arena I speak to him the entire time.  My voice is quiet, my speech is slow, my tone is assured.  My physical movements are the same, quiet, slow and assured.

My friend hasn't arrived yet.  She will be joining me on this day with her horse.  The indoor arena is dark and empty, somewhere in the distance faint music plays on the barn radio.  Bob and I are alone and I can feel his uncertainty about all of this.

We walk around the arena.  I hold the lead rope gently yet I'm prepared.  The rope is folded in my hand so it won't wrap around and hurt my hand should Bob suddenly bolt.  As we walk I let him stop and smell whatever he wants until he decides he's ready to move on.  We take all the time he needs.

Eventually we make it to the other end of the arena and go through the gate.  As we walk through I'm able to reach over and turn on the indoor lights.  We continue to the outside of the arena.  We are now on the opposite end from where we first entered.  There are two people nearby trying to unsuccessfully load a horse in a trailer; it's not going well (at all).  Oh to go back inside and wander to the other end of the arena.  I don't want the noise and activity from this event to set Bob off.  Need to keep this positive karma going.

With the lights all on, we visit all the mirrors on the arena walls.  As we stop I ask Bob, "Who is that pretty Sorrel horse?"  I laugh out loud, I sound like I'm talking to a 2-year old.  I hear the sign that all is going well, Bob replies with his first slobbering sigh.  He is starting to relax.

We continue with more slobbering sighs and then a good, long blow.  I laugh, smile and give him pats.

My friend arrives and gets on her horse.  We walk next to her for a few rounds.  I notice the people who were loading their horse have left.   With no reservations and a large feeling confidence I haven't felt in eleven months, I go over to the arena wall where Bob's bridle and my helmet await, "just in case" I decided to ride.  I've decided...

Bob takes the bit without any issue.  I check the cinch and we walk to the mounting block while I make sure my helmet fits firmly on my head.  The mounting block...this is where I still have issues with confidence - that final commitment of swinging your leg over the saddle; it's always a challenge for me.  I ask my friend if she'd dismount and "spot" me as I get on.  She's off and waiting.  It's time...

Bob stands quietly as I swing my leg up and over.  Ahhhh, I've missed sitting in my Crates saddle on Bob!  We stand there for a few moments while I settle in.  Time to ride...

We move off at a walk - it's a fast walk.  At first I'm a bit concerned about how quick our walk is.  Then I smile and laugh out loud, echoed by a slobbering sigh from Bob.  I remark to my friend that I've forgotten how Bob moves.  Where Elvis is western pleasure slow, Bob is sorting cow fast.

This is just how Bob moves, there is no threat.  I relax.  I don't walk off in a straight line, I use by legs to move him to the right and left.  He immediately responds.  I forgot how easily he moves off my leg.  It's a joy.

Another friend joins us and the three of us, mounted on our horses, walk around the arena side by side chatting and catching up.  I move away from my friends to do a few rollbacks.  They are picture perfect.  Bob hasn't forgotten.  I am smiling ear to ear.

My friends are observing us.  They tell me Bob looks great but that he appears to be a little weak in his front end.  There is no longer any stumbling or falling so we determine this is because he hasn't been ridden in such a long time.  They suggest we walk over poles to build up his muscles.

I could ride him forever but am sensitive to this being his first ride in a long time.  Too soon it's time to end our ride.  It's hot and he has sweat running down the sides of his back haunches.  He turns his head to the sweat and then returns to look at me, turns his head again and returns to give me "that look".  He wants me to rub the sides of his rear haunches where the sweat is running down, it probably tickles.  I rub and he closes his eyes in happiness.

We say our farewells and head to the trailer.  He hops right in and we head home.  I laugh as we drive down the road because I can see him sticking his nose out the side of the trailer.  I am so happy!

Got the camera back again.  Bob unloads.  Another day at the office to him.  I unsaddle him.  He's soaking with sweat.  Even though we didn't do much, he has worked hard on this first ride.  I spray him down with cold water from the hose.  He moves around on his own so I can get both sides sprayed (I don't have to move at all).  Nice guy, Bob!

I wipe him off and give him a huge hug.  He responds...with another blubbering sigh of content.  How I love this horse.  I banked on the bond between us that today would go well.  I couldn't be more thrilled!


  1. A word......YESSSSS!

    So happy for you, this has been a long time coming, and I loved the way you recounted the whole thing. I could totally feel your apprehensions and then your point of relaxation and then the pure joy. I laughed out loud with you as you drove home. Wonderful! Just wonderful.

  2. I am so Happy for you and Bob ! Wonderful post and photos ! Thanks for sharing !
    Have a good day !

  3. Awesome! Even without the pix of you smiling I could feel them thru your writing. Wonderful

  4. Congratulations! Long awaited days like this are always good memory makers. Keep the smiles.
    Bionic Cowgirl

  5. Awe! Such a sweet sweet horse Bob is. I had tears in my eyes by the time I finished your story! Yes, Bob is a keeper and one in a million! I look forward to progress reports of bond building from the saddle now! :))

  6. So happy your first ride back was such a good one. :-)

  7. Yay!!!! Go Bob!! :D I didn't realize he was that spooky. He sounds a lot like Faran... only he's a lot smaller lol. :)