Treasuring a mini-magic horsey moment

Small victories can sometimes be the most special ones.

I enjoyed a special surprise today with our mare. Actually, she’s my daughter’s horse, but my kid hasn’t had a lot of time for horses lately, so I’ve been enjoying this sweet horse mostly solo.

This horse is generally gentle and sensible. OK, most of the time. On the other hand, since I’ve been sidelined with an injury for a couple of months, the horse hasn’t seen much work.

It would be fair to say she is a little rank these days. But she will come along, as we settle back into a working routine. We were doing pretty well before my (non-horse-related) accident and injury.

Today was a small win, but it was sweet.

This mare was mostly idle for several years. Then my daughter was asked to work with her, just a couple of years ago. She schooled her and eventually began showing her. And they did well. She even ended up buying the horse.

Still, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say this horse hasn’t had a lot of groundwork. Plus, it can take time to build a special relationship with a horse that belongs to someone else. I didn’t even ride this horse for the first year my daughter had her. A few months ago, when she grew busy with young adult life and sort of stepped away from horses for a while, I began working with the mare.

It sort of felt like I was hanging around with my kid’s best friend or something. In time, we got over that. We’ve grown pretty fond of one another, I think.

That makes today’s tiny incident more noteworthy.

This horse is wonderful to ride, indoors or out. But she’s never liked the dark, rattly, and somewhat cluttered area by the far end of the indoor arena. (You know. It’s the place from which equine-eating shadows jump out to eat horses. OK, they’re barn cats. What’s the difference?)

Today, we did some liberty ground play. The horse free-lunges (without a whip), changing directions on hand/arm signals. Most of the time.  So we did some of that.

After a while, I let her rest. I lumbered way down the arena towards the scary place, seemingly ignoring the mare and tinkering with my phone. (Yes, I admit it. I was answering a text message.) Soon, I was leaning on the arena gate, right by the big shaky door.

Within a few minutes, she crept up behind me and nudged my shoulder.

If she could speak aloud, she might have said something like this:  “I’m still a little scared in this spot, but I’d rather come along and be with you.”

I stashed my phone and offered her a few soft scratches behind her ears and along her bridle path. (That’s sort of her favorite spot.)

Nope, we didn't master tempi changes, jump three feet, perform a piaffe, rope a steer, or break a speed record. But it was a magic moment, nonetheless. Especially relationally.

Small victories.

And I didn’t even have any treats with me today. Boy, do I love this mare.

Horse close-up photo by LAN for The Mane Point
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