Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Change of Heart

     WhiteStar and I continued to work together.  The funny thing about horses is that, whatever your issues are, those issues are magnified when you are working with horses.  You either have to quit altogether or you have to deal with those issues.
     For example, if you have a habit of only sort of listening to people (i.e. not focusing your full attention on them), you usually can get away with it.  In your day to day life, you can think about half a dozen things at once.  Maybe your acquaintances are a little disappointed in their conversations with you, but it doesn't really affect your life.  Maybe you don't even realize you are doing it.  Then you go to work with horses and find out that they know exactly how focused you are.  And if you are not focused, they will not be focused.
     {Note: My friends who have children assure me that children are the same glaring reflection of your own faults...an equally good test as horses are.}
     So, as WhiteStar and I went through our paces, I began to deal with my own shortcomings: focus, confidence, leadership, relationship, motivation, speed, listening, purpose, planning, and so on.  Some things are not an easy, one-day fix, but as you sit there on a distracted horse you realize that you are doing something wrong.  Maybe it is technical (pointing with the wrong hand, weighting the wrong stirrup) but more likely it is deeper within your focus and attitude.  When you fix it, your horse automatically corrects.  So you are motivated to find out what you are doing wrong and fix it.
     As I am working my way through all of this, I keep a check on the pretty red mare out in the field.  "Someday...someday...," I tell myself, "...someday I will move on to riding her." 
     I was intensely jealous to see others riding the red mare.  Why them and not me?  Why was I still stuck with the sweet mare who tolerated me?  I buried my tears in WhiteStar's neck and faithfully kept working at my horsemanship skills.  One day...
     But when my big "someday" came -- the day that I look back on and say "I finally got to ride a real horse" -- the horse that I rode was...WhiteStar.
     I am not even sure how it happened.  But one day, when I walked out into the field to get her, I really saw her.  I looked at her and not past her.  And I suddenly realized what an amazing horse she was.
     And you know what?  As I stood there looking at her, with her halter and rope hanging over my arm, she looked back at me.  And, for the first time, her look did not say that she was tolerating a beginner.  Her look was an actual look of greeting.  When I stopped looking past her to my future career as a world-class horsewoman, she stopped looking past me to her quick return to the pasture.  We actually saw each other.
     I slid the halter over her head and led her to the arena.  All the way, I whispered sweet words to her, thinking of nothing else than the joy I had in her company.  She flicked her ears and listened intently.
     As we played our games, I told her how wonderful she was.  I told her stories of amazing things we could do together -- highly unlikely things, I suppose, but I could see it in my imagination.  I told her I would protect her -- and I would have!  I would have faced a cougar on her behalf.  She was my girl.
     And she, in response, was more relaxed and more attentive to me than ever before.  We accomplished things that we hadn't quite managed until then.  She was amazing.
     We had the most perfect day together.  I had a change of heart, and that was the day I got to play with a real horse.

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