A Moment of Silence: Communicating with Horses
After a sleepless night spent trying to save a newborn lamb, followed by a day of urging it to nurse, I was in no mood to train horses on Monday. Exhausted and achey, with frustration bubbling just below the surface, I didn’t trust myself with something so permeable as a horse’s mind.
The pressure was on. As of April 1, my training schedule hit full swing. Though Aaruba was enjoying a day off from conditioning, I was supposed to work with Consolation and Acey, preparing them to start under saddle. Time was ticking, consistency was key, goals tapped their fingers on my brain. Missing a day was not acceptable.
But, as Robert Painter told me many times, “Everything you do with a horse is training.”
Horses don’t come with an off switch. I can’t tell them I’m sorry to be snappish, it isn’t their fault, they shouldn’t be offended. Their sense of justice doesn’t evaporate because I am in a bad mood. An undeserved jerk of the leadrope could create a rift in our relationship that takes weeks to heal.
If I want to be trusted, I must be trustworthy.
Still, I couldn’t stay away from the horses entirely. Leaving all tack behind, I led Aaruba from his pen and let him graze while I groomed him. His coat, still fuzzy from winter, ruffled and gleamed in the sunset breeze. His ears flickered pleasantly, and the smell of spring grass wafted so sweet that I wished I could eat it, too.
I found myself sinking into Aaruba’s smaller world, his life that is just this moment. Swishing tail, smooth muscle, warm body, kind eye. Drifting tufts of winter hair. Stomping hoof muffled by earth. His pulse, soft as dusk, that bumps my hand upon his throat. His heartbeat, mine. Together. At peace.
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