I think of all the horses that I’ve known, most definitely of the ones that I’ve worked very closely with, Sunshine is probably the most intricate and complex of them all. He has really given me the inspiration to take the road less traveled in the horse world. It’s not always an easy journey. Much of the time it doesn’t make sense. (At least not at the time.) However, the journey I have chosen to take with my red horse always teaches me something and more times than not, pushes me to develop more. More patience, more courage, more calm and more curiosity.
Usually when I work together with a horse, I have a hope for the session. My new wording for a plan, as I look for cues during our time together to see if my hope shifts. The overarching goal for time I spend with horses is that of connection. It’s what makes the time spent with these magnificent creatures so very special. The connection with each horse will be different, and on any given day with a horse can be different, and it’s an essence in itself. Sometimes, these concepts can be really challenging to put into words, yet, apparently, I keep trying!
Today, with Sunshine, I had the hope to put a saddle on him. I haven’t been on his back in a couple months, and wanted to set that intention for the very near future. Of course, it has to fit in with the overarching goal of connection.
Sunshine is a very interesting horse to connect with. Everything he does is big and bold. Underneath this exterior appearance, though, he is incredible sensitive. He reacts in this big and bold way when he is confused, I have come to learn. He has strong opinions and fights being vulnerable with his whole being if he’s having an opinionated day. Having discovered these things about him, I have a deep respect for the space he’s in, and don’t push him. On these very big days, being able to connect with him can turn into a very interesting journey.
It used to be that on these very opinionated days, Sunshine would decide he would rather not come in from the field with me. More towards the beginning of our off road journey, I would respect this decision and opt to bring in a different horse. Where we are in our journey now, if I go out to get him and he moves away from me, I move him around the field until he decides maybe he’d rather come in. Actually, that hasn’t happened in a few months now, he’s come in agreeably lately.
I went out and brought him in. I had gone to a couple other horses in the field first, and as I was doing this, Sunshine came off the round bale and walked toward me. I haltered him and brought him in.
He got “stuck” a couple of times just before we went in the arena. The trio was at the gate. and very interesting. In his time, we ventured into the arena, and ended up doing something I couldn’t have guessed would be in our time together.
Since I got him, Sunshine has always swished his tail when I or someone else stands close to him. Especially from his shoulder to about the point of his hip. I have tried doing things like keep the pressure of a rope around his girth area until the tail stops. It generally doesn’t quit. I would end up waiting until it slowed down. Or just ignoring it. Today, I had another level of curiosity about it.
It started because I wanted to brush the arena dirt of Sunshine’s back so that I could saddle him. He swished his tail as I raised the brush. I backed off, and took another tack. Because when I backed off, he exhibited the signs of response and release of letting go of tension, I got an idea.
I didn’t direct him in any way, but just brought my life up, and asked him to move. Sunshine would take a couple of steps, and I was pretty amazed at where he put himself. He would put me, on either side, in the very place that would induce the most tail swishing. I thought it was pretty amazing that he would put himself there. When he had carefully positioned himself, he then would exhibit more of the responses and releases. I really found it fascinating. When his responses would dwindle, or my intuition would give me a nudge, I’d ask him to take a couple of steps. We made our way around in the arena, each time, he stopped in some of these “vulnerable” areas.
As we participated in this energetic dance, I felt really calm and connected to him. I am not sure if it will have any huge effect on his tail swishing, but I am curious to see what transpires. And, we have another one of those really off the beaten path activities to play with. Always something new to learn, and Sunshine is one of the world’s best teachers!