Sunshine and I had another very interesting time together today. I am trusting what he’s telling me and where my intuition takes us. One of the biggest things that allows me to do this is how he comes off the round bale to walk up to me out in the field.

Our session today started in just that manner, with him lifting his head and coming toward me as I walked out in the field. With all of the other choices he could have made, and definitely did in the past, this makes my heart smile.

I brought him into the arena, where I had a bunch of ground poles, barrels and cones set out from a client’s previous adventures. As I was tying the halter, Sunshine had gotten “that” look in his eye and tipped his head. It was only half hearted, and he came back to a position where I could finish the knot. He had let me know that he was on edge, and I would be sure to stay mindful of that in whatever direction our activities went.

As usual, Sunshine’s rolls in the arena dirt came first. I walked with him through and over some of the stuff on the ground. He was very willing, and I found that my intent and body language was almost all that was necessary to navigate our course. I did notice that his edge was still there a little. It was very subtle, but when I would stop moving and let my energy “stop” around the assorted obstacles, it would take him a little while to follow my lead and come to a halt. He also started putting himself in those positions that would cause his tail to swish and he would exhibit releases as he had a few sessions ago. He even put himself so close to me once that he brushed my carharrt. I found it very interesting that he had to give a huge tail swish. He absolutely brought it on himself. I just stood there and let him do what he needed to. He gave some big yawns and shook. Again, I am listening to what my horse tells me, and taking that into consideration with my plans for our time together. I hope that by following his lead, we’ll be able to experience even more trust and harmony.

On the way out, Dave pulled up, and Sadie ran over to greet us. This caused some visible elevation of Sunshine’s state. He and I made our way to the gate. As I went through the first gate, that leads into the lane, I asked Sunshine to come through, and asked him to turn back to face the gate as I shut it. And, that’s when it happened.

All too familiar, the arch in the neck, the look and the eye, the tilt of the head, the brace in the body and the direction of movement. Thank goodness it happens so much less frequently now. So much less frequently, that it can take me by surprise now when it happens. I was so taken by surprise as I was trying to latch the gate, that I just paused.

To be honest, as I was pausing, the thought of letting go of the rope, or tossing it at Sunshine came to mind. For a while, that was how I dealt with what we had termed Sunshine’s “disease”. I had a pretty rough week enduring some respiratory crud, and my stamina and energy were pretty low. In all honestly, I decided not to let go of the rope because then I would have to walk after my fleeing red horse, catch him up, and bring him all the way back to the gate. I also recognized that the moment of being able to flip the rope and have a chance of influencing a change in the situation had passed. From experience, I know that if I flip the rope at the wrong time, it makes the disease even stronger. So, I just stood there, with the lead in one hand, thinking about how much I didn’t want to have to go walking and catch him up, and watched…..

In disbelief, practically. When Sunshine hit the end of the slack in the rope, he stopped. He simply stopped and turned toward me. We stood there blinking at each other. Maybe he was in a bit of disbelief, too. Then, I turned and headed to the field gate, my red horse following peacefully at my side. As if the disease never happened. Even though Missy and Jewel had run up to the gate, Sunshine was completely polite and pleasant as I unhaltered him. When he was free, he didn’t move and hung around for some pets. Yes, Sunshine, I will continue to listen. Thank you for continuing to talk to me, it’s helping us develop into quite a team.

3 Thoughts on “horse listening”

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