My Guy story

Kathy had asked us to share any Guy stories that we may have after his transition to heaven last Monday. At first, I didn’t think that I really had any significant stories. Then, I remembered.

Last summer, I was talking to someone who was a very new client. I will call her “Wanda” (not her real name). We sat at a picnic table right in front of the cottage with 4 horses in the area contentedly “mowing the lawn”. As we sat down across the table from one another to begin our chat, the horses were scattered out and about, not within 20 feet. This would soon change.

As we began to talk, one of the horses wandered up on my side of the table and greeted me. She put her big head right next to me so that I could scratch her favorite place under her chin. After a few moments, she wandered off to continue grazing and another horse came up. He, too, wandered off after some scratches and nuzzling. Then, Guy decided it was his turn.

At first, the visit from the gentle giant was nothing out of the ordinary. He came up to get his belly scratched, I think one of his very favorite things in the whole world. When I ended the belly scratch because of exhausting my arm and wrist strength, instead of ambling off as usual, Guy stuck around. This is where I started noticing the out of the ordinary.

He moved around to the short end of the table, and stuck his head right between me and Wanda. He tilted his face so that his forehead was facing me. I could not see anything other than a very big horse head. I had to actually stand up and coax him with more belly scratches to get him to move from in between us. After I had again reached the point where I needed to stop the scratching, Guy this time angled his tall body so that his neck reached over my shoulder. Up to this point, I had been able to maintain focus on what Wanda was talking about. What Guy decided to do next, however, got the majority of my focus.

Wanda had several items on the picnic table, including a cell phone, book, a couple of notebooks and a bottle of water. By this time, I had almost completely given up trying to help her shift her perspective so that she could see how her actions contributed to her situation. I am a bit stubborn, and keep trying to gently open up someone’s mindset when they have enlisted my support and input to help them make some changes. I hadn’t been doing much talking at all during this session as my attempts had been met with a great deal of resistance.

As Wanda was talking, and Guy had his head over my shoulder, he started to edge forward a bit, so that his head was once again directly in between the two of us humans. This didn’t phase Wanda one bit, and she just kept on telling me about how evolved she was, and letting me know how much I needed to get someone else to change, and why did I think he thought the way he did. It was obvious Guy wasn’t happy that he hadn’t had an impact, because he tried something different.

The big, gentle giant put his nose on the water bottle. Still no reaction. Then, he pushed it, and it toppled over and slid off the table. It was picked up by Wanda and set down right back where it was. She continued to talk. Then, Guy moved a little and pointed his nose at her notebook. Still no pause or shift in her conversation. Guy pushed that on the ground as well. Still talking, she leaned over to pick it up, and put it right back in it’s place on the table. I was observing this, transfixed and amazed. It amazed me to no end that these antics were going on unnoticed by Wanda. Finally, when Guy pushed her cell phone onto the ground, I couldn’t contain myself anymore. I ever so elegantly snorted out a stuck laugh, and was met with Wanda’s very disapproving gaze. I apologized and asked if she had noticed Guy’s behavior. She looked at me with even more disapproval, and told me that of course she hadn’t because she was telling me something incredibly important. I shared that I always found what the horses had to offer important. This caused her to pause a few moments. I am sure in disbelief of my lack of attention to her detail.

Then, she started telling me how she had trained many horses in her younger days. At which point, Guy turned his butt toward us and ambled off after a few moments. I believe he felt that he had adequately shared his input, and the timing was perfect as we had reached the limit of our allotted session time.

I felt such gratitude for Guy sharing some space and time with us that day. I was struck by his actions as they caused me to think and feel that he was a bit protective of me and the safe emotional space we guard at the farm. I was also in agreement with his opinion of the conversation. This is my special Guy story. Rest in peace, fierce warrior protector. I appreciate you and your wisdom. Thanks again for sharing with me. july.6

Little Steps Toward a Solid Foundation

 

Something very interesting happened today on my journey with Cochise (Little Horse) from the barn to the pasture. I think it was indicative that our slowing things down has been a perfect answer for us.

Today was a cold, windy fall day. The kind when even the most steady, bomb-proof horses can act up. To be honest, it was a day when I would expect some shenanigans from Little Horse. Before I share what transpired, I will have to fill you in a bit on what we’ve been doing.

During both the clinic with Joe Wolter, and the more recent one with Phil Oakes, Cochise had been deciding to jerk the lead rope out of the hands of his leader and run off. (Side note ~ I worked hard to overcome embarrassment that I was the one with the bad horse that was giving the clinician difficulties.) Although he exhibited this challenging behavior, for both clinics, he was tremendous under saddle. At this time, though, I have been concentrating on slowing things down and working to strengthen our partnership and deal with the jerking away.

I have developed some new techniques that have been working well as I lead my little horse to and from the barn every day. One that has been really helpful has been to think of our trek as a working journey. For example, I have to check the aisle way for trains and buses before I bring him out of his stall. This means that he has to go slowly and wait for my signal to come forward. We are still working toward getting just one step at a time. We’re getting pretty good at two! Then, once we’re in the arena, he has to help me shut the gate, and I make up various stops such as checking this leaf, or re-homing this rock in the footing as we head toward the gate out onto the driveway. Of course, Little Horse has to stop and wait respectfully as I carry out my task. He also has to travel with me as I go to the next job. Putting my focus on something outside of us, and off of him, has been a huge help. I learned some stuff from the wonderful instruction I have been privileged to receive from the clinicians. (Kathy Malone has been a huge help with this! She has allowed me to fill in the gaps and understand what the masters were saying.)

When we get out of the arena, I usually take him in between where the cars are parked and the front porch of the observation room. It’s a bit of a tricky spot; we have had much fun and success with this maneuver. Today, there was a car running at the end, which is not usual. This, coupled with the wind and cold, gave us an extra special challenge. Cochise had his head high, his ears up, and his body was shaking. In spite of this, he followed my suggestions that he walk through this a few steps at a time. I was watching him carefully, and doing the best that I could to keep my energy low and guide him with my gentle strength. It paid off! To the extent that after he made it through, he didn’t squirt out of the tight quarters, which I was prepared to witness.

I feel with my whole being that this is a huge step in developing trust in our partnership for both of us. I am so proud of him, and so lucky to have him as my horse!DSC01707.jpg