Sunny (the horse) has recently figured out how to open gates. He unlatches them with his lips and pushes them open. I THOUGHT I'd fixed it by moving the latch thingy to the outside of the gate... The other day, while eating breakfast, I noticed the horses were not in the backyard and the gate was open.
It took five minutes to find him. He was in the neighbors' hay barn.
I have now met some of my human neighbors. I was well acquainted with the cows, goats, and the alpaca, but I didn't want to meet the humans. I was afraid of them. I knew at some point, they were going to ask me if I was LDS, and I wasn't sure how to answer that question... Bill, the neighbor, asked. I said, "no", and he just said, "That's okay. Most people aren't. Are you liking it here?"
Then we talked about good trails that I haven't tried yet. A good place to buy hay, and he told stories about when his calves all escaped their pasture. "You haven't really had animals until they've gotten out and you've had to deal with that."
The snow and cold have made it so I can't really enjoy riding in the mountains. (Although between a good quality duster and the lack of snow, I went out until the beginning of January. Which is AWESOME!)
I've been taking Sunny to the arena to ride him and work with him. I enjoy the arena, but I get really anxious when there are other people around. I feel like I'm going to do something wrong and the people will think I am a loser and shouldn't be riding a horse. (Falling off the horse doesn't scare me. But what people think of me does.) I don't like working with Sunny if there is someone else there... even though I understand that they may or may not know more than me. I also would LOVE for feedback if someone knows more than I do... My anxiety comes from thinking they are thinking something, but not saying it.
I've been working with Sunny on transitions (changing speeds). I barely even have to THINK the word "trot", and Sunny is trotting. The most imperceptible shift in my saddle and he's running. Unfortunately, he's not so good at slowing down or walking. Although I understand the benefits, the work seems tedious to me. I'd much rather just run.
I've only been riding for a little more than three years, and I've never had any sort of formal lesson. I've read books. I've spent a lot of time observing horses and riders, and I've spent A LOT of time in the saddle. Mostly, there's something about horses that just feels intuitive to me.
Today, as we were leaving the arena, I needed to push the button to close the livestock door. At first, I was trying to use all of the "right" signals to get him to step sidewise to get next to it. He was throwing his head (In Sunny language that means, "I don't understand what you are asking me to do!") I stopped, took a deep breath, and instead of trying to impress all of the people around me... I just told him what I wanted. Literally. I said, "I need to get over to that button, can you get me there?"
And he did it.
I don't know if he understood my words; if we communicated telepathically; or if it was just coincidence... I do know that every time I get clear on what I want him to do, he pretty much does it.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of confusion inside me. I WANT to just run. I understand the power of working on transitions and practicing going slower, but I don't want to do it. He gets mixed messages.
I'm trying to impress people... I can't imagine a horse would understand the message, "I want those people to think I'm awesome, so do whatever it takes to make them think that." He throws his head and acts confused.
I love that horse for the things he's taught me about balance and centering myself. I love him for the things he's taught me about communication, intention, and asking for what I want. I love him for all the lessons he's taught me about fear. I love that horse for the way he helps me see me.