Friday, November 1, 2013
Leave your dignity in the forest...
This year I've been happily working with a green (unschooled) horse, who came in without even the basics of how to walk in a circle. He also "floored" some riders by bucking when asked to canter. "Not fit for general population", he became my personal project horse. Chief Tenaya is a big peasant of a horse with an honest disposition. He's six years old, but his owner was too old to work with him and he'd been a pasture ornament rather than getting an education. He had to learn that people should not be knocked out of the way and that a horse should pay attention to the rider, not gaze around for something interesting to spook at.
I had signed up for some private dressage lessons and chose to ride Chief, rather than a more sophisticated mount. Circles and spirals, mostly at the walk, with a horse as big and stiff as a barge. To most people that doesn't sound like fun but, to me, the connection with an animal who is willing to learn and the small, incremental achievements on which to build his future, have always been my passion.
The action photo above is the culmination of our work so far. I've developed a mutual trust relationship with this horse and I'd been dreaming about riding him bareback for a while. Halloween seemed the perfect excuse. With a faded curtain as the basis for an outfit, I taped my tiara, some leaves and forest creatures (cat toys:) to my helmet and went as Princess "Leave your Dignity in the Forest" Tenaya. Some of the horses wanted to lunch on my leafy crown and others were distracted by the cat toys that squeaked with every step. Chief never blinked an eye at my cape flowing across his rump and he performed like a pro. We even beat some other teams to win the bending poles (slalom for horses).
After the first few minutes of strangeness without a saddle, Meatloaf, singing "It's all coming back to me now" started running through my head and then I simple forgot that I didn't have a saddle. The last time I rode bareback was when I had a horse of my own, over twenty-five years ago. I had so much fun, I'm debating whether or not to ever use a saddle again.