Waning Gibbous 83 Percent of Full

If you don’t feel like exercising, just go do 12 minutes. Most of the time you’ll want to keep going — especially if it’s something fun like cycling, swimming, or dancing. But if you didn’t want to continue, you still got 12 minutes of whatever exercise, which is better than none at all. ~ Mom

The 12-Minute Rule

Last night I just knew I was too exhausted to horse around. Working on the computer all day is physically fatiguing in that horrible, dangerous, non-healthy way: it makes you not want to move, even though the only way to feel better is to get moving. It’s even more mentally fatiguing, as instead of a nice balance of mind/body/spirit, I am doing supertripledeluxe mind, a little bit of spirit, and only the bouncing and wiggling around on the ball as body. (And in fact, my fitness ball got a puncture today and deflated while I finished up an editing project, so now I’m sitting still, in a chair.)

I often don’t feel like going out to do horses in the evenings — something my nine-year-old self would never have believed. It’s been a rough few years anyway (understatement alert!) and combined with the fatigue and lethargy and various other things, I feel like I would not be “safe” attempting to do anything athletic with the ultimate prey animal.

Especially as I am not by nature in tune with horses.

What Makes a Horseman?

The excellent horsewomen I know all share certain characteristics. They are visual people. They are detail-oriented and methodical (not in a plodding or boring way, but in a “having a method” way). They like routine, having things their way, and when they move, they move with grace and no wasted motion. They do well with regular schedules. They are bossy, observant, calm to the point of coolness, and just a little bit detached, like they are listening to something the rest of us can’t hear.

These all seem like innate characteristics, honed by living and working in professional horse environments.

With horses, they know what harmony, fluidity, flexion, impulsion, partnership, and feel feel like. They recognize the subtlest signs of dominance, physical pain, or illness. They don’t get angry or frustrated or flustered by anything the horse does, and they know when to press and when to release.

Of all of these characteristics, the only ones that apply to me by nature are “bossy” and “having things their way.” (I am an oldest sister; these come with the territory.) I can feel feel enough to know that I’m on the tip of something huge, and through Parelli I have learned not to get angry or frustrated with my own horses, although I am still working being more phlegmatic with the dominant (obnoxious!) horses I handle when I cover the ranch shift.

I do get disappointed and I try to save that for when they can’t see me, as I do not ever want Rock or Salsa to feel that they have let me down. I am not disappointed in them.

Minutes Become Hours

Last night I wandered outside around 7:09, upholding my new pattern of designating weekdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. as Horse Time Inviolate. Maybe I’ll just read up on horses or watch a training DVD, if it’s all I can do, but so far I’ve managed to get outside “just to look at them” each evening. “Just do 12 minutes.” And every time, it turns into play. Hours of it.

Salsa and I practiced Touch-It pattern (with porcupine and driving) and Friendly game. Rocky and I practiced traveling circles at the trot, the weave with a pole in the middle at the trot, and trotting touch-it with the wisps of leftover hay in the corner. He bonked himself fewer times in this LWYGAWYS (look where you’re going and watch your step) training, although still is not lifting his hind feet enough. I had George Strait on the speakers and before I knew it, almost two hours had passed, in a combination of playtime and free time.

Where Do We Go From Here

As Rocky and I approach our two-year anniversary still stuck in level 2 jail, I admit to myself that it’s not just my own slow development that keeps us here, it’s his physical issues. Arthritis, cuts, bruises, clogged eye ducts, bad shoeing, barefoot transition, thrush — we’ve had a run of all kinds of things that can make a horse lame and hurting without actually killing them. His “all of the sudden for no reason at all” cinchiness could be due to ulcers and I’m going to get something to treat that, just to see. Last time he began to hate being saddled, one week into Tagamet he was much less resistant: wouldn’t it be cool if it’s something so simple?

I can’t afford another horse and I don’t want another horse. I don’t want to give up on Rock as a riding partner either. Ironically, the kind of riding I most want to do suits his physique just fine: trail rides and not-terribly-demanding freestyle-dance routines and playdays and games. We can pick things with lots of long straight lines, wide turns, and mostly ambling. I have no need to go into dressage or hunter jumper or reining or any other demanding equine sport.

We’re down to just the two things, the recurring lameness in the right front (which has improved a lot since the Adequan but reappeared today) and the recent cinchiness.

If it turns out he can never be ridden again, well, I guess I’ll just get in even better shape, as we do all the normal things I want to do, but with me walking or running beside him.

I admit it makes me really sad and I can’t help thinking about the financial hemorrhage this has been, not just having a horse but all the vet work and medicines and trying this and trying that to help Rocky feel sound.  It’s not like Rock hurts on purpose! But it’s pretty expensive to be paying for all of that … and then to have to lease a horse for riding or to give up the dream of riding. Ironic, I suppose, given how scared I was for so long, and how exciting it was to have lots of things to do that didn’t involve riding.

However, it would be no fun at all to tell him “suck it up” and make him deal and ride him anyway. If he’s not enjoying himself and feeling good, I’m not going to enjoy myself or feel good either. I wouldn’t make Jedi go do something that he didn’t like or that caused him pain, so why would I do that with either horse?

Categories: Love | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Waning Gibbous 83 Percent of Full

  1. I understand (almost) completely. I’ve had Cricket for six years and it’s hard to believe it sometimes. We dealt with bucking, two major hoof wall separations, a deep stromal abcess in her right eye (major hospital bill there) and recently 18 months of headshaking.

    When it stops being fun, it’s really hard to justify the funds.

    It’s even harder when the problems don’t have clear cut solutions. I cannot count how many things I’ve tried to ease Cricket’s headshaking. The good news (knock on wood) is that I seem to have found something that works. And it’s not ridiculously expensive. Amazing.

    Hang in there. It may not be perfect but it most likely will get better. At my recent L2/3 camp, I had two golden days of riding the most perfect horse in the world. Everything I’ve worked on over the past six years came together in some of the most relaxed and connected trot work EVER. These are the moments I hold and remember that the journey is measured in years and miles, not days and inches.

  2. Thank you — yes, you are right, years and miles not days and inches. How awesome to have those two days of perfection! And I know it’s not about perfection for you (or me), but that doesn’t mean perfection isn’t fabulous when we have it, LOL.

    I had a lesson on Wednesday and we worked on the very first baby step into Liberty — working on the draw — so that at least Rock and I can feel progressive again, while we get through whatever this latest physical issue is.

    In observing and talking to people I’m wondering if there are any horses in California who have not been overbred or underbred or inbred or stupidbred, as it seems like they are all lame or sore or unsound more often than not! Had I known about Parelli, and Atwood, I’d have one of those horses now. Which is not to say that I am disloyal to or not in love with Rocky, I am totally in love with him and do not regret him, and it’s fine how it worked out … but boy do I know now what I didn’t know then. LOL

    I’ll be 58 when Rocky reaches the end of his life and by then I should have a helluva lot of knowledge in what to look for in my next equine partner, as well as an amazing repertoire of things to do with a lame horse. LOL

  3. If you want inspiration about how far you can take your horsemanship without riding, hunt out clips of Silke Valentin. She’s the poster child (woman) for “it’s way more than riding.”

    But just because it’s more than riding doesn’t mean riding isn’t a huge draw to owning a horse. I’m sure you’ll get further than you might think. Just accepting Rock’s limitations (even if they are just temporary) gives him the space to be himself, to relax in your acceptance of him right now. The power of the mental and emotional connection cannot be underestimated. Pat says horses will do more out of heart and desire than sheer talent or physical ability alone.

    When his feet feel better, so will his knees and shoulders. When you find and relieve the cause of his cinchiness, he’ll relax even further. Your patience will pay dividends beyond your imagination.

    I’m not a great horsewoman. What I don’t know far exceeds what I do. But I love my horse and she knows it. Out of her desire, she offers me beautiful things.

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