Bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties oh yeah!
Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah
On your marks get set go
Bicycle race bicycle race bicycle race
Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
~ Queen/Freddie Mercury
I was feeling tired and hot and didn’t want to … but you gotta do it seven times for it to make sense to the horse, right? So I wheeled it out and as always with cycling ended up having such a good time, I went for 40 minutes. It’s like being 10 years old on a BMX track except the hillocks and ditches aren’t quite that extreme and I’m about three times the weight, though not the height, of those boys.
Riley didn’t twitch even when I zipped behind her (within kicking distance, practicing my trust — of her, and of my own reading of her floppy ears, lazy tail, cocked hind foot, low head, calm munching….). Star was curious and when I stopped near her she came over and sniffed the bike.
Rocky? He mostly didn’t budge either but he did tense. The one time he moved was when I slowed down and squeezed between his hiney and the fence (about a seven-foot gap) — he took two steps forward. I didn’t look at him or say anything; I had a lot of practice tonight at “horse, what horse?” He stopped doing that after a few more laps but I could tell he remained aware of where I was, and was not entirely comfortable with me going by that close.
I can see why bicycling helps you become a better rider. In addition to physical fitness and balance, it reminds you to look where you’re going (not at what you’re riding!) and plan for contingencies of terrain, weather, environment. It is waking up my enjoyment of speed and giving me confidence at higher speeds. I didn’t even worry about the electric fence this time.
I tried a few different things tonight, as it was my second time out there, and I was more confident in myself, my bike, the territory, and the horses. I wove around closer to them for longer periods, and I rode over the tarps which made a different sound, and I came in at a medium speed and stopped suddenly right next to Rocky several times. I stayed out of arm’s reach but could have porcupined him with a carrot stick. I didn’t look at him though. I was very interested in my handlebars, and I did several torso twists and arm raises. Yep, just a cyclist stopped for stretching break. Then I took off at speed (well, “at speed”) and I could feel him staring after me feeling puzzled.
Bill Dorrance’s book doesn’t mention cycling through the pasture as part of developing feel, but I think it’s working.
During one of those stops, I stayed straddled over the bike and walked four steps forward, then four back, then forward, then back, keeping it rhythmic. Rocky took a step or two to the side at the forward, as it was into his bubble although I was parallel, not facing him. But the rhythm of back and forth relaxed him again and he dropped his head and went back to eating.
On another stop, I dismounted and walked backwards with the bike next to me, to show him that these things can go in reverse, too, and that it’s not permanently grafted to the human. I almost fell ass over teakettle when I bumped into a rubber feed tub (the one Riley keeps dumping their salt lick out of). Rocky had his ears and eyes on me that whole time but not out of anxiety — obviously he knew I was on a direct line to the feed tub and was watching to see me fall over and amuse him. My clumsiness is endearing, indeed.
Maybe I should pitch an article to the Savvy Times about how to amuse your horse, slapstick style.
I finished up by walking the bike around, close to the horses but with my body between it and them. Then I rode it outside the pasture fence, and inside the turn-out next door. The mini-donkeys were more worried about the bike than the horses were, and since they are now kept in the wedge between the back 40 and the back turnout, I figured riding around the turnout would help them too. Meanwhile it would give Rocky a chance to get used to cyclists in the distance. When I finished that, I took the bike into the donkey pen and let them sniff it. One took an exploratory nip and now there’s a small rip in the seat cover, but I don’t think they’ll worry about it anymore. When I wheeled it around in there they followed me like I was the lead pack donkey.
Poppy came back today to do her energy work/communication on a few other horses, so she did a follow-up session with Rocky. I asked her about one of her techniques that looked like some form of acupressure or chiropractic and she said she was working with his reflexes. I’m not finding much about its use in equines through Google or Wikipedia, but I found this description of Natural Reflex Therapy in humans at the Integrative Healing Institute:
Using only the slightest pressure, purposefully applied, the therapist’s fingers and hands read the reaction of your muscles, bones and nerves to soft, kneading motions. Through touch, the therapist receives feedback from your body, and repositions the area affected–arm, leg, hip, shoulder, neck, head—to release spasm, restore normal muscle tone, increase circulation, remove pressure on nerves and allow bones and joints to move freely.
That is pretty much what I saw her do, and the results I see in Rocky. After his session today his facial expression was so relaxed and interested that I had a flash of sorrow for not realizing sooner that he was nearly rigid with pain. She says that it’s cumulative from his experiences in “training” long before I got him. (I don’t want to go into detail about this or the pictures he showed her of what he endured, but we explored it thoroughly last week at the first session; I chose not to blog it because I don’t want to give it any more energy or attention. It’s enough that he’s here, now, with me, and for all my inexperience, my intention and my journey are on the right path. And we’re healing, together, from past trauma.)
He looks more even and has more range of motion tonight, and I am happy and convinced. I ordered the supplements she recommended (rose hips for long-term protection against stones; cell food for short-term treatment of possible enterolith; saw palmetto for prostate health; psyllium for general sand colic prevention; fulvic acid to spray on his feet for 8 days to reduce pain and inflammation) and I’ve slated him for an epsom salt bath on Saturday.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ~ Arthur C. Clarke, author