Friday, May 25, 2012

Introspection and Horses

"Your horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will." - Buck Brannaman

     And unlike last week, this thankfully isn't about Animal Farm. It's about actual farm animals.

     I've ridden horses for around eight years. Some rough estimations placed me on upwards of fifty different horses in that span of time. I've been able to ride Greek horses, Oklahoma horses, Arizona horses, Missouri horses, and Michigan horses. Each one is profoundly different from the previous, and each one has taught me something new. Riding is a sport that is not based on any set of rules. For each new horse, it's not a binary "do this, don't do this" that determines how it should be ridden. Riding is a sport based entirely upon feel. 20% of regular horseback riding is skill. 80% is nuance. For a horse to understand a rider, the rider needs to understand the horse. And for the rider to be able to understand and fit to a horse, the rider needs to understand himself. The goal is to turn into something of a centaur. The rider should be able to think something and the horse should react. This takes not only a sensitive horse, but an even more sensitive rider. When the rider can jive and adapt with the horse's style, the horse should react more to the thoughts of the rider than to the rider's actions. 
    Though I have not owned a horse, I am riding a Morgan-Arab cross named Sasha at a horse farm near us. This particular horse is sensitive to the point of detriment. Sasha can tell more about me than I can of myself. It's becoming disturbing. She can read my thoughts better than I can think them. She pulls nervous energy and insecurity out of me that I didn't know existed. A simple gait transition, however controlled I make it on the outside, can become dangerous within a second because of a subconscious misgiving or over-analysis on my part that the horse reacts to. The key is being more sensitive than the horse. But when the horse is more sensitive than you are, it's quite frightening. I've realized that a stressful day of school, even if I've convinced myself I've put it behind me, can throw my off my balance with Sasha because she reads the subconscious stress. I can mask this well enough with other horses, but Sasha is disarming. She makes me find that modicum of nervousness that I didn't know I had and get rid of it entirely, not just subconsciously bury it.
     I don't speak well on the spot. It takes me days to collect my thoughts enough to form something like this blog post. It's the nature of the introvert. As a result, I rarely vent. I can hardly communicate. And I seldom initiate conversation unless I can dominate the situation. Some call it social retardation. (And it doesn't help when you address people with Shakespearean greetings. I think it's classy. The world thinks it's stupid.) The telepathic-ish communication between horse and rider, then, is rather nice. But when the horse takes the upper hand and starts telling you about yourself, it's like a stranger off the street telling you your ancestry. 
     My introversion probably doesn't help my tricky situation with Sasha. Leave it to an equine to pull out the worst. But you can certainly forget about psychology. Just ride a horse. 

     This is Irish. Irish is a neighbor's horse that will be boarding in our pastures throughout the summer. I grabbed these shots in the brief intervals when he's ceased from his ravenous consumption of the grass. The sunset Wednesday was epic.

1 comment:

  1. If you have ever enjoyed a day of horseback riding or even just spent time with horses then you know how much fun you can have.

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