This past weekend, I had a chance to spend some time with my favorite Flash boy. It’s been a year since he fractured his P1, and has been given the all-clear to start light riding and slowly being legged back up.
Pretty much all of the time I’ve spent with him has been at rides, or visiting him for the couple of weeks post-injury when he was at the vet clinic so close to me. This was the first time I’ve got to hang out with him in his “natural” environment, and he’s just as entertaining in that setting as he is at a ride.
He’s also a total showoff and camera hog, and very photogenic, so I took a truly obnoxious number of pictures along the way…and will attempt to restrain myself from spamming the blog with dozens of photos and stick to just a dozen or so.
I did a bodywork session on him. He was a very interesting subject to work on in terms of his releases — he’s actually very subtle, and this modality seems to really suit his personality of not liking being pressured, and backing off of pressure versus drilling down harder. Afterwards, I sat down on a pile of hay in his stall to work on my notes and paperwork, and he came over and started nibbling on his hay right next to me.
He had plenty of Opinions about life, as always, especially when Claire took his BFF away for a couple of hours to go ride…but even that only amounted to the occasional circle around his pen, some head twirling, and some loudly expressed shrieks of indignation. (Gah, he’s loud.)
As a distraction, I took him for a walk around one of the big pastures. We zig-zagged back and forth, up and down, along the fenceline, pausing here and there to snatch a bite of grass, but mostly conversing and communing. Well, I conversed and he listened. At least at first. And then he had some things to say. Things like, “Let go. Trust me.”
See, I had been doing my usual “control and clamp down” approach to handling a horse who was just on this side of being “up,” and I should know better with this horse. My go-to when a horse is up is to keep a tight lead and keep them in check at all times. You would think I would know better by now, that doing that never seems to actually help, and instead gets them more revved and powder-keggy.
Bless this horse, though…I don’t know why he is so forgiving of me and my mistakes, but he certainly seems willing to humor me and give me a chance to regroup and reassess. And in this case, I needed to relax, let him have some rope, work on lengthening my own stride, and start incorporating my left hand into cues and signals. That was so much more effective than pulling on the lead rope (how many years have I been in horses and I still have to be reminded of this?), and he immediately got more settled, which meant I loosened my hold on the rope, and he relaxed even more. I think he teaches me something every time I’m around him.