August 18, session 4

Working with horses is always surprising. I’m endlessly fascinated by what comes up when I decide on a particular course. Kastani and I have been cooking along really well. Before this last break he was so with me - excited, engaged, waiting for me and keen to work. We were trotting in hand with nothing but feather light contact. Now, I’m faced with this guy who is cranky with me, offering up absolutely no energy or enthusiasm.

It’s interesting because I am also keenly aware of the pressure I feel. I have the camera running. I’ve set a goal for us. I feel lots of doubts about what I’m doing and why.

Reflecting on our last session, i realized I never asked Kastani if he wanted to participate as my dance partner for these two weeks. I said as much, out loud, to him during our last, less than satisfying session. The look on his face was priceless. The sense I got from him was like - ‘yea, I’ll forgive you this time, but it would have been nice to be asked.’

After the last session I have two observations:

I get the sense he’s really cranky about something. I have two theories

  1. That he is irritated that I went back to basics instead of just picking up where we left off.

  2. That he is trying to tell me he doesn’t want to work right now. I really have the sense he wants ME to stop and just be. Inconvenient timing for that!

My other theory is that the body work I did has stirred up some old physical and emotional stuff that he’s wanting time to work through.

Today I determined to return to what we were doing before our break. I have become very aware that when I come back to a horse after some time off it can take several sessions for them to become enthusiastic again. So my thought was to persevere even if he was reluctant and try to get back to what we had before.

I found Kastani in the farthest reaches of the pasture where he completely ignored me. He never does that anymore. I put the rope around his neck and picked up some energy. It took several tries to get him to join me. He finally did when I promised I would keep it brief today.

He followed me in willingly enough but with little enthusiasm again. It’s so hard not to take that personally. I’ve taken to putting music on via Spotify to help give us some rhythm we can both tap into. It lifts my mood and helps with my enthusiasm. I did that when he finally let me halter him and followed me in.

I groomed him and did a little work at liberty. He picked up some energy but not a lot and really just wanted to connect and follow me around. Fair enough. Into the bridle to do work in hand. He’s so very busy with the bit that it can make feel insecure. Especially about filming the session and sharing it. But I persevered.

My sense is that Kastani is working through something physical when he’s doing this. I do my best to stay out of his way while still offering support from my core. I find it useful to ask him to move while he’s working the bit in his mouth. He pokes his nose out, turns his head to the side, twists and reaches and dives. After a while, he’ll find a place where he lifts his back and his whole spine comes into perfect alignment. Then he is light, soft, with a spring in his step. His mouth quiet. These moments are still brief but oh so sweet.

Tomorrow I will take a day off from physical interaction with Kastani and check in with him via Theresa. She can help me find clarity about what he’s trying to tell me with his very different behavior. I look forward to that. Sometimes it helps to reach out for help! Objective third parties are always useful!!