August 26, Session 9 - best laid plans

Obviously, I was super excited to go play with Kastani again after our epic first ride yesterday! It was slated to be very hot again so I wanted to get out early. Well, all sorts of things conspired to keep me indoors until a little after 10 am. Sometimes you just have to prioritize the business end of life and it gets in the way. So, I was pretty cranky and tired by the time I left the house - so many small frustrations - figured I’d go do SOMETHING with him anyway.

How about a FUN day, I thought. So I set up a few simple obstacles in the arena and went to gather Kastani. He was not so interested but I negotiated with him and got him in. The whole herd ended up joining us briefly, which was really fun. For me anyway. Kastani dutifully, but unenthusiastically followed me around. I tried all sorts of things to try to spark his interest. He could have cared less.

Finally I gave that up and tried engaging the rest of the herd with us. So we all moved together some. Again Kastani followed dutifully along but didn’t have any spark. So I decided to take him out and about a little. We went down into the wash on the east side of the property. The downhill and change of terrain I thought might be useful for his shoulders.

This is when I finally, finally quit trying to make something happen and just be with my horse. He hung out and grazed at the top of the hill while I wandered down a ways. With just a little coaxing he ventured down with me and we hung out together while he munched on this odd, dried up grass that all the horses seem to like quite a lot.

I stood about 20 feet from him, at the end of my line. He grazed quietly after startling at some noises from the neighbors once or twice. What struck me was how peaceful he was about the whole thing. He wasn’t busy. Wasn’t clinging to my side. I felt no neediness between us and thought this is what it means to have a horse I can trust. He’s so okay on his own. We both were standing in our own sovereignty. Being together without needing anything from each other.

This might be the biggest gift Kastani has given me yet. To feel and see the distinct difference between this moment of just being together while each enjoying the space and time in our own way as compared with all the busy, contrived things I tried before. Trying to manufacture energy and enthusiasm where there is none. Some days during this process I have been able to perk myself up by going out to spend time with Kastani. My enthusiasm genuine. Yesterday there was no enthusiasm and he reflected that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what motivated me to go out and try yesterday anyway.

  • This feeling of pressure to work him multiple days in a row so we can build momentum and make progress. Holy cow. Just typing that sentence my shoulders went up around my ears and I quit breathing!

  • I’ve read a lot of posts recently that reiterate that horses are not meant to carry the weight of a rider. So that always plants this seed of doubt about what I’m doing. So I think there was some hesitation about riding again. Kastani has some odd lumpiness on his bottom line so I worry about strapping on a saddle and then I have voices in my head that tell me bareback is worse for their back than a saddle. I talked myself out of this train of thought that evening by really looking at Kastani. His back looks better and stronger than ever and the chronically tight muscles behind his shoulder blades felt better after my ride, not worse. He’s getting fit. He’s gleaming health. And he doesn’t seem to get sparked by anything other than riding.

What I learned is that Kastani is with me. All he wants is for me to show up when I feel good to be with him. He doesn’t care if it’s every day or not. It doesn’t need to be a big thing. I still can’t find words for how it felt to stand in the wash with him and realize how okay we both are. Independent and strong.