Learning Curve

One of the reasons I decided I didn’t like taking horses in for training or rehabilitation is that it’s so difficult to stay in the moment and honor both what I need and what the horse needs on a day to day basis. Re-connecting with Rio has been so much fun. My enthusiasm is brimming over and I have a strong desire to spend time with him every day - don’t want to lose the momentum and all that…

This past week is the first week I’ve been back to a somewhat normal level of physical activity since before Mom had her surgery back in December before Christmas. Since that time I’ve been fairly sedentary and then, of course went down with the flu just before the New Year. I keep thinking I’m okay and then I go do something (like dancing with Steve at a concert last Sunday). By 9 pm I was absolutely exhausted. On Tuesday I worked with three horses, something I haven’t done in a very long time. Then we had another dancing, social activity on Wednesday evening. By yesterday I was wiped out. I wasn’t sleeping well, waking up with a headache at 4 am after having trouble falling asleep because of leg cramps. I just chalked it up to soreness from getting back into activities again.

What does all this have to do with training horses? Well, yesterday afternoon I was so tired I could hardly see straight. Three nights with barely adequate sleep and I was pretty cranky too. But, I thought, I’m going to go see Rio anyway. He had Wednesday off and I just have to keep up my momentum! “We’ll just walk around the pasture or something that gets me out in the sunshine moving, nothing complicated’.

Rio was waiting at the gate, could not wait to get the halter on and marched with enthusiasm toward the arena gate. Okay. We got into the arena and it was all he could do to wait for me to close the gate before he started trotting toward the north end of the property - back to the square pen where he found that alfalfa yesterday and got to really move his energy. He was absolutely full of himself and terribly insistent on eating that hay again.

I quickly realized that I in no way had the energy or enthusiasm to be more interesting than that little bit of hay and the little bits of green things sprouting up around the edges of the paddock. I had to admit defeat and after letting Rio eat for a while I was able, with some difficulty, to negotiate getting the halter back on and going back out to his pasture turnout for the evening.

My realization in all this is that I was already putting pressure on myself and this relationship with Rio because I’m sharing the journey with the class. I was putting us into training and trying to make it happen even when I had absolutely nothing to give. The first lesson in the online class is all about self-awareness, self-care, recognizing basic survival needs and so forth. I thought I was doing a good job of pacing myself, but I was not. I thought I was back to full health and could just power through and get back to fitness in a few days. I cannot. I saw my Naturopath today and he confirmed, my body is still fighting that flu bug. Armed with herbs and a sense of relief at knowing why I’m so sore and so tired, I am ready to really listen to my own body.

Rio, I’m sure, will be greatly relieved not to have me show up asleep on my feet to interact with him! Though maybe he wouldn’t mind if it means he gets to drag me around and eat all the goodies he can find!

I’ll monitor much more carefully my motivation for spending time with Rio. I want to be out there with him when my whole heart is in it, not just because I feel obligated to get something done. Lesson learned.