Relaxed Us

Saturday, August 01, 2020

My friend Anna spoke about the wisdom of remaining very relaxed while on horseback. We were out riding and the horses were our main topic. An experienced rider, she knows that horses do sense a rider’s slightest muscle tensions. She offers that a very sensitive horse, like my Rosie, may respond by becoming a worrisome ride.

I’ve complained about Rosie’s tendency to jig and jog on the trail when her rider simply wants a walk. Rosie’s normal walk is light and smooth, pleasant to sit. But she refuses to settle into a walk when carrying me in the Horse Butte National Forest. It’s a new riding territory for us and often we’ve explored its trails. I’m with three equines and four dogs, and working to manage and keep an eye on all.

Anna had me wonder if my outings, although enjoyable, create a high tension in myself that may impact negatively my horses. She points out that horses respond to a tense rider by becoming tense themselves. My issues are (1) with Rosie, who jigs and jogs instead of simply walking, and (2) with Sunni’s ignoring her rider by frequently and suddenly stopping to grab at grass. Anna didn’t blame such behaviors on the horses, she instead suggested that maybe they’re responses to a rider’s tensions.

We have learned to understand that tension is a double-sided phenomenon. One side can stimulate a person to explore, learn, create, and socialize. The other may cause a person to feel worn out, sad, closed-off and depressed. While my recent riding tensions are on the euphoric side, they nonetheless create a frequent tightening while I’m on horseback. Maybe it’s why Rosie jigs and Sunni halts, and both have become frustrating.

Yesterday in Horse Butte, I experimented by riding Sunni and ponying Rosie over an easy route. We didn’t have a particular destination, but simply walked in a direction away from the trailhead and eventually looping around to it. I focused on sitting lightly in Sunni’s saddle and guiding her with loose reins, and on not pulling or jerking on Rosie’s rope to make her “follow better”.

That focus on staying very relaxing resulted in a very enjoyable outing with my horses. Sunni did try to pause for grass, but seemed to do this less often and with less obstinance. Rosie, without a hitch walked correctly on her rope and barely was noticeable. I hardly believed this was us!

We’ll try this again today and hoping for another good outing. I’ll ride Rosie and focus on staying relaxed in her saddle and guiding with loose reins. I’ll hold lightly Sunni’s ponying rope, won’t jerk on it. I’ll stay tuned to managing the horses well, and not think so much about other trail-related goals that also may be worthwhile.

(I took photos during yesterday’s ride, but my goofball-self forgot to bring the camera from my truck. Today, I’ll take new pictures of those happier horses.)

Dear Friends: Everything works out best by letting events evolve in a logical order. Diana

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