Going With The Flow

This is the podcast recording ...

The following show notes are a chapter from my book Horse Logic

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Going With The Flow

When I was 11 years old, all my dreams came true. I was offered a free lease of a horse. Her name was Burton Candy, a.k.a. Cindy.

Cindy was a New Forest Pony — dark brown with a chocolate brown muzzle. She belonged to a family in town who had three other horses. Two of the horses were leased to older girls from the neighborhood, the third, Rocket, a pony, belonged to Sylvia, the family’s daughter.

Sylvia and I became fast friends and spent every waking hour we were not in school or doing homework with our horses. Every day after school we mucked and fed and rode, and on weekends we filled our fanny packs and took off for the day.

Looking back, every time I hopped on my bicycle to go and see Cindy, my mind was focused on nothing but Cindy, and when I turned the corner and saw her standing in the pasture my heart expanded. Every. Time.

When Sylvia and I brought the horses in from the field, we loosely tied them to a hitching post and got to work. If it was mud season we’d grab a rubber curry comb and, with some elbow grease, clean our horses. If the weather was warm and the horses were clean we’d grab a little bucket and two sponges, one to wash our horses’ faces, the other to clean the teats and in between, and any dried manure stuck to their behind.

On rainy days we brought the horses into the stalls adjacent to the tack room and sat in front of the stalls, under the covered roof, to clean our tack. Cindy’s and Rocket’s heads would be hanging out over the Dutch doors, releasing shuddering breaths, deeply relaxed in the company of their humans.

It’s the gift of our younger selves, the ability to go with the flow — to assess a situation and come up with a plan that fits the circumstance. It didn’t matter what we did, as long as we did it with our horses. We decided from our heart, not our head.

That flow gets interrupted when we eventually decide to become more formal in our horse adventure. Once we get serious about lessons, showing, and competing, we arrive at the barn with a plan. And, as we get older, our lives are more complicated and we have more on our minds. We have a preconceived notion of what we want to accomplish, and we most likely are not paying much attention to what our horse is experiencing while we plot and plan.

Often the result is that both horse and human feel not heard and seen, leading to a misunderstanding that creates a rift in the relationship. We may go through the motions of horse ownership without the heart-warming effects that drew us to horses in the first place.

Mud and Mayhem

Sandra got a pony at age seven, graduated to a horse at 12, gave up riding when she went to college and reconnected with horses when she turned 40. Inspired by the boarders at the barn, she bought Duke, a 15-year-old Quarter Horse, so she could join the others on trail rides.