After a week, I've clawed my way back into cyberlife. A working laptop is critical to my job, my hamster-wheeling, our bills, our business, and staying in close contact with the friends I dearly love, almost all of whom live too far away from me. I felt cut off from all of it. When my data was restored, I felt like I also was restored. That gives me pause, but I'll think about my dependence on technology some other time.
Because horses are another sort of technology entirely, I went to the barn to work with Dar today. It was the perfect act of self medication.
I have a different sense of resolve with this horse. Maybe it's the fact that I have a body of experience with Scout, or maybe it's my awareness that time isn't limitless for me anymore; either way, I'm motivated with him in a way I can't help but believe is good.
No matter where he is or what he's doing, Dar always trots to me when I call his name. This afternoon I brought him from his paddock to the barn, taking the long way through the dune-like snow. I don't let my horses graze when I'm leading them or riding them, so Dar went through a mini-class while we walked. Every time he lowered his head toward a tuft of winter-worn grass, the lead line prevented him from reaching it. It has nothing to do with me; I just don't give him enough line to permit grazing.
In the barn, I clipped Dar into the cross-ties. The Percheron in him shows in his thick, self-parting mane. (Well, in his fantastic creased rump and brick shithouse of a head, too.) I'll never be able to train his mane to one side or the other, so I've decided to give him a short sport-horse mane. I've always loved that look. While I hacked in a rough cut, Dar struggled to remain patient. What can I do? Must play, must nuzzle! I am mouthy!
I kept our cross-tie session short, holding it to 20 minutes. After working on his mane, I pulled out my shedding block and the great scrub brush I use to reach down to the skin. He's shedding already, and I'm looking forward to pulling the new Dar out from under all that dead coat, his old clothes from another life. I can see the weight and muscle that months of good care have built in him, but not yet the form.
Here's the wonderful thing: Dar is not herd bound. In Scout, that has been such a savage limitation, one that made it impossible for me to ride her alone and made it an endurance test to even try grooming her in the barn. The absence of that in Dar gives me mental space I just can't get with her. I can really work with him because I'm not already fighting just to manage an anxiety that also causes anxiety in me.
I took Dar to the outdoor arena and watched him canter and buck through the undisturbed snow that's been piling there for months. When I first got Dar, he barely lifted his knees. Today, flagging his tail and arching his neck, he trotted in broad ovals, lifting his feet high in the deep snow. I think he's beautiful.