Dar bucked E off today during his session. It came out of nowhere, not buried in a spook, not part of a leap into flight, not telegraphed with a pinched, swishing tail. He just bucked her off, from what looked like a place of total disrespect. "Get off me! I don't want you on me. Get off!"
She wasn't hurt in the fall, though her helmet is done.
This was her fifth or sixth ride on him. The only new thing was the dressage whip she carried, and I saw no sign at all that he cared about it. He's at that point in his training where he needs to learn to be more immediately responsive to her cues, not continue to be the sluggish turkey who arrives at the trot well after she's asked for it.
She didn't let go of Dar through the fall. She collected herself, led him out of the grass arena and back to the mounting block. In a few seconds she was back on him. A 15-minute ride proceeded with little incident, but he was irritated and she had to keep the reins high to keep him from ducking his head. Lots of bends and turns wore him out and stopped him from humping his back, and she dismounted only when she felt he was completely responsive.
I write this journal to capture and hold things that are important to me; in this instance, the horses. It's not a journal about my life except when I filter how I see myself through my involvement with them. In the scheme of things, though, Dar could not have picked a better moment to pull this move. My heart closed on him instantly, and hard, because I was already shocky in the wake of too many absurd, hurtful and frustrating events that have occurred during the previous week. I might never write about them, but they set me back to such a raw, fearful place that Dar's stunt today seemed the least of it. In an act of self-preservation, I dismissed him from my future.
"This is Dar," E said. "He's an asshole."
It wasn't until now, hours later, that I asked H.G., "What happens to a horse like Dar without a person like me?" I was thinking then of Dar afterward, as he stood silent and still in the cross ties while I untacked him. I have too many years of involvement with animals to not recognize anthropomorphising in myself and others; I know how easy it is to project my own hopes and fears onto the seemingly expressive face of an animal. Nevertheless, I could see that Dar was sober, mopey and down. He was tired, and the look on his face seemed to ask "Why is everybody mad at me?"
If Dar is all the difficult things he appears to be -- studdy, dominant, a bucker -- then what is the right future for him? If he is all the wonderful things he appears to be -- a lover of people, curious, unflappable -- does it matter? Where does a horse like Dar end up if someone like me gives him up? Where is such a horse meant to end up? I love him, from my gut. It's a solid, strong, simple love I feel for him, sprung from a strange understanding of what it must be like to be him. I can't possibly know that, I know, but something in me gets him.
I wrote this quickly to keep myself from shaping it into anything more or less than what it was. It's all I can do right now.