Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mortise & Tenon - Learning Saxony No. 1

A long-awaited day of firsts, anticipated and not. I prepared for it by riding Saxony yesterday at dusk, 40 minutes of transitions, bends and on the buckle in the simple, square outdoor arena at the stable where we board. It was an uplifting ride because it showed me that I could be ready to begin with her today. I have a childish tendency to enshrine big moments, so no matter that I began with Saxony even before I bought her, I marked today as the time we'd really start our journey together.

I had her groomed and tacked at 10:30. K rode over to meet us. We would ride together off the property, deep into a nearby trail system. Not that nearby. There would be some road riding first. I wanted to do this ride, wanted to be bold, but only because I could depend on K to help us.

Saxony: absolutely unafraid of traffic, unfazed by roads.
Me: worried by roads, absolutely frightened of traffic. (I grew up at a time when cars slowed to an utter crawl if coming upon riders; now it seems drivers don't fathom that horses are animals, not ATVs.)
I could feel the tension enclosing me as we rode away from the barn. I ran through my tricks. Look up at the sky, settle deep in the saddle, lengthen my body. Stretch. Breathe. But it was hard not to be fixated on what lay ahead. Saxony suddenly began calling in her girlish, seemingly undeveloped voice. 

Me: knowing exactly where we were, comfortable that there would be a beginning, middle and end to this ride.
Saxony: not knowing where we were going, worried she might not see home again.

This bridge became a fulcrum for the ride. We couldn't go on without going over. I was afraid of it. There's no place to escape the traffic. Saxony stopped. I knew her previous owner dismounted and then led her across, remounting from the guardrail on the other side, a choice I completely respect. I know I could have turned that into an out for myself, but I really didn't want to give up on us like that. I have a horse now that I can ride. She doesn't know anything about my fear. She isn't my fear.

Saxony: Maybe I would respond to the aids and move forward, if you ask. 
Me: Maybe, if I trust myself enough, I can apply the aids and ask you to move forward. 

And we did. We crossed that bridge.

I learned other things today, during four hours of riding, but maybe nothing more important than that the two of us are interlocked in good ways. What's she worried by doesn't bother me; what I'm worried by doesn't bother her. One day maybe we will be solid as an old oak chest, held together by mortise and tenon jointwork, built by hand over time, with care, patience and love.


Kate said...

Very nice - you'll both work on worrying less together!

Niamh said...

I think it's so incredibly important that you have this internal dialogue going with yourself all the time. Our horses look to us to tell them that everything will be ok, seeking trust in us whether or not we are freaking out on the inside. Riding that mare for the last 6 months taught me to trust my riding, wholeheartedly, because the second I started doubting myself she lost her marbles. I'm looking forward to your journey with the new pony!

Rising Rainbow said...

The drivers around here don't respect riders on horses either. I find it very disconcerting even though my horse is fine in traffic.

Sounds like you too make a good pair.