The Friday before last, I felt an urge to go out to the barn and see her. I drove there with no plan in mind, just gave myself the freedom to go. She came right to the fence line, as usual, when I pulled up. We did our looking at each other thing. In the barn, I groomed her, and I really sank into it. I felt I had that time, a perspective which has been rare for me during the last few months. And grooming her opened something in me, enough that I let things fall away from the foremost agitation in my mind. She sighed at some point, deeply, and sort of wrung her body out, like a clenching and releasing of all her muscles. After that, it felt right to tack her up, and that's what I did.
I've ridden her here and there through the past couple of months, mostly bareback, mostly contained wanders and idles in the ring. I haven't wanted us to go in full tack. It's me. I haven't wanted to go in full tack.
We did a ride of purpose and intention. I wasn't thinking about anything else. I finished transitions, up and down, rode her up into the walk from the trot and reverse, corrected myself when I began to drift away from my seat. I stay tuned to her, feeling how she was going. Whenever I felt I might float up into my hamster-wheel head, I picked one of the letters mounted on the top fence rail and rode to it. Then another, and another.
She's an inquisitive mare, likes to look, and wants to move to see better whatever has drawn her attention. I don't want that. She can look, but she doesn't need to head toward the thing. We worked on that. I rode her to a square halt in the center of the ring. We stood there and practiced just looking, together. I told her, "There are the horses across the street. That's that guy on his tractor. There's Gracie on the porch. Over there, they are trying to load Gambler into the trailer." We looked at all of it. After a few moments, she turned her head to touch my booted toe with her nose. That's when I understood that she was fully present, she was connected to me. She'd just been looking around, but not away.