Soaring To New Heights
Our second horsemanship session began straight after lunch. Each of us was to halter our horse and lead him back to the arena to play with all of the obstacles that had been set up. Chris began with telling us that our assignment for this session was to play the “Touch It!” game with our horses, driving them towards an object and getting them to put their nose on it and inspect the object. She then gave us a refresher of how to properly drive our horses and reminded us that this was not a challenge of leading our horses to or over anything.
I decided our first obstacle would be a large tire. Perseus very quickly picked up the game and briefly touched his nose to the tire. When he lifted his head, I once again asked him to touch the tire and this time, he began to nuzzle it and to inspect it more thoroughly. Finally, I decided to attempt to drive him through the tire, in hopes that he would put at least one leg through the center. Unfortunately, Perseus was not convinced that there was not a portal to some strange land in the center of the tire. He wanted to do what I was asking, but just couldn’t bring himself to do so. We started dancing around the tire, spinning in a circle and once Perseus realized that was not what I was asking, he started to try to jump the side of the tire. Perseus was trying so hard to find the right answer… but he did, all I was really asking of him was to try.
Since he did so well with the tire, I decided to move on to something new and drove him towards a 55 gallon barrel. Immediately, he put his nose on it. I then played the squeeze game with him and drove him in between this new object and the fence. Willingly and without a hint of fear, he did so! I was incredibly amazed with this little Mustang yearling and was having such a blast with him. One of the first clinics I attended with Eternity at Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, we asked her to jump over a sideways barrel. While jumping should be kept to a minimum for horses whose legs are still developing, I wanted to see if this was a challenge Perseus was up to. At first, he squeezed between the fence and the barrel, so I pushed the barrel towards the fence a little more. On the second go around, he did another side-hop as he had when I was trying to drive him over the tire. Again, I pushed the barrel towards the fence, leave little space between both. On the third go around, he finally understood what was being asked and soared over the barrel with great enthusiasm. Although he may be small, he has serious heart and I was so proud of him.
We then made our way over to the tarp on the ground. After a few times of smelling the tarp, he put his front feet on and then stepped backwards. I asked him to go forward, to which he placed his front feet on the tarp and shortly thereafter his back feet. Once he had been over the tarp the first time, he had no problem walking over it again and again. To watch this little yearling make so much progress in a few short hours was incredibly inspiring. While the rest of the ladies decided to attend yoga and meditation at the pond, I wanted to continue working with Perseus and spending time on our partnership and relationship. Since he had become comfortable with the tarp, I decided I wanted to try to fold it up and place it on his back for him to carry. Before I did this, though, I wanted to make sure to make a lot of noise and drag it around myself. I drug the tarp over my shoulder, and Perseus followed on a long lead behind the tarp. Even though Perseus doesn’t have 100 percent confidence when trying new things (who does?), his bravery shines through so brightly and my heart is just so full of admiration for him.
Once Perseus became more comfortable with the tarp, I folded it up and started to rub it against his side. He would flinch, but still stood his ground. If he began to lean away or wanted to move his feet away, we would repeat as we did in our first session. I would wrap my arms around his neck, soothingly trying to calm him and tell him he didn’t have to worry and that I would protect him. I could feel us trusting each other a little more through every challenge we overcame. Soon thereafter, Perseus allowed me to place the tarp on his back. We had come so far and made so much progress that I wanted to give him a break, but still spend the rest of my time with him. We began to make our way towards the round pen, which had some shade we could cool-off in, tarp and all. When we passed Rocky, G, and Biggie’s corrals, I began to hear confused snorts. This little, tiny yearling was carrying a large mess of a tarp on his back past these great, large geldings. Did they think it was consuming him? Oh, how I wish I could hear exactly what they were communicating with one another. I had to laugh out loud; what a funny looking spectacle we were.
Perseus carried the tarp with grace over to the round pen. As I let him mosey around, the tarp began to slide off of his back and hit the ground. To my surprise, he carried on grazing as if he didn’t even realize anything had happened. If I hadn’t been experiencing all of this first-hand with Perseus, I’m not sure how much of it I would believe! Over and over again, I couldn’t help thinking what a special horse Perseus is and I knew in my heart that someone someday would be on Cloud 9 with this incredible partner of a horse.
This post is part of a series from my experience of attending the Glamp, Pamp and Revamp retreat at The Medicine Horse Project in Caliente, CA.