The Perfect Place
What I love most about this photo is Simon's cocked right rear leg. He's relaxed, content, and happy just hanging out in the sun with his best friend, Dorian. And look at him! You can hardly tell there's horse under there! Fly sheet, mega fly mask, fly boots, bell boots . . . because of his sun sensitivity, the poor guy gets dressed from head to toe to go outside in the summer.
But he has no complaints. When I go to the pasture to get Dorian, Simon is always a congenial presence. Not a shred of crabby "This isn't fair!" He generally raises his head from grazing, sometimes trots next to Dorian as we make our way out of the pasture, whinnying all the way, and is always available for a gentle pat or carrot.
He makes no attempt to struggle out of what seems to me a fairly burdensome situation. Rather than struggle with all the clothes, he enjoys his life, loving right where he is, whether it's summer or, as above, early fall when he doesn't need dressing from nose to tail.
Today I went to the barn following a few days of feeling horribly deflated. After two years of Dorian having physical issues on and off (fungal infection, hind gut issue, injury to his stifle) . . . after his continual good humor given all that, Shannon (wonderful farrier) recently said his hooves are delaminating and we should already be through the grown down from the nutrition challenge.
You can see the chipping and the post-trim shots below--3rd one looks a lot better! But still . . . we need to see what's going on, so Dr. Olivia will draw blood on Monday for a panel.
More stuff . . . Yes, I can ride him, but only if we stay on the softest ground. All of it made me just want to quit. Give up, hang it up. Retire Dorian to someplace he'd be safe, healthy, and happy, and just never ride again. I was there. Pretty tired of it all and burdened.
And there is so much else going on in my life, too--I've been making a hard turn into a new life for myself. New commitments, new horizons, new opportunities . . . and I've been running up against huge resistance to moving into what appears to me to be the great unknown!
Back to our adventure. It was raining, so I took Dorian into the indoor arena to work him out--we'd ridden the day before, did some hills for the hind end, so today was trot-to-canter and side-passing to keep the stifle strong--the indoor has deep footing, so he's comfortable moving out in there.
There were some new obstacles in the arena, and Dorian was good with all of them! It occurred to me, and not for the first time, how intuitive horses are.
“What can be hidden or disguised from a person can nevertheless always be seen and felt by a horse. No matter what we may do to cover up our emotions when we’re with another person, a horse instantly knows exactly what we are feeling." Tim Hays, Riding Home:The Power of Horses to Heal.
Still, even with Dorian's (now) obvious instructions to me--don't fear, don't resist!--,I trudged around the arena at a walk with him at my side, backing him up periodically, moving his hind end, and so on, until he was warmed up enough to trot. And off he went--first counter-clockwise (racehorses, for some reason, seem to find that way easiest). When his time was up, I'd send him off the other way . . . I stood in the middle with the lunge whip, but after so much rehab he knows the drill (though as the video shows, today he cheated more than a little :).
After he'd done his work, I walked him around again to cool him down, mentioning quite a number of times what a good job he'd done. He licked his lips and chewed, loving the praise. It was great to see him happy and running around, investigating obstacles, nuzzling his beloved huge, (rather delapidated), inflated ball . . . .
We headed back to his carrots and Simon, and I felt a whole lot better about everything. The burden seemed to lift from me, as it does so often in Dorian's presence. I felt sure he'd be fine--we'll straighten out whatever nutritional deficiency is causing the hoof issue. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
As I put Dorian back in the stall, I finally got it. Even with resistance, we'll get where we need to go if we just keeping moving forward--taking the right action at the right time.
And on the way home, I got a bonus boost.
I'd been listing to NPR's Moth radio hour, and a woman was winding up her story about overcoming something scary, something she was hugely resisting. She ended her talk with this: "Sometimes the things that will bring us the most joy bring up the most resistance."
And isn't that the truth? We can get so blasted overwhelmed and defeated by resistance in all its forms--or at least I can. But I'm waking up more and more quickly, thank goodness. I more easily recognize this discomfort, discouragement, deflating feeling is something I can just take a step back from, observe unemotionally, and turn away from.
It is really that simple. And then, and only then, I can make a different choice.
So that's what I did today--with a lot of help from Dorian (as usual). I chose to not be impressed by the resistance. I chose to write a blog post after ruminating for days and days about having nothing of worth to say.
And so, as it turns out, right where we are, wherever that is--resistance and all--is the perfect place. It's always the perfect place because it's only from here that we can move forward.