What We Most Resist
Updated: May 18, 2019
Dorian and I were trotting one sun-filled, clear summer day down a gravel path toward the turn to the barn at Kraus Farms. All was well after an hour and half trail ride up some steep hills, through the cooling forest, past a quietly grazing deer, along narrow paths, and then cantering along Dorian’s favorite flat but gently curved dirt pathway through tall, shady trees. It had been a lovely, silent, relaxing day for us both.
Ahead to the right were a group of folks in triangular, metal-looking, reflective hats waving long wands in front of them. They looked like something from a sci-fi film as the sun glinted and flashed off their helmets.
They were looking for metal treasures, I saw right away. But to Dorian, they were beasts dropped from who knows what planet out to surely devour us both.
His head shot up, ears forward, nostrils flared, neck stiff, snorting and jigging to the right then the left. His whole body quivered under me.
What we most resist can lead to something more wonderful than my fears could possibly have allowed me to envision.
I reached forward and stroked his neck. “You’re ok,” I said softly, calm but alert in the small English saddle. “It’s ok, buddy,” I said again, reassuringly stroking his big, red neck.
He was unsure of whether to listen to me or the turmoil inside him. His ears flicked back and forth as I soothingly spoke to him and he shuddered and side-stepped, flicking his tail this way and that.
I reached far forward and stroked his white blaze, murmuring softly. His ears finally relaxed and his neck eased. Pretty soon, I could physically feel him let go of his fear, and he turned his attention to the path ahead. We calmly walked right on by those predatory creatures, and on home with no further to do.
But then came the creek.
My great friend Anita Alexander Pasztor, who is definitely a horse whisperer far beyond any capability I will ever have, had to tackle that one. I’d tried and tried to get Dorian to cross the creek so we could trail ride the woods and the fields and trails up top and beyond.
But he’d balk, he’d rear, he’d simply refuse time after time. I got off him and tried to walk across as if it was no big deal. I rode him toward it and looked beyond as you’re told to, but nope, nothing doing.
The redhead in him certainly came out, day after day, time after time.
So I enlisted Anita and she jumped on his back and off we went, me on her horse Blade, and her on Dorian. We got to the creek and he did his redhead thing and refused.
He refused about fifteen times.
But here’s the secret. Anita simply would not allow him to fail.
She insisted. With leg, with a swat to the rump with her flat hand (which was like a fly landing to him), but mostly with her fierce intention, she finally got him to bolt across.
She brought him back over. She did it again. And again.
And finally, my hard-headed and beautiful chestnut racehorse, went right over the creek and into the woods.
And lo and behold, he loved it! He was alert, interested, peering this way and that, taking in the sights and sounds and smells with utter delight.
From that day on he loved trail riding. And he loves the creek.
Later on, we’d trot right down the slope to the water and wade into it, and I’d patiently wait on his back while Dorian pawed the water, watched the minnows, nosed the creek water—he loved playing it in. And then we’d be off up the other side and into the woods.
So like us all, isn’t it? Dorian delights in the woods and in our many hours together riding trails. But he was so resistant to it at first, so certain he couldn’t and wouldn’t venture forward into something he knew nothing about.
Yet, the truth is, not much pleases him more than those woods and the rich grasses at the top of the long rise where he grazes and I look contentedly at the wide, wide world and the deep blue sky.
It’s been a great lesson to me. What I most resist can lead to something more wonderful than my fears could possibly have allowed me to envision.
So I’ll trust that. And I’ll trust Dorian to lead me there. Only fitting I think, since he’s broken through his fear enough and trusts me.