My Sport and I were out with my good friend Lisette and her horse Riley for a trail ride on a beautiful sunny day. Lisette is on a work-to-ride lease at our stables as am I, but she’s been there much longer and has been riding Riley for more than seven years. I admire their relationship almost to the point of envy, since Sport and I are still in the “newlywed” stage of feeling each other out and finding out what makes us tick.
I felt this same way several years ago whenever my newly married husband Peter and I would visit my brother and his wife who had been happily married for ten years. They had already worked through many emotional and mental minefields and had safely reached the other side. There were several times in our newlywed phase that I wondered if we would be so lucky.
“Want to trot a bit?” Lisette asked as we reached a wider part of the trail. Sport has a nice trot, so of course I said yes.
Unfortunately, he trots so nicely I wasn’t paying attention as I should have and Sport tripped over a tree root. As he began to fall forward, my first thought was “Oh no, we’re going down!” He quickly regained his balance but then went into a couple of little bucks before I had completely regained my seat. My next thought was “Oh no, I’m going off!” I barely stayed on and was thoroughly shaken as Lisette slowed Riley down to a walk with Sport following suit.
Seeing we were okay and trying to downplay the event, Lisette just shrugged, saying, "The last time Riley tripped he gave a couple of bucks too, to cover up his embarrassment.”
The rest of the trail was uneventful but my heart was still racing and my emotions were imploding when I dismounted, untacked Sport, gave him his apple and put him out in the pasture as usual. Had Peter been there, he would have recognized the looks Sport was getting because he’s seen them many times over the past twenty-seven years. The well-practiced - Well, I never, how dare you - types of looks.
On my drive home, I started crying. Lisette was just being kind, trying to gloss over the fact that my horse had tried to get rid of me! It’s a good thing I had a half hour drive because that’s how long it took me to navigate this particular minefield that had exploded between Sport and I.
I have taken riding lessons in the past but for the present, I’ve been relying on a few favorite YouTube trainers when I’m facing issues. Just the night before, I had been watching Rick Gore Horsemanship and although I’m not ready to go bridleless as he prefers, he always makes a lot of sense. One of his favorite sayings is, “It’s not the horse’s fault, people! It’s your fault.”
It was my fault?
I brushed the tears and my emotions aside and thoughtfully replayed the scene in my mind. I recalled that as Sport initially lost his footing and pitched downward, I tried to pull his head back up. In my panic and my effort to keep my seat, I had inadvertently yanked back on the reins and held them there, which I would never normally do. I always make an effort to keep my hands soft with him but I hadn't this time.
It was my fault.
As I left Sport in the pasture, he had had every right to be glaring after me with his own "how dare you" look. If I want Sport to control himself perhaps I should get control of myself and work on acting calmly instead of overreacting.
Sport and I might just survive this newlywed phase after all.