Last week was a milestone for Wyoming and me. Her first solo ride. I had gone to the barn with that plan in mind, however when I arrived I had my doubts if it would be the right day.
Well it wasn’t upon arrival. Everything seemed fine at that point. In fact my horses were already at the red gate waiting for me to bring a meal or take them into the barn. Otherwise all was calm. Perfect in fact.
I prepared the food, grabbed Wyoming’s green halter and as I walked out of the barn I saw the farm manager jump hurriedly on his tractor and begin raking the cut grass in the adjoining field at full speed with great force of energy. He must have a busy day planned...
As he zoomed past the fenceline my mare herd stood expectantly they reared and danced and then fled at full speed across the pasture through to the next field and as far away as they could go to the storage barn in the far corner.
I walked all the way to retrieve the crazy panting herd and hoped they wouldn’t lose their minds again and I wouldn’t lose the lead rope to a fleeing wild mustang walking back to the gate and toward the tractor wildly raking hay at top speed.
This began a morning where I knew it was time to throw out the pattern and work on the dance. To me this meant being mindfully present in each small step aware that I must be ready to make any one step where we lost connection the place we spent time reconnecting in the dance together.
Thankfully with me leading the herd, we walked calmly to the gate. I fed the two staying behind and led Wyoming through the gate- into the hay field with the tractor – and walked along the fenceline as the hay raking continued. I was pleased that Wyoming was connected with me and trusted me to walk safely through. She even stopped to get a drink at the water well as I stood guard.
She was with me.
If she could stay mentally present with me we would have a successful morning together. She would have confidence and security. If she was pulled into fear from her environment we would struggle to get anywhere and she would be anxious and stressed.
Stay with me girl.
I was glad we made it into the barn but the distractions weren’t over yet. There was someone working on the property doing maintenance. This meant ladders, air compressors, drills, hammering, strange noises and things out of place to a sensitive wild mare. Nothing escapes her notice. So while she ate and I assembled tack she would pop up eyes wide at the strange sounds. What I noticed is each time she got worried, instead of looking out the windows at the herd outside, she angled herself toward wherever I was.
I was her security.
I got her tacked up and put the bit in without fuss and then heard the truck alarm going crazy outside. (Apparently the keys had gotten locked in!) and there we were in the barn with her neck like a giraffe and her eyes wide, but standing still next to me still as connected as possible with the crazy commotion going on outside the barn.
I am here with you, I have this all under control, nothing is going to hurt you here. You may not understand what is going on, but I do. Trust me, and I trust you. I know you can do this if you stay with me.
I decided to begin with walking around the yard with the flag to get a sense of what I would be facing in the saddle before putting myself in that position. I was ready to spend all the time I needed on the ground and not riding at all if it was too much for her.
The truck keys released now vehicle driving around the circle moving tools, going to retrieve a leaf blower for the roof (that will add to the fun!!) and the tractor still raking hay frantically to our right.
One step at a time.
She was aware of everything but she walked exactly at my side. Near the tools and work area I spent extra time changing directions, she had to tune in to stay with me and when she delayed out of distraction I’d catch her with the flag on the hip to bring her back. After a few minutes of this she was tuned into me more than the environment and I stopped to talk to someone working while expecting her to stand still where I asked.
She did. She was with me completely now.
It was time to get on and ride out the farm gates onto the trail for the first time alone. Leaving the safety of the herd, and at that point maybe the craziness would work in my favor, heading for the peace of the woods.
I mounted easily and with some loose steering maneuvered toward the exit and she eventually got into a nice line and away we went!
In the past my greatest challenge with her was that she would plant her feet. As if a wall in front of us any pressure to go forward would end up in the only direction available to her at that place… up! Crow hopping and then squirting out backwards in a great show of refusal. Regardless of if it was ‘NO’ or ‘I CAN’T’ we were stuck.
Would I see that here as I tried to take her alone?
I did not. Twice she asked if we could turn around and I calmly answered with ‘forward and direction out’ and she complied. We had a lovely enjoyable ride. I trotted out a fair amount and then asked for a relaxed walk back in and everything went beautifully.
Back at the barn miraculously everything was calm. The tractor was still and the farm manager had gone off to another place, the maintenance working had moved inside, and a peace descended around us.
I got off my horse, loosed the saddle and without a lead rope she walked at my shoulder into the barn to untack. Totally with me still. At the field she stayed close after I released her and stood at the gate until I had to leave. Wanting to stay with me, and I with her.
As I walked away, I considered how God asks the same from me when environmental distractions come. If I stay with him I am safe and no matter what craziness is going on around me, I will be ok.
I have to make the mental choice to stay focused on God as my safety and protection. I have to believe he has all the circumstances around me under control. I have to follow close to him wherever he leads. And if I tune out the fearful things around me I can have the confidence even in the stormy times.
He is constantly reminding me….
Just stay with me.