Saturday, August 25, 2018

Shifting Gears

     Life and horses sure do have their ups and downs. Lucy, Scootch and I went for a leisurely ride the other day around my father-in-law's cattle farm. It was a beautiful day to explore a very interesting place. While I had my concerns about their calmness in such an interesting environment, it was more like curiosity for me. We set out on our tour, me riding my little young Arab, who always proves to be a good girl, with Lucy in tow. We passed lengthy corn rows, a giant tractor mowing hay, big ol' tire pile, barns and fences. Scootch was calm enough to listen to me when things concerned her, and Lucy behaved much like a sleeping baby in a car seat. Lovely day.... 

      As we rounded the back stretch, Snoozing Lucy took note of the herd of cattle practically a mile away on the other end of the field, and started up a conversation with them. That was my cue to get ready to start back, hoping to get ahead of potential drama. Now I had a horse that seemed to have turned part cow in tow, and a young Arabian getting fancy on me. Doing my best to manage the one under me and wrangle the one next to, behind and around me, I found it getting a little irritating. Scootch wanted to trot, and my requests to only walk got me hops, head tosses and a real bouncy ride. Then something told me to look behind me, only to be faced with a galloping herd of about 50 head of Angus headed right towards us. Good thing my panic button is set to dismount. I hopped off my rabbit faster than she could take another step, and we stood there and eyed those cows down. I guess we won the staring contest and after a few short minutes the herd decided we weren't that interesting and went back to their pasture. 

      I mounted back up and we headed back. Believe it or not, the cow encounter wasn't the tough part of the ride. Now my mares were worked up. I continued the conversation with Scootch about keeping a managed pace. While she's usually not too tough to get to slow down, she was resenting the fact that I was asking. The balance between her forward and my whoa was finding its middle in a vertical fashion. More head flipping and front legs, maybe back legs too, coming up off the ground. Yup, there definitely was a buck in there that made me feel old. My job in the  conversation was to try to keep in the communication realm, rather than an argument. But she was getting offended. I was a bit too considering she seemed to be trying to dislodge me. I had to be soft in my hands along with my request or I really would have ended up in the soybeans. I again dismounted and continued the conversation on the ground. Again, feeling a bit old. 

      I left that adventure with the knowledge that I've got two good horses, and some things to work on. There was nothing wrong in that situation with her or myself, only that the communication that we had was being tested at a different level. For her, its a concern about being able to be somewhere in the middle, somewhere between a stop and go, between an I can and an I can't. And I totally get how she feels.
      My life over the past month or so has been a series of starts, false starts, ends, and screeching halts. It leaves me feeling a bit like I'm floating above all these changes, trying to get above the squish in the middle that expects me to find a place to be. I trust that there is a path in it, much like I know that my horse could trust me in her discomfort. That only makes it somewhat less hard. The thing about changes is that they are never easy, but we can get better at them. If we do it enough, and we will eventually, we can gain skill in balancing ourselves through them. What helps is having some kind of lifeline, trusting relationship, or motivating belief that there will be a positive result.  

Balance....we resist it so much, but that's what these shifting gears try to teach us.