It's funny how things come to these places where you find you are looking for the lines in two totally different parts of your life.
My last two outings with Cibolo I'd not been feeling like things were quite right. I would come home feeling that I was missing the mark. But I wasn't sure what it was. I was in the round pen and getting so much attitude at the canter I had to bend him and really get on him. And I knew that it got to that point because I missed something smaller much earlier.
I read something in a horse trainer email I get that said never letting your horse graze. I'd been doing our walk arounds as some quiet time and I thought is that where I've been messing up? I thought again about the conflicting information we get in horsemanship. I know that consistency is essential, but I wondered if hand walking him over to graze was really so horrible. It didn't make sense. Other people I knew and respected would graze their horses, they didn't worry over it, they rode endurance and you let your horse graze because you must. Somehow it didn't "ruin" the horse.
But something was wrong, I knew it.
I wondered what it was. Then Horse and Rider came in the mail, and in it Clinton Anderson talks about not making the mistake of letting your emotions shortchange your horse.
And I got it. Because I was getting what I wanted in the relationship - petting, loving - but in the end I wasn't giving Cibolo what he needed in the relationship the last two days - confidence that comes, it seems, from my show of strength or stern attitude.
So today when I went back out, this time with my daughter, I took a firmer line.
My daughter and I are looking for the line too. She's at the stage where she's venturing away and back, still interested in what I have to say, yet making it clear that this is her time to explore independence. She's young, but her body races ahead, she looks 14 at age 11 and she carries herself older as well. But she still feels like a child inside, and somehow understands the contradiction of this time of her life.
We saddled up together, it's a dream of mine to ride with her, for us to just have fun together, and it becomes something different from what it's been before. We're mother and daughter one moment, friends another, laughing and trying different things with our horses.
Lily needed some firmness, so did Cibolo, and both horses responded to us perfectly after the firm no nonsense tone was set. I felt the relief in them both - these rules they know. Heads dropped, softness in attitude came into place.
We ride around the trails, taking it easy on their shoeless feet, riding only for 45 minutes. We find an open area with little shrubs and play follow the leader, making up patterns between the shrubs, figure 8s and backing exercises.
We did some click and treat targeting back at the barn as fun for both us (we do this with the dogs at home) and the horses, a reward for a fun ride. Lily is quicker than Cibolo, something that amuses and thrills Sierra.
And we were both reluctant for the time to end, for the sun to set, for the dust to rise behind us like a dim wave as we drive home.
Today is a day I want to remember forever and ever.