The man laughed awkwardly. "I've been told I'm someone who likes to be in control."
"You can't control your horse until you can control yourself."
Mark was still talking to the gentleman on the buckskin Andalusian. The man was an excellent rider, from what I could tell, but after noting the things Mark had pointed out I could tell what he was talking about. Years of instruction about leaning back to stop your horse, pushing out your stirrups, all of it was muscle memory for this guy. Hell, it was muscle memory for me, until that clinic in Sante Fe a year and a half ago. And still I would find myself doing the same thing - leaning back if my horse didn't stop, pushing into my stirrups as if they were brakes.
I wondered at the first horse who learned to stop when the human on him instinctively "applied the brakes", leaning deep into the small of the horse's back. That horse must have thought "Okay, I *think* he means to stop despite the fact that he's doing all this leaning thing" and managed to fight against his own balance and stopped. And was quite relieved when the leaning and pressure stopped.
Darn that willing and forgiving horse. He taught that human that you could overcome a horse's sensibilities. You could teach it to overcome our odd leanings, and stop.
But it would be tough. Tough on the horse.
Slowly the man gained control, but he realized this would be a longer journey, not something he could get done in 45 minutes.
I thought about Smokey and I. I've been troubled about my reluctance to take certain leaps with him. Sure, I'm not leaning back any more, but there are certain areas I just can't seem to move forward either.
It had been a year and a half since I rode in a clinic with Mark. We had fixed our brakes, come a long way. He is a fine horse.
But I've been at the limit of what I could do with him for some time. I've not been able to overcome my reluctance to go out on trail. To get out of a very very small box with him. How much longer was I going to go this way, standing in the way?
He's almost six. This is when he should be... doing a hell of a lot more.
"You need to get out of the way of your horse," Mark was saying. "It's like we yell at them in German. Sure, they don't speak German, but we think just by getting louder..."
We all laughed. I knew for me I wasn't yelling in German. But I wasn't keeping a conversation going either. Instead we were trodding over the same ground, over and over.
And not getting anywhere.
Maybe this just isn't a time of my life to get anywhere. Maybe, with everything, this is a time in my life to be still.
What does that mean for me?
And for Smokey?