Monday, January 20, 2014

Never What You Expect

The Blogosphere is alight with thoughts and love and sympathy for the loss of Mr. Cuna over at SprinkletBandits.

If there's one consistent with horses, it's that they are consistently inconsistent, and while sometimes we can predict our successes or failures, more often it seems that our big, all consuming beasts rarely teach us the lesson we think we need, or take us where we are expecting.

Cuna came to Aimee when she needed something different.  He wasn't what she would have gone shopping for with a blank check, but it turns out he gave her more than just ribbons and goals related to moving up the levels - he showed her how to be confident and enjoy a partnership again.

None of my own horses have ever taught me what I thought they would.  Even looking at the three we have now.

I was certain that Pia would be my ticket back to eventing. I thought that we would learn (or relearn) the ropes together and that we would be zooming around xc in no time.  Instead she taught me about patience.

Patience with my own goals, patience with her needs and patience in exploring new ways to enjoy my horse.  I never saw Summer Camp coming with her, or as much time spent on trails, or even exploring Mountain Trail fun time.  Pia taught me how to trust my gut, and get out of my head with training oriented goals.
Prairie came later.  So I was very much not going to impose "show X level by Y." with her.  I mean, I wrote those goals, but they didn't drive my decision making.  That shift in mindset (thanks Pia), allowed me to exit the dressage court and explore Hunter Land with a shockingly open mind.  When Prair seemed to be happier in that arena, we spent more of our time there.  We still school lots of Dressage, but it's with a very different end in mind.

Prair has also taken me through my first "real" show season since I was a kid.  She has tolerated my nerves, my screw ups, my hangups and my frustrations as I have had to learn how to manage hers.  She has shown me that it is possible for me to deepen a bond with a horse again (without the whiplash of emotions that often accompanies my dealings with Pia) and she has allowed me to focus on my own riding again.

Gus... well Gus came into the group with an entirely different set of expectations.  Gus has been my return to being a pony kid.  Even though Gus is "ours,"  I don't work with him as regularly as Prair, and whenever I go get him I still feel like a nine year old who has shown up for her 4pm lesson after school.  I feel less like Gus is "mine" to train and scold and enforce impeccable ground manners on - and more like Gus belongs to Gus and I'm lucky any day that I get to spend some time with him.  Gus has given me back totally lazy, unstructured days at the barn.
Gus at his finest
Want to go for a 45 min walk? dandy, want to just groom and groom and groom him until he gleams even though no one will notice? fabulous.  Want to ride around upside down, pulling on his tail? he probably won't care.  Gus allows me to just totally geek out on the smell of horses, the enjoyment of interacting with them, and the satisfaction of being the steward of a big, lovely, gentle creature.

But I also recognize that Gus doles out his adoration and cookie loving ways to whoever will pet his big nose.  Prair is a tad more discerning with her trust and interactions and Pia... well.  Pia takes much more wooing.

I am grateful for what each of them has given me though, and I know that all the lessons and time and learning will always impact my relationship with future horses as well.  And for that I am thankful.  Even if it's not what I was expecting to get, or even what I thought I wanted.


  1. This is a great post. I think horses are more similar to people or friends than they are to a fancy piece of sport's equipment. Even when we sometimes think they are going to exist to help us win whatever it is we're shooting for, they come back with 100% more in lessons and learning.

  2. Fab post & very true. Love the unpredictability & personalities you get with horses - they leave indelible hoofprints on our hearts

  3. Great post :) Sometimes we need to be reminded of why we love these beasts in the first place!

  4. Great post, and some excellent pics. Each horse in our lives certainly leaves their own hoof prints.

  5. I think their expressions when interacting with you say it all!

  6. What a lovely post! Especially the Gus bit; I think there is a lot to be said for horses with which you can play. :)

  7. So true. They never teach us what we think they will. But we end up learning so much more that way.

  8. This is very lovely. I especially love the picture of Gus. I think that horses rarely teach us what we think they would. They always teach us more.


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