I was riding Tardis yesterday. And while she has been super awesome lately, I clearly have a thing or two to work out again.
Tardis has been focused when I ride her, in a way she was not a year ago. She has been working with me, actually trying to understand what I want, rather than just doing her own thing, like she used to. I cannot begin to describe how much this year off has mattered to her, how she has grown up and grown stronger, mind as well as body. No one ever try to tell me again, that you need to break your horse in before it gets too old. Tardis is turning 7 in a week from now, and I swear, she was not ready for riding until now.
Anyway. As I was riding her yesterday, one of the road workers drove by my pasture in one of their huge machines. Now, we are used to traffic and we are used to the machines, so that was not a problem, but this guy lowered the front of his excavator so it scraped across the road, no doubt trying to clear dirt off the road.
It made a very loud, very sudden and unexpected noise.
I proceeded to grab onto the rein and instantly bring Tardis to a halt, clearly expecting her to blow up in my face. She did not. She just responded and stopped trotting, looking back at me with a “what the fuck?” expression. You know the way ponies tilt their ears, when you are being ridiculous? The way only ponies can make you feel small? She was ice cold, while I found myself realizing how irrational and down right dangerous my response had been.
If I have learned anything from my 15 years with Poseidon and my 3 years with Legacy, not to mention my 13 years with Apollon, it should be to not ever, respond like that.
Pulling on the rein, to make her stop, in a high stress situation? Come on.
If that had been Poseidon, a response like that from me, would have sent him flying over the edge. I spent 15 years with that horse, pretending to rule the world, pretending that nothing could get to him as long as I was around. Pretending to be fearless. If we hit an unexpected noise, I had a fraction of a second to convince him that I was not afraid of it, or he would let his instincts take over. I had a fraction of a second to be fearless, and not – ever- touch the rein. The second I tried to restrain him in a high stress situation, was the second he became dangerous. The second he was not free to leave, was the second he started fighting for his life.
If it had been Legacy… Oh, my. Imagine pulling on his rein, when he was spooking? He would have reared up and thrown himself backwards. He did that, whenever he was restrained in any given situation. He even did that a few times, when he suffered his panic attacks, alone in his stall. (The horrors this poor soul must have seen…)
And Apollon. On a good day, he may have given me the same response as Tardis did, and just said, “what? Really?” One a bad day… He would have been miserable. I honestly don’t think Apollon would have become dangerous if I had been unfair like that, to him, but it would have broken some part of the trust between us, just the same, and with Apollon and me, trust was always a fragile issue.
So, yeah, I should know better than to respond like this. Blood and tears and some kind of guardian angel working over time, taught me that. I am still surprised by my own reaction.
When did I become that kind of person? When did I lose the fundamental responses Poseidon taught me?
When I was not riding for a year? Or have I been declining ever since he died?
When did I reach the point where I actually spooked over a stupid noise, even though the pony I was riding was rock solid? I mean, I spooked. And Tardis was the one, calming me down. That is so wrong. I should be the one, telling her that it’s okay, and that as long as she is with me, she has nothing to fear.
Surprised by my own response, I patted Tardis on the shoulder and told her I was sorry. I then turned her around to find that the rest of the gang was standing right behind us. In that split second where I had spooked, so had they, and they had, as a team, left the hay and run up to us. I had not heard them coming, because of the noise from the road, or the wind in my ears, or what ever. I had no idea they were there, but clearly, they had spooked, just as much as I had and they had all looked to Tardis for safety.
I will say that last year, with Tardis being as young as she was then, if they had come running up to us like that, in a high stress situation, she would have probably blown up. I can only be humbled and awed by this pony and how she somehow managed to come into her own like this, all by herself.
She truly has become the beta mare on my pasture. The one we all count on.
I saw a glimpse of another magnificent mare in her, at that moment. A mare with whom she shares a birthday. A mare I used to lean on when ever Poseidon and Apollon was driving me insane. It is some big shoes to fill, replacing Amalia as the beta mare of this herd, but Tardis seems to be taking on the responsibility easily this year. I could not be more proud of her.
And I could not be more unimpressed by my lack of faith in her. Once I start riding Apocalipse, all traces of those instincts in me, has to be left behind. He would not be so forgiving. He shouldn’t have to be.
Rule number one, when working with horses. Be a good, strong, and fair leader. Be someone they want to follow, through whatever.
Not some puny human, spooking over a machine, scraping dirt off the road.
So yes, I have a few things I need to work out again.
I know that overwriting your flight instincts takes training. I just thought I had been through that military boot camp. Clearly, I needed reminding. That is a little scary.
Anyway, Ablaze still loves me, as long as he gets to lick my face. That ought to be encouraging.
I know, stupid video. He is just so wonderful, just like his mother. I don’t know how I got to be so lucky, to have the both of them in my life.