Being with horses

I haven’t had much time being with horses and they had always seemed so big and fickle, so having a session being with horses was my chance to tune in.

First we went down to here paddock to catch the horses. The one I was assigned did a runner as soon as I turned my attention to him, but he soon came around, and pretty soon I’d put the halter on him and lead him back to the corral.

Once there my instructor turned me over to a mare, less touchy I guess, for brushing down. This was great as it gave me some time to tune into he, her size, her horsiness, and helped me relax.

All the while my instructor was telling me about horses, what games they like to play, how to be with them, alternately firm and gentle. A bit like being with a woman she said! Then we cleaned her feet.

Then it was time to put in the bridle. The idea if having a piece of iron stuck between my teeth didn’t grab me much, so was a bit reticent about forcing it in the horse’s mouth, but eventually just did it.

Then it was down to the exercise area, with a bare back pad and a vaulting frame to hold onto. I climbed up, less nervous than I expected.

I sat there for a while as the trainer brought me right there onto the horse’s back. Breathing, relaxing my legs, feeling my bum on her spine, closing my eyes and feeling.

On a lunge rope the trainer then walked the horse around as I got used to being there, getting me to close my eyes, lift up my arms, experimenting with tightening my bum etc, holding my body in different ways, sitting side saddle, even backwards!

Then she gave me the reins!!!! And… we did some exercises around controlling the horse with knees, pelvis and a little rein, walked around a bit before breaking into a trot, and boy did I bounce around!

Stopping and walking, trotting again, each time getting more the feeling, noticing new things each time, new ways I was settling or tightening in either my body or psyche. It is such a different thing to do, and somehow the hip and pelvis action takes some getting used to.

Next I had a canter, which I really liked even if I felt more out of control than before. Feeling the horse’s power under me was exhilarating.

We played with trotting and cantering a bit, and then it was time to return to the corral where I hosed the horse down, gave her a carrot, and with a happy and grateful feeling said goodbye.

Written by Mark O’Brien for the “Session of the Month’, Here & Now magazine 1999-2005

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