Learn Her Trust

     “Don’t you mean, earn her trust?” Before I had the chance to embarrass myself by blurting out my correction, while the Horse smelled her legs, shoes, legs again and hands; the woman softly explained: “Horses need to smell you first. Day to day… things change.” She gently emphasized “you” sanctioning the Horse to take the lead, make the first move.

     As for myself, I was being left behind in this lesson and unsure of my footing. You see, I am the control freak. I am the instructor. I am the veteran Horse person. I am the elder with wit and wisdom to prove it. In that moment of their simultaneous exhalation, I was nothing. I did not matter to the 2 of them who were being gentle, touching, sniffing. Those 2 were lost to each other. It had been a whole week and there was a lot for them to catch up on. Or not, since it seemed more like there was a lot both left outside the fence. For now, in the precious allotted time, they were catching up through quietness.

     The rest of us were bystanders and strangely, none of us minded. We were witnessing something beyond grasp, beyond emotion, beyond control. Their world was theirs’s. Politely, they let us witness. Usually agitated and looking for the next shiny distraction, I began to slow. I had been guided to the seat of observer and gently invited to witness. It was mind altering.

     Today’s lesson was for instructors to be students and the students to teach us Horse skills. When her Horse moved off, away from her, she said to me: “Did you hear that?” My interior voice said aloud: Don’t you mean, ‘did you see that?’ My teacher explained this movement of several steps was a bold statement that her Horse did not want to have her hoof touched. (Hard pressed to tell you, dear reader, I heard nothing.) Not proud that after 65 years with Horses, I was being schooled by a 20-something who had the company of a Horse once a week for less than 90 minutes. I had years. I had decades. I had lots to learn.

     My student / teacher explained why we groom, what brushes to use, how to judge if the Horse was enjoying or rejecting certain movements and touch. My teacher explained and demonstrated the power in gentleness. The power to improve oneself. The power to improve a relationship. Student / teacher taught me how to lead a Horse where I wanted us both to go. Her holding of the lead rope was powerful in its conveyance, not in its strength. She took the rope and demonstrated the lack of force needed to control and guide this 1,100-pound Equine.

     My instructor kept me safe and let me know she had my back… literally. She let me know where we were going. She let me know what was coming next by asking several times: “Did you hear that?” She let me know why I had to be close to the shoulder when leading and not get my feet stepped on by walking too far in front, trying to control every step, every experience, and every little thing. Today, my teacher taught me how to learn and enjoy ‘Everything Horse.’ She taught me trust.