All I wanted was a short trail ride on my favorite pony as a reward for a hard day. I had just finished trimming another pony’s hooves, the sun was going down, and I wanted to ride down the driveway to see what my husband had been doing all afternoon. I had a halter and leadrope in my hand and a smile on my face as I approached her. She looked at me intently, then turned her head away. “Ah,” I thought, “playing hard to get.” I took a few more steps to her, and stopped when she looked at me, suggesting that she come to me. After a few moments, she turned her head away and took one step away, too. Snubbed!
I wasn’t alone as I approached her though. Another pony was at my elbow, trying to stick his head in the halter. Even the pony whose hooves I’d just trimmed had expressed interest. But the pony at my elbow was especially persistent. Sometimes I’m slow, but I finally realized that while my favorite pony had snubbed me, this second pony had chosen to be with me even when I tried to ignore him. Apparently I was meant to take him for a ride today.
Torrin is my thirteen year old Norwegian Fjord Horse gelding. I’ve had him since he was two, and he has always done whatever I’ve asked of him in terms of work: skidding logs, pulling a sled or a forecart, and packing fencing supplies. He’s not a mellow ride, though, which is what I thought I needed today. And he’s especially not mellow right now. ‘Fresh’ is a term I think of in the spring when I argue with the ponies over my agenda versus their interest in new green grass. Yet Torrin felt pretty ‘fresh’ to me tonight, with lots of go. I felt like I was sitting on a barely contained bundle of energy.
We used to ride a road where there was an ice-chest-sized rock with two round black rocks embedded in it. I thought of it as a rock with eyes, and Torrin always considered this a threat, no matter how many times a week we rode past it. This time of year he sees similar threats in spots of mud embedded in plowed snow. So today I kept talking to him, and he stayed confident and well behaved and still full of energy as we briskly walked down the road.
Torrin was great until we turned around to come back up the road. A few strides towards home, and Torrin dipped his head and rounded his back, something he’d never done before. ‘Oh boy,’ I thought, ‘I’m gonna experience something new.’ Torrin’s never bucked me off, but I thought my first was in store. I spoke sharply to him and he raised his head, evened out his back, and resumed forward motion. He was still full of energy but didn’t share any other antics.
A little bit before home, I started asking Torrin for some sideways steps, changes of direction, and back ups. He was immediately compliant and responsive. It was fun! Many years ago we passed a ridden milestone in Parelli Natural Horsemanship. Unfortunately, Parelli has since changed their program, and I have to redo that milestone. I’ve been working with one of my Fells on it, but today I realized that it would be a breeze to pass the milestone again on Torrin. He was right there, willing and interested despite not getting much attention from me in a long time. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such a good boy. I’m sure glad I got snubbed and let him choose me today!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2011