I met a horse yesterday that touched my insides in a very special way. Let’s call him Sam. He’s around 10 years old and lives in a boarding facility in a beautiful part of Colorado. He has good living conditions; a herd, pastures to graze, and people that love him. I met him because he began bucking with his riders so was turned out for several years. When his people became interested in working with him again, they did all the right things. They worked with him on the ground to get him more comfortable with people doing things around him. They introduced him to the flag, ropes, and the ground work exercises they know. Still, he remained tight and suspicious of new things. When they saddled him for the first time after all those years of turn-out, he reared and bucked.
Amy and I take a holistic approach the “problems” we encounter with the horses and people we encounter. Amy has an amazing understanding of the horse/human biomechanical connection and is now an experienced practitioner of the Murdoch Method which helps horses find better balance and connectivity with their body. When we were first introduced to Sam, he was wary and tight. We needed to make friends so he would trust us enough to evaluate what was going on with him. We suspected some soreness in his back and neck was causing the tightness and the discomfort with the saddle. He wasn’t too sore, just a little in his neck and shoulders. The Murdoch Method employs pads placed under the horse’s feet, so we went to work checking out how his feet handled. They weren’t as soft as we like but he wasn’t dangerous so we introduced Sam to the first set of pads Amy believed would help him accept the process. Sam began to let down.
We asked the folks that had been working with Sam to show us a little of what they had been doing with him. It was all good stuff except that it wasn’t working for Sam in a way that caused him to want to connect with them. And, these folks were concentrating on what they were doing rather than on how what they were doing affected the connection with Sam. It was like watching two people on the dance floor going through the dance steps without once looking each other in the eye.
When I had the chance to take the lead rope my only goal was to connect with Sam in some meaningful way. Meaningful to him. I wanted him to feel like being with me was exactly the right place to be. Somehow through the fog of things done to him and years of little contact, Sam came out of his shell and found me. We danced together, looked each other in the eye and really connected. It was euphoria for me and looked like it felt really good to him as well. The trust that came through that connection allowed Sam to be saddled and moved out without a bobble. The connection with one person who felt their way through the troubles and concerns inside one horse allowed that horse to let down and come into the human world with just a little more trust that everything could be okay.
That kind of connection makes for a good day. Continually seeking those connections makes for a good life. Agree?