Many people have expressed to me great sadness over not being able to ride a beloved horse anymore. In many cases, it’s not just that they want to ride, they want to ride their own horse, whom they have spent countless hours riding, who is no longer rideable for health or other reasons.
The trail followed the creekbed then crossed it, curving like a snake up the side of the canyon. My horse stopped to drink in the creek, then scaled the rocky side of the canyon and the switchbacks, a steep drop on one side, a canyon wall on the other.
The other day I was working on a horse who began to swish his tail when I attempted to lift a hind leg. Obviously, this was painful for him, so he was letting me know in the way that he knows how, without kicking or biting me.
I stood there at the side of the grave, then knelt there and heard hoof falls behind me. Zuzka, my dear black mare and lifelong companion of our departed Khami, came up behind me. She left a respectful distance and looked at me as though to say, if you want some time alone that’s okay. I said and motioned to her, let’s be here together.
In the book No Life for a Lady, the biography of Agnes Moreland Cleaveland, the children were put in charge of catching a horse and riding into town in order to get supplies. This was New Mexico in the early 1900s. The author said that they didn’t have corrals so catching a horse could take half a day. The horses would know you wanted to catch them and would hide behind trees.
What’s in the dance with horses?
One day some years ago I was riding my gelding Khami at a fast trot along some side trails, then dropping into a sweet arroyo, then swooping back out of the sand to head up a rocky hillside. The light and shadows created by low hung branches played across the canyon, the sun kissed the tips of my horse’s flying black mane as we moved along together, feeling as one, like we had done for so many miles before.
My gelding Khami inspired me to write this blog. But he’s not the only one: there are others I have worked with over the past years who are like him in one way or another.
In the pasture, the horses usually gallop off to one particular favorite place, up over the ridge to where some colts are stabled. Then I hike up there and my mare Zuzka rounds everyone up when I ask the horses to come back with me. This time, my gelding Khami took over, and he got everyone going.
2014 saw the birth of the Independent Liberty Trainers Network (ILTN), a loose knit group of seven trainers from three different countries, who spearheaded a new paradigm for the horse.