I wrote out this great post yesterday, went to hit publish and in an instant, it oddly, but sadly, disappeared. I guess this is my second try, so we’ll see how this one turns out!
I have been waiting until Reason was going well with mounting, sitting and some walking before I introduced the bridle into the mix but after a comment from A*, who said I should go ahead and do it after observing how good Reason was being the other day, I thought it probably would be a good time. The couple times I did put on the bridle, I still felt Reason needed time to adjust to a new association with it. He would chomp on it and looked almost half out of it. (You know how boxers and cage fighters pump themselves up before a match? It seemed like that.) Even putting it on, walking for ten minutes and taking it off would be a good idea. I felt that he had a, in all good respects, confident idea that when the bridle came on, work was only just around the corner. Which is obviously true, but it’s the work itself that is changed and therefore, his idea of the bridle would need to change. The bridle almost posed as a road block. The bridle would stimulate a mental idea that was strong and trained into him. Thoroughbreds have such work ethics and desires to please. This “road block” was a positive one nevertheless, but it had to be moved to allow us to move forward. So, I guess by spending that time, bridling him, walking and taking it off, allowed for a shift in idea to happen.
Reason is a sensitive horse. Much more sensitive than Ink was. Reason is not only physically sensitive but also mentally. Ink was more laid back but was openly naughty. There was no second guessing with Ink, he was an honest horse almost all of the time. Reason has to be handled with care, in a couple respects, although he has a great disposition. Reason is the kind of horse that you can show something once and he gets it from there on out. But it’s how you show him, that matters and will ultimately define his idea of whatever new thing he’s being presented too. You can’t overwhelm him. Although he learns extremely fast, introductions should be taken slowly.
Yesterday evening, I went to find the dark bay horse calmly waiting for dinner in his paddock. He was relaxed, probably a little worn out from the heat of the day, but he still came over to me with an optimistic look on his face. This set the tone for the rest of the night. I was so happy to see Reason. Each day is exciting and fun seeing him and there isn’t a moment that doesn’t pass where I’m feeling positive about his future.
Reason and I headed down to the indoor arena, where the sun was quickly setting. The bridle was on but he remained pretty relaxed and willing to hear what I had to say about what exactly we were going to do. At the same time though, I was listening to Reason. He seemed happy and open to whatever may come. After walking him in hand for a little while, I had my lovely assistant Matt, come to the mounting block. In my efforts to make mounting easy and comfortable for everyone, I waited for any signs of angst or excitability. The last thing I want is a horse who finds mounting, or the mounting block annoying. Reason swished his tail, but I asked him to stand still. Once he did that, I walked him away from the mounting block as a reward. I did this two more times, as each time Matt would lean over the dark horses back and then get off. The final time Reason stood still with a relaxed focus on what we were doing. Exactly how I wanted him to be. This pointed towards positive for whatever came next in whatever we asked him. With Matt mounted and Reason patiently waiting, I asked them to move forward and off we went on a nice walk.
Around the arena we went. At the end of the lead, I had a horse who was listening and happy. At times he would want to move out more than just the lowly walk we had going, but he tried nothing more. Next, it was my turn to mount up. Back to the mounting block, where I swung my leg over and off we went.
The was the first time I had Reason’s mouth in my hands. There is something to be said, for the first time to are able to connect with a horse physically. To feel the connection from mouth to fingertips. A shutter of excitement ran up those reins. For an instant I could see us traveling this very arena, months later and seeing Reason coming along. As I sat there, I felt comfort. Reason’s back soft yet supportive. I draped my legs on each side and let me body relax. He wondered what I was going to ask. I could sense a difference in his way of going than with me on him, instead of Matt. It was in this very moment, I could tell that Reason and I had a pretty good trust in each other, a good relationship and quite possibly a bright future ahead.
The sensation in my hands was perfect. I felt at home atop this race horse. It makes me think back to Ink. Everything seems to point back to him. I know he brought Reason and I together and I know that this is where I’m supposed to be. On the back of a race horse, who deserved a go at a second career that I think he’s going to be quite successful at. I said the same thing last night. Matt and I agreed, this is going to be…great. I asked him to lead Reason to the arena fence, so I could knock on wood.
Reason displayed his heart and work ethic last night. Trying to do what he thought I’d ask. Leaning on my hands from time to time, he asked, “this is what we’re doing right?” When I replied “No,” I instinctually did something I don’t even know is right, but it worked and felt right. I raised my hands slightly up and Reason seemed to understand that. He released the drag on my hands and I released too. From then on, he’d ask wondering as if to say, “are you sure we aren’t doing this…” I liked how when I replied “No,” the dark horse got more and more confident in my piloting.
I toyed with lateral flexion. Wiggling the reins between my fingers to ask for him to bring his head around on one side. Not completely around, but bring it in that direction. Our conversation about my piloting skills paid off as Reason replied with, “This, right?” And boom, I had a horse already giving to pressure, inside and out. Wow. It sounds silly, but it’s quite possible that the heart of a Thoroughbred rests in the hands of the rider.
With that, I ended my ride. It was a perfect time to end it. I had the best feeling dismounting ever. Part of me said, “this is too awesome to stop,” but my more sensible side said “this is the right time.” And it was. Perfect.