By April Ray-Peterson
Anger is an emotion I am not very familiar with. It’s not something I typically experience, and when I do it makes me genuinely uncomfortable. To be honest, I’ve been having a tough couple of weeks with Fire. She has been difficult, spooky, and entirely unreasonable. After feeling as if we were finally getting somewhere on the ground and under saddle, we seem to have taken a few giant leaps backward, and no matter how much I wrack my brain I can’t seem to make sense of it. This has caused me to question everything: my training, the choices I have made for her, my sanity, and hers as well.
Making friends is easier when you have cookies. Photo: Soul Touch Photography
It has also caused me to feel angry at times, an emotion that has no place in the barn or the saddle. I have lost my temper when dealing with her and then beat myself up for it for days afterward.
I always give a horse the benefit of the doubt if they are misbehaving. Am I explaining this correctly? Am I asking too much? Are they in pain? And about a million other questions I ask to ensure I’m not missing something. I have done all of that and am left to wonder if Fire is just being Fire: a five-year-old who has always been full of challenges but equally as full of reward when we get to the other side.
Looking back now, I realize that I need to question myself, too. Am I in a good space, both physically and emotionally? Anyone who works with a sensitive horse knows how much their own mood can affect their horse, and this has always been the case with Fire. Often, I don’t work Fire until I have worked a full day at the office, taught a few lessons, and or ridden a few other horses. While this isn’t ideal, it’s my reality and something I need to be mindful of. Fire doesn’t care that I’ve had a long day, and I can’t carry my stresses of the day into the ring and hope to have a successful ride.
So I am taking a step back and making a promise to make friends with my horse without letting her walk all over me: to be firm but fair with her, and also with myself. To let go of the anger and embrace the crazy rollercoaster that is working with a young horse. After all, I signed both of us up for this; Fire is just along for the ride.
"There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle: one is a sense of humour, and the other is patience." - John Lyons
Main photo: Farfel, Fetch Pet Photography