The Iberian Experience

May 25, 2010

The First Mount

Filed under: Uncategorized — iberianexperience @ 9:19 pm

As time passed, we continued in our pattern of discovering new issues, dealing with them in an attempt to resolve them, then discovering another issue and tackling that new development as it came. It was a process that was circular, and could be perceived as mundane, but it was in fact, quite the opposite.

In the past fourteen years, I have ridden a few horses and I have to say that the ones who are polished and know what they are doing are great and fantastic to ride, but rarely the sensation of accomplishment can be achieved. Eventually you just get the feeling that you are benefiting from someone else’s hard work and are simply along for the ride.

The ones who are difficult to ride and stubborn also cause one to think on their prior experiences and how you seem to be paying the price for another’s folly.

I wasn’t able to truly arrive at this understanding until I began work with DoubleShot; work that was not the result, in the slightest, of someone else. If we had a good day, it was because we connected, worked together and built on what we did the prior day. If we didn’t, I couldn’t blame her former training or the development of bad habits that occurred before I knew her.  She was essentially what I gave her.

As small as some of our accomplishment were, they were just that…accomplishments; our accomplishments, not someone else’s. They were minuscule at times, but often frequent, and it was the pattern of these small advances that became addictive to me and incredibly rewarding.

Yet one accomplishment was inevitably more gratifying than others. For over a year I had worked on the ground, investing in her understanding of movement, respect, and quality effort (and subsequently, unknowingly, I was investing in myself as well).  Everything was important; how I caught her, tied her, brushed her, touched her, spoke to her, walked with her, set her loose… EVERYTHING.

In an effort to stay motivated, I would repeat to myself relentlessly that one day it would pay off. One day, when it truly mattered, she would be soft, focused, and calm. And almost before I knew it, that day arrived.

I had spent considerable time throughout our months together introducing her to saddles, bits, and bridles.  Then, I worked on getting her accustomed to them. But I had yet to mount her. As the months passed and she continued to progress (and grow), I knew the day was coming.

It was a fairly warm winter day. I had practiced stepping into the stirrup for several weeks prior to this day; but this day was different. After doing some ground work with her, I realized she was calm, attentive and ready. Within the security of the round pin, I steadily stood in the stirrup just like I had countless of times before, but instead of stepping down after several seconds, I gently swung my leg over her back and softly rested in the seat of the saddle.

I have to tell you now that I had never mounted a horse before who had never been mounted…until that day. I was the first and only human that had ever been on of this horse’s back. This was it, the culmination of a year and a half of work, and I have to say, she was perfect!  Relaxed, calm and not nervous in the slightest.  Just as I had hoped, she responded to my breath and my touch with the same confidence and trust that we had conquered on the ground!  And truly I have never felt as accomplished as I did that very day. No memory of cap and gowns or promotions can even come close to the emotion I had that day!…WE HAD ARRIVED!

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