Monday, November 19, 2007

I enjoy working with our horse. Martini, a registered paint gelding (, makes me appreciate that there are various ways to deal with the challenges in life.

There are two basic approaches to life's challenges. Depending on the situation, I suppose that neither of these are wrong. One approach says, "Destiny determines. Enjoy the ride." This proponent may be a dried up old pessimist or a pie in the sky optimist, but both believe you can't change what is going to happen so you might as well not fight it.

The other says all of life is the product of our decisions. This teacher says, "The harder you work, the luckier you get."

There is another way to deal with life, and Martini has decided it is the best way to develop a relationship with him. I must have a clear goal for training each time I come to the paddock (Second approach). I must be aware that since he is involved, some days he will cooperate and other days he will require more encouragement. In other words, be flexible and prepared to just enjoy the ride (First approach).

I am trying my hand at training my horse to become a relaxed and responsive animal. That is probably not a very accurate statement. I am not really teaching Martini anything. I am learning how to cue him to do what he already does.

He knows how to walk, trot and canter. I am learning how to get him to do it when I want him to.

My boy has no problem trotting. His problem is knowing when I want him to trot and reading my cues from the miriad of camoflaged cues coming as I flop back and forth, left and right, on the saddle.

To be honest, he is a pretty patient animal. He is more patient than I am at times.

Herein is "the rub." Patience is a biblical virtue. It is a virtue borne of experience and thoughtful discipline. It is said the horse has the mental powers of a three-year-old. You know why a three-year-old is so dangerous. They are naturally without guile. What you see is what you get. "The king has no clothes."

Martini is honest. He may not express it verbally, but he says it in so many other ways. "I don't understand." "Last time you did that you wanted me to trot fast." "I am not through eating so come back later." "I am not really into the riding thing today."

He says it with his ears, eyes, head, tail, feet, lips, tongue and so many other ways that at times he must think he is screaming at me.

I am a better person because of my horse. Patience, never my strong suit, must be present when I am working with him. Flexibility, less a part of my life since my heart surgery, is making a resurgence. Learning to enjoy the moment, as the comerical says, is becoming "priceless."