I won't regale you with the litany of reasons I'm happy to see 2009 make its exit. I'm sure you have plenty of your own. Nor will I bore you with the list of personal improvements I aim to make in 2010. I'm sure you have plenty of your own. What I wish to share with you are reflections and resolutions involving my horses.
As Joni Mitchell once sang, "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." Or almost gone.
"Gone" is Quaker, the little one-eyed QH who finally got the perfect home he deserves. To me, he's the one that got away. I loved Quaker, and more importantly, I trusted him, maybe even more than I trust Jaz — and that's saying a lot. Yeah, yeah, I know you've all heard me say a million times that our land won't support more than 2 horses. Nevertheless, Quaker will always be the horse I let slip through my fingers. I resolve not to make that mistake again.
"Almost gone" was my sweet Jazu. I thought I appreciated Jaz, and I do, but not nearly as much as he deserves. The thought of losing him brought me to my senses.
Poco is my first horse, and will always hold that special place in my heart that only your first horse can. I was woefully naive and impulsive. If I had known then what I know now, I never would have bought him. That said, my love for the silly beast makes me weak in the knees.
The longer I have him, the better he gets on all counts, but Poco is not Jaz and will never be remotely like Jaz. Poco would walk through fire with me on the ground. That does not translate under saddle, where he is unpredictable, at best. He is not patient or tolerant of my lack of skill. He challenges me every time I get on him. That's not a completely bad thing, because he forces me to step out of my comfort zone. I have always joked that underneath it all, he's a big scared baby. I now know that is more true than I realized. He's all bluster. He is fearful, lacks confidence, and is his own worst enemy. When he's afraid, he can worry himself into sheer panic that, if not assuaged, will escalate into a bucking episode. And me in the dirt. He doesn't look out for me because he's too busy looking out for himself. We don't trust each other when I'm in the saddle.
I have ridden Poco for hours down our road with Nita and Jaz. If only on the surface, he's fine if Jaz is with us. If Jaz spooks, forget it. Taking Poco out by himself for more than a very short distance is excessive risk taking for a person at my skill level (or lack thereof). Can these things be fixed? I'm sure they can, but I don't have the riding skill, the time, or the money for a concerted effort to make it happen anytime soon. I work full time and have an hour commute each way. During the week, the only time I have with the horses is when I feed them. On the weekends, I want my time with them to be pleasurable for us all.
I have been spending what little time (and ambition) I have working with Poco, my excuse being he's the one who needs it most. That's true, but when I am on him, it's mostly a battle of wills. I'm outmaneuvering him, trying to guess his next move, and how to redirect him. Needless to say, it can be extremely stressful. I can't really ride him and concentrate much on improving my riding skills. Not only am I not progressing, I feel as though I've regressed badly. I resolve to continue to work with Poco, but not wanting to deal with him will no longer be an excuse not to ride at all.
I somehow lost sight of the fact that the knowledge and confidence I get from Jaz are directly responsible for any success I've had with Poco. What I need is Jazu, and I resolve to ride him — and appreciate him — a lot more.
May 2010 bring health, happiness, and prosperity for us all, as well as progress on the journey with our horses.