Corazon is doing well! He has been a great partner with the groundwork. He now allows me to lift all of his feet, he understands my commands with a stick and a rope and moves around me willingly with grace and strength. He backs into all the gates I can find on the ranch, has been in the indoor arena, and easily jumps over the small jumps I make for him. I have begun to prepare him for the saddle and he is learning to accept the blanket and also some tightness around his girth. Each day we do something different and I move deliberately and confidently with him, listening to him earnestly for when he gets too stressed or needs a few minutes to digest things. The pacing is slow, as rushing a mustang will only make one short step turn into a long extended exercise.
Yesterday I set up a series of logs, with cones at each for him to jump over and then back over. He loved the jumping going forward and he easily backed in one direction, but refused the opposite direction. After trying all of the ways I knew to move and instruct him, he began to paw the ground with impatience and frustration. I felt stuck. Knowing him well now, I am smart enough not to push him when he gets like this.
At the same time a nice man came over to the round pen to speak with me. Corazon and I moved to the edge of the round pen and chatted with him for a few minutes. After he left Corazon and I walked back to the log. I turned Corazon around and he backed over the log without hesitation. That simple five-minute break away from the exercise gave him time to relax and digest his activities. Timing is everything. It is easy to fall into the habit of ‘pushing’ to get what I want. I have been doing this all of my life. This behavior often can lead me to frustration and anger when what I am pushing for does not show up or happen. When I can take a step back and relax, often what I want to happen, happens and with a higher level of flow with ease.
The experiences I am having with Corazon are amazing, and as Ginger Kathren’s told me, training a mustang is like no other experience. She was right. Corazon is not a domesticated horse. I cannot expect anything that I expect with my buckskin Moon, or the other horses I have worked with. Corazon is teaching me about how he thinks and how he sees the world and I am paying attention and listening so that I can best communicate with him. At times it is soft and connecting, a sense of true bonding. At other times it is challenging, his energy is big and forces me to step up, stand my ground, be fully body/mind present and to be the leader between the two of us.
Everyday when I am with him I wonder how it must be for him; to once have been free and now to be in the confines created by humans. Will he grow to appreciate his home and owner? We he someday enjoy the Equine Assisted Learning and Coaching programs? Or, on some level will he always know that what is between him and the vast open spaces and hillsides is me? I can only hope that I can offer his a stimulating life, one that is filled with learning, partnership and adventure, one that keeps him wanting more time with me.