I am ready for the warm March winds to massage the muddy ground into dry, firm terracotta so I can begin the spring work with my herd. Without an indoor arena, I am often limited by when and how I can work with my herd. I could pine for what I do not have, or I can get creative with what I do have.
The harsh winter months give my horses time off as they focus on eating and staying warm. As spring rolls in, the muddy days are spent grooming and doing the subtle groundwork in the dry spots of the over-sized paddocks. Sometimes I will work with two horses at a time. I play with the mucky manure-stained puddles, asking for one foot in and then the other. We move back, forward, sideways, and the entire time I am focusing on how subtle my cues can be from the ground. They stand for photos, jump puddles, and get treats. The work is mostly fun mixed with “Are you listening to me now?” exercises.
Last week the land was dry enough, so I spent just a little bit of time with each horse in the round pen. Evaluating each of my horses as spring approaches is of utmost importance to me. After months of being in smaller areas, having limited time off the property, and having not been ridden or asked to do much at all, I want to reestablish our communication, and also understand where my horses’ states of mind are.
Additionally, with icy land through the winter months and with Corazon’s tendency to get excited and run the others off his food, I also want to see how each horse is within his or her body. Diva, for instance, moved out around the round pen on one side with ease and grace from a walk, to trot, and then a canter. However, when I asked for the same in the reverse direction, what she offered was the biggest buck I have ever seen her exhibit. One might think she was getting her spring ya ya’s out, or that she was being disagreeable and challenging my request. The truth of what I saw and felt was that her back and shoulder were “out” enough that she dramatically displayed her discomfort while simultaneously trying to self-adjust her misaligned structure. Her muscles along her spine were ropey and tight and her discomfort obvious.
This week I will work with Corazon. I hope that he goes right back to his new “Spanish Walk” and that his body and mind are ready for interaction. I suspect that Ginger might offer a little spice and opinion, with me asking her to move on out, as she, at the age of four, is pushing lots of boundaries and working her way through the herd with dominant behaviors. We will see, and I will be prepared for what she has to offer. Wishing to use more dominant horses in my EFLC programs, preparing them correctly so that both the client’s and the horses’ emotional, mental and physical safety is considered is important.
Moon is the exception to this, as he is no longer ridden. I do work with him, but I play and engage with him in the round pen. This is primarily for his state of mind so that he understands he is still healthy and able to do some moving work, even if he is not being ridden. I do not want for him to feel that he has been put “away,” never to be interacted with (except for programs). That feels disrespectful and would give him the message that he is “done,” which may only then translate to him “letting go” on all levels. He is a valuable teacher in this herd and has been the rock of the program from its inception. He receives grooming with hands followed by what I call our “dance,” a sweet, flowing, connecting that fills my heart until I feel it wanting to burst.
We await you. My entire herd is ready for you, and ready to teach you important aspects about your soul’s purpose, your true authentic self, and the shadow-side of yourself that you can put down to align with your work here on earth. They are masters, penetrating, deep, often direct, and sometimes very playful. We invite you to take the step toward this experience as you also transition from your winter into spring.