Corazon has been with me for just 1.5 years. It is hard to believe how much has changed in such a short time. The last month I have noticed a significant difference in his demeanor. He still responds with a bit of fright to large dark objects he has not seen before and prefers not to walk next to trailers – a slab of ice sliding off the roof may give his body a jolt. However, he has settled into his new life and continues to shed his hyper protective instinctive reactions.
His trust in me has grown – he sees me as a safe companion. The other day I brought him into the indoor arena where a therapeutic riding session was in progress at the other end. Side walkers and helpers were running around laughing and calling the little boy’s name that sat on top of a very calm little pony. They were armed with primary colored tubes called “noodles” that are usually used in a swimming pool. They played hide and seek to stimulate his mental activity and focus.
Corazon and I worked at the opposite end of the arena where we focused on his groundwork, moving in circles, stop, walk, and canter, joining up and backing. The louder the gang at the other end became, the more energy Corazon had in his body. His head began to move up and down, a sign that I have learned to interpret that he is feeling mentally challenged; wants to understand but needs time to digest. I decided to stop and let him take in everything. Corazon was about six feet away from me. He looked at the group and then he looked at me. I could see it in his eyes; he wanted to jump into my lap! I am his safe zone.
I am not very interested in having an 800-pound horse on top of me. I set my boundary, requested he stay a fair distance from me and handle his own fears about his surroundings. Occasionally, he would take a step in my direction and I would ask for the boundary again. I worked with him helping him to feel safe in his own space. We stood watching the ruckus for a few minutes. Finally, when his head stopped bobbing I invited him along side of me. We stood together and I scratched his withers while his eyes stayed completely focused on the others. I could see the wheels turning inside his head. He had never seen so many people running around waving bright colored tube shaped objects before.
What I love about Corazon is that he knows how to think. Last winter much of his training was focused on teaching him to slow down his body and mind instead of reacting. However, as the handler or rider one must be able to see and feel him beginning to be nervous and then determine when it is best to simply ignore his concerns and move on, or work with him to help him through it.
Together we stood and watched the others. Soon he began to lick and chew and his head relaxed.
How incredibly odd our world must be for him. What is normal for him is to live in the elements of nature and experience the serenity of a gentle sunrise, a thunderstorm overhead, or maybe snow falling in the blowing wind. To watch humans waving bright colored objects, jump up and down, make strange sounds, and to tune into the energy of a smaller being with mental challenges must be an enormous amount to digest.
If I were sent to live in Beijing I don’t know how I might survive. At first I might feel disoriented. It would take time. Eventually I would learn to understand the foreign people, traditions, and language. A transition of this nature would be stimulating and exhausting. It would take some time before I could relax and trust. In all of the life transitions I have experienced it is usually 1.5 -2 years before my whole being is completely relaxed.
My hat goes off to Corazon. He is doing so well and tries so hard. He is interested in his new world and has accepted the changes on his path, sometimes with grace, other times with frustration. However, now each day he meets me at the gate ready and willing to grow.
- What new territory are you experiencing in your life?
- How do you stay centered during times of fear and transition?
- Do you accept change?
- Are you willing to grow and expand, to think of new possibilities?