My recent ordeal over DiDi’s health has left me a much wiser man. It all started months ago when I realised that DiDI was not herself and that she was behaving erratically. I knew she was fundamentally a gentle horse who only wished to be pleased, cared for and loved. In return she was very willing to be ridden, so long as the rider asked and did not demand. To ask, the rider had only to know how to ride with the body and not just the heels, the hands and the whip. It mattered not so much as to how someone appears when mounted but rather how one feels to the horse between the knees. My horse sought understanding and she expected me of all people to understand her.
I knew that DiDi’s cavorting around an arena pell mell at full tilt was abnormal. I knew she was running in fear of something, the problem was I did not grasp what her problem was. As much as I twisted and turned, in that I forgave and excused, it made no difference. Horses can’t talk. They can indicate that they are unwell but they cannot convey where exactly they feel unwell. I knew, I felt, I sensed that my mare was not herself. But I simply did not know why. Mea culpa.
And this is the fundamental dilemma presented to all riders when taking ownership of a horse. The owner rider must be able to guarantee at all times, the health, comfort and well being of the animal which lies within his or her care. Make no mistake, it matters not how fast the horse can run, nor how high it can jump, rather does it matter how content the horse is with its life style. That must be the role and aim of the caring owner. The horse must be contented to perform its side of the bargain.
Human and equine make a pair. Separated neither being is as capable as the combination of the two different creaturess. Horse and rider are symbiotic. Literally, riding becomes a matter of : ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ between horse and master.
Recently, once I had become convinced that my horse was unwell, life with her became a search for her ills. Unbeknown to me, the ailments were to lie deep within the bowels of her stomach and. Importantly in the relative vastness of her chest. The two origins were to confuse me and the professional vets namely those technicians who are supposed to know why and where. The symptoms of DiDi’s ailments over lapped and the required treatments conflicted with each other. She presented as an, as yet, living conundrum.
The vet would come along and do the simple tests, mostly those that he/or she does wherever they go. When they visited our yard, I had to stand between my horse and the vet, so as to translate between human and equine. Often I found myself unqualified in the role. The horse trusted me, whereas she certainly did not trust the vet. The vet was there as a visitor to produce answers and to explain what the novice horse owner was supposedly ignorant thereof. Somehow we who sit with the horse between our thighs, who hold the reins leading to the bit; who merely indicate for the horse to obey, are viewed as being innocents. Our judgement as to the horse’s state of mind is untrustworthy. We are unqualified. We can’t prove anything. We are prone to be generous and soft. But if we ask the horse to open its mouth to receive a camera on a pole, then it will be us whom the horse will trust in the belief that we, the loving owners, know best.
We’d better be certain we do.
/To be continued