Oh my goodness my first horse was an abused, sour mare who did everything in her will to disobey everything I asked of her, and used all her power against me. I'd been riding English on some very flashy and well-trained horses for 5 years beforehand and had never even been on the ground with a horse on my own until I met Wilma.
She hated me. She kicked me, squashed me against fences, taught me about proper saddling (too tight too fast? NOT A CHANCE, KIDDO), taught me the correct lunge positions, showed me how to use pressure correctly from the ground, showed me her position in the herd and how to get respect from other horses gently.
I was so upset in the beginning. Before, at the fancy stable I took lessons at, all the horses loved me and were gentle and polite, though very lively and had a lot of energy. Going to this run-down barn full of horses I had quite the smack in the face at age 12. I cried because I didn't understand why Wilma hated me so much. I learned that she didn't hate me, she just hated what people did to her and expected me to do the same.
I would write a book about this horse. She destroyed my heart then stitched it back together as we took the steps to learn and rewire eachother. Everything she did was a puzzle for me to figure out. When I finally figured out something I'd been working on for a long time, I was overjoyed.
The most important thing I think she taught me was how to have fun. I had spent countless hours sweating in a saddle, working for the perfect flying change or the most beautiful jump.
To me the best feeling was that of victory when the horse and I worked together and communicated seamlessly. But I didn't know how to have fun.
She showed me how to loosen up, how to stop frowning when I was getting frustrated. I learned that sometimes it was okay to get bored with flatwork and to just skip around in the field with her and stretch my legs.
Sometimes I would lay with her in the grass and just stroke her face. Sometimes we'd go for long hacks not for the scenery or conditioning, but just so I could talk to her and tell her my worldly woes.
She made me realize that when she didn't understand something, I had to check over the signals I was giving her. I used to get angry or I'd cry when I couldn't figure something out, then go Google it. But I realized that sometimes I was leaning too far forward or accidentally nudged her with the wrong heel and I learned to laugh at myself for being so blind.
Everything she showed me was pure-- she couldn't hide her irritation or discomfort, and I quickly learned to pick up on that. I was no longer working with a horse at my level-- she was far away from any identified level. She became "a horse" and not "beginner" or "advanced"-- she was a partner who I had to learn to love and I had to relearn the language of the horse. It wasn't as simple as judging what the flick of her ear meant or the stamp of her hoof. It was so much more than that.
If I write any more I think I'll start crying hahah enjoy~