Editor's Postcard

When it’s Just That Simple

When it’s Just That Simple
Catherine Madera

The Daily Educational Opportunities of Life with Horses

by Catherine Madera

 

August 2014

Eli and me showing sport horse in-hand at Donida Farm in May.

After 5 years of riding my Arabian stallion, Eli, I feel I know him very well. I know when he’s happy, insecure, or cranky. I know his idiosyncrasies pretty much inside and out. That’s why it was humbling at a recent dressage lesson to discover what I still don’t know about him. Let me explain.

Under saddle, when going to the right, Eli and I have a routine that goes like this: I put my leg on him asking for a bend; he pins his ears and gets his grinchy-face on; I become insistent; he pins ears some more and throws his head up; I give him a bit of spur and/or work him through “attitude”; he eventually gives in to my leg and bends. When I am feeling generous I chalk this behavior up to stiffness. When I’m annoyed, I defer to things like stallion attitude and unwillingness to work.

At my last lesson, we were commencing the Right Side Routine when my instructor Kim gave me simple instruction: “Open your left knee slightly as you ask him to bend.” After shifting my weight to the inside I squeezed with my right knee while opening my left. Eli moved over instantly, no ear pinning or grinchy-face making. We practiced some more and soon he happily complied with the slightest weight shift and opening leg. All along his attitude was the frustration of being asked to move while feeling trapped by the tightness of my outside leg/knee. It was just that simple.

Horses are perhaps the most generous creatures on Earth, but we quickly label them stubborn, lazy, stupid and emotional. Too often they are trying to tell us something through behavior that is misunderstood. Being open to listen, learn and change is so important. Enjoy the magazine this month. Learn about a great program educating both youth and Oregon mustangs on page 6. As always, email me at editor@nwhorsesource.com

Ride On and Learn!

 

Originally Published August 2014 Issue

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Editor's Postcard
Catherine Madera

Catherine Madera attended Walla Walla University in Eastern Washington where she majored in communications/journalism. After winning a national competition for Guideposts Magazine in 2004, Catherine concentrated on non-fiction inspirational stories. Since then, she has published numerous personal and ghosted stories for Guideposts and their affiliate publications. Catherine has published in many regional and national magazines/newspapers and her work is included in several anthologies. She specializes in equine-related topics and profiles and serves as editor of The Northwest Horse Source. In 2010 Catherine’s non-fiction story, A Hero’s Work, received the Merial Human-Animal Bond award given by American Horse Publications. She has also authored three works of fiction and provides editing/writing assistance through Word Horse Writing Services.

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