I have a second horse. I came by him by accident or serendipity, depending on your point of view. When I swung my leg over his back it was the first time I’d been on a horse in years. He was stubborn and did not want to leave the herd, but I inherently trusted him. Maybe because he is old and reminded me of the horses of my youth, maybe because he is small…but I didn’t focus on the fact that he is a 900-pound animal capable of inflicting damage – I focused on the ride. And sometimes that’s just what one needs.
So I rode Rube today. Not with any grand intention nor having planned to do so. I walked both horses into a pasture they hadn’t had access too since before the snow fell. I forgot that there were a couple stumps over there. The idea struck me and I put the halter on him, led him over, and mounted up, cowboy style. My ribs and belly met his back and in one confident following motion my leg went over and I was upright. I think we were both a little surprised.
I used a wide inside rein and asked him to go away from his buddy, back toward the barn. I kept my legs on him and used them to urge him in the direction I was asking for. I was persistent and clear. I did not freak out and dismount when he tossed his head and fought me. I stood my ground, and he listened.
We walked back through the two gates and into the paddock. He started to get anxious about being so far from Henry, who was still taking his time browsing where we’d left him. I asked him to relax. I told him I was with him and we got this. He finally said OK.
I swung my leg back over him and landed in the mud. When I took the halter off he didn’t even run to Henry, he just blew and took a few steps toward the gate with me. I smiled. I had ridden a horse well, even for a few minutes. I felt like I knew what I was doing and got my point across. I know that I’m not supposed to use terms like “battle” with natural horsemanship methods, but I was a winner nonetheless. Maybe the point is we both won.
I got the old horse as a confidence builder, because I trusted him and we both needed a little rescuing. He’s not particularly pretty or responsive or talented. He is old and crotchety and stubborn and has a case of buddy sour that you wouldn’t believe. But he balances out a green-as-spring mustang pretty damn well.