How Someone's Semi-Retirement is Faring

It had never, ever, in a million years, been my intention to star in my own equestrian-themed Lifetime Movie wherein a girl meets and falls in love with a difficult wild horse wrangled into captivity from her desert home, and as the two slowly build their partnership, it becomes clear that only this girl, and this girl alone, can tame the mighty beast!

So romantic. So stupid. So impractical. So inconvenient. Unequivocally the story of my life.

Since I adopted Itxa 2 years ago Sunday, I've let exactly six people ride her. Three of those people were professionals, two of those people were riding at the walk, and one was pretty much my favorite teenager of all time. I can't say that any one of those rides was especially comforting to me, and some of them were just downright traumatizing. Not because the professionals weren't people who I trusted implicitly, but because Itxa's reactions to them were so vehemently negative and riddled with paranoia that no good could come of it.

So here I am, 32 weeks pregnant, and stuck with a horse who has had to fall out of work at the same rate as me. At first it was unendingly frustrating, depressing, and left me dripping in guilt.

And then I remembered that horses don't have goals, people have goals for horses.

She LOVES to be pointed at a thing and asked to jump it. She LOVES a good puzzle, and trying to figure out what she's being asked to do. (So long as you don't KEEP asking for it after she's figured it out, then she's done with you.) But in between those bright spots, there has been tail swishing, teeth grinding, ear pinning, endless irritation at the daily experience of being asked to be a useful horse.

Interestingly, in semi-retirement, (essentially getting out for grooming, loving, and a mix of fun and practical ground-based exercise around twice a week) a lot of that irritation has dissipated. This summer has been a good reminder for me that Itxa has had about as much stability and tranquility in her life as an unruly foster kid- a year on the plains, a few months in a negative adoption experience, a year in the prison program, holdings pens in between all that, and then 2 years trying to be reformed by an ambitious, well meaning, but amateur equestrian.

I think a whole lot of that was not an awesome experience for her, myself included, but because of our longevity and some good aspects to our relationship, I think Itxa has at least learned that I am her friend. She doesn't always trust me (the feeling is mutual), but I think we do actually like each other, and maybe she's never had that before. I'm glad that our mutual semi-retirement has taught me that, and I hope it helps me make the right decision for her when the time comes to get back in the saddle later this summer.

More than any other personal equestrian goal I have for myself, I know that my next major mission is to help Itxa enjoy her work, and continue to push our relationship from liking each other to trusting each other.

And with (realistically) another 10 weeks or so to go before that next stage begins, I'm glad we're getting this time to just be friends.

Hey look! No crazy eye!


donkeyhotey said…
You are smart. You picked her for a reason. She is smart. As you two continue on your journey you will both learn so many things from each other. She will get better and better with your consistency, and you will become a massively wise and experienced horse woman. Passive horses can't teach you this. And not everybody wants to learn it! But since you do, you have picked a fascinating partner. Good job, you. xoxoxoxoxo

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