Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So, the winter continues with fat and content horses enjoying the occasional sun, eating and engaging in their carosel antics that remind us often of the tale of the tigers chasing each other around the tree so fast they became butter. These three don't go fast, mind you, but their movement is consistent enough to exercise their legs and lungs. Dime and Boo held little races yesterday, through the snow up to their mid cannon bones. Snorts and head shakes, pirouettes and puffed up necks, bright eyes. Dime a youngster again, his lovely canter breaking out. A joy to watch, these three. Rusty remains the king, aloof, confident and noble, a far cry from the dejected broken old horse who arrived here 18 months ago. And dear Boo, now at the bottom of the pecking order, often chased out of the stable yard by the boys, and always on her best behaviour.

They know where they are at all times as they meander down the slope for their morning hay, crossing rock ledge and picking through deep ruts hidden by the snow. When the deliberate gives way to the carefree, their feet fly without misstep. We are reminded of the last time they had their teeth done and were sedated. When finished, they were able to negotiate their way in and out of the stalls in their sleep, surefooted as mules in the Grand Canyon.

Proprioception, that mysterious extra sense which allows us to maneuver over uncertain ground without undue concentration. Horses have it in spades for their survival depends on it. Without a well developed sense of where they are, of where their feet are, they would not be able to flee. Sometimes they might stumble or slip: in the wild it would mean instant death.

As riders, we cannot risk the horse's security and ability to feel the ground. We must allow our mounts to carry us efficiently and safely.

We wonder if we learn to tie into our horse's proprioception by giving ours up for the ride.

It would surely allow us to feel the ground!


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