Rudy has helped me beat to my own drum. Over the six years I've owned him and four barns we've been at, there have been numerous opportunities to be influenced by well-meaning trainers, fellow boarders, or barn staff instead of listening to my intuition.
There were plenty of times when I defaulted to others' advice despite it going against what I innately thought was correct because the person had more experience than I did. Six years in, I'm still a newbie to this whole horse thing by many people's standards but have learned to trust my instincts.
I've always been conscious of others' judgment, to a fault. The fear of ridicule had shaped my life, kept me quiet when I wanted to speak, made me agree when I wholeheartedly disagreed, prevented me from chasing my dreams, and impacted the quality of my relationships.
I take my horse Mom duties seriously and recognize that my decisions, action, or inaction could have a profound impact on Rudy, both good and bad.
Rudy has helped me to stand up to all those well-intentioned, opinioned people who think that because something works for them that it will work for us. The times I failed to do this, I deeply regretted my decision. It didn't take many of these experiences to fix my approach, not when it has to do with a soul dependent on me for their well-being.
I do many things differently than other people I know, but I am now steady in my choices. For one, I'm committed to balancing my desires with his. So, I prioritize grazing and bodywork with my desire to ride him.
I generally choose not to be distracted on my phone when I am with Rudy. The time we spend together is precious. While he's munching on grass, I typically work on being present.
I am aware of the beauty around me, the tall, solid but flexible trees, the colors, the pair of red-tailed hawks that often circle overhead, how gorgeous Rudy's hair is, and his rhythmic chewing.
Since I'm a human, this approach only goes so far. After ten or fifteen minutes, I'm in my head and oblivious to my surroundings. I wanted to fix this problem, so I started doing standing yoga postures while he ate.
When I began this practice, I admit that I was self-conscious and worried about people's thoughts. I watched for barn staff and stopped what I was doing if they came outside.
Over time I let this concern go. It's plain to see what I'm doing and what Rudy's doing. They may think I'm crazy, but I no longer care.
I was doing yoga as Rudy grazed last weekend. I had no goals for my time with him but to give him a good long session to munch the sweet grass, which snow will soon cover.
He grazed with the lead rope draped over his neck, and I began my practice. As I progressed through the poses, I noticed he kept his eye on me as if observing my behavior.
I was breathing long and slow as I moved from one posture to the next. I became aware that when I do yoga around Rudy, he always is calm. I subsequently reflected that he had never spooked or become excessively worried when I stood nearby doing my practice.
It appears as though he enjoys this time together and understands both of us are getting what we want, each doing our own thing in each other's company. If you like yoga and have never done it around your horse, try it, you both might like it!
**Someday I need to have someone take a picture of me doing yoga with him. :)
Written November 26, 2021