Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Horses Who Made Me: Q

This is the last post in the series. I've had a lot of fun writing it and reflecting on things along the way. Thanks for following along!


Q came into my life and this blog in May of 2012, just a few short months after Griffin entered my life.

I had played around with the idea of a second, older, more "made" horse, but the financial responsibility that came with it caused me to hesitate. I really wanted an older horse to ride and work with in ways that I wasn't yet able to with Griffin. I worried that without a horse to ride, I would push Griffin along too fast and break him.

At the end of May, I accepted the invitation to go to a riding clinic with a cowboy a few counties south of home. Friends in the riding club promised that the cowboy would have a horse for me to ride. In fact, they joked about the horse being an Arabian that was for sale, knowing that this was what I had been considering purchasing.

Once I had settled in at the clinic, I sought out the cowboy to inquire about my horse for the weekend. Waiting to gain a moment of his time from others, I gazed out into his corrals at the variety of horses turned out, seeking one that looked different from all the QH and paints.

Q was the first one my eyes really locked on. She was smaller than the others, dainty. She moved with grace and aplomb. She was striking with a blaze and four stockings. Her tail was flagged slightly more than the other horses, her head slightly more refined, but not very typey for an Arabian.

I found myself wondering if this was really the horse or not, as she didn't meet the mold of the Belesemo Arabians I had been drooling over online. All the same, I couldn't take my eyes off her.

And so the weekend continued. I rode her. I fell for her.

She was responsive. Athletic. Forward. Not overly mare-ish despite being in heat and having two stallions on the premises, one of which rode near us on the trail for a period of time.

Friends and professionals (trainers and vets) who were in attendance encouraged me to get her. I had to think about it for awhile, it was a difficult decision, but you all know the outcome.

I never wanted a mare. Not really. But now? I wouldn't change it for the world.

Q has been a challenge from the start. Its that whole mare thing mostly. You really do have to have a conversation with her about everything. On top of that, she has a ridiculously quick mind - especially when it comes to escaping all things perceived as danger.

She's incredibly athletic, capable of anything (endurance, jumping, barrels, working cattle). The cowboy was thrilled to see her go to an endurance home because of her forward drive, something I have continued to hone these past two years.

Her biggest flaw is her mind; her acute observation of everything around her and her instinct to flee from danger or seek her friends. Conquering her mind has been quite a feat! 

I'm learning better every day how to channel her into work. How to present her with situations in a manner that she can best understand. How to predict things that may set her off and counter them with something else. Its a constant battle and balancing act at the same time. It vexes me, but I enjoy the challenge.

In addition, she's incredibly sensitive to the emotions of humans in contact with her. Learning to control my emotions has been the biggest challenge for me. I've discussed it ad nauseam on the blog. It has been one of my biggest challenges, and is slowly becoming one of my biggest successes for myself.

Q has taught me to reassess how I'm reacting to everything. Not only am I now hypersensitive to the surrounding environment to help anticipate things that may or may not startle her or invoke some other unanticipated response, I am also hypersensitive to myself, my emotions, my reactions, and my way of doing every little task.

Self awareness on this level is something I never thought I would achieve, but because of Q, I have. And, not too surprisingly, learning this and turning it into habit is helping me in many non-horse aspects of my life. When one is hyper aware of themself, the way they react to things, think about things, and interact with others, interactions with other people become much more interesting. I listen more and speak less. I think more about what I want to say, how I want to say it, how it may be perceived by the person or people I am talking to. I am much more thoughtful and purposeful in everything I do. Certainly, some of this is due to coursework and experiences I had with both 4-H and college, but largely these abilities have been honed into further working perfection because of Q mare.

Q has challenged me in my riding, my training, my every thought. She frustrates me to no end the majority of the time. Hell, just last week I yelled at her that I would sell her ass if she kept acting the fool. But it was an empty threat. For every moment she pisses me off royally, there are two moments where she thrills me beyond end, and an infinite number of moments that I learn something more about myself and her.

She's got far more to teach me, I know, but I will enjoy each moment of it. She's the most difficult puzzle I've tried to solve in the horse-world, and by far, she is my favorite because of it.

So, Q, I know that we'll continue to fight, but I'm okay with that. Its kind of worth it. I promise to continue to do my best to figure you out as you teach me more about yourself, horses, myself, and life.

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