A conversation in senses is always more honest than a conversation in thoughts. Always give yourself time to stop thinking, and understand the emotional response.
A couple of days ago I got out Timmys’ saddle and saddle pad to see if we were at a place where we could have a conversation about his ‘stuff’. I haven’t ridden for at least 2 years now and so that means he hasn’t been tacked up either.
Before I found a different, slower way, to be with the horses, I would pop Timmy’s saddle on quick and easy, ask him for a couple of circles at walk and trot and canter and then get on him and off we go. He would usually try and give me a nip while tacking up. He would usually give a bit of a buck and a head shake when asked to circle, and every time we got back from a ride I had to get his tack off before he decided to roll. Once he rolled on the last bit of track home (I was walking him at that point. Probably had to get off for something or other and couldn’t find a place to get back on him). Once he dropped to roll with me on his back. I wonder if he was trying to tell me something?
Timmy has no major physical issues that would prevent him having a saddle and rider so previously I didn’t really listen to his opinion.
Now I am asking him his opinion. And working with the response. Can we find peace with the saddle pad and saddle?
The first two sections of the video show Timmy exploring the saddle pad at liberty. I then ask him in to me to put the head collar and rope on. He goes for a nip and then releases that initial anxiety. (We have been working with the head collar a lot). He senses there is more to it all today so decides to leave.
I went out and spent some time putting his head collar on and getting peaceful with that and then using peace of mind, patience, and persistence, I ask him back into the arena.
We then go to the saddle and saddle pad and explore it but this time on the end of a rope. He wanted to leave again. This time I am a little more persistent about wanting to explore the emotions behind the wanting to leave. I wait for him to agree to come back and then we just find our neutral place next to the ‘stuff’. When he comes in to me asking ‘What Now?’ I take a bit of time to feel if it is okay to pick up the saddle pad and when I do I ask him to consider being peaceful with it.
I got a sense that he was unsure at that point. Before now, when a human has picked up a saddle pad they have just put it straight on his back. He has never been asked his opinion. It is quite often the case that us humans don’t want to ask the question, because we don’t want to know the answer, and then feel obliged to work with that. It is easier to just do things faster so there is no time for an opinion.
So, now I ask him and wait for a response. We watch the traffic. We deal with a horse fly. And so on. But all the time I am waiting for a response to the question – ‘Can we be at peace with the saddle pad?’. Once I sense he is at peace with it (which in real time took just over 5 minutes) I then put it on his back and we ask the question again – ‘Can we be at peace with the saddle pad on your back?’.
Thinking levels then came up for both of us as we got a few biting flies come in, and a horn blew as someone arrived for my hubbie, and we both got a little up in our thinking. More a sense of resentment towards the interruptions to our conversation. Timmy shows his agitation with some old habitual behavioural responses – pawing the ground, wanting to crib, and starts to leave. So I remove the saddle pad and we leave for a bit, have a crib and then go back to finding our neutral place.
It is seven and half minutes before he decides he is okay to return to the arena. We walk about a bit and go back to the saddle pad and put it on. We see a quick return to pawing and then suddenly a change, a yawn, a release, a blow out and a relaxation in the body. I could sense the tension leaving. It was his response to the question. The answer was ‘Yes, I can now be peaceful with the saddle pad on my back’.
I asked one last question for this session. ‘Can you move with the saddle pad on your back?’ There was some habituated responses again but quickly to a stop and relax. We stood like that for more than 3 minutes. This time of just being in neutral, in the present moment with what has just happened, is the processing time. He is considering the question if you like. His response was to then come to me for head scratches and a little play, and then he yawned out a few times, releasing tension, and that was enough. Lots to process.