I don't know if it was the sobering 10th anniversary of 9/11 or just a general feeling that life is short, but instead of cleaning, baking, or gardening today, I rode my horse.
I still pulled a few potatoes and a few weeds, but when I was done with that, I pulled on my riding boots and caught that Crazy Horse. Ohia (should be 'Ōhi'a now that I have diacritical marks available) just followed us around like a dog - no halter necessary. He hasn't had much work since I started my new job, so I spent a good hour reminding him how to stand, bend, lunge (not terribly successfullywith , but some progress - at least the pulling out to the end of the 30 foot lunge line reminded him he can't get away from me, even if it also left me with a rope burn). When he stood still while I thumped on his saddle and generally made a lot of fuss, it was time to mount up.
He had a brief second when he thought about spinning and running away. I wonder if he has ever successfully dumped someone with this maneuver, because it seems to be a favorite avoidance technique for him. He's never gotten me off, but it does mean a lot of tight circles until he stops blowing hard and pulling. Today, though, he just tensed, thought about it and then calmed down. We did a lot of suppling exercises - figure eights, spirals, alternating bends around the line of trees in front of the barn. He was walking calmly but energentically and chewing and smacking his lips, which means happy submission for a horse. He has such a light response to aides when he isn't in flee mode - you just have to look in the direction you want to go and that little shift in weight cues him to bend in that direction. Really lovely. The few good circles I got out of him on the lunge showed his elevated trot, too. He looks like a chunky old ranch horse, but this horse has some dressage and jumper potential, too - if everyone ignores his rope burns from his cowboy beginnings.
If he can ever stop being afraid, this horse is going to be a great joy to ride. Now, he just isn't all that trustworthy - even his reflection in the window glass of the workshop in the barn spooks him. A rider who isn't experienced or is even momentarily inattentive couldn't trust this horse - he needs someone to think for him and anticipate what will scare him.
I hear Winston Churchill said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." Internet quotes are unreliable, but whomever said, I agree. It was good for me to ride - I feel both physically and emotionally better than I have in quite awhile. This definitely needs to be a regular part of my weekly schedule. It will do Crazy Horse Gib a good service, too; if I do end up having to sell him, at least he will have a better chance at being less scared of people.