With a little over two hours left, Freckles and I are approaching the successful completion of the Northwood Farms Throwdown Challenge. It’s been an interesting 21 (well 19 so far) hours and I’m so glad that I chose this mare to do this with. I’ve learned some unexpected things as part of choosing another horse consistently over Tucker.
21 hours really isn’t that much time to invest in a horse and I was fortunate because Freckles was a solid trail partner with some solid foundation principles to build on prior to me going into the challenge. All of my goals for the challenge came back to relaxation in some form. I wanted her to be able to find it while in motion, especially the higher gaits, in particular when working in an arena. She has a barrel background and hangs on to some of that just run around fast and get the pattern done mentality. Getting her body and mind to settle and think when moving around the arena can sometimes be difficult for her. I wanted less rush and more thought behind our arena work. I also wanted her to start to relax and start to tune in so we could refine our leg, energy and body cues. Finally I wanted her to learn some bend and some suppleness through her body. Once we found relaxation and some of that tension was gone, I felt like we could build some bend and flex into her posture.
As I expected we made progress on all of the above goals. What I didn’t expect was how attached I would get to her in the short course of this challenge. She’s always been my hubby’s horse and I’ve never really viewed her as a partner and, as awful as it sounds, I chose her for this challenge more out of obligation than desire. I felt like I “should” commit to her and 21 hours seemed like a bite size chunk that I could handle without drawing too much attention away from my main squeeze Tucker.
Hubs doesn’t ride as often as I do so the amount of work Freckles gets is inconsistent. When I started this challenge I could feel good about myself for picking the horse that would normally just get to hang out in the pasture even if it did come from an obligatory perspective. But as I rode deeper into the 21 hours I started to see her as interesting. Excited about the subtle changes I was seeing. Our communication was clearer, there were shorter periods of time before she could drop her head and blow out and even though I hadn’t quite let go of the fact that Tucker wasn’t my challenge horse, I was starting to enjoy Freckles.
Then it happened, this past weekend while camping ,something switched in me emotionally. I wanted to be there riding Freckles. I didn’t long for Tucker to be the one on the trip with me…I wanted to be with her!!!!! I was having just as much fun with her as I would’ve if my main squeeze had been along.
It was a stunning realization. I’ve always thought about myself as a 1 horse woman. Ironic given that I have 3, but I always thought of my horse time in relation to Tucker and the enjoyment I had with the other two has been purely supplemental to him. I thought somehow that I would never be able to have a partnership with any other equine that brought as much satisfaction as what I have with him. My relationship with Freckles is nowhere near what I have with T BUT I’m starting to see glimpses of some of the pieces. Appreciate and love her for her differences from him and recognize and develop some of the similarities.
I’m so thankful that I chose her and I’m excited about the possibilities going forward with ALL the horses.