Sunday, June 21, 2009

I got a new horse book!

iconiconMichael and I spent some time hanging out at a bookstore Friday evening, and while we were there I got another horse book: Horse, Follow Closely by Gawani Pony Boy.

I wasn't intending to buy the book. I sat at our table in the café and read it, but when it was time to go, I found I still couldn't put it down. So I decided that was a sign I ought to own it.

I'm now rereading it from beginning to end (instead of jumping around, as you do when you're browsing in a bookstore). It's a beautiful book, with gorgeous pictures, native legends, and an easy-to-read format.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for several months probably remember my take on natural horsemanship, but basically I tend to pick and choose which principles of NH I think are worth adapting into my personal philosophy of working with horses. This is no different — the author says some things that I find worthwhile, and others (such as minimizing verbal cues) that I disagree with. (I find verbal cues work extremely well for Panama and I, but perhaps that is because he's a fairly talkative horse himself.)

I'll write more about the book itself later on, but for right now let me just say that its main focus (forming a relationship with your horse) has made me realize a few things about why Panama and I are able to work together the way we do. I know full well that I am not an exceptional rider — as I mentioned yesterday, I didn't ride much as a kid, and apparently didn't learn as much as I thought either, because I've had to relearn everything as an adult. Heck, I can't even canter comfortably yet!

Despite my limitations, though, I feel like I am able to do things on Panama beyond what my riding skills should allow. I can get him to do what I want, sometimes with a virtually effortless flow of thought from my body into his. I knew I was getting better at communicating things to him, but I hadn't actually made the connection in my head about our relationship making up for where my riding skills fell short of the mark.

Now that the idea has been introduced, though, it makes perfect sense. I've always been focused on my relationship with Panama more than anything else. The vast majority of our interactions have been about bonding, not training or working. As a result, I've got a horse that will put his nose into the halter for me, who comes to a casual "Com'ere," and who responds with an undeniable affirmative (sometimes even nodding his head) if I ask, "Do you want a treat?"

When I think about it this way, it's all very reassuring. I may never be a stellar rider, but that doesn't matter to Panama. He understands me anyway!

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2 Comments:

At June 21, 2009 at 1:55 PM, Blogger Kate said...

Sometimes riders who are very technically skilled are lacking in relationship skills with their horses - I think what you have with Panama is much more valuable than technical skill, which you can build up over time. I've seen Pony Boy at an expo, and some of what he does is pretty good.

 
At June 22, 2009 at 12:24 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Thanks, Kate. I think so too, but it's reassuring that someone more experienced than I am agrees. :o)

I love all the pictures in the book of Pony Boy riding bareback. Wow, wish I could do that, but I have a horse with what feels like a four-inch balance beam for a back. :o(

 

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