After fiddling around with the halter (how could such a simple bit of equipment be so hard to deal with) for about ten minutes, putting it on and off the patient old gelding, Brendon finally had it mastered. His job was to approach one of the horses, catch it and put the halter on and lead it back to the group. He was glad he was going first, leading by example. He watched Anna when she had caught Ostara and led her away and again when she had collected Hunter and brought him over for the halter lesson. He was confident it would get this done quickly and give the others something to aspire too. Nothing like a bit of rivalry to bring out the best in the team. He’d had his eye on Jelani from the start.
Muscular and gleaming, a haughty look, he looked like a man’s horse. A horse that people would be in awe of and would thus know his master was also a person to be reckoned with.
Lex selected the grey mare Cloud for him to work with, however, and that was ok too. She looked a sweet gentle thing and he was sure she would respond well to him. He set off confidently the way he had seen Anna do and as he got close he held out the halter and rope to Cloud expecting her to turn her head into him and allow him to slip it over her head. Hunter had responded to his offering the halter and he saw no reason the mare would behave differently. Of course Hunter was already caught and just standing there having the halter taken on and off, but that was a minor technicality.
To his surprise instead of turning to him, Cloud turned away and stepped just out of reach. She didn’t run from him. She didn’t seem scared of him, she just stayed outside of his grasp. He moved round where he was sure she could see him, remembering the safety lecture and the discussion about how horses see and where their blind spots are but again she just stayed outside of his reach. He turned to look back at Anna for guidance and as he did so he felt rather than heard a movement behind him. He glanced over his shoulder and saw Cloud had moved closer to him so he turned to her thankfully to catch her and dammit if she didn’t immediately move away from him.
Perplexed as to what to do he nether less kept trying. He was patient, he knew about waiting for the right moment but they continued in their odd little dance around the arena. Eventually Anna came up to help.. “What are you offering her Brendon?” I’m giving her the opportunity to see I have patience and I am not going to hurt her, I’m just offering her the chance to let me catch her so we can stop all this walking around. “What have you changed since the beginning? “ Well nothing, I am just being patient. “ Was there any moment when things were different?” Well yes when I turned my back on her, she almost came up to me. “So what do you think she felt that was different at that moment”. Brendon thought about it for a while but still could not quite see what it was so Anna explained to him again about how horses are very sensitive to the energy we put out and that they can perceive energy as pressure. Brendon didn’t think he had been putting out a lot of energy. He didn’t wave his arms like he saw Anna do when she was getting the whole heard to move earlier. His step had been slow and measured, he hadn’t raised his voice.
“What about your intent and your focus?” Anna asked.
Brendon thought about it and realised he has been intensely focused on what he was doing, In fact other than he and the mare nothing else had existed. He had forgotten about the others, even about the other horses, all his attention had been focused on the mare.
“Your energy is pushing her away “ said Anna. It’s not that she is running away from you, but she is not comfortable being near you. She is just hanging out where it feels safe to her.
With Anna’s help he went back to his task but this time being alert to slight changes in the mare and giving her opportunities to come to him by giving her room rather than always putting the pressure on her. When she finally let him catch her he felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Not that he had caught her, but that he had earned her trust. In the following debrief he was very interested to hear Gemma say how she often felt like the mare when in meetings with Brendon. He got an insight into why she seemed to be getting worse not better under his encouragement and started thinking about what he could do to change his approach, not just to Gemma, but by looking for the small signs people were giving him so he could modify the amount of energy he was directing at them.
Later he watched Gemma working with Jelani and was shocked when she suddenly exploded and yelled at the horse. Now I understand the problems with that team, he thought. This is something Gemma really needs to work on, how to stand her ground, not be pushed around till she feels she has to lash out to make room for herself. I shall have to talk to Andrew to see is he knows of a program she could do to learn to firm up. It’s not a problem I really understand, as firming up has never been an issue for me, it just feels natural.
On the bus on the way back to the city Brendon is deep in thought. He really felt the horses cut through all the head talk. It was one thing to be told something or to role play it but the reactions from the horses were real. And he was still quite taken with the image of himself astride a great black horse like Jelani. Perhaps he could take up riding as a new sport now he wasn’t so fast on the football field any more. He watched the cross country jumping at the Olympics and that looked like a really exciting sport that took guts and determination. His daughter would be delighted, she had been pestering for riding lessons for a year, It would be something they could do together.
As the sun set Cloud enjoyed the last of her dinner. This time she had managed to get a bowl well way from Ostara so she could relax a bit more. It felt good to be just hanging out with the herd.