And quite suddenly, a year had passed.
Exactly a year.
365 days ago, I had left my home early in the morning to go and collect my horse. The scruffy horse who had cowered away in a corner whenever anybody tried to get near him. The horse who would not let me catch him and used to run away from me for hours. The horse whose coat was dry and his skin flaky. The horse whose feet were in a mess.
The horse, who became mine and changed my life.
A lot has changed in the past year. It had been an interesting time for me, adjusting from a life abroad where I worked as a professional in my profession to a life here, in this country with all its politics, where I worked as a waitress for twelve months. It had had its ups and its incredible downs but one thing had remained in place, had settled me and anchored my soul.
My horse had changed as much as my life has in the past few weeks. Gone was the frightened animal that I had gone to collect from his previous owner and in its place was a steady horse, with a quick grasp on matters, a strange sense of humour and a gentleness that was so fragile, yet so precious. He wasn’t scared of me anymore, didn’t shy away when I went to him. When I got Basjan, he was tired and thin, with a series of bad habits I thought I would never get out of him. I made my mistakes and he made his and at some point, when I had shattered his comfort zone by accident, I found myself wondering if I had made the right decision to buy him, whether I was doing more harm than good.
But, we learned together and I believe that we triumphed at the end.
Basjan was now an energetic, stocky horse who was incredibly quick on his feet and absolutely loved running. I had discovered that both he and I liked using voice commands a lot more than we did the physical aids of hands and heels. I trained him to stand on command (and stand he will until I ‘unstood’ him). It had proved invaluable when I had to go and catch him in the field, where one (or sometimes two) clear ‘stand’ commands would get him to patiently wait for me to mount. I could ride him without a saddle and a bridle, guiding him with my voice and touch alone.
He had learned that I won’t hurt him and in turn I had learned that his fear would always be something to consider. Whatever had been done to him in the past would never leave him and that sometimes, we will have bad days but that they were no reflection of his trust in me, only of his trust in people. And I had learned that I could trust him, that he would never do something intentionally to hurt me.
He wasn’t the horse which I had seen myself buying, but he was the horse that I needed. When my Other Half met him, it was remarked that I couldn’t have found a horse that was more like me if I had put out an add. As it turned out, Basjan and I were very much alike, our moods, our emotions, our perception of other people and I think that in the end, that was what had made me willing to work with him and able to for that matter. I treated him as I wanted to be treated. I respected him as I wanted to be respected.
You see, when I was younger, I mused that horse riding was build on three corners. Trust, Love and Respect. I’ve seen a lot of things in the 15 years that I have been riding and I have realized that very few people realize that, that you cannot be a good horsewoman or man if you didn’t respect the animals that you worked with. In turn then, they wouldn’t trust you and if they could not trust you, they could not love you and, that – that defeated the whole object of the exercise.
I have never seen myself as a horse’s master, but his equal and his other part. These strong beasts allow us to ride them, to work with them and they put their trust in us to ride them in places where they won’t be in danger. In turn they ask a tiny bit of our soul, which is why for those who truly understand what I’m talking of, it is so hard to be apart from them, why you’ll always find a bit of yourself yearning to be where they are.
Basjan holds my soul. Not all of it of course, but a tiny part, a precious part which I cannot live without and in a strange way, he’s not mine – but I am his.