Me and Pearl have been together well over 3yrs now. She came to me a freshly weaned 6 month old and since then we have continued to learn and grow together. We have had our ups and downs as I have blogged about previously. I would even say to people now DON'T GET A FOAL. Although the experience has been amazing and so rewarding its a lot of work and I have been learning this week there is such a thing as too close.
Me and Pearl are proper tight haha we read each other like a book, we know what buttons to push, I know when she sore or not having the greatest of days and she knows when to tell me I am being a twat. We have a huge amount of trust between us after hours and hours of groundwork and just hanging out.
She is mine and I am very much hers.
I just didn't realise how much that wasn't necessarily the best thing.
Over the past couple of months we have been starting the backing process towards eventually riding. It was never going to be a rushed effort as I want to do it myself and my confidence has to catch up with each step we move forward. She has been amazing and fast to learn as ever.
We have desensitised everything to do with tack.
She lets me tack her up happily at liberty.
She lines up perfectly at the mounting block including at liberty, in fact she often chooses to hang around the thing as it usually means back scratches and treats.
She accepts my foot in the stirrup.
She accepts me leaning over, putting a leg over her bum.
I have sat on her.
Technically she is backed I suppose. BUT and here is the big thing, I am still scared. Not in a crippling way but getting on half a ton of intelligent, sensitive and opinionated mare is terrifying and exciting all at the same time. This is new and this time my feet aren't firmly on the ground if she decides to show that fierce Portuguese bloodline.
I was told by a man who had worked at the Veiga Stud that the Lusitano is the most loyal and devoted horse to their owner but they are not forgiving and will make it extremely clear when you have messed up. So far that has proven true.
As I said she can read me like a book and that means she knows when my body is filled with those excited terrified butterflies while my thought process is 'ahhh I am getting on my pony, oh my god this is so exciting but I am shit scared' and she responds as the perfect emotional mirror she always has been.
Its a bit like like my driving test a few years ago, I could drive and drive well. However the excitement and pressure of having that freedom and pleasure meant I took 4 test attempts before I passed because my excited, anxious self took over my body and had me mess up. It's been an issue for many years and now its here in force over getting on Pearl.
Just have someone hold her I hear you say. Well this goes back to the loyalty and me being hers. Pearl it appears doesn't want anyone else involved and this probably the biggest fuck up of all. Turns out my lovely sweet mare is only really tolerant of the other people who need to handle her. You have to prove your worth to gain her willingness and well thats taken me years.
Surely it's just holding her. Believe me its clear, if I have complete control at the mounting block and no one else is within 5ft of us she is relaxed and happy for me to do all the dance to the point of getting on. Give someone else the rope, she fidgets, she moves away and she totally disconnects.
So just get on.... well that goes back to being a little bit terrified of the what if. The what if is potential broken bones as we all know. Whenever I have introduced something new to her I have been on the ground to work her through it and reassure and that has really worked for us and over backing I can't be in two places at once and I need reassurance too haha! So the thought of getting on and knowing I have no one holding her and that she could go wherever she wanted however fast or big she wanted is the biggest test of my nerve.
I could send her away to finish the work but I don't want to and I don't feel it would be right. What we are doing together ultimately will strengthen our relationship I just need to work out where to go from this point and how to tackle these new challenges as believe me I thought it was going to be soooo easy but it turns out that this process brings out all the things that you need to work on in yourself.
I feel this will be more than just horse lessons in the end.