With an unexpected Friday off from work, I emailed Linda asking for another lesson. Luckily she was available on such short notice, though the lesson I thought I was getting was totally different from how we spent our day. That’s the thing about trainers, you get what you and your horse need, not what you thought you wanted!
Tarma and I have some solid trail rides under our belts, both with friends and solo. I ask her to do things, she thinks it over and generally does it…but not always in a calm, relaxed way. She tends to rush through things (like downhill), not engaging deliberately or thoughtfully.
Linda pointed out our big hole, Tarma isn’t fully relaxing and trusting me yet. Our best guess is it’s due to her previously feral background and having to protect herself in a mixed herd. I haven’t fully proven myself to be a source of safety for her yet, which is not surprising considering everything I’ve asked of her. Linda also pointed out a possible reason Tarma responds to Kade so well; kids don’t have an agenda really, and smart horses pick up on that.
It took a few hours and some quiet movements, a little pressure, a few asks, but Tarma was finally relaxed, licking and yawning and chewing with her head low and lip loose. It’s like meditation, being utterly in the moment and with no agenda. For the longest time Tarma was very standoffish and self contained, not panicky just… watchful and not connected.
So our homework in some ways is back to square one. I know we can go out and do things more or less safely, and I know Tarma enjoys the trails, but we’ve got to be together, not just me along for the ride. I want her with me and on my side, not just dealing with me, and that takes time and showing her I know how to listen to her. It’s a delicate balance between respecting her right to say no and asking her things in a different way she’s more receptive to. Today was a breakthrough in some ways, in that she showed me where she’s at and what she’s capable of. We’ll get there, smart mare!