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Mares not be­hav­ing badly

EQUUS - - Contents - By Su­san Moore

Ihadn’t planned on get­ting an­other horse, at least not right away. My wish-come-true horse, Tilly, had just passed away, and I was still griev­ing. A month or so later, I was with a dear friend when, be­fore I knew it, she’d made a call and set up a look-see for me the fol­low­ing week­end.

RW’s Rock­sanne had been a hal­ter cham­pion, worked on a cat­tle ranch for al­most a decade and then been at a breed­ing farm for sev­eral years. I was, of course, im­me­di­ately struck by her roan Ap­paloosa mark­ings, solid Quar­ter Horse fea­tures and un­usu­ally large eyes that looked right at me. When I vis­ited again, she led the herd of mares and foals up to the fence, leaned over and stood with her fore­head touch­ing mine for sev­eral min­utes. Need­less to say, the deal was done.

Be­cause she was an “al­pha” mare, I was told by many horse­folk---mostly men---that she’d be stub­born, strong­willed, bossy, moody, opin­ion­ated, “too smart for her own good,” etc. How­ever, as a woman who worked in a male-dom­i­nated field, I also heard many of those things said about my­self, so I re­ally didn’t see any prob­lem. And I was right.

Rocks and I are both re­tirees, and we share a re­laxed, mel­low spirit. So although we have had our mo­ments, she has a for­ever home and I have a lov­ing teacher of life lessons.

Her in­tel­li­gence con­stantly sur­prises. While work­ing on “Not Run­ning to the Gate When She Thinks We’re Done,” I sta­tioned my­self at the gate while she was di­ag­o­nally across from me in the ring. I turned away, as if I wasn’t watch­ing. Slowly she inched her way down the long side of the ring. When she got to the cor­ner, she stopped. Fi­nally she very slowly walked half the dis­tance to­ward me, dropped, rolled, stood up and shook off. As she took one more step to­ward the gate, I turned and yelled, “HEY!” She whirled and tore off back to the far cor­ner. A stamp of her foot and a head­shake, and I could al­most hear her say, “Darn! I nearly made it!” As I saun­tered to the cen­ter of the ring, try­ing not to laugh, she walked to me very nicely, dropped her head and stood still.

Rocks has taught me to be present ---right now---to ev­ery­thing around us. Not just the usual alert­ness needed around horses, but a to­tal im­mer­sion in the mo­ment. With one ear turned back to me and the other scan­ning our en­vi­ron­ment, she showed me how to be aware of ev­ery sound and move­ment. When we are to­gether, there is no room for what hap­pened yes­ter­day or what may hap­pen to­mor­row. Just us, now.

She has also taught me pa­tience and per­se­ver­ance. When some­thing isn’t work­ing, I’ve learned to step back, take a breath and con­sider an­other ap­proach to the prob­lem. Some­times, I set it aside, work on some­thing else and come back to it later. I’ve re­al­ized that Rocks won’t ever learn my lan­guage, so I need to learn hers---what works and what doesn’t---and to keep try­ing.

Some­one once told me, “Peo­ple say a lot of things about Ap­paloosas, but they will al­ways bring you home.” Rocks and I have be­come a team: She trusts me not to ask her to do any­thing that will en­dan­ger ei­ther of us, and I trust her to bring us both safely back to the barn. She will al­ways have a home with se­cu­rity, treats and plenty of love. My only hope is that we will have many more years to­gether, so I can learn ev­ery­thing she needs to teach me.

TWO OF A KIND: “She will al­ways have a home with se­cu­rity, treats and plenty of love,” says the au­thor about her mare, RW’s Rock­sanne.

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