Training my feisty colt was a challenge, but it gave me the courage to face the source of my timidity.
-Y -eToo moment
One day, seemingly out of the blue, my trainer blurted out, “Whomever it is you need to stand up to, do it!”
Ifirst saw the grulla Kiger colt when he was just 4 months old. My current mustang’s ringbone was advancing, and I was starting to plan ahead. I would need a solid, dependable horse to ride well into my 60s and I wanted to start my own horse this time around, with advice from my trainer, Lynn. I thought the Kiger colt would be a perfect choice for me.
The colt arrived on a cold December day. I named him Corazon, which means “heart” in Spanish; “Zory” for short. And our journey began.
I was determined to rise to the challenge. I didn’t learn to ride until I was 35. Since then, I’d logged thousands of miles, but I was still a timid rider. Maybe that’s why I found Lynn to be so helpful. Lynn and her husband have developed a training system rooted in the principles of natural horsemanship, and she seems to have an uncanny ability to read and communicate with horses. But it goes beyond that---Lynn is good at reading people, too.
I remember once when Lynn was observing a friend who was struggling with some basic groundwork. Finally, Lynn asked, “Is everything all right at home?” My friend burst into tears. Lynn told me the horses always “tell her” when something is wrong.
Zory turned out to be a dominant horse. If he believes you are a good leader, he will follow you like a perfect gentleman. But he will test your limits, and if he finds any weaknesses, he’ll keep going at you until you get it right. I learned quickly that I couldn’t be timid with him.
Lynn went to work on me, pushing me to be assertive … and more assertive … and even more assertive. I became accustomed to hearing her call from across the arena: “Get tough!” One day, seemingly out of the blue, she blurted out, “Whomever it is you need to stand up to, do it!” “What is she talking about?” I wondered. No one I knew in my life seemed to be a problem in that regard, so I just let it go. As time passed, I did become tougher, and I found that my “Zory energy” was influencing other aspects of my life. People in general seemed to be treating me with more courtesy and respect. And Zory, now about to turn 14, grew into the fantastic trail horse I hoped he would become.
Last year I watched the rise of the “Me Too” movement with interest. “Yes, me too,” I thought, remembering work experiences that most women my age have endured. But then I thought about the real assault: I was about 9 years old when a relative drove me to a park to look at animals. And I recalled the inappropriate things that happened.
All these years I’d pushed the incident to the back of my mind and I’d never done anything about it. Now the stories of the brave women in the news motivated me, and fortified by my newfound “Zory energy,” I found an address for my relative. It had been 50 years since I’d seen him. The note I wrote was brief, but it said, “I remember.” And the shy little girl who couldn’t speak up for herself became strong.
I never expected a reply. It didn’t matter if I got one or not. Simply confronting my abuser was enough. So I was pleasantly surprised when, on my 67th birthday, I received an apology.
Sometimes horses change our lives in ways we never imagine. I am grateful every day for the tough little colt who taught me so much.
STRONGER: When she became the leader her horse, Corazon, required, Cindy Casey found that people in general treated her with more courtesy and respect.