The Healing Power of Horses

9 05 2013

This is not a post about hollistic therapy – I’m far too cynical for that. I’m very definitely a modern thinker and not a post-modern thinker in that I like the things I give credence to to have their roots in HARD SCIENCE and/or REASON. It might seem contrary to this at times (for example, I meditate daily – usually after Pilates!), but this is nearly always because the thing in question was sold to me on the basis of having scientific merit (in the case of meditation, to use the breath to calm the heart rate and nervous system, and to ease muscle tension, thereby relieving stress and anxiety – which can be measured).

What I do find, however, is that spending any amount of time around horses makes me genuinely happy, in a lasting way. I don’t have a scientific explanation for that, beyond that I like horses. (No, really? I hear you say.) I have jokingly suggested in the past that maybe horse riding stimulates an oxytocin response in women, which would explain why so many girls I’ve known over the years have fallen in love with either the first horse they rode or the one they rode most frequently, but it was in jest, and besides it doesn’t explain why men are usually just as bad.

Today was no exception. With Monday being a bank holiday in the UK, the school wasn’t open, so not wanting to have another huge long break between lessons again I booked myself a half-hour private lesson for this morning. I forgot that I had an oral exam today, with a hefty weighting, but after a bit of umming and erring about whether to cancel the lesson for last minute cramming I decided that since it was fairly early in the morning the horse therapy would probably set me up well for the day.

I was right. I arrived to find Bramble all tacked up and ready for our lesson. It was interesting to see her at the start of the day as opposed to the end of it; she seemed much less lethargic, and I found her nibbling at her (empty) hay net. Standing at the door, I called out to her, and she looked nervously at me, so I lowered my head and she came over and gingerly snuffled my raised fist, from a distance with her neck stretched out. Then she seemed to relax a bit. While I’ve always read her as having a somewhat fed-up demeanor during our past encounters, she just seemed shy today. I didn’t fuss her or anything; I just waited by the door. She stood facing me but at arm’s length until today’s instructor – a young blonde lady I’d never met before – came to bring her out for me.

We covered a lot of ground for a 30-minute lesson, but I guess that must just be because I had all the attention on me. We did trot to halt and halt to trot transitions, and I practised standing in the stirrups in trot. I’m sure I used to be able to do this better than I apparently can now; perhaps this is the downside to having started myself again in the beginner’s group. Never mind – I mastered it by the time we moved onto canter.

I got to spend around ten minutes or maybe more practising canter, and it was *awesome*. We started with trot to canter, which is what I’ve been doing in the group lessons, and that was fine, but then moved onto walk to canter transitions, which was what I was taught last year at Gakushuin and, again, seem to have completely forgotten how to do. I’d got the hang of it by the end of the lesson, on a somewhat reluctant Bramble, who’d figured out it was the end of the lesson by this point and, in spite of being quite forward going (for Bramble) in the middle of the lesson was harder to push on. Still, I thought she deserved a fuss at the end. Not that it made her move any faster back in the direction of her stall; honestly, you’d think that given her unwillingness to do any work unless she absolutely must, she’d be glad to be getting things over with, but no; quite happy just to stand still in the middle of the arena. Weirdo.

Anyway, I got some pictures of her being adorably coy, for your viewing pleasure:

I walked out of the riding school feeling contented and pleased with myself. It did set me up well for my test, which went okay,  but I wasn’t really hoping for any better than that to be honest.

As for my bro (does that work for mares?…) Soapy, she is on holiday! And not only that, but it means she’s not even on site at the moment. I remember mentioning to Damian (remember him?) once that the horses at this school get holidays, and he remarked that this brought to mind a mental picture of Soapy in a straw hat with holes cut out for the ears with a bucket and spade. I’d sincerely like to hope that’s the reality of the situation!

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6 responses

10 05 2013
thecasualphilosopher

enjoyed entry…and love the pics of shy, coy Bramble!

10 05 2013
onahorse

Thank you! I think she’s probably a sweetheart really, I just have the misfortune to see her when she’s had enough most of the time.

12 05 2013
mellchan

super cute photos….I WANT that barn, its so classic looking.

Its weird that Soapy isn’t even on the property…..I wonder if they could mean that she is taking a break from being a school master and is enjoying some other genre of riding at the moment….I would think if she was getting time off they would simply turn her out at pasture?

In any case, I like your visualization of her in a straw hat, wouldn’t that be a sight to see…lol.

13 05 2013
onahorse

It’s a lovely place, isn’t it? I’d like to think that Soapy is in a pasture somewhere running around to her heart’s content, getting a lot of fusses with a bit of lunging for exercise and biting bigger horses who annoy her. Heh.

14 05 2013
thecasualrider

And now, for another blog award! I was nominated for the Liebster award (for blogs with less than 200 followers), and am thus nominating you for the Liebster! Just visit my page to pick up the clip art. The instructions are there, along with my disclaimers!

15 05 2013
onahorse

Thanks very much for this! Wow, a third award!

I’ve updated this evening, but I shall leave accepting my award for another night as it looks to be quite an undertaking 😉

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