It seems like every time we visit Blue Star Equiculture, Pamela manages for me to spend some time with Piper, the Percheron who I’ve become attached to there.
We stopped at Blue Star on our way home from Connecticut. As usual, there was a crowd of people, of all ages, talking and eating around the kitchen table. Every once in a while Pamela would look out the window to see how Piper and Merlin were doing. Larry, a teamster, whose been visiting the farm for about a year was driving them through the snow and around the farm. Finally, she couldn’t stand it any more, Pamela was dying to see how the horses were doing. So I went with her and we met Larry and the horses in the field.
At first they were so far away I could barely see them. Then I saw some blurry movement against the tree line and as they came closer I could hear the squeak and rattle of the wheels and harnesses. They came closer and closer, headed right for us. I was thinking we should get out of their way, but Pamela just stood there and, of course, when they got close to us Larry turned them to avoid running us down. I think I will always be in awe of these giant horses.
Pamela suggested I take a ride, so I hopped on the tractor seat next to Larry and off we went. It was a bumpy ride and I held on most of the way. I imagined me being at the reins. What it might feel like to be able to do such a thing. Larry told me that it took only the slightest pressure from his thumbs on the reins to let the horses know what he wanted them to do. Like an electrical surge from his thumb to their brain.
When we came to the trees that bordered the river, he stopped the horses. This is the place they usually startle, always the same spot. I’ve heard of horses doing this, panicking at the sight of the same tractor or mailbox everyday. As if it’s the first time they’ve ever seen it. And that’s just why we stopped, to show Piper and Merlin there was nothing to be afraid of. To let them face their fears and see it was safe. Just like people I thought.
In a couple of weeks I’m going to spend a few days with Pamela and Paul and the horses at Blue Star. I’ve heard it’s the best way to get to know horses. To spend time around them, feeding and taking care of them. I used to think that for me to be with horses, I’d have to first know how to be an expert at riding them. That it was the riding that would give me the confidence I would need to own a horse. But I’m learning it’s so much more than that. It’s about knowing each other and trusting each other. I’m now thinking that walking with a horse can be as fulfilling as riding a horse.
My whole life I’ve had a certain idea about horses. I’ve seen lots of women and girls have, what seemed to me, unhealthy relationships with them. That’s something I’ve never wanted, but I didn’t really know there was another way to do it. I’m finding out there are lots of different ways to have and relate to a horse. I’m beginning to lose all my old ideas and fears about them. And I don’t have the words yet to describe what I’m feeling about it, but it has to do with allowing myself to experience it all without any preconceived notions. Wiping the slate clean and opening myself up. Doing what I already know works from personal experience with my donkeys and Piper. Which is, being clear and listening. I think it’s a good place to start.
Click here to see the video of Larry driving Piper and Merlin.