So, back on Chloe. Yesterday I decided to keep it simple and fun and go for a walk with Chloe. No saddle, no bridal, just a lead rope on her halter. I was back in a good place, feeling strong and in a good mood. I was hoping Chloe was feeling the same. I told her it would be like a picnic. We’d walk in the (dreaded) back pasture, have a bit to eat then walk around the rest of the farm. We stuck to the well worn donkey paths, I was hoping they’d feel comfortable if not familiar. And it worked, the donkeys and sheep followed us keeping the herd together. There we were, just a bunch of different species hanging out in the pasture. Chloe was easy and willing, we just had a good time together.
Today, I felt like going for a ride again. Instead of using the cross ties in the barn, I tied Chloe up outside. The donkeys hung around as I groomed and saddled her. Yesterday I saw how she really enjoyed have her tail combed, so I too some extra time grooming her. It felt less fraught, more comfortable and Chloe took the bit without a problem.
Again I walked her into the back pasture. This time, on the way back I let her go to the gate that leads to the woods behind the house. She seemed curious and stood still staring out at the woods as if she heard or saw something I didn’t. Then I got in the saddle and it went great for a while. Until we came around to the barn for the second time and she wanted to go back.
This time I knew what to expect and was ready and determined. I thought to use my legs (along with my body and reins) to get her going where I wanted. And I talked to her, letting her know I was ready to do this all day if we had to. She kept backing up and I kept stopping her and trying to redirect her. We did this until she gave in to me and walked away from the barn and around the pasture again. We did this two or three times, each time she eventually did as I asked.
Until I tried to get her to go in the back pasture. We had been at it a while so on this I decided to compromise. Instead of riding her, I got off and we walked, which she was willing to do. At the far fence I got back on and we rode back to the barn.
Although in some ways it was similar to the last time we rode. It felt completely different to me. I guess because I was feeling strong and determined. But I was also having fun, I was really enjoying trying to figure out what to do next and was enjoying riding and being with Chloe even though it didn’t go smoothly. And Chloe wasn’t agitated like the last time. I think maybe she enjoyed it a little more too.
This is new for both of us but I have that feeling about Chloe like we’re going to be together for a long time. Like when you meet someone for the first time and they’re so familiar and you feel so comfortable with them it’s as if you’ve always known them. That’s how it feels to me with Chloe and with riding. Like we’ve done it all before and this is just how it begins.