It was about a week ago, when I realized I was emotionalizing my relationship with Chloe. Not only was it harmful to our relationship, but it was making me feel bad about myself. It was damaging our interactions together because I forgot that Chloe was the pony and I was the human. And it was making me feel bad about myself because I was taking Chloe’s actions personally.
When Chloe did those things that she often does, fussing when I put the reins on her, not wanting me to wipe bug spray on her face, little things like that, I started to take it as a rejection. I was trying to be strong, but working with Chloe sometimes makes me feel weak and helpless. Then I start to lose my confidence. I didn’t want to ride her anymore, because I felt she didn’t want to be ridden. I began to think she didn’t like me. So I only did with her what I thought she wanted to do. It was gradual, but by the time I realized what was happening, I had reduced our relationship to me giving her treats and bushing her when she wouldn’t walk away from me.
I hadn’t ridden Chloe in over a week when a friend, expressed an interest in riding her. She was young, but a lot more experienced than me and I thought I could learn something from her. She didn’t even get around the pasture once when Chloe made a quick stop, throwing my friend off her back. I saw her fly over Chloe’s head and roll, on the ground. She knew what she was doing, how to fall and if I wasn’t so horrified, I would have thought it graceful.
Thankfully, my friend wasn’t hurt, it wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last time she’s thrown. But it made me realize that I’ve been too lax about Chloe. I still have the idea in my head of her being a pony kids ride, something she used to do. I couldn’t imagine Chloe purposefully throwing me or anyone else. Another danger of personalizing her. I don’t know Chloe well enough to believe that. I haven’t ridden her long enough. Everyone who I’ve ever spoken to has told me that if I ride, I will eventually, somehow, fall off my horse. And I believe them, but, I think, a part of me doesn’t want to believe it.
So the next day, I decided I had to change the way Chloe and me were doing things. I also knew that I had to be serious about me knowing that Chloe is the horse and I’m the human. She’s not rejecting me when she doesn’t do what I ask her too, she’s just being the pony that she is.
Jon and I sometimes talk about how some people have the idea that they want to be an artist or writer. But it seems they really just like the idea of being one, they don’t really want to do the work. I think that’s how I was thinking about Chloe. I wanted to have a horse, to ride a horse. But that’s not what having a horse is about anymore than being an artist is about is about sitting in cafe’s talking about art.
Me and Chloe have started over again many times in the few short months we’ve known each other. And now we’re doing it again. Or maybe it’s not really starting over, but just what it means to have a horse. Constant learning and changing. Now I repeat over and over to myself and Chloe….I‘m the human, you’re the pony. This way I remember what each of us is supposed to be doing.
And I’m seeing little victories, as each day we do something meaningful together. Even if I don’t ride her, I put the reins or saddle on her. So I get used to doing it and won’t be a nervous when I do want to ride. And she’ll get used to having them on too. Today I hosed her down, it was so hot out. And when I reached for her ears to wash the bug bites, she let me. When I first got her and she wouldn’t let me touch her ears, I gave up on it. But in the past few days, I figured out how to get her to trust me, so now she actually likes to have the inside of her ears rubbed.
And this is how I see our relationship growing. Slowly and steadily. Not in a straight line, I know I’m bringing a lot of emotional baggage to the relationship and it’s bringing up some long buried issues for me. Sometimes I question why I’m even doing it. It would be so much easier to just give up. But I don’t want to walk away from these things inside of me. I want to deal with them. And I don’t want to walk away from Chloe. It amazes me to think that I can have a relationship with a creature who could easily hurt or even kill me and chooses not to. It makes me feel strong in a way I haven’t before in my life. But so does the connection and trust I’ve seen and felt between people and horses. And I want that too.