The horse. Here is nobility without conceit; friendship without envy; beauty without vanity. A willing servant, yet no slave. ~ Ronald Duncan
I have often fallen into the debate of mares vs. geldings. And I always stand in defense of my mares. Geldings are jolly and playful, existing in a state of constant adolescence. Mares, especially alpha mares, are mercurial; as changing as quicksilver. Their role is leader, protector, mother and teacher. They know to conserve energy for flight from danger. They know how to yield for the good of the herd. They demand respect but cannot be commanded to be respectful. You must win the admiration of mare; merit her obedience. Those moments are fleeting, golden and powerful.
When, by chance, luck and a dash of skill, I manage to evince one of these moments, my breath is stolen and I stand in awe of my sweet mare.
Saturday afternoon I decided to ride ride Cricket and get a little help on my left lead canter. I know my riding dynamic is affecting Cricket's ability to move correctly into her left lead just as it's inhibiting my ability to comfortable ride her left lead. Through my own experimentation and observation, coupled with discussions with friends, I've figured out that the what I need to do is somewhat counter to what I've been taught in Freestyle riding.
My friend Kathy has been successfully using a weave pattern to set the horse and rider up for clean, correct canter departs and she coached me through the pattern with Cricket.
We started on the right lead so I could get a feel for what I was doing before I moved to the more challenging lead. The first time through on the left, Cricket picked up the correct lead but I was a moment or so behind on my request and so it was a little disjointed.
The second time through, I kept my focused and timed my request at the exact right moment. I wish I could have seen a picture of what I felt.
Power. Control. Grace. Athleticism. Collection. Obedience. Exuberance. Flexion. Lightness. Elegance.
There are no words that adequately describe what I felt.
Cricket departed from the hind and powered over her back, picking up a soft and collected left lead canter. It was the most amazing thing I've ever felt. Not to be too graphic, but it was orgasmic.
In a moment, she gave me everything. Willingly. I hold onto that moment as a glimpse of what is possible with my horse.