As you may or may not know, Tucker is 3/4 Dutch Warmblood and 1/4 Thoroughbred. Thoroughbreds, in my experience, tend to be fairly intelligent and level-headed. Warmbloods are also quite sensible and workmanlike, until they are not, and then they are just ridiculous. Accordingly, the 1/4 Thoroughbred is generally in charge of Tucker's brain function, while the Warmblood is in charge of things like his floaty extended trot, his big round jump, and engagement of the hind end (brains vs. brawn, if you will). Occasionally, however, the division of labor gets a bit mixed up. Which means that Tucker has, on occasion, in certain circumstances, appeared somewhat ridiculous. Not that I would ever make fun of him for it.
Anyways, on Saturday we had a really, truly, excellent ride. We worked through the elements of First-1 again and now that I know where I'm going I was able to concentrate on riding a little better. We figured somethings out, like allowing the 15-meter circle to naturally bring him back from extended to working canter, rather than trying to slow him down and then turn. We corrected the shape of our reverse turns. We worked on making the stretchy circle less of an oval. It all went wonderfully and I was super proud of him.
So we were cooling out and I was reflecting on what a truly brilliant animal I own and how incredibly blessed I am that I get to ride him every day, and then it happened.
There was a beam of light that appeared in the corner, stretching across the pile of extra footing. I tried to explain to Tucker that it was just sunshine streaming in from the top window but he would not be dissuaded.
|Excuse the typo. The internet is not perfect.|
He tried to spin right, but thankfully he lacks the speed of a World Champion Reiner despite his beliefs to the contrary, and I was able to stop him and get him facing forward again. He froze, took a few steps forward, and froze again. I patted him and told him there was nothing to be scared of, but apparently the closer vantage point only confirmed his worst suspicions.
At this point we started running backwards, and I remembered something I saw Guy McLean do, so I turned him a little and got his feet moving forward. We walked even closer this time and I rubbed his neck and told him he was a good boy, and then I sat very still and took deep breaths when he stopped to stare some more. He was completely rigid underneath me, transfixed by the glowing pile of dirt.
At this point something kind of incredible happened. I'm not even being sarcastic (for once), I was so, so proud of him for this. He voluntarily, without any coaxing with my leg or other cue from me, walked toward the terrifying beam of light from outerspace, snorting, but with his head stretched down, and then gave the footing a good sniff. On his own accord he decided that it actually wasn't scary at all and in fact he had been mistaken about the whole extraterrestrial thing. Just to be sure, I walked him all the way to the other end of the ring, back to the spot where we first noticed the danger, and he walked all the way toward the corner with his ears up but without any hesitation. I don't know if I've ever been prouder of him.
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear— not absence of fear. Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it." — Mark TwainI hopped off and gave him big scratches and pats all over like he had just won Dressage at Devon. He was quite pleased with himself.