Now, I'm not a big one for crying, ask anyone (apart from my divorce lawyer), but today I found myself shedding a tear over something TJ did. It wasn't that I got the rope over his neck, that I was standing beside him or even that I was patting his mane, no, the really big thing was that TJ sighed! He sighed and his whole body relaxed. Not for long, mind you, but this was the first time he had done this and it was a giant step for a frightened little horse.
My heart goes out to him and I am explaining it to him the only way I know how. Every horse is different in their response to pressure and their natural emotional level. TJ's super flight instinct has kept him safe in the wild for over 7 years and it is now time for him to learn something different. He is slowly learning to control it and I am slowly learning his particular expressions and responses that tell me how he is going to react.
He is such an interesting horse and I feel he is working so hard to understand what I want. You can see it in the expression on his face and how incredibly attentive he is.
I had gone out today with the idea of at least getting the head-collar around his face and letting me touch both sides of his nose so that I could do it up without him panicking but that was not going to happen. What did result was considerably more rewarding and emotionally moving for me. We spent some time together watching the young colts playing in the paddock; me standing less than a metre from his shoulder and talking quietly to a relatively, for Texas Jack, relaxed horse.
On the day that I collected the horses I was asked what I wanted to 'do' with them, meaning what did I want to show at the competition. My answer - I want to teach my horse to learn and understand and I want my horse to be confident and happy. Today I saw the first indication that TJ might like to join me on that journey.
Mac, my little helper for today's session with TJ: