Another typically normal day at Liberty Stables, finds two horses loose in the arena and one laying (or is that lying) and sleeping with her owner. We had a visitor at the barn and she was watching the “lesson”, amazed that (a) a horse would do something like that and (b) that we would allow it.
Gary sat for 20 minutes with little Belle’s head in his lap sharing something magical. Their whole story is magical and I would like to share some of it with you. Belle chose Gary about 2 years ago. Gary was a non rider and Belle was a non ridden horse. Well 2 years previously she had had one months training but since then had been left out in the field. A perfect match as I am sure you all can agree. She would approach Gary in the field and give him a friendly ‘boof’ with her nose to get his attention. He began to bring Belle in for grooming and soon bought her as she was being sold for her board bill.
Now if Belle seems slightly inappropriate, let me add more fuel to the fire. If you understand the horse personalities, Belle is a Macho Man. That means her four traits are dominant, energetic, curious and aloof. Now this combination is not for the faint of heart. We normally describe their attitude as ‘sit down, shut up and hold on’. This type of personality is never recommended for children and they are often found ‘eating up’ fairly experienced riders. Now for a bit more fuel – Belle is also an Arabian mare. Nothing against Arabians but they usually come fairly high strung…. and not recommended for a novice.
Let me introduce Gary to you. He is 54 years of age and is not in good health. He has been living with a brain tumor for nearly twenty years and is on a lot of medication that leaves him weak and tired frequently. He is also prone to seizures. Now this may not seem like a perfect pairing?
But it is. Belle is his riding teacher as well as his spiritual coach. They have a fabulous relationship. Sometimes like an old married couple narking at each other, other times very deeply affectionate. That is what I was lucky enough today to be a part of. She knew on some level perhaps for him that they needed to sit and be still. Lying down was the perfect solution. For a horse to feel so safe and secure in their riders company and to know that she would be listened to was so beautiful to see.
When she is teaching him to ride she is very careful of his balance and only goes at a pace he can handle. He has been learning how to trot and she will only give him about 5 or 6 steps before coming back to walk. No amount of kicking on his part will convince her that he is ready for more. When SHE was ready she extended it to trotting the full length of the arena. Her next step on the way to helping him learn was for him to ride bareback so his balance could improve. He knows these things because he is great at listening to her when she suggests something. She was nipping at him while saddling saying she did not want a saddle on and he honored her. How great is that! They love exploring outside, mostly where Belle wants to go and playing with balls and pylons and various games inside.
In my old ways of looking at things I would have tried to explain this as Belle viewing Gary as her job, but I now see how it is much deeper than this. They are partners helping each other on a very deep level. Gary has even had a seizure while on her and she stood perfectly stood and looked after him. I am so fortunate to be able to witness their journey together. Every day I am more in awe of the level of understanding that horses have.
Gary and Belle in the arena