I went for my first follow up after surgery and it was confirmed that I will not be able to get back in the saddle for at least 5-6 weeks. :-(
Jean rode Gem last week for lesson. Although she rode him in Drill last year, riding him in a lesson is completely different. Riding in Drill was mostly follow the leader; lesson is not. She told me he was a gentleman, but asking him to lope or trying to work on his lateral movements was a chore. She admitted to being sore the next day and now has a much better appreciation of what I go through each week. :-) I was actually pleased to hear that she had problems with him responding - it means that it isn't just me!!
I went out to the stables for the first time in 10 days this past weekend. A non-horsey girlfriend volunteered to take me out and help me groom Gem. I could barely contain my excitement when I saw him in the front paddock. However, I almost didn't recognize him - he was absolutely covered in dried mud. I called him - he looked at me but didn't respond. :-( My friend and I went into the barn and retrieved all of my grooming supplies and set up shop at the back of the barn next to his stall. We then went out to get him. He was waiting at the gate! Come on! What took you so long!
I think he knew that I was in a fragile condition. Was it the cautious way I was holding myself? Was it the medicinal smell? Did I look weak? He allowed me to put his halter on without incident (he sometimes chews the halter when I am trying to put in on, or he will playfully try to pull it out of my hands and shake it). He quietly walked out of the paddock; he did not try to eat the grass, he just slowly walked behind me.
My girlfriend, who had never spent more than 1/2 hour around horses at a distance let alone groom a horse, was diligent at removing the caked on mud. She accepted her mission with energy and determination, a look of deep concentration on her face. She went over Gem's body twice top to bottom with 3 different brushes. I worked on his mane and tail, washed his face and cleaned his ears. Then we did his feet. Occasionally, he would very gently mouth my clothing and then look at me. I am glad you are here. It seemed the pain from my surgery was somehow mysteriously reduced.
I cannot tell you how much dust was coming off Gem. Clouds and clouds of it. Sneezing and coughing were part of the grooming experience. Gem was polite and relaxed. It was interesting to watch my friend as she groomed Gem. I could see her start to relax, her face softened, her brushing technique softened. She could sense that Gem was enjoying the attention; she started to quietly talk to him. She occasionally stopped brushing him and allowed her hands to travel around his back and neck, feeling his strength. Right in front of me was an example of how horses possess the magic to make us relax and breathe.
We groomed him for over an hour and our efforts paid off. In spite of the fact that he is still shedding, he looked pretty darn good. We were dirty and had Gem's hair clinging to just about every part of our clothing. When we put him in his stall, I started to have separation anxiety.
I was physically drained when we were finished. Perhaps I overdid it. But, I felt wonderful! As my friend and I pulled out of the lane, she said to me "Do you want me to pick you up and help you groom next Sunday?" "What? Really?" "Absolutely! I can't explain it, but I really, really enjoyed it."
Yep, magic. :-)