Officially introducing: Chevy, the 16 year old Hanoverian that recently stole my heart.
The story of how we came to meet is a long one and starts long before I started my lease earlier this month. But everything changed this past Monday. A couple people participating in an instructor’s clinic at the barn said, “Judy wants to talk to you.” Judy, I found out right away, is a very special lady who was convinced my horse had a headache.
After a brief conversation I decided that I should bear the expense of her giving Chevy a massage. It turns out it was no expense at all, but a great investment.
For well over an hour I watched her work through sore spots all over Chevy’s head, face, and back. And it wasn’t just watching. She was so great about explaining what she was doing, and why. I learned about the “hooded eyes,” his lids drooping heavily over his eyes, that initially indicated to her he was in pain. I learned how to relax some of the tension in his neck before and after our work in the arena. I learned how to help him stretch.
Judy also gave me a plan: a couple of months of rehab rides for a middle aged horse that had been worked hard for years, and probably not cared for as hard as he was worked. In a short riding lesson she taught me that I could slowly help him come out of years of pain, and actually enjoy the work he was trained to do.
The best part of Monday wasn’t even all the massage-related things I learned to do, but what I saw and subsequently learned about Chevy and myself.
What a wonderful, sweet, and forgiving horse! Each time Judy found a muscle spasm or the location of an old muscle injury I would watch his eyes go into a squint as he stood still through the pain and allowed her to help him. Whenever given a little time to feel the eased tension, he would reach over and gently hold her hand between his lips. His message to her was simple and clear: thank you. It was a mission not to cry as I realized that he’d been letting me ride/work him for over two months, while in tremendous pain, without ever so much as a mean look. It all made me feel infinitely silly for ever copping an attitude and blaming it on P.M.S.
As for me: I felt sheer joy and excitement at finding out there was finally something I could do for him! He does tons for me just by letting me hang out with him, and definitely by letting me ride him. I always thank him after rides, and even before my lease began I bought him things like treats and a new halter. But he’s a horse. Does he really understand my verbal expression of appreciation? I doubt he gives a hoot about the color or newness of his halter. So there’s what I learned about me. I think I’m turning into my mother and find it hard to feel complete unless I’m “giving to” or “doing for” the beings I love.