Thursday, July 10, 2008

Me and The Big K /2

We had a good lesson.Sonita had gone hard enough that she was willing to stand quiet. She still had enough gas to jingle her snaffle, her lips made a goofy flapping sound in time with her heaving flanks.
"She's not done yet." The Big K said.
"Her feet are quiet." I replied.
"You could make her stop clanking that bit if you wanted to."
"Her feet are quiet."
We sat in a silence that stretched away into the grey afternoon. I knew the Big K was trying to decide whether to get about my back talk, or be pleased that I was using my head.
A snowflake settled on my neck and instantly melted, even colder than the cooling sweat trickling between my shoulder blades.
"You circled up pretty good today."
I warmed at the rare praise. "I've been working at them."
"I could tell. What are you looking at when you run your circles?"
"What do you mean?"
"You aren't staring at her shoulders anymore. You were looking in front of you. What do you see?"
I was getting uncomfortable. "I'm not looking at anything."
The Big K shifted around on his horse to look at me. A warm smile invited me to share. C'mon, cough it up, what do you see?"
"This is kinda weird You'll think I'm nuts." I picked at the loose stitching on my saddle horn. My fingers were numb enough to not quite grab the rawhide lacing.
"I know you're nuts. Tell."
"It happened earlier in the week. I was working Sonita in the field out front of the barn."
"Why weren't you in the arena?"
"I needed to feel the circle. I thought the rails might be a crutch."
"Did it work?"
"Not at first. We were erratic and wobbly. Stupid head Sonita wouldn't settle, she was blowing all over." I pushed my stiff fingers under Sonita's red blond mane, her warmth curled through my hand. The snow fell like a steady rain. I settled deeper into my coat.
"I started to focus on a pop bottle laying in the grass. If we passed over the same spot each time around I knew we were on track.
She started to smooth out. I found other markers in the grass. A piece of trash, or a stick. Pretty soon we were clocking around pretty good. I was hitting all my markers every time around."
The Big K leaned back in his saddle and pushed his hands into his coat pockets. The horses let their heads drop, and cocked a hip. The steam rose from their haunches, as the snow soaked through their heavy winter hair.
"So what did you see?"
"This is embarrassing."
"What did you see?"
"I was staring pretty hard about 10 feet in front of us. I was trying to only look ahead, not really hunt out the trash.
A sort of path opened in front of us. It was like a track. It ran from under Sonita's
feet to about ten feet ahead of us. As long as I stayed focused, and followed that track, our circles were about perfect. You know, I think Sonita saw it too. If I got excited or distracted it would disappear, and Sonita would skitter."
"What did you do when you lost it?"
I looked at the Big K out of the corner of my eye. He wasn't making fun. His eyes were intent, his face serious.
"I would concentrate really hard, and it would just show up." I said. "I'm getting to where I can throw it out 25 or 30 feet ahead."
"What color is yours?"
"What do you mean?"
"What color is your track?"
I blew out an exasperated breath. "I guess it was silver."
"Your's would be silver. Probably all sparkly too." The Big K snorted."Mine's black, like a new tarred road."
"You see one?" He had my attention now. "It's not just me?"
"I could tell by the way you were riding today that you found one. I could see you watching it. Can you manipulate yours?"
"I told you I could throw it out ahead of me."
"No, I mean, could you follow one through a pattern?" He shifted around again. His colt picked up his head and snorted. He pawed at the icy mud, and leaned towards the warmth of his stall. The Big K gathered his reins for a brief second, and then dropped them loose on the colts neck. The colt sighed deep, and settled back again.
"I don't know, like at a show?" I said.
"If you can hold your focus long enough, you won't see nothing but the track. All you have to do is point your horse at it. She'll go right to it."
"Is that how it is for you?"
His eyes glowed in his wind burned face. "When I win it is."
"Does everybody find that track?" I couldn't believe I was sitting in the fading light, freezing my butt off, and talking zen with this cowboy.
"I don't know, you're the only other person I've ever talked to about this. It was just so obvious you were following that track around today. Anybody else'd think I was crazy."
He started his colt back to the warm yellow light of the barn.
I sat and stared at his broad back receding into the swirling snow.
"C'mon," the Big K called back to me, "It's gotta be beer thirty by now."


  1. Too cool! Maybe reading this is what I need to (finally) be able to ride a circle without cones.

  2. Mugwump,
    You really have a wonderful way with words and your horse skills are cause for envy.
    Don't stop writing!

    Best wishes and prayers to your friend Sharion.

  3. Ah, I was right there with you. Keep on writing!

  4. The Big K is one heck of a cool guy! And, you certainly have a way with words...I'm hooked on this story!!! :)

    Prayers for your friend and her recovery....

  5. Muggs, you need to write a book. I don't always post but I ALWAYS read your blog. You are an amazing writer - maybe reading all those horse books helped - or maybe its just you. But the stories are AWESOME. I can't get enough. Not to mention the training insight you give is so helpful in a down to earth straight forward way - without preaching.

    Thank you for the knowledge and entertainment I gain from your blog each day. Keep it up girl.

  6. Can I come work with you and the Big K? I would love to be apprentice under the two of you. There are not many people that I feel have that special connection with a horse that you seem to have. There is alot to learn from you and the way you see things.

  7. You do need to write a book, I just get so tuned into your writing. I feel like I am right there with you living it out. You are a very talented both with words and horses.

    Thinking about your friend Sharion and sending many prayers and good wishes.

  8. Tearing up - you REALLY do need to write a book every horse person on the plant would be enthralled with your Sonita story. You defiantly have the knack drawing the reader in. As I read I feel I am right there with you seeing what you see feeling what you feel. Your words truly are live vivid pictures in my mind that stay as if from my own memory and I can't wait to read more!

  9. OMG...

    This explained EXACTLY what I was trying to explain to one of my students the other day when I took her out of the arena and gave her cones to use for circles. I started to take them away and she started to get lost. She tried real hard but her and my mare were all over the place. I kept calling it a trot or canter path. She thought I was nuts as usual when explain something new and not "in the books".

    I remember the first time I ever got this. It was about a year and a half ago. Me and my mare Indigo were plugging about the fields in spring and we picked up a canter. At first she kept changing leads without me asking and wobbling all over the place then I asked her to canter a circle around this hole where an old drain was. I kept the hole in line with my shoulder out of the corner of my eye and our circles became more steady and controlled. An amazing feeling and I think it was mostly my mare because she was the first horse I rode that has PERFECT breaks. Before I rode Sonitas.

    You gotta keep writing. Write a book, write it fast, WE WANT MORE!!

  10. Sydney-Thank goodness I have backup.
    I'd hate to have people think I was going all "horse whispery."
    I think it has to do with getting out of the confines of the arena, and sharpening your point of focus. Not sure though.

  11. Doesn't matter *what* it is.. it gives me goosebumps.

    In a good way..

  12. This makes complete sense to me. It's the whole idea of "looking where you want to go" only to a deeper degree. It's just focusing where you want to go.

    I've always thought the horse could feel it. It's like determination. They can feel your moods, why not your sense of determination and focus?

  13. you mean I'm not the only one who sees a path. I never tried to explain it because I never thought anyone would believe I saw a path. Mine looks like a cow trail in the dirt.

  14. Mugs: That makes sense. I've never had an arena or paddock to ride in, why it came naturally. Just me and my horse and the field/laneway.

  15. This is so neat! I ride in a pasture too (after a year in an indoor), and had just started doing this (not the circles, but the trails) all around to keep PrimaDonnaDiva from getting bored (do not try to ride around and around and around in circles...she goes to that faraway place and doesn't pay attention). I was more aware of it tonight after reading this blog...and tried picking spots to go to ahead of me...and we went right there. One more thing to do with my mare! And it will also teach me to look ahead and not at her head! Thank you!

  16. I want to see a track.........

  17. I don't know how I missed this post - but it's perfect timing.

    I'm working on a circling task right now where I have to trot a circle around the barrel. There were times when I felt like I just "got" it - I literally was seeing a path in front of me and my horse started going perfectly - but I didn't know how to describe it and it sorta scared me when I found it, so I'd lose it for a lap or so before it came back. Honestly, it creeped me out so it's good to hear that this is a *good* thing. I'll have to go back to that circling task and try to find the path... and this time actually FOLLOW it instead of avoiding it!

    Really cool! Thanks mugwump!

  18. very cool :)

    I found mine by closing my eyes ;)

  19. I looked for the track today and did end up seeing it briefly. Mine is gold and looks like sunlight.

    : )

    Believe me or don't; but for the first time in all our practicing our circles were almost perfectly round... not lopsided and egg shaped. And I mean lap after lap after lap of round circles.

    Very very cool! Thanks for the inspiration mugwump!!