“I’m going on an adventure”… So begins the journey of Bilbo Baggins in Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’.
It seemed the best quote to start my story about my horse, because, oh boy!, what an adventure it has been and still is! Today, she is turning 25 and I wanted to begin to tell our story on this special day.
It all begun 14 years ago in Belgium. I had been riding on horses for about 8 years. One day, I came to the stable and the instructor told me that I was to ride on Erbija that day. ‘Who???’, I said (never heard the name before). ‘Erbija, she’s the new mare we are trying on. Go and meet her.’ I went into the barn and saw her. ‘Mwah…’ was my first thought. The mare was much more sensitive than the rest of the horses I knew back then and it took me longer than usual to groom her and saddle her up. Then came the riding part. It begun as a nightmare: her steps were small and fast, I was not able to get her to relax and she jumped on the side because another horse looked at her the wrong way. ‘Well, let’s see how we can the trough the hour on this thing’, was my motto for the day. But then, the unthinkable happened: as the instructor asked for the first trot of the lesson, she speeded forward and my heart went ‘Bang!’. And I fel in love for the first time. I knew she was my horse. It was as simple and clear to me as the sun rise in the morning and the sky is blue. But there was one person I needed to convince that my epiphany was the real deal: my mother. Being 16 and having found my horse was all awesome and nice, but I did not have any money at all. When I told her that she had to buy me that horse, she declared me crazy. But I’m not the giving up type. After weeks of negotiations, we made an agreement: I was to ride her for a year, and if I could hold for that long, then she was considering buying her for me. So my mother was at least considering buying her for me. Step one: Check!
Step two: convince the horse that this was a good idea. Believe me, the mother-part was the easy one! Erbija was not convinced at all that we were a match made in heaven. Being a Russian lady, she had a pretty good idea about what she wanted and those plans did not include me most of the time. She was not mean or anything. When I was next to her on the ground, things were OK most of the time. When I tried to take her to the pasture, she would run whenever she felt like it. If I was standing in her way, it was my problem. When I was riding her, she would jump and run for her life at the slightest move or sound out of the ordinary. Let say that I ate more sand that year then I really cared for.
So what to do? This was my horse, I knew it! I begun by expending the time we spend with each other. I took her for long grooming sessions (she seemed to appreciate it) and made start on groundwork. The Parelli Natural Horsemanship Method was brand new in Europe 14 years ago, internet was not what it is today and Youtube barely existed. So I took information where I could and try to imitate ‘those american ways of doing things’. Step by step, I gained her trust and things started to settle a little bit… I held on for a year, and my mother decided to buy her for me when she decided it was time to move her horse to another stable. Step two: Check!
To be continued…
Allmost forgot: Happy Birthday! 🙂