Yesterday Rayn asked me to come and take her out for a walk so we could hang out together. I've been feeling her wanting me lately and I feel the same. It's hard to be together when the geldings Wynter and Sweetness insist on all of the attention 100% of the time. The two boys are very extroverted while Rayn is more of an introvert. Plus with her vision issues now, I feel her taking more of a back seat to them. I'm always having to push them off me to get to her. Wynter will often herd her away. It's all frustrating to me and I often find I need workarounds to his behaviors.
I've always said Wynter is a teacher of boundaries. As a (apparently forever) student of boundaries, he drives me batty. He's so pushy and in my face. He uses his huge body to get his way. "I want your attention and I will have your attention. Period."
Back to the story. I loaded my sweatshirt pocket with brushes and treats and called Rayn from outside the gate—she looked up sharply and then came right over. As soon as I opened the gate the boys started over too. I knew I'd never get her out of the gate so I began yet another workaround instead of addressing the situation head on. I haltered her and walked her to another part of the pasture. The boys watched me for a moment and then followed. I told them that Rayn and I needed time and space. They stopped and watched me brush her for a minute but then came over anyway. Rayn pinned her ears, probably internally saying, "Well, if you're not going to handle it, I sure as heck can!"
I told her to hold on, let me do it. She flicked her ears up and waited with me. We turned around to face the boys, I took the end of Rayn's lead rope and tossed it toward them, telling them to get back. Of course such softness made zero impact on them. They both continued their slow march right into our space.
I think the reason this made such a big impact on me was because if they are coming into my space unwanted I can (shouldn't) but can and have, let that happen. But if I have my mare Rayn on a lead, it's a bit like holding a tiger by the tail—she absolutely can and will defend herself by letting those rear feet fly, particularly at Wynter who is always pushing her around. He doesn't get away with it for free, that's for sure. I don't want to be in the middle of that. With Sweetness, she just pins her ears and he takes the hint. Wynter doesn't understand hints. Something I just realized as I typed it!
Wynter doesn't understand hints!
Rayn tries hints, always she's fair. She pins her ears, then swings her head at him, and then lets feet fly, and all through that, Wynter is still pushing her away from food, away from me, away from a gate, or just away. Eventually she just starts kicking, squealing, rearing, dancing around with those flashing feet. Once in a blue moon she gets really mad and makes contact with a foot.
So, I kept walking away with Rayn figuring they'd get tired of following us around since we weren't doing anything interesting. Still doing a workaround, still being annoyed and uncomfortable, instead of meeting the situation head on—confrontation isn't my strong suit...obviously. But isn't it interesting that I was willing to be annoyed and uncomfortable and really just downright mad but I wouldn't risk making him mad? I'd rather find long, involved ways to work around the situation rather than say, "No." My coach Sara and I are working on that :-)
Eventually they put their heads down for a moment and Rayn and I made a break for the gate. We were moving along at a fast walk and they started to slowly follow us. I was gauging, would I be able to get that gate unchained and her out before they got to us? Just as I was thinking that, we arrived at the gate and that's when Wynter decided to step up his game and bolted for us at a full gallop, little donkey hot on his heels. Rayn startled hard and started to swivel to run or fight but I asked her, soft and low, to wait. She calmed immediately. She really is amazing.
I took the loose end of Rayn's lead and flung it at Wynter. It smacked him in the chest and I yelled, "You stop that right now!" I did it again, which had him back up a couple of steps and I was able to swing Rayn through the gate with Sweetness and Wynter thisclose to following her out.
I was going to type: Maybe I'm the a-hole for not asking for what I want, but then realized no, I do ask but always softly. And you can see by this story, I can ask Rayn for anything softly and she responds—she and I have a strong bond. I don't know how to do a large-and-in-charge and in-your-face kind of ask.
So, I will learn. I wonder if it will work? I honestly don't know. If you think about how Rayn responds to him being a bully and how he doesn't stop...
Rayn and I hung out and I brushed her while she grazed all around the property. She kept doing these heavy sighs and blowing softly. I felt the same way, just happy. My sweet girl. I won't let those boys steal the show anymore! Everyone gets attention!
I imagine I will come in like a wrecking ball a bit as I learn this. At least I'm finally seeing it clearly. I have hope I can clear this up. Say a prayer :-)
As far as Rayn, make sure she gets her fair share of carrots when you come visit, she is a precious girl. Know that they will push her away and she may leave, making her seem aloof. Or, she will stand her ground and raise holy hell, making her seem crazy. As women (most of you are women) you may recognize something there. I sure do.
Here are a few of my favorite pics of us through our 10 years together. I need to get some new ones!
When you see any of my artwork, know that every single piece, even the simpler ones, are always based on her:
Particularly this one:
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