A Day with Pino

Since the age of twelve, I’ve wanted to have a horse of my own. I cannot say why or how the fascination started but the ambition is one step closer to reality. Pino, I am leasing Pino for the winter from my riding instructor. He is an eleven year old Andalusia gelding living quietly in a paddock with his long time pal Bastian. So far, he’s had light duty being ridden only a half-hour on Saturday’s by a lovely teenager. His skills as a riding horse have advanced slowly these three years. However, his days are now becoming more involved.

I’ve volunteered at a horse rescue for going on eight months. I made a nice living as a small barn manager thirty years ago and was willing to give it a go with horses once more.  There I was on Sundays, back in a barn giving myself one sore back for a few weeks. Curious but lacking confidence, I stated taking riding lessons and have been getting back into the swing of things since June. I attended several workshops on horse handling and training. I even went up one level in Reiki to be able to give support to the horses. However, I also kept bumping into a barn manager whose frequent comment was; we don’t do that here. A dead-end was reached.

It was my instructor’s suggestion that I attend the Tristan Tucker workshop at Ashby Farms in October that helped me see what it was I wanted to do. My on going fascination with horse communication will now be quite satisfied. TRT method is a training that starts with specific ground work and continues in the saddle. My riding instructor is one of his students, and now, I am one of hers in this program. On Wednesday evenings, I blast out of the city and speed out to the barn for the 5:30 p.m. training hour. I’ve had to be clever and find every short cut along the way to be on time. We’ve had to fetch Pino out of the muddy paddock as it’s been suddenly wet this fall after months of dry. It was quite something to be in the covered ring last week with the rain pounding on the roof. Nevertheless, there we were five women and their horses learning to move together. TRT involves a lot of circular motion as a ground work for connecting the horses hind legs to his front legs. We teach the horse how to be relaxed and confident in their body. To trust their own ability to be safe in otherwise challenging circumstances. The horse is given clear direction and clear confirmation when they make the right move. However, it is a dizzying business at first and I wonder if Pino feels the vertigo as much as I do when we pause.

pinoiiSo today, the lease started and I had a glorious afternoon with Pino. It was so nice and warm midday without any wind. He took a lie down and enjoyed a sunbathe as I tidied his paddock. He is a chunky horse, very compact in shape with a large Roman nose.  I think it is better called baroque, sounds a bit classier. We are getting used to each other now. I learned today if the hands are light, he is too. I remembered Tucker’s frequent comment of release of pressure is the reward. When I realized the hands were tense on the reins, I lightened up by just relaxing the grip. Didn’t Pino respond instantly. He tends to weave and lean his shoulder out on circles. He’s out of balance when he gets moving at a quicker pace. He doesn’t know it’s okay to stretch his body with a rider on his back. His back is tense and he’s unsure what to do. Today’s goal was simply move forward on a steady, round light circle. We only trotted and worked on transitions. He does understand the aid for halt going right. He wasn’t so clear on the same aid going left. He is sensitive and when I let go sitting deeply in the saddle, he naturally moves well into a nice downward transition. I can see the more we work on the TRT ground training, Pino and I will both move with clearer understanding toward confidence together. At least that is the goal I can tell he wants to know what I want, and I am not so clear at this moment. But, he is curious, part of something more now. We shall see how things work out over the long winter ahead.  What a good afternoon to be with Pino.

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