I wish I had a glamour shot of Micah, the 16.3h Westfalen gelding who has stolen my heart. I lease Micah part time at Natalie Perry Dressage, where we’ve been taking lessons together for nearly a year.
I would love to portray Micah’s finest, most generous moments in a photo that shows off everything beautiful about him. In that photo a halo of heavenly light would appear behind him as he gives to the aids, despite my lack of finesse. Angels would sing (off camera) every time he gives me the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, the glamour photo shoot is not happening any time soon. This winter, the seasons are all mixed up in Central Oregon. Micah’s grown a winter coat worthy of the Boston freeze. Our own temperatures have been (mainly) unseasonably warm, causing Micah and the rest of the herd to shed buckets and buckets of hair. Micah’s trace clip continues to grow out, giving him a not-too-sexy 5 o’clock body shadow.
Micah accentuates his Grizzly Adams look with regular rolls in the dust. In short, there’s no glamour here. This is reality. Don’t expect a show coat until June.
So, let me help you look beneath the dusty, wooly mammoth surface to understand why I love this guy. Imagine what he has to endure! He’s constantly being told what to do and when by a less than stellar rider (that would be me). Or more than one rider, since I don’t own Micah and sometimes share him with other riders.
Imagine having to interpret what each rider is saying and choosing to go along with it. We like to think that we are learning to ride our horses better … but it’s likely that they learn to understand and accommodate our clumsy attempts faster than we learn their language.
In Micah’s mind, it probably goes something like this: “When she awkwardly wiggles her left leg (which I’ve noticed is weaker than her right), while attempting to slide her right leg back – it means ‘Canter!’ If I choose to canter, she won’t hit her left leg with her whip.”
[Author’s note: My left hand, like my left leg, is not my friend. More often than not, I end up hitting my own leg, rather than tapping the side of the horse. This is yet another reason why tall boots are a good idea.]
Micah has tried to tell me that he appreciates finesse, which he generally indicates with a toss of the head. This is a pretty mild response, considering the many creative ways my horse could choose to expressive himself.
“You could’ve told me you wanted a transition,” he says. “Asking is fine – you don’t have to shout!”
Fortunately, Micah’s idea of getting away with trouble is falling on the forehand or what I call ‘plowing around.’
We’ll talk more, later, about our learning curve. But what you need to know now is that Micah has been a saint. There is perhaps no better way to sum up why I love him. He has tolerated my mistakes with kindness and continues to try and respond as I persist in a quest that was never his idea in the first place.
In return I owe him a thousand carrots, sugar cubes, and moments of kindness. You, Micah, deserve someone who is fluent in your language, yet tolerate my humble attempts to learn to dance with you.
I’m quite certain that you find me amusing in your own way and accept the treats in payment for my ineptitude. Perhaps, in your own way, you love me too.