Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Joy is Back, and Dawn Gives Me "the Look"

Now that Dawn is settling in to the new barn, and Pie and Drifter have been moved to the trainers' place, and I'm getting to ride Dawn almost every day, I've noticed that the joy is back - I look forward to going to the barn, and spending time with Dawn and riding her.  Dawn is still very feisty and opinionated and a challenge for me to ride effectively - she needs my help to relax and settle, or at least my not doing things that amp her up.  We've got a ways to go with her relaxation, but she's still new at the barn and getting used to things, and it's plenty cold as well - the indoor is unheated and often open to the outside. I was pleased with how she handled her spooking at the people in the viewing room yesterday, and seeing a trainer using a lunge whip while lungeing a student on a pony.  I'm really enjoying riding her, and horses are getting back to being a pleasure in my life again.

And Dawn did one of her very special Dawn things yesterday. Dawn is actually my younger daughter's horse, but my daughter's been away at college for three years now and I think Dawn and I are starting to feel that we belong to one another.  Here's a lovely photo of how close my daughter and Dawn are - this was taken on a visit my daughter made last summer:


We've come a long way from 2009 when Dawn kicked me in the jaw (almost completely my fault) and I was very worried about being able to work with and ride her.  Dawn's doing some of her special things with me that she used to do with my daughter, and I feel honored by her.  Some of you may remember this older photo of Dawn doing the "nose rest":


Dawn had already started doing this from time to time at the old barn, but now does it almost every day.  It happens when I'm grooming her - she'll move her head so her nose is pressed into my chest or resting on my shoulder, and I put my arm under her chin and she lets her neck relax and puts the weight of her head on me.  Her eyes get soft and ears relax - it's like she's looking into me - and she'll stay there for a long time.  Sometimes, when her head is on my shoulder I breathe in her nose and put my face next to her muzzle - who could resist this muzzle?


It's a really lovely time for both of us and I think strengthens our bond.

But yesterday, she did something I've seen her do with my daughter, but that she's never done with me before.  When we were riding, and watching the pony being lunged and then when we were standing after her spook so she could observe the people moving around and waving to her from the viewing room, she gave me what I call "the look".  We're standing there - I'm sitting in the saddle and she's on a loose rein - and she slightly turned and tilted her head so the eye on that side is looking back at me - she looked right into my face.  Then she did the same thing on the other side with the other eye.  It's a "????" look - as in "is this all right?", "are we all right with this?"  I stroked her on the neck and assured her it was.  I was very honored that she felt like asking my opinion when she was concerned about something, and seemed willing to take some reassurance from me.  It was a very special day for us.

19 comments:

  1. It's great to read that the joy is back in your riding. Those are beautiful pictures of Dawn with your daughter and with you. Sounds like you and Dawn are really connecting. It's a wonderful feeling.

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  2. What a very sweet post. The shot of your daughter says it all.

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  3. That is a lovely photo of you and Dawn. And Dawn must have the sweetest muzzle in the world. Bright bays have always been my favorite color. I'm so glad to hear all is going so well. You've made some very wise choices, I think.

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  4. you are developing such a beautiful bond with Dawn one that i wish i am lucky enough to have with my horse in the near future.

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  5. That is so sweet. You described "the look" very well. I am so glad that you and Dawn are enjoying each other so much!

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  6. Wow. Great post! Brought tears to my eyes. How very special!
    Deanna

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  7. It seems to me that this new barn has an energy about it that is more compatible to Dawn's energy. You are both happier.

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  8. Happy great news! I love the stories of Dawn and her ways. The photos are wonderful - glad you and she are reconnecting.

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  9. It's so good to hear that you're enjoying riding again. Dawn seems to be forming a very real bond with you too. Love the pictures and her kissable muzzle. I like your description of 'the look'. I sometimes get that from Dusty but it's not the "is it okay look, it's more like the "are you kidding me, I'm not doing this" look.

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  10. What a lovely relationship you and Dawn are building. "The Look" was definitely one special moment.

    Glad to hear you are enjoying your riding again. That is wonderful news. I bet it's all going to carry right over to the boys when you have them back as well! Three cheers!

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  11. I'm so glad you are enjoying riding again- and building a bond with Dawn. She has the loveliest muzzle ever. (Don't tell Beamer I said that!)

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  12. Oh, Kate, this is WONDERFUL! I felt my eyes fill. I mean, when we connect with our horses it's everything, isn't it?!

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  13. Your description of 'the look' gave me goosebumps! How wonderful!

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  14. A special day indeed. It sounds like your thoughtful choices in regards to your "horse life" are really working out well. Getting the joy back is special, and combined with Dawn giving you the look it is priceless.

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  15. I like this post :) And your description of your interactions with Dawn is very interesting and informative.

    My Will does those kind of looks and touches with me, usually when he's looking for reassurance. It has been a HUGE challenge to find the balance between what is "that" kind of look or touch, and when it is bordering on inappropriate (at least in the touch dept). I messed things up a bit by being too firm and not allowing anything for awhile - but I soon realized that it didn't have to be a complete moritorium on his seeking my touch. But it can be challenging with a young gelding decide in the moment what is ok and what isn't. Sometimes it's hard to judge his motives (affection or playful bratiness). I try to go by how I feel (connected to him, relaxed, or assertive?). That's been the best decision yet.

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  16. I love that photo of your daughter such a powerful image. The "look" you describe is an amazing thing to encounter.

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  17. Sounds like you got promoted. *grin* Dawn looks like she has a very kissable muzzle; too cute :o)

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  18. I truly believe that horses, and mares more than geldings, are our emotional mirrors. You are happy and relaxed and combined with a better environment makes Dawn a happier more relaxed partner. Pippi is very much intuned with our stress and fears, and will always look to us for guidance.

    So glad things are better all the way around.

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