Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Equine Encounter

Sadly, because it had rained so much during the weekend, the horseback ride Wendy and I had scheduled for Sunday morning was cancelled, but it did finally stopped raining on Sunday so we were able to do some other activities. The first one was roping, 'cause, you know, you never know when you might need to lasso a cow. I was not a natural at this, and most of my throws came nowhere near my target, but I did manage to finally get the rope around the fake cow before my hand succumbed to the impending rope burn.

After roping, we went for a little walk around the grounds in search of the dead tarantula that was rumored to be near the rock labyrinth, because those are the sorts of things one does in Texas.
more pencil maze than "labyrinth"

The main event for Sunday before leaving was the Equine Encounter. Since we didn't get to do the horseback ride, Wendy and I decided to join the group doing this activity, which didn't involve actually getting on a horse, but instead, communing with a horse. It was an interesting and lovely experience. We started by sitting in a circle with the horse wranglers, Keith and Si, and they gave us an introduction to horse psychology, behavior, and instinct. They told us that horses are incredibly sensitive creatures which read and react to human body language, and that horses will assess the emotional state of
the humans around them and react accordingly - they will mirror our feelings. If we are skittish and afraid, they will act skittish and afraid, if we are confident and strong, they will not defy us. Keith and Si spoke for a good long while giving us this interesting overview, and then the 7 of us in the group talked a little bit about ourselves, who we were, how we were, and what we were feeling about getting into the arena with a horse. It was a really lovely and surprising "group encounter session" before actually getting anywhere near the animals. In the arena, we were given a long whip and taught to control the horse's gait and direction using the tiniest movements, attitude, and strides behind the horse (the whip was never used on or near the animal). I was the second one in the arena and I was supposed to stay in the center while my horse, Ramp, circled the perimeter. I was suppose to stride around the ring, cutting him off and making him change direction, and I was to do this by just taking a few steps, holding out the whip, and holding a posture that told him I meant business. I'll be honest, it wasn't easy. I wasn't always sure at which angle to head toward him and I was a little confused, and I definitely felt that Ramp knew this and he was confused too. But by the end of it, I was getting him to switch when I wanted him to switch, I felt more in control and I felt strongly that I was controlling him. The last step is to drop the whip, turn your back to the horse, and if he trusts you, he'll come right over and stand behind you; he came right over and stood behind me.


It was a terrific way to end a stay in Texas.