Fifty-plus degrees and sunny out there this morning, so it was most definitely time to get Sherman out for something-- grooming, longeing, maybe some riding... something.
The grooming alone was not going to be satisfying since he was being a bit of a wiggly pain-in-the-butt worm. He was clearly bored and ready for something to do, which, in Sherman parlance, translates into wiggle-wiggle-wiggle... There's none of the satisfying, soothing, easy communing side of grooming when it's Sherm in the cross ties. It's a lot of brush-brush-SMACK...curry-curry-WHACK...untangle-untang-STOPIT! The only thing he stands still for is having his tail brushed (primarily out of vanity, I think-- he enjoys swishing it, and I think he likes the sound and cool cascade look of it being run-through with the mane and tail brush) and having his feet picked (this, I think, because he enjoys standing on three feet, and periodically tries to show off that he can stand on just two). So, the grooming is work.
But, once the saddle is in place, and particularly once the bridle is on, he begins to grow a brain.
Today's longe work was particularly satisfying, as it was nearly self-directed. Sherm was working hard to find his own balance and to maintain good, through work for longer and longer periods of time. He seemed to ask for more to try and appeared satisfied in his accomplishments.
The under-saddle work was a little less spectacular, due primarily to my absence from the saddle for too long. I wasn't so hot, so he lost his focus pretty quickly, but we soldiered through to some mediocre work, which I can't complain about after a month off.
But what impressed me most today, and usually does tickle me every time I work with him, is just how different he is in the cross ties after some work. He is calm, quiet, and quite mature. He has a majestic look about him as he is clearly thinking about the work he just did, thinking about what he liked about it, and what he wasn't happy with. I am certain this is what he is thinking, for every time I take him back out within 48 hours of a session like this, he is better, as though he has been working it out in his brain while nibbling his hay. He digests, and produces, and if we get back out there tomorrow or the next day, I know our work will be 50% better again.
So it is this moment that I work for, this transcendent moment with this adult horse stranger Sherman suddenly becomes after his workout. He stands quietly, appreciates the grooming, and gives off an amazing aura of wise, generous horse. It is remarkable and worth waiting for. Someday, this will be how he is most of the time, but for now, I'm enjoying the snippets.
And then he tries to grab his lead rope all the way back to the pasture, and the moment is gone. But I know he's out there thinking right now, in between rounds of Biteface with Moon, and I look forward to next time.