I was, of course, an avid reader as a kid. My mother had to decide which was more nuisance for her-- haul my butt to the local branch of the public library multiple times a week because I'd so quickly go through the maximum number of books my juvenile card allowed me to check out, or to deal with the dissatisfied glares of the librarians as she signed out additional books for me on her adult card. The day we finally convinced the librarians to look at my check-out records and grant me an adult card a full two years earlier than library policy allowed was a liberation day for all of us. It took a full summer of showing up at the library every three days to prove to them that I really was just reading everything, and needing more opportunity to check out more and longer books, not just looking for access to the Judy Blume adult novels, but we finally got them to do it after my mother signed off on my access to adult literature.
Sherman's work these last few weeks has reminded me a lot of that summer. He has outgrown his juvenile card, and is ready for more challenges. He's all but begging me for access to the grown-up sections of the library. And I, like my mother before me, have conceded that he's ready for more.
Odd metaphor, but apt in its way. Sherman literally is begging me for access to a broader world. After a few wonderful post-saddle-fit sessions in the arena, I took him out on a hack around the farm. I'd planned to just walk around the outside of the arena on the grass track to see how he would handle it. He was brilliant, and so well-behaved, and so I took him on out through the fields. And then on through the woods. And it was phenomenal; he was bold and brave, and so, so happy to be out in the world, seeing and doing things, not just going in circles.
And now, of course, he balks at the arena gate going in. Just a quick stop, and an eager look to say Come on, it's dull in here. Let's go out there! When I remind him that we start in the arena and will go out when he's shown he's listening and "obedient," he acquiesces and gives me a nice warm-up.
And then he goes to the gate. Nearly every time around, he goes to the gate and stops. Sometimes slams his chest into the gate if I don't catch him. Argh. A monster, I have created a monster. Of course, every time he does this, I insist that he return to work and only when his full attention has returned to the job at hand do I then guide him to the gate and let us both out on an adventure. But woe unto me if my attention wanders; he's on that like white on rice, and we're at the gate, begging to go out before I know it. So it's gotten to be a drill for us. I am getting nice work out of him in between, though.
And then we go out, and he's even better. He is ready for hacking. He is bold and brave and curious, and he just wants to go on and on, do more and more. Though he's a bit woofy (you can't take all the Morgan out of a Morgan, no matter how wonderful he is) out there, he really works with me, and his attention and connectedness are viscerally palpable out there. He's a better saddle horse out there. I'm not a better rider by any means, I'm sure, but he more than makes up for it.
And that's where my great challenge lies. He's ready, he wants to be out there. He's doing all the work of being amazing. He's lending me great confidence as I learn to feel comfortable out in the wide open spaces. I love it out there; I love riding him out there; I love having a horse who has such confidence and demonstrates such joy out there. But I've got to catch up with him. I've got to develop my skills and my own confidence out there enough to be the rider he deserves. I've got to stop obsessing over icy patches and woodchuck holes, over the sounds that don't spook him, and the fear of surprises that probably won't, either.
It'll come, but right now it's still a shock to have my boy be so far ahead of me, so much readier for this than I might have expected. I'm constantly surprised by the stack of adult novels he's reading-- wasn't he just a baby, just learning to read? How can he possibly be using that Adult Card already?