Monday, October 15, 2012 6:59:00 AM
Our old friend Amy wanted to share her experience with her horse Roscoe. When Amy shows up to work with a horse it is with total openness and curiosity. She is a great friend to our Huey Khan, having worked on his rehabilitation for a couple of years, and she never turns away from a challenge. Her committment and focus are commendable. Thank you Amy, for just being you!
It took me years to figure out the kind of harmless fun Roscoe likes to have on the lunge line. For those who don't know, the lunge line is a way to exercise a horse without having to get on their back- ideal for those who don't want to ride for what ever reason or for horses who are injured in some way and cant take a rider, but not so injured that they cant get some exercise. Quite simply it is a long rope and the person stands in the middle while the horse literally runs or walks circles around them.
Well that is simple too boring and routine for Roscoe. The following is a descriptive example of how he turns a simple lungeing exercise session into a Ringling Barnum and Brothers circus performance.Or rather, how he has trained me to be the ring master while he performs like a wild animal.
First, upon unhooking the cross-ties to put his bridle on, he remains deadly still- and yet every fiber in my body is poised for him to take off into the ring without me- he never does, it just feels like his spirit has jumped out of his body and is already in the ring. It's an afterthought for his body to follow. As soon as the bridle is on, he never waits for the throat latch to be secured- it's stupid, it has no purpose, it should never have been invented, people make things too complicated, and the list goes on as to why waiting for the throat latch to be attached is simply not worthy of a precious second more of life. So he marches on toward the ring like a freight train whose engines have just been fired up- slowly churning forward. There's no stopping him, so I end up buckling it while I walk- every time feeling like the most unprofessional sloppy horse 'trainer' in the world.Any normal respectable horse person watching has lost respect for me at this juncture already- 'she has no control of her horse' they are thinking. I can hear it.
Next we step down into the indoor ring. The Tiger is now leading me. His eye on the imaginary wild landscape ahead of us- his blueprint plans on how to navigate have now taken over- I am just along for the ride, an accessory. The performance Tiger reminds me I am a necessary accessory to this show- he needs me to show that we have some kind of mystical communication between us- that he is the leader and I do what he says. To an untrained eye, it appears to be the other way around. The Tiger knows he has the power to demolish the human with his wildness, and simply allows the human to appear to have control. Thus the performance of it all.
I never know what kind of show we will be performing until the master shows me his plan. On high performance days it goes something like this:
We get into the ring and as soon as his foot hits the turf he is off to a steady trot- the only purpose being to heat up the coals of his engines, as evidenced by the smoke coming out of his ears and nostrils. I tighten my grip on the lead rope- my only stupid human job and ' trick' he instructs me is to make sure the rope is ready to unfurl in a straight line at a moments notice- as to not hold up the momentum of the explosive avalanche of propulsion when it comes. He then checks to see how I am doing with the line- that is our most measurable moment of teamwork to the trained eye- him visually turning his eyeball to see how I am doing holding onto the line- if I am not ready he churns on , annoyed with me, the hopelessly floundering human at the end of his rope- at the trot- and then, the millisecond before I am finally completely ready with rope- he charges into a canter- there is one millisecond left (which he accurately calculated) for me to unravel the rope untwisted before the whole collection of raveled up circles of rope in my hand at once become unraveled and straight as Roscoe gallops 30 feet away in a circle around me.
His explosion comes to a clear shifting down of gears as he mechanically slows down to trot for a few steps, then walk. I didnt ask him to do that, but if I did, he would. My only job then is to roll the rope back up like a cowboy getting ready to lasso a calf. He watches as I do it. Checking my work. Then he churns from a walk and then an eerie stop. The calm before the storm. We both know it is time to change the direction of the circle he is moving in. I take measured steps over to the wild beast, as I know I am not worthy of him coming over to me. It's all part of the performance he tells me. To show the proper respect that the majesty of the horse has earned. As I get closer to his head, the wild contained energy builds in his 1500 lb. body- I become fully aware of the difference in sheer strength between my body and his. He does too. I can feel it. Then, as I cross over the imaginary line in front of his nose, my body heat is the match that sets off the volcanic fire engines of his soul- he perfectly throws his entire body in front of me- glazing me like a giant bullet and gracefully the whole mountain collides into full blown avalanche- all systems go- he is galloping one inch past me - I frantically work the rope to allow for the smooth passing of the mountainside avalanche. In a millisecond he is 30 feet away, gallop charging in a perfect circle. At any second he could pull me off my feet like a match stick in the wind. He makes sure that this image of his immense merciful power and strenght over me is seen and understood by the audience, if there is one.
At this point, any respectable horsemanship people in the audience are convinced I am a total sham and would demand their money back. I have no control over my horse. Meanwhile, I am having a silent blast. They should have been told in the beginning of the show that this is his performance. I let him conduct the ceremony and he allows me to give the illusion- to the untrained eye- that I am the master of the ceremony.
Thus the illusion that the Tiger is contained by the human and not the other way around. Siegfried and Roy know what I am talking about. And anyone with a highly spirited horse does too.
Did I forget to mention that Roscoe is 29 years old?