It’s Off to School

Our seven year old got new shoes last weekend and is leaving for school today. What kind of school starts on Sunday, you ask?

Horse training school!

Yes, our seven year old is none other than Choco Rainey, the beautiful chocolate Rocky Mountain gaited horse that we recently purchased.

We’ve had some bonding time and have fallen in love with our gentle gelding. However, that is the only kind of falling we need to do at our ages. Undoubtedly we will take spills, but being able to communicate with Choco means we need to know what he knows and how we can turn that into the best riding experience with the least confusion.

My husband already has a titanium replacement disk in his neck and arthritis in the vertebrae above that one – one of the reasons we elected to do replacement instead of fusion.

It’s been years since I’ve ridden, probably not since we put our son into riding lessons. We’ll be having a refresher course as well.

But the good news about Choco’s schooling is that he isn’t going alone.

From the first moment we introduced our solo horse to our neighbor’s solo Appaloosa, they’ve been best friends. Whenever we take one out to work with a lead rope, the other has a fit if he gets out of sight. They were both alone for some time and seemed so happy to have another animal from the same species that they could communicate with.

Bearing that in mind, our neighbor decided to put his horse in the same school and they are going together, training together and staying together. Somehow this makes me feel much less anxious. I was afraid Choco might feel abandoned.

Perhaps these are human emotions and the anxiety is my own. But horses are keenly intuitive and if I can reign in my emotions, maybe his won’t be as fierce.

The school lasts a week – two for stubborn horses or those not use to humans. Both of these animals are tame and gentle. And the trainers assure us they only use positive and natural training methods – nothing that will hurt the horses. They have invited us to drop in and watch at any time. Plus, our neighbor is a veterinarian who is familiar with the trainers. All seems good.

At the end of the school, we will spend the day with our horses and the trainers as they teach us what they have taught our horses. After all, what good is it if our animals know everything but we don’t know how to ask him to do it?

And I do consider it asking. Choco seems eager to please and some refer to the Rocky Mountain breed as the golden retriever of the equines – very good with humans!

I heard a professional trainer once say that horses were so sensitive they could feel a mosquito land on their tough haunches. Yet some will kick heels into their sides to make them go, use a whip, or jerk their mouths with a bit. This isn’t for me or my horse.

But I do feel like a little training for all of us should make the experience easier and more pleasant. So it’s off to school today and I hope I don’t cry when I see his sad eyes looking back at me as I leave him alone for his first day at school.

Wish us luck!

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