Dawn Treader is keyed up, full of emotion. She was born this way, hardwired, more hot-blooded than the hot-bloods. I must mind my P’s and Q’s when I’m with her and keep my movements deliberate and calm. I must not be flippant or allow myself to get negatively emotional or impatient; this only exacerbates her natural hot-blooded sensitive self. This is a challenge. Emotions are contagious. She gets excited. Consequently I get excited and she feels that I’m excited and gets more excited and pretty soon we have a regular forest fire blazing. Good horses can be ruined. I have had horses come to our farm that were damaged by this kind of escalation of emotion.
Besides sensitive, Dawn Treader is also very willful. If she emotionally falls apart she won’t stop until something is broken. I must remember she’s like this and make some willful adjustments myself. Matching her up with a hot-blooded, type ‘A’ personality, emotional human could turn into a catastrophe. They could damage one another. For these reasons, in the foreseeable future Dawn Treader will need a seasoned rider. She may never be a beginner’s horse.
In the book ‘Lonesome Dove’, old man Gill asked Call, …”Now, why would you keep a creature like that?”… about his super horse they called ‘The Hell Bitch’. Call retorted,…”Because I like to be horseback when I’m horseback,” Old man Gill was not persuaded. “Hope you like to be dead when you’re dead, then,” he said… I think they both have a point. I have turned down two buyers for Dawn Treader because I knew they didn’t have enough experience to work out the situations they would encounter with my super horse. And when I’m horseback on her I know I’m horseback and better not forget it. She is one hundred and ten percent horse. She is a challenge. She keeps me on my toes. She’s high maintenance. She will not allow me to take her for granted or daydream when I am with her. She is an athlete full of compulsion, impulsion and passion. Dawn Treader is a great pleasure for me. And besides, she is beautiful. I’ve always been a sucker for beauty.
All horses are intuitive, but these ultra sensitive horses are uncanny. I have a theory that once trained and ridden consistently they become ultra-loyal to their human. These are the kind of horses the old stories tell of in which Arab mares would stand guard to protect the bodies of their riders fallen in battle. They partner up almost to the point of becoming part of you, an extension of your body. Of course at this stage and training I have not gotten anywhere near this level of bonding with Dawn Treader. I think she has the potential. In my life I have had this kind of bond with only two horses, both extremely hot blooded. Once we joined up or became partners, they became the best partners of all.
The following story illustrates the bond. It is about Dawn Treader’s dam Dancer (some of you may know her as Echo’s filly Magnificcent). She is as hot-blooded as Dawn Treader. Dancer was my main horse for a while. She has had some colts, and I haven’t ridden her; consequently we’ve lost some of the bond lately. She is still on our farm though and doing well.
One winter day, Mary Beth, my daughter Corrie, and I were all riding bareback in our training pen. I was riding bareback with only a string around Dancer’s neck for a bridle. We were playing a game called “Fox and Goose” on horseback.
“Fox and Goose” A children’s game of tag played in the snow. A track or path is stomped in the snow in the shape of a large circle with an X across the middle. The only rule is that you cannot get off the path. We play this game on horseback on a big figure 8 with crosses through the circles.
It all happened in a flash. I was it. I saw my opportunity to tag Corrie and with a burst of speed sprinted past Corrie, tapping her on the shoulder as we passed. Dancer was following the path and had to make a quick right. I lost my seat and kept going straight as she made a sharp turn out from under me. I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but to this day I have an image engraved in my brain of that moment. I was flying. Only my heel was still hooked over Dancer’s withers. I was wondering how to negotiate a big, wooden post coming right at me. Meantime Dancer, knowing that I was in trouble, accomplished a lead change and got back under me so that I was able to regain my seat. After catching me she managed to miss the post but just barely.
I am amazed and wonder that Dancer had the sense and desire to save me and keep me on board. This is one of many memories of the bond that we shared. This bond with a horse is rare in my life even though I have had many horses. I believe it takes this kind of horse, an ultrasensitive hot-blood, to make this kind of bond.
As might be expected these hot bloods are slow to train in the area of desensitization (getting used to human stuff) but quick to train in the area of sensitization ( listening to our cues). It generally works out to be about the same amount of time for training hot bloods or cold bloods. No matter what their temperament, every horse is an individual with their own learning abilities and timing.
We’ll see how it goes for Dawn Treader! I’m planning to put a good, solid month on her. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.