Sorry for the absence! I've been on a week-long equestrian management clinic to certify instructors at horsemanship camps. I've been assisting at these workshops for years and hold the person who does them in the highest esteem. She is a true horsewoman, through and through. This workshop was at a different camp for me, and it was quite an experience, not for the content we covered and the horses at the camp, but because of the people. The people in the clinic were, well, broken in some way or other. Most were related somehow, or were very close, and all came from either broken homes, abusive childhoods, or were going through very difficult times at that moment. Myself and the instructor of the clinic turned into not only teachers and mentors, but support systems for these people as they went through the workshop.
During the workshop, we always try and use the horses in ways to highlight their incredible abilities. During this workshop we focused on honesty and forgiveness. There were more than just a few tears shed during this week.
At the end of the week, we worked with one of their horses that was having some extreme bit issues, riding with their nose in the air, mouth wide open, essentially screaming "I DON'T LIKE THIS THING IN MY MOUTH!". We switched her from her regular snaffle to a simple curb and it was like a brand new horse. Yet, this wasn't the only problem with her. As we worked with her, you could tell she was waiting for the blow to come, the moment of pain. When our hostess was riding, the mare would actually turn around and watch her, braced for the blow she was certain was going to come. As it turned out, we continued to work with this mare and she calmed right down and turned out to be a pretty cool little horse. While our hostess was riding, she started to cry. As it turned out, she had been abused as well, and was simply blown away by the trust this mare was giving her, even though we knew she'd been abused before (knee to the barrel to stop her from blowing out...).
It was a great week, even though it wasn't what I was expecting. This was my first time to really get into the psyche of someone who has been 'broken' and is now on the mend, or trying to mend. I am forever grateful for the life I've lead and that we have horses in this world to help those get through the rough times, and to heal.