Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spirit Seeker on the Road

A 1996 gelding, Spirit Seeker is a quietly handsome fellow with deep and soulful eyes. He has been one of my heart horses and I have many stories of him, but for today, just this one.

These photos were taken out on the roads in 1999. At that time, and still true today, there was very little traffic on the roads near me since there were only two full-time households down here, so it was safe to take him out and turn him loose to run. And run he did. He would race way ahead of me, then turn and race back, sometimes stopping near me and other times racing back past me to turn again and come back with me. He never got very far from me and always knew exactly how far he wanted to go. He also never just turned and went home.

When he reached an intersection of the roads, I would yell and point “left” or “right” or “straight” and he almost always got it right which was amazing as I had never taught him those things. How did he know? I never understood it but decided to just enjoy the gift of whatever it was we had going. To see him racing down the road coming to an intersection, then make a sharp turn at my direction was really something. Sometimes, I would tell him “your choice” and he would actually look around and decide.

It wasn’t all running around though. There were times we walked peacefully side by side, both enjoying the view and the companionship. Sometimes there were distractions, like the day we came across a surveyor’s truck off to the side of the road. He homed in on that and started finding all the neat toys it provided, checking out everything he could get his nose and mouth onto. I had to go and rescue the truck from him by putting the lead back onto his halter and dragging him away.

As self-contained and self-confident as he seemed, there were little clues that he carried some worry and lack of confidence. One day, we were going down the creek bed and he took a jaunt up the bank to walk along the top of the bank. I could see that he would run out of a place to walk up there and saw a place he could come back down. It was steep and had loose sandy ground. He started down, felt the ground move a bit and froze in place. I had to scramble up the bank, put my hand under his jaw to lead him down, hoof by careful hoof. He needed my confidence that he could do that.

Alas, when starting him under saddle, I just did not know as much then as I do now, over 10 years later, and I blew through some of his clues to me about his confidence level. I did not do a horrible job, but I did not do the best job. When he left here to his new home, he was not a solid riding horse. I only let him go at the time, being overwhelmed and thinking it best for him. Sometimes in life, one gets a second chance. And so it has been for us, for he is back with me now. There is a health issue to resolve before any riding, but I will have a chance to do a good re-start with him. Having him back home has returned something to me. I knew I missed him but until he was back here, I did not know just how much. Welcome Home, Spirit Seeker; we will have fun together again.

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