This is Amadeo, my Andalusian, and one of the sweetest faces on the planet. I imported him from Spain nine years ago. He was to be my Grand Prix horse, the horse that would make all my horsey dreams come true.
Instead, just a few months after he arrived Stateside, I had to have the first of my hips replaced. And then, just as I was recovered from that surgery, my other hip failed. Another surgery, another long recovery. When I got back on Amadeo, I was an even more fearful tentative rider than I had been before. I am sure that I gave him all the wrong signals – he read me perfectly and knew that when I said “go” I really meant “don’t” or “slow.” So that got to be our agreement. I would ask, and he would say no.
As I got stronger and bolder, it seemed that something in our communications had gotten hard-wired. It was like a bad marriage, mostly when I was riding. He was also a spooky guy, easily frightened or upset, so being around him on the ground could be challenging and scary as well. On top of that, he developed terrible, life-threatening allergies and a leg injury as a result.
Fast forward a few years to 2008. We move to the Millerton area and he moves into a barn where his allergies clear and his other issues are resolved. All except for the tricky riding business where I say “go” and now he is saying “NO!!!“ I do not like to pick a fight with a horse. It feels wrong. So I would get off, feeling despairing and defeated. My trainer and I decide to try to sell him to someone that could enjoy him. As she said, “You can’t force a match.”
I mentioned to my equine chiropractor that I wanted to make a change and one thing led to another and two lovely young ladies came to the barn to try him and they loved him. He liked them as well. So, here’s the funny part. Today, I decided to try riding him – one more time. Keep in mind that for the past eight or so months, when I tried to ride, he would stand as if he had been planted and refuse to move. As I said, I am not a fan of confrontation, so I got off, feeling mad and sad. But today I got on and sort of channeled one of the women who had come to try him – what I saw was that she was playful but firm. He gave me a terrific ride – we went flying around the ring – it was a wild and exuberant. I loved it. Go figure.
(to be continued. . . )