Last week I wrote about Tango, (Lessons from Tango; Part l), a compact paint gelding, transitioning into a beginner lesson horse. Although Tango is a safe mount for children, 99% of the time, there still exists a single percentage point that catches me, the instructor, off guard when my vigilance becomes lax. These incidents remind me that I know better and that I must, at all times, respect a horse...for being a horse.
My eyes remained riveted on each of Natalie's hot pink shoulders. Any second I expected one of them to begin veering left or right, thus precipitating a hard fall to the ground. My heart pounded while I flew with all my bipedal might down the hill after them.
Finally, Tango came to an abrupt halt, dropped his head and began cropping the grass at his feet. From the saddle, Natalie stared back at me.
"Natalie, hop off right now," I ordered through my heaving breath.
"Get off of him right now!" I ordered, fearful that Tango might begin a victory lap around the field after another mouthful of grass. This time my urgency sunk in. Once her feet hit the ground I knew Natalie was safe.
After what seemed an eternity I reached horse and rider at the farthest end of the field. "I am in total shock." I exclaimed holding Natalie tight in my arms. "Are you ok?" The words sounded so hollow.
"Why did he do that?" she inquired evenly.
I answered the question with a couple of derogatory, (nothing too hair raising, mind you), expletives about Tango. Convinced that Natalie was fine, the three of us headed back to the barn. On the way we talked about what happened.
"At first I was really scared but then I just knew what to do. So I pushed my heels down and sat up straight. I never felt like I was going to fall off."
"You are one brave cowgirl," I claimed. "Nat, I would have been scared galloping down that hill, even with my heels down!"
A few days later Natalie came back to the barn to ride Tango. Something had changed. A new air of confidence was apparent as she prepared him for a workout in the ring.
"Can I canter him?" she asked, casually.
"Well,..I don't...I'm not sure...uh...ok," I responded unable to come up with an excuse not to canter Tango.
And canter they did! Round and round the ring. Tango was under Natalie's complete control. He did exactly what she asked, over and over again. I watched with a new found respect for Tango as a teacher...a teacher who doesn't give the answers away.
In this video, Tango and Spirit demonstrate the power and speed that Natalie experienced going down the hill! Yikes!
|Tango's mother Vicky shows the perspective of Natalie's ride...|
|....all the way down the hill and across the field!|
|Tango is the perfect gentleman when he is expected to be.|
|As a teacher, Tango gives nothing away.|