With horses, just like humans, it seems the first year of a relationship is critical to determining whether it will endure in the long term.
You go through this exciting honeymoon phase and often, discovering quirks and idiosyncrasies is charming and helps to create a sense of connection. Maybe it’s playing with the crossties (which I’m a sucker for), or finding out that your new pony just loves his ears to be rubbed. It’s all sweet, and endearing, and you just can’t help but get googly eyes when you set eyes on them. For Smitty and I, the highlight of our honeymoon period was our cross country school, in which I basically decided he was the best baby, ever.
And then you hit that phase where you know each other a little better, and have a tiny foundation on which you can build trust and start to grow. Sometimes this is an extension of the initial honeymoon phase, and all continues to be bright and beautiful as you take on new challenges and add shared accomplishments to your relationship history. Or maybe this is where you start to test each other’s boundaries, introducing your first fight into the mix. For us, this was the show in October. Success in so many ways, and yet, a few moments where the rose colored glasses became just a tish foggy.
Shortly after that, I sent him off the bootcamp, which in hindsight I wish I hadn’t done because I believe it lead, in part, to his unhappy stomach shortly thereafter. Here we enter another phase in our relationship, which is the general ups and downs of trying to figure out each other’s limits, make progress, and see if we will be a team in the long run.
I’ve always heard it takes a full year to really form a partnership with a new horse, and is history is any indication, I believe that’s true. Smitty and I are next yet halfway to that marker yet, and we have so much to work through if we are going to be a permanent fixture. Yet I think in a lot of ways that just how horse, and human, relationships are. It’s a non-linear progression towards a forever shifting end goal.