Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Dawn (a Few Days Late)!

Dawn turned 15 a few days ago - she says she is now a "mature" mare, and worthy of even increased respect.  This post is a tribute to a very special mare. Our family has had Dawn for over 10 years now - Lily came to us at about the same time - and only Norman-the-pony has been with us longer.  My older daughter rode Dawn briefly, then my younger daughter (who was 12 at the time) started riding her.  They had many happy years together - my younger daughter only rode bareback, and loved to gallop on the trail, so that's what she and Dawn did together.  They had their number of thrills and spills together, but this photo shows how close their relationship is:

My daughter has been away at college for three years now, and as a result, I "inherited" Dawn.  This wasn't something I would have chosen - she's an incredibly sensitive mare, and as Mark Rashid said at the clinic last year, "not an easy ride" - she's been to a number of clinics with my daughter and once last year with me. Our relationship didn't get off to a great start - she kicked me in the jaw in the fall of 2009 (pretty much entirely my fault) and I was pretty tentative around her for a while.  She's been known to bolt (and there's a fearsome buck that comes with the bolt - Mark says she used to be the "lightspeed mare"), and I'm getting close to 60.  I really wasn't sure I was up to riding her.

But it turns out that having to step up and work with Dawn was one of the most important things that's happened in my horsemanship in years.  She's taught me as much about softness and relaxation and using thoughts to direct and cue, as any horse could - she's my teacher, one of my best.  She says I still have a lot to learn, but that at least I'm trying!  She's quick to validate when I'm riding more correctly - she rewards the try.

So, in honor of a very special mare, here are a few of my favorite photos of her.

Napping and very sleepy:

The "look of eagles":

In her winter coat, with the lovely black velvet nose:

Happy birthday, Dawn!

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