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!