I’ve been sidelined for the last month with a knee injury. Since I was initially on crutches and couldn’t drive, my visits with Mojo were few and far between, when either my mom or my lovely boyfriend took pity on me and drove me to the stable. Of course, I couldn’t lead Mojo or do groundwork, so they not only had to drive me, they then had to put up with me telling them what to do (control queen) while they handled my horse. I am obviously indebted to them both.
Mojo seemed to miss me, which was nice, and wanted more affection than he usually permits. The day I was able to hobble without crutches, he walked very slowly with me leaning on him, as we did a slow-motion version of our usual jog at liberty around the arena together. It touched me deeply that he put his normal exuberant boisterousness aside and tuned in to my level of ability. Although he is known to be quite the tester, he seemed to understand that I couldn’t participate in our games, and he never put a foot wrong. God bless that horse – I love him so.
I’ve been off crutches for two weeks now and my mobility has improved to about 80%. So my beloved quarter horse has decided I don’t need any more freebies. Yes, he seemed to say today, you’re agile enough to play, so guess what? I’m going to make you work for it.
My boy needs a tune-up.
I’ve always been envious of the people I’ve known who have been able to just hop on their horses after a lengthy hiatus and ride off into the sunset with no fuss and no drama. More than envious – incredulous. Maybe their horses are ancient, or maybe just better trained than mine – I don’t know. What I do know is that Mojo is not like that. Not at all.
It takes approximately three days of not working with Mojo before he starts to subtly press the boundaries of our relationship to see who’s in charge. Three weeks? Hah! He’s been in blissful full-turnout mode, with only himself to answer to, and you know? He kind of likes it that way, and isn’t too quick to give up his autonomy.
Now, to be fair, if he’s consistently worked, he’s very easy-going. By Sunday, he’ll be all ho-hum about lunging and whatever else I ask him to do. But today? When I pulled him out of his turnout pasture and said, Hey buddy, it’s time to get back to work? Right.
Nah. Can’t really see the benefit in that, thanks. I mean, I do like you and all, and I’m glad you’re feeling better, but I’m thinking that eating grass beats trotting in a circle any day. And why would you want to put us in the indoor arena when it’s a perfectly nice day out, anyway? Not to be rude or anything, but I’m going to have to exercise my executive veto here.
Mojo being Mojo is never bad – he’s not a jerk. He’s just very stubborn, and totally convinced that his opinion weighs in just as much as mine. I’ve learned through our time together that, although I don’t like to argue with him, it doesn’t pay to back down. I have to hold my ground until he respects my request, or it just reinforces his conviction that he should have his way. I love his self-confidence. I also value obedience, and when I ask him to stop, or to back up, I don’t care if we’re next to a field of oat hay (we were) or if the field is full of saber-toothed tigers (clearly not) – I expect him to do as I ask. Period. And we are not quitting, and he is not getting one blade of grass, until he does.
Once Mojo realized that the reward for good behavior was the oat hay he was so keen to obtain, it was easy. But getting that initial obedience was a drawn-out process. Just like Mojo, I was rusty and less effective than I’d like, which prolongs the debate. When I finally led him back to his turn-out pasture, he didn’t even stick around for belly scratches. He just walked away with nary a glance, as if to say, I’m in my pasture now and I don’t have to listen to any more of your crap. I’m going to eat grass and so be it.
It’s the first time he’s ever done that. A year ago it would have hurt my feelings. Now I just laugh – he’s true to himself to the end.
And tomorrow will be better.
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