Of course, I didn't always recognize this trait as a flaw. I was pretty blind about it, to tell you the truth. And, I've only come to the realization that it is the reason I lost some friends, years after the fact.
I'm this strange mix of control, intuition, sensitivity and introversion. I am consistently an outlier on personality profile tests. I'm a weirdo. Its a fact. About fifteen years ago, I identified the control demon in the course of doing some hard spiritual work, acknowledged it, and began the hard work of controlling that beast. (It's not easy and I'm not always successful).
What does this have to do with horses you ask? Everything.
I think control freaks are drawn to dressage. I could be wrong. But I know I liked having clear goals, and a training pyramid to follow. Dressage involves a dance between precision and feel. It has been a good fit for my personality.
Tex... well, he's a whole different ballgame. He draws on the intuitive side of my personality and my sensitivity -- that's a good fit. But, he has good days and bad days and our progress is far from linear. I struggle with that part. Its not a training pyramid, its a training trail; a true journey. There are sunny days and cloudy days; beautiful stretches of trail under the trees with a view of snow-capped mountains, and there are stretches where we trudge through switch backs, on a bare mountain side, under the beating sun. ...okay, maybe not quite that bad. But, challenging.
Thank goodness for Robin. A few days ago, she reminded me that I can't just set parameters with Tex and hold the line. Tex is a very damaged horse. He's going to have good days and he's going to have days where its hard to trust. Really, really hard.
On his good days, I can push on the boundaries of his comfort zone.
On his bad days, I need to encourage him to trust. Robin calls this "seeking mode." I want him to be seeking me -- whether its watching me from the pasture or walking towards me. If I catch him watching me, I throw him a carrot. I don't require him to walk all the way over to me and stand in a designated place. If he starts walking towards me, I toss him a carrot.
After two days of tossing cookies, Tex is stalking me. And, I love it.
This morning, when we brought the horses into the barn to escape the heat and the flies, Flash was first to the gate. Flash nickered to me, while Tex stood at his flank, a few steps back. I knew Flash was nickering more for breakfast than for me, but I praised him anyway and gave him a treat and rubbed his face.
Tex had this look like, "What the heck? He's not your horse. I'm your horse."
And then he stood perfectly still when I approached and was even a tad greedy about getting his halter and a treat.
I'm not so sure that I'm training Tex. I think he is teaching me.