Intro to Interspecies Collaboration
By Tessa Tapscott (04/07/13 23:37:03)
Related animal: Horse

Considering that my old pony, Thistle, dumped me on my butt on a weekly basis, it is truly amazing that I have only fallen off my current horse, Reese, twice in the past 8 and a half years. Same day, same jump. We had just started our partnership and we were having our first cross-country lesson together, during which it became apparent that Reese had never done cross-country before. Thus faced with a massive expanse of land peppered with large, foreboding wooden obstacles, he was understandably overwhelmed. While he hopped over logs and cautiously trotted through the water, the "coffin" jump threw him for a loop. A coffin jump is a kind of ditch jump in which a rectangular section is sunk into the ground, similar to the way an open grave would look. While one should jump this exactly the same as any normal raised jump, the optical effect of the sunken ground can be extremely frightening to horses, this was the case with Reese. While the seasoned horse in the group hopped right over the ditch, Reese repeatedly skidded to a stop each time we approached the fence. We finally had to get the other horse to lead us to it, following close behind, hoping that Reese might follow him right over it. We picked up speed and I felt like we were really going to jump it. I got out of the saddle in anticipation of flight. I did fly, right over Reese's ears and into the ditch. He stood by patiently staring down at me, as if to ask, "What are you doing there?" Bruised and bloody I climbed back on and approached the the ditch, again. I think after seeing me inside the ditch helped to show him that nothing would jump out of it and eat him as he flew over it because finally with a great leap Reese jumped the ditch. And to his joy and surprise, nothing tried to jump out of it and eat him, so with that he let out a great big buck of joy landing me flat on my back for the second time that day. He trotted a few more steps then looked back at me, "Again?" Since then we have faced many obstacles together and I have learned to show him what is safe and he has taught me what scares him and why. One might say that I became a better rider, so that is why I stopped falling off, but I think it is because Reese goes out of his way to keep me safe. I can only to provide the same protection for him.

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