Hope everyone is having a terrific summer with lots of fun riding.
During the years I was competing, summer always meant trailering to tons of away shows on the weekends. I was writing a scene for The Grimoire (which is almost finished) about loading a green three year old and I couldn't help thinking about my beloved Spencer.
He had always trailered really well until I moved to a new barn and the owner offered to go and get him. I didn't know a lot about this barn as I was moving to a different part of the state, but it was a large facility, very well kept up and I liked the barn manager when I met her. I had just bought Spencer some travel boots, figuring it would be easier than wraps. I don't know exactly what happened as I was following the trailer in my SUV, but Spencer must have panicked inside. When we reached our destination, Spencer limped out with blood all over his right rear lower leg and the boot was dangling by the one still connected strap off the bottom of his foot. The three remaining boots were partly off and Spencer was shaking his legs trying to free himself of them.
I got the boots off and started to lead him to the was stall and the poor guy staggered off the path onto the grass. The owner came up behind me and told me their barn rule was that horses were not allowed on the grass in front of the barn (here was a great clue I had not landed in a terrific place!). Anyway, from then on trying to load poor Spencer was a nightmare. Even though the boots hit the trash can and we went back to quilted wraps & polos, it was a struggle to get him in the trailer almost every time.
The memory has stayed with me, too and found a way into my writing. One of the fun things about writing about magic is thinking of fun ways it could be applied to one's own life. Here's the scene where I applied what I would have loved to do for poor Spencer:
“Come on, baby.” Gemma tugged on Jack’s lead rope. The recalcitrant horse planted his hooves at the base of the trailer ramp and refused to move. Sweating, Gemma tugged harder and was pulled off balance with Jack’s head toss. Stumbling, she swore.
Jack eyed her with disdain and gave a very human snort. Jumping Jack was a green four year old and was as stubborn as they come. His owner, a lovely, gentle middle-aged lady bought him because he was the prettiest horse she’d ever seen. Never mind the chestnut gelding was so high-strung she couldn’t ride him. Even when magically linked, Gemma had difficulty persuading him to her will. His owner didn’t stand a chance.
“It’s my job to fix that, which is why I’m going to show you in one or two classes today.” Gemma said aloud, blowing the hair out of her eyes. “Okay, pal this calls for a different approach.”
Jack tilted his head to the side with an expression that said I’d like to see you try it, lady.
“Well, you asked for it.” Gemma let the lead rope go loose in her hand. She closed her eyes and reached out with her mind to the horse, matching her breathing to his, seeking to calm, seeking a link to ensure collaboration between horse and trainer. She felt his resistance, an equine version of ‘No way, no how.’ She bore down, looking for openings past the iron wall of stubbornness which was so much a part of Jack’s personality.
Ah, there it is. With her mind she eased past his fear and anger, seeking to sooth.
Jack huffed out a breath and lowered his head. “There’s a boy,” she murmured, maintaining the link as she led him slowly up the ramp. “Remember this nice, calm approach when we’re in the show ring, okay?”
This time Jack stepped into the trailer without complaint. Gemma led him forward, clipped his halter to the strap attached to the wall, and eased out the small door in the front of the two-horse trailer.
Going around the back, she pushed the ramp up and closed the back entry to the trailer, effectively shutting Jack in with her own beautiful black mare, Abby.
Horse show days started early enough without cranky four-year olds. Refusing to acknowledge her own bad temper, she finished loading gear in the back of the pickup truck the trailer was attached to and headed out.
Now wouldn't that have been easier for my Spencer?
Happy summer, happy riding, and happy trailering!