I love the double meaning of the word “wonder” in the above quote from How Two Minds Meet: The Mental Dynamics of Dressage by Beth Baumert. Beth is also the author of When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics.
Even if not a dressage enthusiast, any rider can glean tidbits of useful information from her books. Much of what she writes is applicable to all riding styles.
Beth Baumert describes wonder as a sense of curiosity about your horse and riding. It is part of her way of cultivating a healthy mindset in the rider. It is designed to move the rider away from a state of apprehension or fear about riding into a more productive mental framework.
“Curiosity is a questioning state of mind- the ability to reach out and say, I wonder. Riding horses is all about wonder. I wonder. I wonder how you feel today? I wonder if you can step under my seat? I wonder if you can go promptly? Can you stop without me using my hands?”From How Two Minds Meet: The Mental Dynamics of Dressage
I know riding my now retired horse, Bear, was definitely all about wonder. Including wondering whether or not I would survive some of our more hair-raising rides.
There were many times I struggled with fear of riding such a forward and sensitive horse as Bear. While I got better at meeting his needs the longer we were together, we definitely had our share of struggles. I think I could have readily applied many of Beth Baumert’s suggestions to my interactions with Bear and come out the better for it.
This week marks 16 years that Bear and I have been together. The photo above was taken while we were riding in Colorado in 2015, the day before our ten year anniversary.
There was and is so much wonder for me in sharing my life with Bear. There was definitely wonder while riding his smooth and speedy saddle gait. There was magic in his sensitivity under saddle. There is STILL wonder when he nickers at me in anticipation of a special treat like a banana. Or when, even as a senior horse with health challenges, he takes off galloping in the field and kicks up his heels. How I love to watch him run.
There was also a lot to wonder about with Bear. I wondered if I would survive his occasional panic attacks when we were on the trail. I wondered if I would fall off when he spooked and spun during the obstacle clinic when we rode through firecrackers and smoke bombs. I wondered if he would ever stop rearing when asked to load in my little trailer (he eventually did).
I still wonder how in twelve years of riding, I only fell off of Bear once. He collapsed into an unmarked crater as we strolled along after cows while traveling through tall grass one day. Neither of us saw the hole. I bailed so I wouldn’t be wedged in the crater with him. He fortunately caught the edge of solid ground with one front hoof and was able to pull himself up without my weight on his back. We were both a bit shaken but were able to finish the ride with no more drama. It is a wonder that neither of us were hurt.
I spent so many years wondering about Bear undersaddle. Now that he is retired from riding and we are both growing old(er)? Frankly, with a lump in my throat, I wonder how much time we have left together.
As Beth Baumert states, “Riding horses is all about wonder.” But really, so is sharing your life in any capacity with such a magnificent creatures as the horse. Life with them is definitely wonder-full.
*** If you would like to purchase either of Beth Baumert’s books, How Two Minds Meet: The Mental Dynamics of Dressage or When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics they are available through Trafalgar Square Publishing’s horseandriderbooks.com website. If you click on their affiliate “Horse Books and Videos” photo-link shown on The Backyard Horse Blog, the blog will receive a much appreciated portion of your purchases.***