Teach a wild horse to dance with you outdoors and nature applauds.
I’m at the Museum of Contemporary Art for an ArtTable exhibition event. Kerry James Marshall paints his black history and MOCA shares it in “Mastery”.
Kerry James Marshall creates a roller coaster of work that brings me up short. He shows me growing up black, being black, and experiencing black life, in America, is a wrenching experience. Just when you feel tears well up at the insensitivity of society, he shows you love and joy so deep you realize art liberates everyone.
I leave the retrospective of this master painter with great appreciation for art museums and the role they play in social justice, civil society and happiness. Social Justice because I see with new eyes the inequities that create divisions. Civil society because I leave committed to do my part in expressing the human story and happiness, because I am a better person for witnessing the beauty and courage displayed on the walls of the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles.
Artists see and share the invisible.
I walk down to the catch pens and shelter breeze way. I shout out “whup, whup!” to alert Encore! to come to the catch pen. She gallops eagerly towards the gate, but when she sees I am carrying her halter, she does a U-turn and runs to hide behind her good friend and stable mate Coltrane. Coltrane keeps coming towards me knowing that I will let him out to graze.
When Coltrane arrives I let him out and Encore! seeing that she might be left in the pen gallops past us and up to the top of the catch pen and nibbles some hay. I quickly shut the catch pen gate from the larger paddock then let Coltrane out to graze. Encore! alone in the catch pen usually comes over knowing that she has to put on the halter before she can go out of the pen. Today she takes issue with the order. I give her a couple of opportunities to yield on her own. When I see she is determined to be in charge, I leave her and look for the lunge whip to drive her round and round the pen until she gives up her head strong ways.
In my experience most horses surrender quickly, but Encore! has an independent streak that borders on stubborn. I keep her moving away from me until I say “ho” and she allows me to put on the halter. I’ve never met up with such determination in horse or human. Several times I give the opportunity to stop, but the moment I offer the halter she moves away. I then get after her and move her on forcing her to acknowledge who is in charge. Finally, after numerous run arounds of the catch pen I say “ho” and she allows me to put on the halter. It’s true if I had a bit of carrot she would eagerly allow me to catch her. Today I had a handful of boring timothy hay pellets. In retrospect, who is training who?
Horses are like people. Handle them according to their temperament. Never try to change the temperament.
~ Leo Foster
Today Encore! and I had another break through. Fortunately, for Encore! I had the privilege of some happy coaching from Sandi. We trail ride together at La Purisima Mission. She’s out West staying with Susan. I ride Susan’s steady paint mare while Sandi rides Susan’s young Hessian gelding. Sandi is a supreme horse woman and has trained fifteen horses to Gran Prix Dressage. She has vast experience at the Olympic level and can translate that to anyone willing to listen. I am a virtual sponge in her company watching every move she makes and asking for suggestions on how to train my enthusiastic filly, Encore!
Sandi’s suggestion is the magic exercise of leg yield spiraling circles ad nausea. That’s right. After watching Sandi leg yield circles on Susan’s gelding Deacon I went home and long-lined Encore! on the circle for thirty minutes at walk trot and canter, changing direction every fifteen minutes. Then I rode leg yield spiral circles for thirty minutes, at the rising trot, changing direction after fifteen minutes. Not the least bit tired or bored Encore! relished the hour trail ride that followed.
The joyful breakthrough for us was an expanded sense of security and safety after just one session of leg yield spiral circles. Today, Encore! blazed away at the walk over wild terrain and didn’t give in to fear or frolic. I can only imagine what a solid citizen I’ll have under me after three months of spiral leg yield circles. We’ll do spiral leg yield circles, and nothing else, every day for three months. Sandi says, “She (Encore!) will be so grateful to do something other than leg yield spiral circles that she’ll do anything for me.” Attitude is everything and this attitude adjustment for Encore! is nothing short of miraculous.
This particular exercise might not be right for every, horse but for chilling a hot salsa filly like Encore! it is a God send.