It really is only about the horse, no matter how far they take you.
Even when you wake up at four in the morning for your lesson, or they refuse sixteen times that day, and you have to walk them through a downpour when the morning is still dark, and the sun isn’t even there halfheartedly. Even when you reach the point during your ride where you go numb from exhaustion, and that oxer is coming up too quick. It’s still always about the horse.
Remember that they wake up with you. They’re walking in the downpour beside you, their head at your elbow, following you through the dark even though the wind is coursing around you and everything inside them tells them to run.
Their refusals are less out of malice and more the product of knowing their own limits.
They know your limits.
Notice the way he sinks back onto his haunches when he slides to a stop, or adjusts himself underneath you to keep you from falling.
Recognize that he tires with you, his breathing matches your own, but when you ask yourself to keep going he mirrors you and matches your effort.
Notice the way his eye softens and his breathing evens when you’re close to him, the way he exhales in the wash stall as the water hits him, and how he remains motionless for you when you apply his standing wraps.
Watch the way he flicks his ears toward you while grazing, or the muffled nicker in your direction when you put him away. Look back after you close his stall door. See him watching as you walk away. Go back and hug him, because it’s about him and always will be.
Eduardo Menezes and La Fleur 4
Oaks Summer Classic week III Grand Prix