Transitions are a big deal in horse parlance. Technically they’re the sequence of strides that move the horse from one gait to another, or into or out of a halt. They should be timed correctly, balanced precisely, and executed smoothly.
That canter depart to the left, that’s more of a rocket launch with tail thrusters. Definite Needs Improvement. It’s a reminder to keep the checklist clearly in mind (not so easy when you’re sitting on top of a set of warp thrusters), and also to remember to relax and breathe and let things happen. Even if they get a bit out of control–we have to stay alert and do what we can to make them work. Sometimes making repairs; sometimes changing plans as we adapt to what’s happening underneath us.
As I write this, our summer rains are finally blowing out and the fall dry season is blowing in. It’s been a long monsoon, and for most a strong one; and that’s good in our arid corner of the world.
That’s another form of transition, from one season to the next. For the horses it means their sleek summer coats are thickening and getting softer, transitioning to the thick plush that keeps them warm in winter. They’ll be juggling for a while in this somewhat alien climate: coping with bright, hot afternoons and cooler nights, while their coats are gearing up for winter on an ancestral steppe that none of them has ever seen. But they’ll be glad of those same coats when the weather breaks around about the end of October, and suddenly the winter rains are here, bringing wet and cold in between the spells of mild and dry.
While the seasons have been changing, the farm has been changing along with them. Two horses have left, both boarders, both with health problems. We’re down to the core herd, and reclaiming the space that we’ve been sharing for the past few years.
That’s a transition that needs balance and concentration, and also a fair bit of opening up to new possibilities. Changing schedules, moving horses around, appreciating the calm as the stallion finally approves of the local population. He’s the king. He wants his mares and he tolerates Evil Gelding. He’s more mellow and less cranky. And that’s a good thing.
Some transitions are harder than others. The heart of the house is gone: our elder cat, who slipped away at the age of eighteen, softly and quietly on a Sunday afternoon. It was peaceful, and it was his time, but there’s a huge hole in the middle of things.
But that’s slowly filling, as our younger animals expand to fill the space. New routines form, and new connections establish themselves. That heart-check, that rock down and back, the shock of passage, moves us forward in as much balance as we can manage.
Even the book-stuff is in transition. The novel that took so long and fought so hard to get through a crippling block is done and in the editing phase, and new projects are popping up all over. The table is piled high with research books and notebooks; the computer is proliferating with files of ideas and notes and concepts.
It’s too much, much of the time. Transition after transition after transition. But for the horse trainer, transitions are an invaluable tool for building the horse’s strength and fitness, and teaching him balance and focus and obedience to the rider’s instructions. It makes him stronger; it gives him better tools for moving forward into a balanced, calm, quietly focused halt. Keeping that in mind is a great help when life throws in one monkey wrench after another.