The arena was empty by the time we got in there so it was just the two of us. We had an average ride. She was sort of forward, sort of crabby. I was kind of braced and kind of tired. We did some turns on the forehand like we've been working on in our lessons and then moved on to canter departs. She was very sluggish, but she departed promptly every time so I left it mostly alone.
One of the older gents at our barn had a major episode Saturday night,something with his intestines, which sadly led to his lungs collapsing Sunday afternoon. I received an email this morning that his owner decided to let him go. He was only 16, but this was the second 'episode' in 6 months. The first episode he spent racking up huge vet bills by staying in the hospital for three weeks. He was a wonderful gentleman of a gelding and will be sorely missed. He was still very much alive when I was riding Tessa and his owner brought him to the side of the arena to graze. Tessa could not focus while he was out there. I tried moving her off my inside leg, tapping with the whip, bending back and forth. No matter what I did, she would grab the bit and prick her ears to stare at the gelding.
Some of the barn girls were also out on that side of the arena, fussing over the babies so I thought that might be part of it. We tried working mostly down at the other end of the arena, but it got to the point where I really only had two corners of her paying attention.
Looking back on the situation, I wonder if she knew. I mean, none of us humans knew that the gelding would collapse only an hour later (it may have even been less time than that) but maybe Tessa knew. Horses are such wonderfully empathetic creatures and are so tuned in to these kinds of things. I probably couldn't hold her attention because she was thinking "WTF Mom. That horse is DYING and you want me to work on stupid canter departs?? Are you kidding me??" I can't say that I blame her.
Horses, like humans, are fragile creatures and when our time is up or their time is up there's not much we can do. But in the meantime, we can enjoy each others company and enjoy the steps we take, both forwards and backwards, together. Yesterday could be written off as a few steps backwards in our training, but I think it was actually a few steps forward in me learning that sometimes my horse knows about things more important than circles in an arena and it's my job to listen. Thanks, Tessa. I needed that reminder.