Lessons from Bubba
In 2007 I was asked the question below from a fellow horsewoman:
What is the special connection you have with Bubba? I love those pictures. They express so much love, respect and understanding.
Below I will paste my answer back in hopes of sharing myself with those seeking the same relationship with a horse.
Those that know me best or truly see me as I am and my work, know how serious of person I am, maybe to much so but not when it comes to horses in my opinion. I'm not an entertainer in the business but worked hard through lots of schooling to teach and learn myself to bring real, honest and hard earned experience to those seeking real direction. The work I do is not a game to me and Bubba was one that kept me on track. I was 19 years old when he came into my life so he had much work to do.
The Answer in 2007:
I'll try to explain it for you and hope I get it right.It's just now starting to come clear to me after all theses years he and I have been together.
I think I'll start with all my personal horses as in knowing them, one can see a consistency in what they are as a group. All are very social, mannerly, playful yet each in different in other ways I know, but most just see the social, mannerly part as they are not with them like I am to see each one's differences at another level. I also see horses I think in a deeper way than a lot of people, Bubba taught me this but my Mother opened the door to that for me,but he showed me. He has shown me to see the horse for what it is, not as a human and not to humanize it , but to understand what it is to be a horse having to live and survive in a man made world. In return making it easier and clear to see their needs, how they learn, how they think and how they perceive the world around them.
I think Bubba has also been not only one that has taught me how to see, but help my other horses know I'm OK, while helping them come to appreciate their lives here and help me as well.. So again they are all teachers to me. One thing Dave and I have come to see now over the years is that my horses seem to try to help the troubled training horses that come in. Through their comfort level here it's like they want the other horses to relax and let them know it's OK here, none of mine feed off the new arrivals upset or tense behaviors, but try to get as close as they can to them, stay calm, be friends to help them settle in faster. It depends on how troubled the horse is though as to how much effect they have, but in most cases it's huge.
So the question is how he did this for me? The answer as best as I can give it first, is I had to open my eyes to see what he was telling me through his own behaviors, his tolerance of me when I was exhibiting unreasonable human behaviors. We have been together 28 years now so he's been with me through much of my growing years, the bad and the good phases in all of it. He always waited for me to get my head back on straight and when I did something right he always gave everything, you could tell it just in his happiness to do the job I asked and his resistance when I got it wrong.
He loved horse shows and still if a trailer door is open and he has access he loads himself on and starts banging to get going.If he was not the first horse to be called up for the blue ribbon the impatience would start and be very evident if he did not place, he liked staying in and doing those victory passes.
He does have a arrogance and strong dignity I've never seen so strong in a horse and still has, but I also say he has earned the right to it. He loves trail riding and is very forward and taking it all in on the way out, but still when coming home starts going really slow, I have to push him to get home.
This is the horse I have come off of the most in my career, every time I had it coming, he took a lot before saying" OK that's enough, your off"! There was a time I was a bit of a dare devil on the back of a horse, I knew no fear, so I asked a lot.Times when I thought of myself and my needs, but not the horses needs. It was like he was saying " Your mother taught you better than this, straighten up"! Interesting point is when someone else would ride him and be unreasonable he always took it, never put anyone else on the ground, and would take care of them.There was a time this made me unhappy, but now I understand it.
I've had a long road in this life, not easy and that's the way it's supposed to be for me, I understand that now and it's still hard but in different ways now. In all this Bubba has been the horse or living creature that seems to know this about me. When things are hard or unfair and I hurt he always will put himself in my space, or asking with his eyes and/or a big bang on a gate or door to let him come to me, let me lean on him and yes sometimes sob on him.He knows what part of my body is not feeling well, when my back is hurting he's right on that spot, licking as hard as he can, he's been doing that with my shoulder and arm too since having a training horse hurt it. It's hard to put into words,but it's like this horse has been put in my life not just as a horse, to be a horse, but also as a guide and a support system to help me travel my path in my work as a teacher of horses, people and his student, so I got it right.
I accept death and know it's just another part of the journey and have had so many of my human and animal friends pass now, but I'm very afraid of what it will be like when Bubba decides it's time to go and I don't have him to show me how to do things and how to be a decent person.I've learned and depended on him more than any person would ever take. I hope my life with Bubba has and will help so many others to find the same relationship we have together. The Ring
In closing I will share a final piece of this journey. When I went to Europe this year I carried with me a handful of Bubba's tail hair to have a ring made. I had no idea when I returned from my clinic tour I would be faced with the loss of Bubba. Several weeks after my return home, Sandra from Pleasure Gaits in Belgium hand delivered the ring to me.
It's lovely and means even more now to bring forth those wonderful memories . Yes there is a selfish side of me that still wants him here in his physical form, to see, touch, and be with.
I also now know he prepared me well to keep going on without him and be what he taught to be so well . I in turn could give him a life of value, respect, never see him as a possession but a friend, being responsible to take care of in the best way possible, never to demean him with doing tricks to entrain myself or others humans, but just true pure work we did equally together because we both enjoyed it and I never took away his dignity.The very least I could do in return.