Going Steady is a book that will have a permanent place on my bedside table. This book has a series of ‘stand alone’ chapters that deal with horses: owning a horse, rescuing a horse, riding a horse, living with multiple horses, and the subtitle is : “More Relationship Advice from Your Horse”. Practical issues such as Anna Blake’s advice about always wearing a helmet, dealing with a spooking horse, riding the elusive half halt and most importantly calming signals.
Calming signals. This is something I had never heard of before I encountered Anna Blake. These are signals from the horse. Not signals from the human. Here is how Anna describes them.
Calming signals are subtle body messages that horses use to let us know they feel anxiety or conflict, that they are no threat and we don’t need to act aggressively . The signal demonstrates desired behavior from us at the same time. He might look away, stretching his head down as a way of asking us to relax and go slow. Just to be clear calming signals are the language horses use to calm us. We tend to be too loud and bossy.Anna Blake
Calming signals are also described as a message to us to let us know the horse knows we are there. We usually respond by letting them know we are an “unpredictable warlike species.”. But our bravado does not fool the horse. They know what we really are. We are merely little creatures who want to feel safe.
There is much wisdom in this book that comes from Anna’s many years with horses both riding them, observing them and taking care of them. I have already been inspired to write a blog post about riding the suspension of disbelief. The little voice of disbelief tells us we are not good enough, our horse is not good enough and we don’t deserve what we want. Anna advises that we must simply “tell our inner demons to just shut up”. I read this just before I was going to a competition. I told them to shut up. I gave myself a break from the problems and my efforts to make it better. Suspension of disbelief. And guess what? It worked.
If you are a horse rider, horse owner, horse rescuer, horse lover, horse dreamer, this book is for you. It will have a permanent place on my bedside table because when I feel like it I will just reach out, and flip it open, letting the horse gods pick where the pages fall open, and then I will read. I am certain that each time I read parts of this book, some new light will be shone on whatever it is I am going through, with my riding, and my horse.