Years ago, we were at a horse show in San Antonio. For an exhibition, a black Andalusian stallion was brought up from the Rio Grande Valley to dance to music on Saturday night. For this performance, an eight year old boy was mounted on this highly trained steed, and the music started up. The horse trotted out in a lofty passage (Puh-SÁWGE). Then he performed the Piaffe, or trot in place. He pirouetted in a slow cadenced canter, and did flying lead changes like a skipping ballet dancer. His gyrations matched the music almost perfectly. Then, about two minutes into the performance, the horse dropped into an elegant bow. Obviously this was not our young centaur’s idea, as he pulled up fiercely on the horse to continue the routine. But pretty soon the black stallion was bowing out again. Growing frustration was evident in the way the young lad kept pulling him out of bow after bow. Finally, probably because his arms were getting tired, the boy tipped his hat to the audience, and red-faced “exited stage left”! Originally the plan was to do a full choreographed routine, and end with a bow. As it turned out Ebano, the stallion, had figured out that since the dance always ended with a bow, he could end it anytime he wanted by doing the bow himself. He just took matters into his own hands, er hooves!While this was humorous to us (but certainly not to the disappointed, embarrassed young rider) we all learned something of horse behavior.
As a matter of fact, horses are very good at discerning patterns. And, they are also work averse (read, lazy). So our black stallion figured he’d had enough and did the next logical thing to leaving which was to bow. Very polite of him I thought. I have experienced similar problems. Sometimes when a horse has not been fully convinced of my leadership, I’ve been in the middle of a performance, asked for a certain movement and been told to “stick it”! When you are in public you’ve got to be nice (and horses soon learn that) so you smile and go on from there. I’ve also been in the horse’s position, and many times I wanted to bow and doff my cap, and exit stage left. Reminds me of the time… But that’s another story. Maybe next week.