Saturday, July 12, 2008

Does she know?

I wonder if Limerick knows I can't hear well.

Yesterday, I rode her using the bareback pad. We were in the outdoor arena, all alone. It was 8:30pm and the sun was a great red ball dipping into the horizon.

At one point, Limerick stopped and stared at one of the houses along the east end of the property. I looked and looked but I had no idea what had caught her attention. Her head was high, her ears pricked, and her eyes pinpointed on...something.

When she was young and full of run, that pose was never a sign of pleasant things to come. But she has not spooked beneath me, other than on one, excused, occasion (see Happy Birthday Limerick! in the May archives) for quite a while.

"Please don't spook now, not when I'm riding you bareback and my wrists are aching. Oh, if I fall, my wrists will just collapse beneath me!" I thought out loud to Limerick. My wrists and right hand have been aching for the past few weeks; if it's possible to have arthritis at this age, well, I think I'm getting it.

Lim lowered her head and walked on. I let out a deep breath and settled into the bareback pad. We wandered around the arena for a while. Lim would glance at the house when we were on the east side of the arena but nothing more.

A woman walked out of the barn and to the rail of the arena. I waved at her. She waved me over. Surprised, I steered Limerick towards her.

"I wanted to let you know that they're setting off bottle rockets over there," she said, pointing at the house that Limerick had been looking at.


"Oh thanks, I didn't know that. I can't hear them. Limerick was looking over that way for a while but then she seemed fine," I said.

Bottle rockets?! I was floored that Lim hadn't done more than look in the direction of the rockets.

For some time now, I have been wondering if she knows I can't hear normally. I know us humans already have weak hearing compared to horses, but I wonder if she knew I was not like other people when it came to my sense of hearing.

The bottle rocket thing is making me lean more towards "yes, she knows!"

When Lim was four to five years old, she would spook at sounds, at things I had no awareness of. These spooks took me by complete surprise and were very unnerving, even scary. Nothing is more rattling than having your supposedly calm and controlled Thoroughbred suddenly, with no warning, lift herself into the air and shoot forward at a zillion billion miles per hour, your life flashing before your eyes, the blurry faces of people and other horses zipping by, your hands frantically trying to gather the reins into position for an emergency one-rein stop.

But you know what?

After that age, the sound-related spooks slowed to a crawl, then a halt. Sure, Lim was more than happy to take off at a dead run if she saw something scary, but otherwise I could count on her to not run away with me at every funny sound that filtered through her sensitive ears.

I have seen her spook at sounds, or things I could only imagine were sounds (for nothing was to be seen) while I have been lunging her, or watching her playing in the arena.

So who knows?

What do you think?

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