Chazot 40

MOM 1993-2014

I have not seen Mom since 4 days now. I start to understand why Helyn cried so much. What they mean by death is that the person that we love has moved into a different dimension. She still very much alive in your mind but you can no longer see her, touch her, smell her. Arpege died on the evening of Saturday August 23 and I will no longer see her. There is something with physical presence that is very real and hard to explain. When he is away on clinics and they talk to each other on the phone, Helyn often tell him, “I miss you.” He tells her the same words and now I understand the full meaning. I don’t like when he is away, but I know that he will be back. I have hard time thinking that Arpege will not be back. I miss her careful walk as she entered the barn. I knew that she will stop in front of my stall. We did not even have to touch each other. She was there and her proximity makes me feel at peace.

She was free on the farm and I since my stall door opens on my turn out, I have the luxury to go in and out as I want during the night. Often she came grazing on one side of the fence and I grazed on the other side. We did it nose to nose and I liked it. Just for fun, I tried sometime to nip her and she quietly moved away thinking, “I kicked your butt when you were a foal, but I can no longer do that; you are really too tall and too strong and too spirited and sometime you do not realize how big and strong you are.” When she was tired she lay down and I guarded her for her deep sleep. When it was my turn to sleep deeply, she guarded me. Truly it was nothing to guard as we are well protected but this is part of our instinct and we gladly helped each other. Often, as she was sleeping burst of memories came back in my mind from the time I was her foal. Sometimes during her sleep, she took a deep breath lifting her stomach and I remember when she told me that even as a foal I was too tall and I had to separate my legs far apart in order to nurse her. She explained how she tried to help me lifting her stomach. 

Arpege was the type of persons so reserved and so gentle that you may think, nothing happened in their life. At the contrary, gentleness is the power of great achievers. She started as a race horse and won more than I ever did. She became a brood mare giving birth to many thoroughbred race horses, include me. She had the reputation of producing good athletes. In our barn, where the average size is above 17 hands, Arpege was the small one with her 16,1 hands but she was the big one with her ability to babysit us. Sundance was a highly spirited horse. He was not as powerful as me but he did have a very strong mind. We respected each other because we knew that we were of the same type. He was a problem in turn out as he raced the fence and could not stay out too long. Arpege liked him. She liked him a lot when she was in heat but still liked him when she was not. She stayed in front of Sunny’s stall window and he did not try to bite her. He put them out together and stayed with them watching the interaction.  She moved her butt, lift her hind leg menacing but not kicking. There was other body moves that he did not understood but that Sundance picked up. In a matter of minutes Sundance was grazing quietly around her. He came back in the barn shaking his head and thinking, “Your mother is amazing.”

At the science of motion’s center, we are not numbers in a packing order. We are intelligent horses reacting intelligently. He does not dominate us. Instead he asks us to think and he also teaches us how to think. He never does any gimmicks in the round pen. In fact, there is no round pen. He does not want us to mimic; he looks at this type of education as demeaning and unintelligent. He wants us to explore our own body and find the mot appropriated body coordination. I know firsthand that this is truly the only form of efficient education. We can execute the same gesture with different muscular combination. This is true for our stifle extension as well as many movements of our body. Our initial response is also always protecting whatever morphological flaw or muscle imbalance that is our “body state” at the instant of the demand. Therefore, our initial response to the so-called correct aids is almost always wrong. He teaches us how to explore within our own body for greater efficiency and comfort. This is why the concept of packing order and behavior does not exist at the science of motion’s training center. Ultimately we want physical comfort and if properly guided, out brain is capable of exploring beyond initial reflexes until we find optimum efficiency and we perform at ease. Arpege treated everyone in the barn this way. It was respect, partnership and not domination.  She babysitter the tough guys and won everyone’s mind with her reassuring and intelligent presence. She ridiculed all these concepts of dominant mare. Instead, she showed to us the power of gentleness.   


I asked her once how she gained such power. She told me that being a brood mare for so long; there have been occasions where she shared pastures with so-called dominant mares.  She was not concerned by the social order; she was concerned by the safety of her foal or filly. She realized that her priority gave her the respect of others. She did not have to fight like a “desperate house wife”. She just had to be real. 

As she gave birth to so many foal and fillies, her body was old. She was only 23 but she felt like she was much older. When she arrived at the center, she was hoping for retirement. Helyn and he planned using her in their in hand program but they rapidly understood that her body was tired. She was officially retired and free to go anywhere she wanted on the farm. Helyn and he had observed her careful intelligence. Referring to her, they both often said, “She stops, watch, process and makes her move.” What was unpredictable was her decision to go help whoever was working in the ring. Red was her favor. As soon as she saw Red in the ring, she walked toward the training area and rolled. Red is a highly spirited thoroughbred with just one eye. He is also living in the stall next to her. She liked him and every time he was working she went up the hill supporting him in the ring. I don’t think than she rolled in the sand to challenge him. She just realized walking in the ring that the sand was warm and comfortable and she rolled. I had sometime this interesting vision where Red was concentrating on his shoulder in, with Arpege rolling in the sand no more than ten feet away. Manchester is her next favored horse in the ring. They have a long friendship. She felt safe next to him. His leadership is not arrogance. Manchester is the philosopher; he knows what his body can do and cannot do. His carefulness influences his attitude with others.

I asked her one day, why she never come in the ring assisting me when I work? She simply answered, “You are too unpredictable.”

This morning the barn was unusually calm. It was the usual activities, the farrier, the care takers, the training, but we are all a little down. We know about death. We don’t fully understand it but we are afraid of it. I was unusually calm during my training session. I just wanted to walk and look toward the wood where she is resting. They delicately closed the doors and windows when they carried her at her resting place, but we all knew where it was. He let me walk. His mind was on her too. At one moment I stopped. I knew that it was just a shadow but I have to look and look and look. He let me look thinking. I miss her too.