Yoda's shrewdness in being able to assess his rider's ability makes him the perfect horse when the need arises. With a very green or scared rider, he acts like he's carrying the Queen of England. He's careful, gingerly picking his way thru rocks or downed timber so as not to unsettle his rider. However Yoda is also very savvy knowing with an inexperienced rider aboard, he can stop to eat grass along the trail or any hay left in the corral.
Yoda is usually easy to catch but after an all day trail ride, he was running away from his rider in an attempt to eat his dinner. Joe had forgotten to give him some medication and Yoda was having nothing to do with being caught again. At first Joe was surprised and a bit confused and then got annoyed. Finally Joe started to look at the situation from Yoda's perspective. Yoda had been working hard carrying Joe and leading a pack string up the trail. It had been a hot day and the pack string had been slow and at times difficult at stream crossings. This was Yoda's time off to rest up and get refortified for the next day's work. Yoda could have kicked out at Joe or tried to run over him when Joe tried to corner him, but he didn't. Joe made a mental note to himself, in the future, he would be more considerate of his horse.
Usually each spring Yoda has his teeth checked but the Vet hadn't had to float them for several years. One day Joe was having a particularly difficult time keeping Yoda from throwing his head around which was not normal behavior. Joe was very confused because just two days before they had had a wonderful ride together enjoying the snow melting and the green grass beginning to show. Now two days later, Yoda was all over the place and not very cooperative. What was up with this? Because Joe was learning that Yoda usually had a good reason for some of his behavior he decided to trust Yoda and made an appointment to have Yoda's teeth checked. Sure enough, this time, he did need his teeth floated. Joe felt awful that he had missed Yoda's problem. However he was thankful that he hadn't called Yoda a “bad horse” or jerked him around, but instead had trusted Yoda.
Then there was the time Joe had a friend visiting who wanted to go for a ride. This friend thought he could handle any horse but he actually wasn't a very knowledgeable rider. Yoda was his mount and this guy was kicking Yoda's sides pretty hard and abruptly because he wanted to go faster. Part way through the ride Yoda balked and refused to move forward anymore. He had had enough of this inconsiderate style of communication. He was telling his rider that he didn't appreciate his sides being rudely whacked and he wasn't going to take it any longer. Joe recognized Yoda usually didn't act this way and luckily decided to switch horses with his friend. They switched and things went much better for the rest of the ride. Yoda had the wisdom to know how to handle a thoughtless rider and as soon as he had a considerate rider on his back he was willing to travel out nicely again.
Another time Yoda wasn't moving at his usual flowing flat foot walk or fox trot. Joe became frustrated with him, he felt Yoda was being lazy on purpose. The next day Yoda acted like he might be sick so Joe took his temperature. Yup, Yoda had a fever. Now Joe felt horrible because he had been pushing his horse the day before not realizing that Yoda was ill. Yoda hadn't refused to move even though he wasn't feeling well, instead he'd tried his best for Joe. How many of your human friends will try to help you when they are feeling ill?
I myself have had this kind of experience of dealing with a sluggish horse. When I realized my horse was making an effort for me even though he was sick, I vowed, in the future, to be more aware and trust my horse. Both the horse I rode and Yoda had gotten several shots just a couple of days before and they were dealing with a reaction from the shots. Today when my horse is acting different, I remind myself there might be something wrong instead of assuming he's just being naughty.
There isn't a horse alive that couldn't buck us off if he chose to. Thankfully most horses just want to get along with us humans. Next time you go out to look at your horse, think about all the wonderful things he does for you. There are many horses like Yoda (wise and kind). If you expand your heart, you probably already have one.