In the hubbub of worries over the new boy, Bre has been lost in the shadows. I spent some time with her in the sun and was reminded how everything feels right in the world as soon as I get on her. I have been riding Bre since she was three and owned her since she was four. That means we have been together for 11 years. I know how she is going to move before she does it. She knows what I am asking her to do as soon as I think it. I am so proud of her. The horse she has become is one of my greatest accomplishments. She was the greenest horse I had worked with and there were days when I would come home and cry to my old trainer who was 1,000 miles away because I didn't think I could do it. She couldn't canter with a rider without feeling like she was going to fall over or hit a wall. Lunging consisted of a panicked flight around the arena if you even touched the whip. She flipped her head and sometimes reared when I tried to take up contact because she had been started with a wire twist in a german martingale. If you told her "No" too loud on the ground she would rear up, paw her legs like a wild mustang, and take off running. She kicked two people sending one to the hospital and leaving the other with a horse shoe shaped scar in her muscle that she still has today. I remember when I first started working with her and was brushing her in her stall. Someone came up to me and told me that I shouldn't be in that stall because Bre was too dangerous. Oh, and she colicked. Alllllllll the time. She colicked with her old owners for over two days and pulled out of it just before they decided to euthanize her. I was up for 2 days walking her, checking on her every 15 minutes to make sure she wasn't thrashing, administering IV medications, and begging for her to pull through. Her tummy problems continued but slowly decreased with changes on her diet and lifestyle she finally had a colic free year 5 years ago. Then there was the mystery lameness.......... no one really knows what caused it at about age 5. Sometimes she still is a little off in the right shoulder but it depends on who is riding her and if she wants to do what they are asking. We can't forget the squishy feet that love to give her a yearly abscess just when it is time to dust off the riding boots and get outside.
Somehow through all of that she has blossomed into an amazing horse. She is the kind of horse you can jump on after 6 months of sitting in a field and take for a 2 hour trail ride. She will run when you ask her to run (and beat anything on four legs) but walk the second you want it. She is incredibly soft in the bridle and like a rubber band when you ask her to bend. She is pretty close to bombproof. I say pretty close because she hates bicycles with a passion. You can walk under her or stand on her back. Honey badger don't care just so long as there is a treat in the equation. She packs kids around like she is carrying eggs shells even though her usual motto is "why walk when you can run there." Case in point there was a fundraiser at the stable for a young boy with autism last week. My spunky mare walked around with her head down taking tiny little steps for all the kids who wanted pony rides. Then she tore it up in the afternoon with the teenagers who volunteered that day.
It made my heart happy to ride her today with no reins. We did ten meter circles and serpentine at the walk and trot. Then I got to watch the people who take care of her ride my pretty shiny penny. Sometimes I can't believe that the fire breathing dragon horse I met 11 years ago is the same horse. When I first saw her I thought she was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. Thin tail, skinny inverted neck, no muscle, was like riding a jackhammer, had no concept that leg means go. But I knew that horses aren't born knowing what to do under saddle so I decided to see how far she could go. Harsh bits, harsh words, and a hard hand hadn't helped her learn how to be a good equine citizen. How she managed to get past all of that baggage and become this lovely trustworthy creature will always be somewhat of a mystery to me. If Bre can walk through all that pain and still forgive and love then so should all of us. Thank you Bre for reminding me of how precious life is and making me proud to be part of your transformation.
PS- Remember how much I love you when you see that your grain has been cut in half tomorrow.