Horsey Therapist

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Changing the stories I tell

There are moments when I'm struck by changes. Changes in others that I have not fully noted. The other day this happened loud and clear, and reminded me that I need to update my version of reality more carefully and more frequently, based on the feedback I get from others.

This recent incident was about a horse. But it could have been about RNB or some other human. It could have been about me.

Ever since November 2006, I have held a story in my mind about Bo, the arab/shetland pony I bought in hopes of helping him figure out how to be settled and part of a herd. The story I have been promoting about Bo is simple: troubled pony, upset the herd dynamics here, has a lot of try once I get his attention, not sure he could make it somewhere else with a new herd, sure he needs an experienced handler who can pay attention and kindly deal with his distractability and the behaviors he shows when he's worried. Stuff like that.

Here is Bo shortly after he arrived, in the middle of one of hundreds of scuffles with the other horses.

Recently I started feeling more motivated to find him his new home. I never intended to keep him forever as I do some of our horses. He was here so my herd could help him -- I trusted they would take care of themselves and help him understand what is acceptable behavior or not on horse terms. He is a size that I can ride but never would ride him much. He needs smaller humans for that. Children, for example.

Here is Bo a year ago, saddled and hanging out with his Number One Girl. I used to call the pair of them 'Big' and 'Little'.

Here is Bo being ridden by me.

I tried selling him last fall. Not a single call. I decided I could live with giving him away, and placed this ad in the local classifieds weekly:

Sweet, sensitive, lively 18 years young bay pony gelding needs a new home. Rideable, "easy keeper", and would be best with a confident rider or as a companion to one other horse. Call for more details. Free to the right situation.

A week went by and nothing. And then a call came, from a woman looking for a smaller equine for her 4-H program, for the 5-8 year olds learning about farms and outdoors and animals. I suggested she come meet Bo and maybe bring along some children so we could see how they got along. I mentioned my doubts about the situation after questioning her experience and expectations, but felt open to seeing what would actually transpire.

Here is Bo in the herd, a few days before his new owner appeared. It reminds me of when people stopped noticing Rusty and I in clinics. They stopped noticing us because we weren't in trouble! Can you tell which one is Bo?

He was quiet here in the herd, quiet when I brought him in to the barn to clean him up and check if he needed any refreshers on good behavior around humans. He needed nothing. Well, he had just rolled in the melting snow mess so he did need some cleaning up. But even separated from the herd, in the barn with no visual contact, he was quiet, munched hay, his ears went to the door and back but none of the restlessness and anxiety I had grown accustomed to, and was expecting.

Here is Bo in the barn just before his new owner arrived.

Bo's new owner arrived with a couple of adult horsey friends and a teenaged girl. It was love at first sight. And continued love while the teenager handled him, even bridled and rode him bareback for a few minutes.

Here is Bo five minutes after being introduced to his two new herdmates (they share the shelter of the barn and can meet over the half wall and gate dividing the inside, but have separate turn out on the other side of the barn).

So much for the stories I had been telling about him. What a liar I can be!


At 25 January, 2008 08:29, Blogger saj said...

What an inspirational story. Isn't it amazing how intuitive they are? Love it. You did a good job with him and found him a good home. You should be proud

At 02 February, 2008 18:21, Blogger Zinnia said...

I do this too. I have held Velvet's story for a long time! I didn't realize how soft and buttery she had become until last week whne I worked with Fly first. Where did this mature, tuned in horse come from? I had her pegged as flighty and explosive!


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