Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 4

I wanted to start this blog on day 1, but it didn't happen.  It has been a fairly crazy four days and between the shock of becoming a horse owner (and the owner of Little Love, no less), transporting the said trailer-phobic horse and watching her stress levels skyrocket at the new barn - I have been completely exhausted beyond another word. 

Becoming Little Love's owner was not something I had the luxury of planning ahead, although I have to say that I dreamt of it many times.  The reality is nothing like my dreams, which should not come as a shock, but has nevertheless been hard to accept.  I'm only human and I would live everything to be perfect from the get-go.  She is a horse and to no standard a calm one.  This I don't hold against her, as I suspect that part of her behaviour is learned.  Of course, horses in general don't do well with new things, they are hardwired that way - it's what has kept them alive for millions of years.  But on top of that Little Love comes with loads of baggage.  I didn't quite realize HOW MUCH baggage until I took her into a completely new environment.  If we ever had an ounce of connection, it was all gone the moment she left her old barn. 

Anyways, she is now living at her new barn, which is just a stable with three stalls.  In my dreams I had Little Love living in a field with a herd of horses, but since she has been stall bound for at least the past 10 years and hasn't had much horse on horse contact, I thought it would be safer to ease her into the new lifestle, rather than throwing it at her all at once.  I think I made the right choice, as even just moving barns was a very stressful event for her. 

At the moment there is only one other horse with her at the new barn, a Danish warmblood gelding.  He seems like a fairly level headed guy.  His owner is the human version of level headed, which suits Little Love and her freak-of-an-owner just fine :-)  Good balance, so to say.  The two horses are getting along on some level; the gelding is very interested in Little Love and she is only interested in him when he isn't looking at her.  Other times she makes sure he knows she doesn't like him.  We'll see how it progresses.  We are giving the two horses some times, and especially Lilo, since she has lots to take in at the moment.  I have to remember that she has lived her entire life in huge commercial barns with up to 80 horses, so going to a small scale stable is a whole new experience.  Also, having the opportunity to touch and interact with another horse is something she hasn't been able to do since her foalhood (of course, I don't know what she did as a baby, but I'm sort of praying she had some experiences with other horses.  This would be crucial for her now, when she learns to be with another horse again)  I can see already that as her stress levels go down, she is able to tolerate more and more contact with humans and with horses, so with time, hopefully, the two can get along enough to be outside together, in the same pasture (at the moment they are side by side with a fence in between). 

My other plans include taking the shoes off, which I will start with the back feet.  Ironically, Little Love pulled her right front shoe the day I bought her.  The entire four and a half years I have known her, she hasn't EVER pulled a shoe, but yet she did that first day.  I thought it was perhaps her way of telling me she was alright without shoes haha.  In any case, I had the shoer come out and put it back on, since like I said, I'm hoping to take all these changes slowly and not overwhelm Little Love with too many new things at a time. 

The first three days were fairly trying, but today, on the fourth day, I see some light flickering at the end of the tunnel.  I hope that with time I can resurrect our lost connection and perhaps even find a new kind of connection with this aloof mare of mine.  At the moment I am just happy she is eating, drinking, peeing and pooping like a normal horse, as that, too, was not a given in the beginning of this journey.  Today she rolled for the first time in her new pasture and even though she was completely covered in mud from ears to tail, I took it as an excellent sign.  Hopefully in a few days she'll actually let me touch her head long enough to brush the mud away!  :-)


  1. Sometimes a change of scenery is the best way to start again; a new life, a fresh beginning. It takes time for a horse to settle in new surroundings, but the fact that she is in such a quiet place is all good. Few distractions, so she will naturally turn to you. You will reconnect and the bond will be stronger than before.

    When I was thinking about going barefoot, my mare pulled her shoe too!

  2. Slowly but surely! i think you are handling it all beautifully! So keep trusting in your connection. When I got my horse (he had lived all his life at a big stud with other horses, broken in at 4 then left in the paddock till I bought him when he was 6). Never been in a truck or horse float, never off the property etc. He came off the truck like a dog with spread paws trying to get his grip. He was petrified! I was over the moon, my dream come true! We left him in the yard so he could watch everything. He wasn't interested in my at all it was all too overwhelming!! He was very jumpy and nervous. I just hung out with him on the outside of the yard talked to him etc. We did this everyday for the nearly a week to give him time to adjust. I wasn't experienced enough to get him introduced to the saddle (only my second horse after my first died suddenly of colic at 5years old :( and I'd only been riding 18months) so my trainer spent the next 14 weeks very slowly introducing him to everything (we were determined to do it right the first time). We found out 2 days before we got him they sedated him to trim his back feet!!! Someone hit him for moving when a fly was annoying him while with the farrier and ever since they sedated him!! Unbelieveable!! So during this process I simply hang out, groomed, talk to him and watch them introducing him to tact. He had his issues but with love trust and patience I have an amazing horse who looks after me, has no problem with his feet being picked up, is roadsafe and acted like a schoolmaster even though he was completely green! He had feet issues and they wanted me to corrective shoe but so far 2 years he remains completely barefoot. The only problem is getting good barefoot trimmers in NZ!! My trainer calls him my freak of nature ~ he said in his 38 years of horse training he has never meet horse that is so calm/amazing nature for a completely green horse. (stark contrast to when we first viewed him he was arrogant and bolshie). So what I am saying is stay strong good things take time! You'll look back in a few months and realise it was all part of the bigger picture. take care

  3. Sonya, I loved your story of how you started with your horse. It is truly amazing what time and patience can do with horses (or anything, for that matter). That whole sedation business with the trimmer was insane. There is a horse at LL's old barn that gets sedated every time they shoe him. I think that's so sad, as even though he is sedated, he knows what is going on. He is afraid and being violated, but can't move a muscle because of the sedation. I really think it's probably adding to his trauma, if nothing else. So happy to hear you took the time to get your horse over all that!
    PS. I'm writing this blog so I can look back in a few months and realize it was all part of the bigger picture :-) (or so I hope!)