Look in the Horse

Trixie

Trixie-also known as my mirror

I wanted a horse growing up.  Who didn’t?  Before I was married, my horse experiences were a handful of trail rides.  You meet a horse, get on the horse, ride for an hour.  Everyone is happy.

Fast forward to fall 2014.  Wife wants to move to her hometown.  Hubby negotiates having horses as part of the deal.  No problem, I always wanted a horse!  Hubby grew up with horses and has much more experience than I do.  We start searching for horses and run across a gem of a horse advertised as “Kid Broke Horse”.  We decide to visit this paint horse named Trixie.  The owners had kept Trixie alone for two years and didn’t have time to ride her anymore.  They had her standing in the yard, not harnessed to anything.  They put their four year old on the horse and around the yard they went.  Hubby rode her, then I rode her.  As a novice rider, I felt pretty safe on Trixie.  I gave hubby the look and we become the proud owners of Trixie.

Those first two weeks were marvelous.  Trixie loved to be brushed and petted.  She would approach me like a dog might do.  Who knew a horse could be so calm and loving?

Then hubby found Bella.  Bella is a foxtrotter.  Bella seemed kind enough when we met her but definitely had more spirit and energy than Trixie.  When we brought Bella home, we kept the girls (both mares) in separate corrals for a few days.  This way they could sniff each other and talk to each other but not threaten each other.  When we let the horses go to the pasture together we discovered quickly that Bella was the horse boss over Trixie.

Since I am new to riding horses I asked a horse whisperer to help me.  No kidding.  This lady knows what she is doing.  She doesn’t just teach you to jump on the horse and ride.  She teaches you to be the horse leader and to learn to communicate with your horse.  Our first lesson was pretty awesome. Shout out to Esther from Lighthouse Farms.

My third lesson, as I was leading Trixie around the corral we came to stop by Bella (with a fence between us).  We already knew Bella didn’t enjoy watching Trixie have all the fun.  Either she didn’t like that she wasn’t the one leading her around or she was jealous. She made it clear with her noises and body language.   Anyways, I am standing there with my lovely Trixie when all of sudden she spooks.  She suddenly became afraid of me. It was bizarre.  I blamed Bella.   Ever since that moment, I struggled with Trixie.  She didn’t regard me as her boss.  She didn’t want anything to do with me.  For days, I would approach her and she would walk, sometimes run away!  She didn’t want to be brushed.    I was hurt and then I was angry.  I was considering selling Bella since she ruined my wonderful horse.  I called the horse trainer and I tried some of her methods to try to get back into Trixie’s good graces.  I found singing made a difference and Trixie finally approached me.  Hallelujah!  Then the next day, she was back to running away.  I grew increasingly frustrated.  I also became nervous around her.  Then we’d have a good day again, then a not so good day.  Back and forth we went, our relationship flipping on and off like a light switch.

The horse whisperer came again for a lesson and advised against selling Bella.  You see, Trixie had been alone for two years and she finally had a horse friend.  If we took that companionship away, she would not trust us.  She also reminded me that you cannot hide your emotions from a horse.  You just can’t.  You can’t pretend to not be afraid.  They know you are afraid.  You can’t pretend to not be frustrated.  They know you are frustrated.  I finally came to terms with myself.  I was afraid of Bella.  Growing up I had been taught that horses are dangerous animals.  My mother had told me how she was bit by a horse when she was a teenager and that story stuck with me.  That fear was brought out when Bella arrived because she wasn’t the docile puppy dog horse Trixie was.  Trixie saw that I was afraid and that made her afraid.  She didn’t want to be around fearful, unstable me.  The more she avoided me, the more frustrated I became, which made her even less willing to be around me.

I’m happy to report that once I identified my fear, I was able to move forward.  Yes, horses can be dangerous.  Yes, people get injured on and around horses.  I don’t discount these facts.  But, horses are amazing creatures that can communicate with us on a personal level.  They are beautiful and enjoyable.  I needed to demonstrate this to Trixie.  I projected these beliefs onto her and I had my horse back.

Now that Trixie has deemed me to be of sound mind, we are having a lot of fun.  She walks up to greet me in the pasture.  She follows me around the pasture and corral.  She lets me brush her again.  We had the most wonderful, calm ride yesterday.  People were shooting guns and some yayhoo was flying a go cart overhead and Trixie didn’t miss a beat.  I felt good, so she felt good so I felt good so she felt good.  It was like looking in the mirror.

Recently, a very frustrated, angry person approached Trixie as she was eating grain.  Trixie turned and ran away!  I knew then that Trixie had never changed as I first thought.  I was the one who had changed.  I guess I owe Bella an apology! Who knew horse ownership was more than feeding and riding your horse?  I’m learning so much about horses and humans.