Saturday, December 23, 2006
I notice, as I grow older, enthusiasm has waned. I can go for days without getting excited over anything. That's why I so enjoy taking my dog, Sadie, on walks: She gets such a thrill over a good run in the pasture, and the adventure of chasing a stick, that I can experience her joy vicariously. Could this be why many of us older people get so silly about our pets? Because rambunctious dogs and playful kittens remind us of the exuberance of our youth, and how we used to feel?
Lately, I do seem to have my own burst of enthusiasm, but it still has to do with an animal.
It's my filly, Libby. I only bought her because I thought it would be fun to have a young horse around. I go through spells where I miss babies of any variety.
And since horse prices are at an all-time low, and my grandson is lately breaking and training horses, I figured the most I had to lose was $150, and maybe I'd have some fun with this girl... and Arick, my grandson, could be the one to take any risks riding her, when the time comes.
Several years ago I bought a yearling filly I thought I could work with, and we ended up selling her at a sale barn, at a loss. She never really warmed up to me. I couldn't even catch her. I've learned a lot from Mark Rashid's books, and probably if I could go back and do things over, it would be different (I've learned the number one secret at working with horses is plenty of patience and lots of time).
A couple years ago my daughter kept an Arabian gelding here, and I tried my hand at straightening him out. He was a head-tosser with a tendency to rear. I took my last ride on him on Mother's Day, 2005, when he reared up and came over backwards on my leg. I was sore for weeks, but thank God no permanent damage was done. So you'd think I would have given up on young horses. (This was after my introduction to Mark Rashid's books, by the way.)
Libby responds to everything I do with her. You can see her trying to figure out how to please me. Working with her has been most rewarding. But I take no credit for this little lady's manners: She came to me with a good attitude, and a desire to befriend everyone.
I kiss my horses on that soft, velvet part of their noses. Cliff thinks that's just plain nasty, but I can't help it. It's what I do.
When I first got Libby and tried to kiss her nose, it seemed to scare her. She'd jump and pull her head back as though she thought I was going to bite her. So every time I brought her in to work with her, I'd get in her face and make kissing noises until she allowed me to kiss her. Now, when she sees me leaning my head down, she extends her nose toward me, meeting me halfway for the kiss.
When Cliff and I take our morning walk, Libby meets us. When the people who board horses here go out to get their steeds, Libby is the official greeter. This isn't a result of anything I've done, because the prior owners said that's how she was at their house.
Funny thing is, they said she was never handled until she was five months old, after they sold her mother. For her first training session, they had to corner her in a barn to catch her, and literally drag her around until she submitted to being led.
Libby has not refused to do anything I've asked of her.
She has given me back my enthusiasm. She is the best Christmas gift ever.