I have such a strong emotional tie to young or wrongly treated horses. Whether they've ended up in a kill pen or abandoned and neglected, I am honored when I get to be the person to show them trust, love, and let them discover their own talents and therefore, build their own confidence.
I am fortunate enough to have this opportunity now at Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue, located in nearby Pawling, NY. I have some young charges I'll be working with - riding them for the first time, but also showing them that trusting in a human can be a good thing.
Over the coming months, I'll chronicle some of the experiences I have - hopefully with pictures. For now though, I have to remain focused on these youngsters, so whipping out my camera can't be a priority. Matt and my mom have expressed interest in seeing me work there, and they're welcome to come once I have a rhythm with these horses.
My first charge, Chief, is about 3 years old and was a nurse mare foal. What that means, is he was a byproduct of a mare being bred for her milk - and the nurse mare foal essentially becomes an orphan, as his mother is taken away from him and her milk is given to perhaps a more expensive foal who lost its mother, or the mother had to get back to work/ racing/ etc.
Anyway, Chief is as personable as it gets. He immediately exuded friendliness and a willingness to please, especially when he noticed I had carrots to give him. He had a marvelous time snuffling my face, my hair, and happily followed me quietly wherever I wished him to go. He's small, but has good bone density and an air of youthful confidence.
Yesterday, we worked on standing quietly and grooming. He loved the attention, and twitched his lips and practically swooned when I scratched his lower neck and chest. Although he was separated from his friends and herdmates, he was completely happy to hang out with me - a virtual stranger, but a new friend.
Once he'd been groomed, I led him outside to begin observing his body language and see how he reacted to mine. Horses are so in tune with people that slight movements, even a shift in weight, will change how a horse reacts to you. I wanted to begin Chief with following my lead, listening to vocal commands, and stopping and standing quietly when I stopped moving. After just a few attempts, he "got it" and would stop with me standing at his shoulder, and wait for my next cue.
We practiced for about 15 or 20 minutes, and then he was released to a huge field with some of his buddies, to enjoy the rest of the day.
In a future entry, I'll introduce you to Girlie, a beautiful 3 or 4 year old bay mare. The only thing that doesn't suit her is her name....