Ok, fine, triple post! I have updates!
To be entirely honest, I have never seen a happier horse. We've discovered that she LOVES to jump more than anything else, and that drive has speeded her recovery. She likes to cross ditches and is begging me to let her play in a stream on our land, but with those long legs I'm a bit wary. She is so human! People laugh at me when I say "Harper asked" or "Well, she said (whatever)". We converse way above a verbal level, and I've let her tell me what she wants and needs to do. Sometimes I don't listen (see former statement on the creek) but most of the time she's right. She has these amazing forward facing eyes so she can look straight at you, rather than the normal side facing eyes of most horses.
The day before we brought her home, my mom came to see her for the first time. Harper was rearing, acting terrified of all of the things going on around her. It was then I took this picture:
That, my friends, is one of the first mouthfulls of grass she has ever had. It's such a good pic because she sat there for a moment, not chewing, just tasting it. Then the wind started to blow, and she rose her head up, closing her eyes and sighing. It was at that moment her name (Harper) popped into my head. There is this line in a song, "The Soul of a Harper," by the Brobdingnagian Bards that says "And the Soul of a Harper, No mortal can kill." She opened her eyes and looked behind me to where my mom was trying to convince my dad that I was nuts, this horse was going to kill me. Harper turned to me and said "Do not give up. I am not going to get another chance." I managed to convince my mom that I was (at least partially) sane, and if nothing else we were getting a horse out of a soring barn.
The next day about 2pm, Harper arrived home. She was standing like her good self very quietly in the trailer, despite her head bumping it with each bump in the road. We had built a very small corral for her, thinking she would grass colic. The asst trainer unloaded her, walking her into the corral and letting her go. I'm standing close to the fence, terrified of how she was going to react to being outside for the first time.
Harper's first action? Run over and flirt/harass my geldings like there was no tomorrow. She cared for nothing else than my three guys, who were completely confused by all of this. No spooking over trees. No spooking over grass. It was as if she had been out her whole life. That evening, I felt confident enough in her to let her out in the field. This mare who was born in a 14x18 stall, had grown the rest of her time in a 10x10 stall, cantered and galloped across the field with my Anglo Arab gelding. I have never, ever cried that hard from being happy for someone in my life. She walked up to me afterwords as I was putting up her halter and rested that big head against my chest.
Back in July, I thought I would be teaching her how to walk still in October. I thought she would be so shell shocked there would be no change in only a few months. Right now, she is jumping 6" and 1' poles like they are nothing, despite having never jumped a thing in her life. She loves playing with my 4 month old filly, and is learning how to be a horse. We are very close, and she will walk around behind me asking "Can I help?" or "Can I eat that?" with anything I'm doing. She's absolutely bombproof. I'm having a hard time convincing her that treats are OK to eat, she seems to think she'll get in trouble if she takes food from my hand.
Her only issue? She gets grumpy when she's hungry. As far as I am concerned, she is perfectly entitled to be grumpy.
She still has a bit of mental stuff to work through. When I was first teaching her to longe, she kept wanting to go the same direction. Once, when she started off on the one I hadn't aske for, I said "No, do (whatever)" as I do with everyone else, meaning to follow it up with "There we go, good girl" when she took even a step in the right direction. She reacted like I had hit her. She stopped what she was doing, ran over to me and started "apologizing," loving all over me, licking my arms, etc. It took me a bit to figure out what she was doing, but once I did I thought it was the saddest thing I'd ever seen. I can only use positive reinforcement, but most of the time she does everything perfectly, so there's really no need. I cannot even correct another horse around her. She also gets very depressed when another horse chases her, be it because she is being annoying (she likes to be right up close to the other horses) or is getting near their food. She will hang her head and go stand near the trailer or in the corner of a pasture. But most of the time she runs straight to me with the equivalent of "Moooommy! He was mean to me again! Do something about it!"
We are going to compete in the Three Phase event in April, I think. If not this year, next year. She has so much potential, sometimes I have a hard time keeping my head on straight.
Wanted to give you a before and after comparison. This is the same side, and that is my brother in the second one. She develops mysterious bouts of gas when people that annoy her are near
On the After one, the dark bit on her rump is where my filly was licking her. Don't ask me why she feels the need to do that, she just does. I've been considering cross breeding way down the road with Harper. I have a hard time convincing stallion owners she's not a ottb. Is that a compliment? lol
The reason that her name is so important to me is that no matter how much they beat this horse up, physically, mentally, or emotionally, she is still the best horse (yes, I am playing favourites) I have ever met. She has every single reason in the world to be wild as a buck, and not one to be as she is. Sweet, loving, affectionate, cooperative, and willing. "And the Soul of a Harper, No mortal can kill." They tried everything to kill it. This is one horse is would not let that happen. Instead she has inspired everyone she meets with her grace through tough times.
When I saw this horse for the first time, I knew she was special. This, though, I never could have imagined.
Thanks for everything guys!