OP- great story! Goes to show you that you can miss out on some great things if you aren't open minded, huh? Your boy is very beautiful.
Sour's and my story is one that I love to tell =]
A little over three years ago, I started volunteering at a local non-profit therapy riding center. At this time I was maybe 11, almost twelve years old, and had taken riding lessons for a year and a half as an 8-9 year old, but had never been taught any horse care. I didn't even know how to lead a horse because the place where I rode basically brought the horse, plopped you on, and then you left. No leading, grooming, tacking, bathing...nothing.
I started out at the bottom of the food chain. Mucking, cleaning cages, and learning the basics off of any volunteer who was willing to spare a second for me. Well I remember that on one of the first days out there, everyone was running around, yelling- heading towards the back paddock. Curiouse, I followed- and that was day that I saw my first horse birth.
It was a tiny, flaming red chestnut filly with large, emotion filled eyes. She cowarded away from everyone, but as she peeked out from under her mama, I saw something that I won't ever forget. Defiance.
She has dissapeared by the next time I was able to make it out there, and I figured I'd never see her again. So I devoted my time to learning as much as I could. How to lead a horse and groom it, basic nutrition, minor health care. Time flew by and I began to move up in chain of command to a side walker for the disabled kids.
Fast forwards six or seven months and I was asked one day to clear out one of our small pens for a new arrival. I didn't know who it was, but I dutifully followed orders. Just as I was finishing, an SUV backed up to the corral, the trunk was opened, and this tiny, dollfaced filly went flying out. I've never seen a horse as terrified as she was at that moment, racing around and finally stopping, shaking- in farthest corner of the pen. At that moment, I saw the same defiant, fearful but determined eyes as in that foal. And it was then that I decided that I was going to befriend that little horse. I knew that she was terrified, and she would need a friend someday...no matter how far away that day was. I wouldn't know until she was almost three years old that she indeed WAS the same little filly that I had met on my first week there.
So at every spare moment, I would come and talk to her. At first I would stand outside of the pen and talk, then I began to bring her little tidbits. Carrot, bread, oranges, whatever I had. It took months, but eventually she would come up to me to take the food. I then began to sit in her pen and read or draw. Step by step, I slowly gained her trust. No one else wanted to work with the crazy little fugly horse, so I had the advantage. I had just gotten to where she let me take off her too-small halter (it had been on for months) and lead her by her mane, when one of the men volunteers decided to 'break' her and put her in our program.
She was roped, run around, thrown on the ground, and forced to lay with a man hovering over her. And when she came back to her pen, a hate for men, for ropes, and for life- has edged into her life and taken over.
She hated me. She didnt understand why my kind had hurt her, and why I didn't protect her. I was her friend and I had let her down. For months she wouldnt even let me get near her without trying to attack me.
I didnt give up however, and although it took all of the summer and most of the winter of that year to convince her that I would never hurt her- she finally began to allow me into her world again. She didnt trust me, it was obvious- but she would allow me to be around. I was thankful.
Through the next five months I began to work with her, walking in the pen with her wherever she wanted to go, then leading her by her mane. Eventually, I got a halter on her. The leadline took longer, but eventually she let me clip that to her too. The progress was slow, but we began to bond again.
Now, two years later- Sour is a good companion of mine and although she doesnt have the typical horse and person bond with me. We respect eachother- and I am thus far the only one capable of handling her. Beginning as an unhandled seven month old who wouldn't even let people touch her, Sour now lunges both on a line and in a pen with only my voice as a prop, leads, catches, clips, bathes, worms, shods, yields to pressure, backs, pivots, disengages, jumps 12" inhand, drives, trailers, flexes, joins up, walks/trots/canters inhand and has upon occasion shown in costume, showmanship, and trial classes.
We are still working on trusting men (she is no longer agressive towards them though!) and she often getes nervous when in a group of more than two people, but I have two preteen girls working with the two of us to introduce her to being worked by strangers.
Thus far, we are doing very well as she now lunges with either girl and will let them pet her. We still have a lot of work to do, and being a mare- we often have days when it is all I can to do to insist that I am the alpha, but our bond is growing every day and I am very blessed to have her as a friend.
I admit that it wasn't a good idea to take a green horse and work with her when I was green as well, and because of this we have had a lot of problems along the way, and have had many road blocks. But we've worked through them and have learned together. Do I recommend it? No. But Sour and I have a bond that I can't explain, and I do not regret my choice =]
Everyone in your life is meant to
be in your journey, but not all of
them are meant to stay till the end.