(for those who already know or don't care much, you can skip this part)
As a quick summary for those who don't know about me and my horse, let me explain a little:
My horse, Epona, was once "wild"(if you could call it that) She lived on like three hundred acres in Nevada when she was born and until she was about a year old, give or take, she lived with a herd; I believe her mother was the dominant female ^^. But after a while, there were too many - they were beginning to run out of food, because too many were eating up all of the food - so they took several of the foals and auctioned them off. This is a period where a chunk in her past is unknown to me - I'm not sure where she went when auctioned, but I'm pretty sure she was manhandled and halter broken incorrectly during this time period. I think it's possible they even attempted to ride her or put a saddle on her. But of course, I can't be sure. After this, she went to her owner before me - a woman named Stacy who didn't feed her because she couldn't afford it. She was extremely malnourished when we recieved her, so now she has an eating problem. Since she has only ever been mistreated, she hated human contact and would barely even let people near her. She's STILL deathly afraid of men.
Since the woman before her would leave her halter and a lead rope on at ALL times, I immediately set to work on getting her to trust me enough so I could get the lead rope off - then the halter. I still haven't succeeded with the halter. She won't let me near it...
So now that that's been cleared up, let me continue and explain what's been happening the last month or so.
In the very beginning, I worked VERY hard. I got her to the point where she trusted me enough to where she could eat with me standing right next to her and have ABSOLUTELY no problems with it at all. I could also just barely touch her nose, and I could touch her forehead a little too. However, she would pull away whenever I would, but that's alright. She simply still wasn't ready yet... I understand.
But then, however, I started slacking a lot. I feel really bad because of it. My mom started feeding her, then she was focusing on feeding her, cleaning her stall, and cleaning her pasture. She was also in charge of the trying-to-earn-her-trust thing.
One day, my mom went down there and she had a large gash above her eye!!! It was raw she said, and absolutely HORRIBLE. When I finally got to see it, it had healed up - it's like a white scar now. It's above her left eye (HER left), and we're still not ENTIRELY positive how she got it. But I examined the fence posts? ... And I think I see where she did it on one of the posts. I think she did it while she was trying to scratch her face either with her hooves(She does that), or with the fence post. Or she MAY have been messing around or just may hafe gashed her eye on the post on accident. (When we drive down there to get her her food, she gets extremely excited and starts jumping up and down and she follows the car along the gate! It's entirely possible she did it while she was doing this, I guess. But she's kind of hard-pressed... and it was her LEFT eye, which is AWAY from the gate. *shrugs*)
That day, my mom finally was able to SCRATCH her in between her eyes! For a long period of time, too! She didn't pull away! ^^
Finally, we bought her some healthy grain. Vitamin-filled, and apparentely VERY tasty. She absolutely LOVES it, more than anything. When we give it to her, she gets a little obnoxious and kinda mean, but she doesn't nip or kick or anything. She just gets a little pushy because she wants it so much. It's kind of like a horse drug <_<U
Then, until yesterday, we ran out, and she had to go without for three days. But, the day before yesterday...
I simply fed her like I usually do. Then I went around and inside her stable to try and scratch her head, because she likes it a little bit.
(**IMPORTANT!! READ THIS!!!!**)
But... I decided to try and scratch her neck. I was very slow, very careful, very gentle. I scratched a meatier part of her neck, right behind her jaw and underneath her mane(spelling?), and she seemed to like it. I was so excited. I started trembling, she was letting me scratch her! ... So I decided to go for it... Hand trembling, I moved down her neck. To her shoulder. She just kept eating. Her withers. Her backbone. Her sides.. her hips! I scratched her all over where I could reach (besides her legs and underneath her neck) and..!! She had no problem! She was a bit shifty at first, but then she was FINE with it. So I just kept scratching her (I was shaking so horribly, I was so ecstatic, I had finally made a breakthrough!) And the BEST part is, she kept EATING the whole time! Her head was DOWN on the GROUND buried in the food!! Meaning she trusted me ENTIRELY! She would have NEVER had her head down that low if she didn't trust me! And she didn't have her ears pinned back at all. She only had them like that when she was eating, but they weren't PINNED back, they were just pulled back! When she'd stand, she'd have her ears straight forward! It was so exciting, so AMAZING!! I was so happy!!
>w< The next morning, I decided to go back and feed her again myself instead of going with my mom. I just by fluke went down that night too... mom had still been doing it up until then. So I went down, gave her her food... Then I tried to go straight to her side and scratch her again. XD; biiiig no-no. She almost kicked me like five times... No, what I needed to do first was scratch that spot on her neck. To show her I'm going to just scratch her. And it worked just like before, and I kept at it for probably an hour.
(**this is kinda important too Dx you don't HAVE to read, but..**)
However, this time, I kept thinking I was messing up - she'd turn her head towards me every now and then. I honestly thought she was doing it to warn me, that she didn't like where I was scratching her (which is odd, because I hear that they love to be scratched EVERYWHERE!), and she was going to nip at me if I didn't stop.
I don't know WHY I thought this. I KNOW better than that! I guess I just assumed she was different than regular horses - because of how she had to go through life... She doesn't act like a normal yearling, she isn't very playful - she wasn't very playful with that male foal back at her old home. But I think it's only because she's never had a real chance to play.. I don't know for sure.
But when I came home, I spoke with one of my online friends about her, about how I can scratch her now. And she talked to me back, I mentioned the thing where she turned to me, and then she made me REALIZE what she was REALLY doing when she turned towards me!
Trying to scratch me back! You all would have probably realized this right away, but for WHATEVER reason, it didn't come to mind! Even though I KNEW they did that! That when scratched by another horse, they scratch back! So instead of pulling back like I had been doing, I now hold my arm out or let her nibble at my side. She only does it with her lips, and when she does get my skin with her teeth, she is VERY gentle. She doesn't bite hard at all, even if she's still chewing her food while she tries to scratch me back ^^ She's so great~ (However, I do have a question pertaining that - Should I LET her do that to me?? Or should I not?)
So now, she gets even more excited when I come down to feed her. And when I leave, she walks to the gate and stares after me as I go to leave, which makes me feel bad xD; but I gotta gooo.
The main thing I've realized now though is that, being with her makes me EXTREMELY happy. When I'm upset, I envision being next to her and stroking her and scratching her, and her turning to me to try and scratch me back. She loves being scratched under her neck, and the best place is under her mane where it's really itchy.. and her neck, she seems to love her neck scratched most. And around her ears.
But now, my NEXT most IMPORTANT goal is to TAKE OFF HER HALTER. I need to know how to take that **** thing off without tightening it to unbuckle it!! It's like a belt - it's got that metal part through the hole, which you can't pull out unless you tighten it!! It's been on her for SO long that.. ><UU it's TOO SMALL FOR HER!!!! SHE'S GROWN TOO MUCH INTO IT, and she's STILL GROWING!! The most I can do I guess is get a vet to take a look at it? I may even have to take it off... it IS too small for her, after all. It's on the biggest setting, and it's too tight to pull off... *sigh* I don't know. I'll talk to my parents about it.
Anyway, so far, any information about what I should do NEXT would be greatly appreciated. I gotta go feed her now! ^^ Ja ne(see ya)!@@