Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
When she came out of the trailer after her 3000 mile trek, Pippa seemed surprisingly calm. The people who hauled her said she had a lot of aplomb and never turned a hair about anything. It was early May then. There hadn't been horses here in a few years. When we moved in, in February, we found that behind the awesome three-stall professionally-built kit barn, there were some neglected pastures fenced with sagging barbed wire and a vague clumsy attempt at a small pen, made with tape and incapable of containing any kind of animal. We had been working hard for months to build runs for the stalls and safely fence the pastures and start clearing out the brush and saplings. Both horses had been on pasture before they had left California so despite everyone warning me about the dangers of spring pastures I transitioned them to grazing fairly quickly without any ill effects I could see.
Pippa was quite hard to catch in the pasture. She would see the halter and immediately trot off. So she had some bad associations with haltering. At first all I did was bring Brooke into the sacrifice area and Pippa would follow. She would try to evade capture but then suddenly give up and be completely compliant. I would go out into the pasture with pocketfuls of horse cookies every day, I put a halter on Pip and then take it off, give her a cookie and leave. This improved things, but she still struck me as an unusually wary personality. Not in any way aggressive or ill-tempered, in fact I have to this day never observed her to even lay an ear back, but watchful.
It's been six months, and she is still watchful. She understands much more about the routine, is always polite in hand, but there is a difference between obedience and trust. If I hadn't owned Brooke, I probably would not have felt this so much. But Brooke is my horse. She nickers when she sees me, and whinnies to me if I leave. She does things specifically to annoy me so I will pay attention to her, like scraping the blanket bar outside the stall with her teeth. Pippa is too tense around humans to have a sense of humor. It is Brooke she cares about, not me. It is clear to me now that Pippa has never had a real relationship of trust with a person. Because she is a naturally submissive personality, she tries hard to not do anything wrong, but that is not the same thing.
I live right against a state forest, which is bordered by other uncultivated lands, in conservation trusts, owned by the township, or simply abandoned. It is covered with a network of little-used trails, most of which never cross a paved road. When I rode Brooke out, I started taking Pippa too, loose with just a halter on. She would stick with us just like my dog (who also went with us). The four of us would go out for hours together. If Pippa took a wrong turn I call her and she'd come right back. I don't fool myself though -- it is Brooke she is coming back to. There aren't many horses I would trust to do this, but Pippa is as connected to Brooke as if I was ponying her -- more so, even. This was a brand new thing for me, and really fun for everyone concerned. Pippa much enjoys these adventures, it is clear.
Early on, it occurred to me how adorable Pippa would look pulling a pony cart. There are many miles of old farm roads through the forests around here, some maintained for cars and others just snowmobile tracks now. Lots of places for driving. I had also always had in the back of my mind teaching Brooke to drive, although where I was in California there was barely anywhere to ride, much less drive. Now though, possibilities beckoned. Naturally I thought, I can learn how to drive with this pony and then teach my horse! Pippa would be improved by some education and I am always looking to learn new things.
Ah, little did I realize that driving is even more complicated than riding, if that is possible. There's way more equipment, and all of it different than anything I was familiar with. I needed a harness, a training cart, an instructor to teach me to drive, and a trainer to teach Pippa to drive. For starters. I had my work cut out for me.
Short horse lover