“And what,” I continued to myself, “is that dusty, little reddish thing, peering at me through a tangle of hair with a bright white blaze and intelligent eye?”
And then it dawned on me. These are my neglected friends, cast aside for more than a year as I embarked on a journey of juggling five horses with different destinies. One, I rode. One, I trained, then sent away for further training and to be sold. Another’s training I undertook before and after he went away to gain a professional’s assistance.
Sinking under the weight of three horses, let along five, the two remaining horses received the most basic of care: Feed, vet, farriery, occasional grooming, food and water.
My overwhelming focus for what seems like forever has been to train the two siblings, Dee and Stormkite, and move them into good places, while keeping Starlight going as my main riding horse. And this load, while not always actually physically demanding (hell, you can't do a lot in the winter around here without an indoor, let alone when you’re recovering from knee surgery), the energy drain on my psyche has been intense.
|"You know you need me."|
Doing the right thing for a horse is a great responsibility. The food, shelter and vet care portion of this responsibility is the simplest part. The more complicated part is providing the training and riding experience that will ensure the horses have their best possible chance of leading a safe life as a useful partner to a human. So many people have horses that are not trained, and then, if something happens that makes it necessary to move the horses to a different owner, the chances of these horses finding anything but the inside of a meat truck is slim.
So, the horse owner has a huge responsibility in ensuring the best possible future for a horse. But the horse is also a factor. How is its mind? How is its body? Even if I train it, does it have the physical ability and mental capability to thrive through the stages of a riding horse’s development? Is it the right size, conformation and personality to be appealing to the person who is looking for a horse?
And then, the next owner is also a factor. Is the potential new owner able to handle a horse in whatever stage of development that horse is when it is for sale, or, if not, is she likely to sell the horse on quickly, into a possibly worse circumstance?
So many variables. So much worry and weight on the mind.
|"Do I learn to jump this year?"|
But now, Dee is with her girl in Greene. Stormkite is with his new person in PA. They are trained to the point to be ready for the next phases of their lives, and so they have that chance of a good and productive life with humans.
I have done my job.
So now, I look out in the paddock, and I finally can see them: Hudson, my good partner since 2003, so accustomed to being the one I go to, until this past year. And there is DeCato, the little red mustang, willing to slide into the shadows of others’ attention, yet so keen and interested and seeming to carry that question, “What about me?”
And while it was Starlight I rode in yesterday’s sunshine, I now, at last, have the physical and mental space to bring Hudson back into my horse activities, and give DeCato the focus she has rarely had.