I have three horses. All three of them have been rescued from an uncertain future and likely untimely death due to being thrown into the slaughter pipeline. There is no telling how they ended up there, but probably because they were sold at an over crowded horse auction, where towards the end of the night most potential buyers have left for the day, and they were bought in bulk buy a slaughter buyer. These slaughter buyers do not necessarily purchase these horses to send directly to the slaughterhouse, but intend to resell from their holding pens as part of their broker program or run them through another auction. I do not agree with their methods, but it’s a sad and scary place in which so many high quality, trained animals find themselves in. Most land in these places by no fault of their own or for something minor, either behavioral or injury related that could still be corrected or fixed. They have been let down and thrown away by their previous owners. I have no idea how many cycles of this my three had been through before I saw them and got them away from these places. I have no idea about their history or why they came to be in such places.
One of my horses is a forward, pushy, full of personality, very large gelding named Big Jake. He is hard headed and is always testing his limits. He is most definitely an impressive animal, standing only a hair under 16 hands and weighing about 1250 pounds. As his owner and handler, I have to use a hard, stern hand most of the time because honestly, it’s far too dangerous to allow an animal his size to get away with bad or pushy behavior. Period. It’s just not safe horsemanship. And speaking in a soft baby voice, smothering him with affection and hoping for the best, is an almost certain way to get hurt. He needs a leader, not a best friend. I’m the leader he needs and desires. Horses do not do well with lack of hierarchy. It’s their nature, they have to have an order of command. I have come to terms that he’s not safe for an inexperienced person to be around unattended. He and I have worked most everything out at this point and I do feel safe around him, myself. He is actually my calm place, when I can find no other. I think I am his calm place too. He is by far the one I have the strongest bond with.
I have a smaller gelding named Domino who is easy to deal with in most every way imaginable. He is easy and safe on the ground and reliable enough to place a child on his back to lead around. He rides well for a more experienced rider, experienced only because riding a gaited horse is just different in so many ways. I’m still learning it all myself, as I’ve never had a gaited horse before him. He has had much training during his lifetime and it shows. He can get a little nervous at times, but it’s partly due to him being the lowest horse in the pecking order of the herd. He does try to express a little attitude too, but it’s all for show (like pawing the ground when he wants something). If you tell him to cut it out, he does. He’s a very friendly little guy and loves to be hugged and patted anytime someone is near.
I also have an Arabian mare named Jasmine. I bought her sight unseen and didn’t get to see her personality at all prior to sending the money to purchase her. When we got to where she was, she was in a small covered and dusty pen with about 75 other horses, Jake was there too. She was easy to spot because she was running around scared while all the other horses stood fairly still in their little groups. She was absolutely terrified. You could tell she had never been in this type of situation before and was thoroughly traumatized by it all. She still has this fear mentality to this day, almost a year since I got her home. She is untrusting and has an anxiety level that I myself can certainly relate well to.
Jasmine is probably the most well trained horse I have. She is a truly majestic creature. The way she carries herself is unlike any other breed of horse. She is so strong, yet so graceful and delicate. Watching her move is something absolutely beautiful and special to watch. Something happened to her though. She has been through something traumatic. She is scared of her own shadow sometimes and just when I think I have made progress with her trusting us, something goes off in her head and it’s like starting all over again. She has experienced something that has left her broken.
I can understand. I understand that I have to keep a very gentle hand when dealing with her. I understand that once she reaches her limit, it’s time to stop and calm her before moving forward. I understand. I get it.
I have suffered a great trauma myself and am still so broken too. Maybe I found her so she could show me a bit of myself through her. Maybe she is teaching me how to keep that same gentleness that she needs in mind when dealing with myself.