By Jessica Wallin

Three years ago, I bought a docile, gentle, quiet gelding. The first year and a half of owning Milo, I had never known him to be a ‘spooky’ horse. Every ride was the same- a quiet (almost pokey) horse. I never realized how much I took this for granted as it almost seemed like one day, a switch flipped, and each ride seemed to accompany more and more spooking. I covered all the bases… saddle fit… teeth done… vet check… nothing! Nothing seemed to explain the repetitive spooking every ride. Of course I was upset, and he knew it. I’m sure that’s what encouraged the spooking. Maybe he was just bored and wanted to spice up our rides. Maybe a new age brought new habits. At first, I didn’t think of what I could be doing wrong, it just seemed like we lost our connection. I was becoming so discouraged, and I lost my confidence in a matter of a month. I hated to admit it, but I was actually scared to ride.

Fast forward 6 months (beginning of March, to be exact), as I’m enjoying a relaxing vacation in Arizona. It wouldn’t be a vacation (for me, at least) without some sort of horse related issue while I’m away.

I got a panicked call from my mom one morning, breaking the news that Milo had managed to step on a fencing nail out in the field, landing 1 mm away from his coffin bone. The good news – it didn’t hit his coffin bone. The bad news – a long road of recovery in a wet and muddy spring.

At this point, Milo had been turned out for the winter, and hadn’t been ridden much in the past few months. He needed at least one month of complete stall rest, antibiotics, and bandages changed twice a day. I see it as a blessing in disguise, as the next two months of recovery meant lots of bonding time. I was reminded why I loved him – his goofy and relaxed personality. He quickly became the barn favorite, always begging for cookies and stealing the hearts of all the kids. He also made a few new friends along the way, which included the barn pig ‘Mable’ (who loved to sleep in the stall next to him), the chickens, and finally the turkeys.

Then it became time that I could ride him again. Nervous and anxious memories of the past filled my head, but I had started lunging him as part of his rehab. I realized that I could use this to my advantage, and lunging before every ride became a habit. I had also heard the benefits of ear plugs for horses. Milo wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, but thanks to consistency and ear plugs, I have my old horse back.

This summer we accomplished more than I had ever imagined. We went cross country schooling, a couple of horse shows, and even went on a few trail rides. The other day (a windy day, I should mention), him and I went out to a farmers field beside the barn, all by ourselves. This time last year I literally would have laughed out loud if you told me I would ever do that.

I have learned so much about him (and me) in the past year. I have learned that trying new things is never a bad idea, and to always keep a positive attitude about any situation. Everything happens for a reason, whether we know what that reason is or not.