By Shelby Dennis
I am thankful for so much in my life and my horse is one of the main things that I am so thankful for because I am so lucky he came into my life when he did. But, I also truly believe that he is lucky to have found me and should be equally thankful to have me in his life. When I first got him, he didn’t look like much. In fact, the SPCA thought he was only a little over a year old when in reality, he was two, because his growth was so stunted from being starved. Milo was such a pain in the butt from the beginning, those who had fostered him admitted that he was a major jerk. We got on each others nerves so much in the beginning because he had to do every single thing that was asked of him the hard way. This led to so much frustration but I’m lucky I persevered and so is he. You see, Milo is one of those horses that is an acquired taste. He isn’t easy to like. You have to work for it because he tests you but when you do get along with him and have his trust, it truly means something. Milo is such a pain that many who’ve dealt with him or seen what he’s capable of (not talent wise, difficulty wise) are often shocked that my mom and I kept on with him.
Milo is lucky to have me because of the patience that I’ve had for him and how much I believed in him. I saw something in him from the beginning that many other people would not have seen and despite how irritating he was and how my vet admitted that he didn’t believe Milo would grow and fill out enough to be the right size for me, I kept on with him and since then, Milo has flourished. He has grown and filled out past what many would have thought possible, standing 16 hands exactly at now 4 and a half years old. He has also become chunky and beautiful, a far cry from what he was two years ago. He is respectful(for the most part) and highly intelligent and now, more often than not, he will do what is asked of him without a fight. While he is still stubborn and difficult at times, Milo is willing to do what I ask of him even if he puts other people to the test still. He has truly blossomed with my understanding of him and his needs. He’s taught me how he needs gentle but firm handling. How he’s fearful of men and strangers in general. How his suspicious nature of other humans is likely here to stay and how it’s warranted because of his neglectful past. How he doesn’t like living inside, how standing still for long periods of time in a stall is hard for him. I’ve made exceptions. He will never be stalled for extended periods of time unless at a show and even them I make sure to hand walk him often and keep him busy by providing him with toys. He will always have access to adequate turnout and currently lives outside 24/7 throughout all of the seasons and I will provide that for him for the foreseeable future because it is what he needs.
Milo likes to be ridden bitless and bridleless often, he also likes having playtime. He has a hard time being serious sometimes and I’ve learned to be understanding of that. He isn’t trying to be bad when he throws a buck occasionally, he just needs a release for his pent up excitement and sometimes that requires me to ride through it with a smile before asking him to get back to work. He’s still young and was deprived of a real childhood as a baby due to being starved nearly to death and so, he is experiencing much of that childhood now that he is healthier with much more energy.
He requires a friend in turnout that will bear with his excitable nature and stupid ways of playing (ie: climbing on top of his friend) and so, we’ve provided him with that in the way of an equally playful, silly natured 2y/o gelding named Archie. Milo also loves having toys to play with given the fact that he is more dog than horse and so I find myself frequently purchasing and replacing toys after he plays a little bit too hard with them.
I think Milo should be thankful for myself and my mom because of how we’ve learned who he is as a horse, who he will always be and what he needs to be happy and trusting of people. We’ve adjusted how we choose to handle him and keep him to his individual needs and because of this, our partnership is one that is strong and based on the mutual respect and enjoyment of each other. He trusts us and knows that he will always be loved, well fed and treated with kindness and because of this, he gives me more than he will give to anyone else.
I am so thankful to have him in my life because he’s taught me so much and become such an important part of who I am but I think he is equally thankful because he’s found a family that truly understands him and caters to his unique needs and special personality.