Over the course of my ownership of The Mare, I have come to the realization on more than one occasion that I stumbled upon a pretty amazing horse. I could recount the ways in which I think my horse is the greatest equid on the face of the planet, but I’ll spare you all.
Despite how often I could brag on my kid, I realize that there are tons of spectacular horses out there. My horse isn’t the only horse with great ground manners, that loads (fairly easily), is at home in a show ring, and tries her best every ride and every course.
But over the last 3 months, and especially in the last couple weeks, she has proven to me that she is even more special.
She has been strictly stall bound from mid-February until a few weeks ago. Meaning, not allowed to leave her stall under any circumstances, period, the end. She was an amazing sport about it all, despite the weather getting nice during that time frame and watching other horses come in and out to be worked or turned out. She did not try to escape her stall when I came out to clean it, or to put shavings in. She did not sour, she was not destructive, she did not need to be sedated, and even though she wasn’t allowed to have anything excess in her stall (no toys, etc.), she kept her mind. When we left to move to our new facility, she politely jigged down the driveway and loaded on the road with only a moment’s hesitation. It was the first time in 11 weeks she was allowed to leave her stall, and she chose not to bug out.
At the new facility, we have been operating under a precautionary quarantine (new horse to a new barn, and I was happy to follow their rules), but we have been allowed to hand graze and walk around the property a bit, which she has been handling with grace and excitement.
This week we were cleared to let her be turned out and to ride, so I got up early to be there when she was put out into her new field. I waited with bated breath when I unclipped her lead (she can be a bit bossy…which got her in trouble last fall), and she realized she was free and promptly took off cavorting around the field. Her new fieldmates made a half-hearted attempt to (slowly) follow after her, but any time they got close, she took off careening in the other direction. She finally stopped frolicking about and started grazing, still unconcerned about the other horses.
I went back in the afternoon to ride – again, the first time she’s been sat on since mid-February. Since I watched her run around in the morning, I figured I’d skip throwing her on a longe line, and would take my chances just hopping on.
When I went to catch her from her field, she saw me coming and met me at the gate with a whicker. She stood stock still as we tacked up, and proudly waited at the mounting block. It wasn’t until after I was on that I realized that she hadn’t seen the outdoor arena before. She walked around cool, calm and collected on the buckle and when I gathered her up and asked her to trot a bit, she went right to work without hesitation. And without any shenanigans, head tossing, fussing or other hootenanny. She felt like she hadn’t missed a day.
I was informed by the barn owner the next morning that my Mare had clearly taken over the field (no surprises there). She again waited patiently while we got ready for our ride, and we trotted some ground poles that were out with gusto. She’s plenty out of shape, but seems game to get back to it quickly
I’ve seen plenty of horses on long-term stall rest for whatever reason, and I’ve seen (and experienced) bringing a horse back into work after that. I’ve seen horses nearly tear down their stalls, develop life-long stable vices, and literally lose their brains during and after those stall-bound periods. I’ve seen horses that need weeks of sedation or calming drugs to be worked safely in the immediate aftermath of long-term stall rest.
For as much as I compliment her looks, her amazing willingness, her scope and form, her athleticism and scrappy style; I think her *incredibly* sound mind and big heart deserve a shout-out after what she’s been through the last few months.
There’s plenty of amazing horses out there, but there is only one of The Black Mare, and I am thankful everyday that she is mine.