Sunday, September 12, 2010

Our 4 Year Anniversary & A Case of Buyer's Remorse

"'s coming up on 4 years very soon, "Yup, 4 years since Valie and I became a "pack of two"!"  The truth is that I had planned to wait until we reached our 5 year anniversary before writing about anything relating to our first days together; but, the mood struck so I decided to forego the original plan and write anyway! 

During the first month of us getting to know one another, he and I experienced many, shall I say, "moments".  However, one in particular stands out in my mind happened right after his arrival from Vermont and while he was just beginning to settle into our new home, Legacy Stable in Mendon, Massachusetts

It was only my 2nd day of horse ownership (after a 17 1/2 year break from owning my last Off-Track Thoroughbred) and I was excited about the prospect of getting to the stable and beginning to get to know my horse!  I arrived with a shiny new grooming bag and new brushes, etc. and my first order of business was getting him on the cross-ties so that we could do some bonding-while-grooming.  I began to search for aisle-way cross-ties but couldn't find any.  It was a busy day at the barn, the farrier was just leaving and horses were being trained.  Therefore, I didn't want to bother the staff or the owners.  But, when 30 minutes had lapsed and I was still searching for the "ties", I knew I had to ask someone.  I then asked Mike, one of the owners, and he patiently explained to me that there were two cross tie rings in Valie's stall and that everyone did grooming and tacking-up in their stalls.  I was horrified as I never encountered anything but cross-tying your horse in the aisles but I politely said thank you and proceeded to halter him in preparation for this unorthodox method of grooming. 

But ah-ha, it was then I noticed a grooming stall; so, I quickly decided that we should be in there rather than in his stall!  I snapped a lead to his halter and down the aisle we headed for "Destination Grooming Stall" when suddenly, he picked up the pace and began to drag me to the door!  And, to make matters worse, he began to scream so loudly that I was convinced that the people in the next town could hear him!  As he picked up speed, we did a role-reversal as I was suddenly the one being led.  I immediately began to panic and I was then acutely aware that all my previous horse-keeping knowledge, from many years before, was just that, "a distant memory from many years before".  So, despite my best efforts to slow him down or control his race walking and jigging, I knew that I was  going to lose what little bit of leadership I had left!

I suddenly felt as if I was having one of those "out of body experiences" and vaguely remember yelling for help!  However, it was evident that Mike didn't catch the urgency in my voice and when he said, I"ll be with you in a moment", I knew that unless Mike immediately astrally projected himself to us, tragedy was about to erupt!  So, in my best horror-movie-scream-queen voice, I yelled, "Mike, it's an EMERGENCY" and with that Mike sprinted toward us and narrowly averted a disaster!  I'm certain that if he didn't arrive at the scene when he did, I would have let go of that lead rope and Valie would have been running free in the parking lot (you know what kind of parking lot I mean, the kind that is not gated and is directly behind a well traveled road).

I can't even begin to describe my shame for being unable to control my horse but it was back to business as usual for everyone else with the exception of me.  And, thanks to Mike, there stood my Valie in the grooming stall, cross-tied and ready to be groomed and there I went, un-snapping him as fast as I could and putting him back in his stall, from there, I disappared into the ladies room where I had myself a good cry while thinking that I had single-handedly made the biggest mistake of undertaking the role of horse owner again.  I was so rattled that I began to wonder how I could convince his previous caretaker, the volunteer from Canter USA - New England, to take him back!  I was even ready to face the myriad of voices that would surely say, "I told you so!".

"....what to do, what to do, I thought but then, as I made my way back to his stall and saw those kind eyes that held just a bit of fear of the unknown, I immediately realized that he was only responding to his new environment, one that he was unsure of, one that was foreign to him and like him, I too was reacting to the newness of the situation.  I went closer to that beautiful head of his, gave him carrot treats and whispered to him that we would work at this "getting to know one another" business  by taking slow, baby steps.  And, as corny and dramatic as this may sound, it was then that I began to feel the first blush of bonding between him and I. 

Over the next several weeks, we began the process of making friends, human to equine, equine to human and today, almost 4 years later, no greater bond has ever been built between myself and a horse!

           "as stated in many of my previous blog entries, "I just love that horse of mine".


TBDancer said...

Ah, memories ;o)

I didn't realize my new horse was off the track until five months went by--and I found the lip tattoo. The other ex-racer in the barn was a paint, I think, and his tattoo was on the GUM (ouch!) and that was where I thought all horses were tattooed.

However, the grooming/bonding thing worked for us, too. I didn't have ANY tack, and I needed to "buy carefully," so I got brushes, halter, and a new grooming tote and spent a couple of weeks doing things like shortening the mane, trimming here and there, etc. My horse LOVES "fussing," and he and I spent many happy hours that first two weeks, doing "beauty parlor."

He still likes that, and so do I. It's been 12 and a half years ;o)

Glad your buyer's remorse was short-lived. I've had more than one episode of that throughout my partnership, but luckily they were all short-lived too.

Keep writing. I enjoy your posts.

Carol said...

Just found your blog and loved the post I just read. I've had many of those moments (also being 50+ and coming back to riding after many years - 30 for me)of self doubt but luckily I also worked through them. Your horse sounds wonderful.

Allison said...

Hi! I'm so glad to find your blog. My horse came from a TRF farm in Granville, VT. I was wondering if that's where yours was from?

Happy 4 years! We're at 3 1/2. :-)

Jessica said...

Okay, I know I just commented on your newest post, but this one echoes soooo much of what I went through with Bar in our first month together.

He got out, ran up to another owner, gashed open his back leg, and caused quite an uproar.

I think--in hindsight and after my daughter's 4-year old OTTB got out his first day--they just like to suss out the new situation. It being so different from the track and all.

I have had a couple good cries and lots of doubts, but the eyes, the soft nose and--believe it or not--the trail rides have all shown me I made the right choice.

I too love my boy.