Many of you know that my 21 year old horse, Phoenix, was a horse I rescued from abuse at the age of three. He was quite a project, being so scared of humans at that point that his entire body shook when I tried to pet him. I remember when I was trying to teach him to work on the lunge line (a long rope that hooks to a halter or bridle, and the horse moves in circles around you, learning commands this way and getting out energy) he was a little crazy. I took to wearing gloves, because he'd start bucking and running, and would drag me around the pasture and several times blistered my hands, or yanked the lunge line from my hands and took off running. He fought me for months over having his hooves cleaned. And he broke more halters than I can count by setting back when learning to be tied.
In comparison, Francie has been easy (so far). She only fought me for a couple of days over having her hooves cleaned. Now she's happy to comply. She thought about setting back once or twice while tied, but always cleared her mind and then moved forward as I spoke to her reassuringly, before breaking any halters. She learned to cross tie quickly - and while nervous the first couple of times, she now stands nicely in the cross ties, allowing me to groom her.
I also started her on the lunge line. Just doing short little lessons - ten minutes or so. At first, she was confused. She didn't want to move away from me. She wanted to be with me. So she kept trying to turn in and come to me. But she's picking it up now, and she doesn't buck or take off running the way Phoenix did. Her circles are choppy, and sometimes she gets confused and tries to switch directions, but she really seems to have a good head on her shoulders and she definitely wants to please me.
You can see how stunted her growth is in this picture. The vet doesn't think she will grow much more. Fortunately, she seems to make up with personality what she lacks in size. I really enjoy bonding with her. I know you might look at this picture and think she looks a little rough - but seriously - she looks fantastic compared to how she looked when I brought her home over Thanksgiving. The change is remarkable.
As for the horses down the road, their owners have agreed to allow me to arrange for the gelding of the stud colt. This is excellent! I will also be having some vaccines done at the time the vet comes out, thanks to the donations from generous blog readers. What a great way to start 2014 for these needy horses!