I've been riding Francie a lot this summer, and asked Paul to take some pictures of me. I don't have a trainer so I like to self-criticize my position and such, always trying to make little improvements (my hand positioning needs some work, for example).
After looking through the pictures, I kept thinking about how much Francie has changed since I rescued her around November 30, 2013. So I dug up some of her first pictures. When she was infested with the worst case of parasites my vet had ever seen. When her growth was so stunted she looked like a miniature pony. When her legs were so covered in foul, smelly muck from standing in a foot of manure that I couldn't brush it out, no matter how hard I tried, and ended up having to do multiple scrubbings in winter to get her clean.
Francie couldn't be caught. She had never had her feet trimmed. She didn't know how to lead with a halter. No one had ever messed with her. She was in a mud/manure lot with no grass and no food, and a black brackish pond for water. In fact, she didn't even have a name.
If I hadn't been there for every step of her transformation, I wouldn't believe these pictures. She doesn't even look like the same horse! I had to teach her everything, from the ground up. There is still much work to be done under saddle. She can be high strung most days, and something as small as a horse fly can cause extreme drama (I have never ridden a horse that despised horse flies as much as this mare). Especially at the canter, Francie needs to work on balance, but we are also working on transitions and suppleness in other gaits. As you can see, though, Francie is completely healthy and thriving. I'm so thankful to have her. She has been a huge comfort to me now that I can no longer ride Phoenix due to his debilitating arthritis. On most days after we finish a ride, I feel like Francie is giving me more than I have ever given her. I never would've guessed on the day I couldn't watch her suffer any more, and I stepped in to negotiate her rescue, that I was creating a bond with this little mare that would bring me so much happiness on down the road. Sometimes, those impulse decisions really can be the best decisions.