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49383Thoughts on Faith & India

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  • Janis
    Aug 26, 2013
      The more you post about Faith, the more she reminds me of my Morgan, India.
      Even before India existed, she was on a path of confusion. Her dam was
      bought in grudging partnership by two women who were both mentally unhealthy
      (undiagnosed and untreated, but obvious from their behaviors) and each
      wanting to own the mare outright. They were not friends, just unhappy
      acquaintances who were at the same auction, neither with enough funds to
      afford the mare on their own. The mare was a lovely creature, bred for the
      hot Park Horse division from the line that had a heavy influx of Saddlebred.
      These women fought over their partnership mare for years, sending her to one
      top stallion (including Waseeka's Skylark, once owned by a friend of my
      family) after another, going into more debt, and hiding the expensive mare
      from their husbands at a trainer's farm. Eventually, they got a colt by
      Applevale Boy King which one woman took possession of in exchange for giving
      up her half of the mare. Now that owner had no $$ left, having spent away
      her family biz and most of her husband's farm income on all kinds of
      stuff...several horses and an attic full of "collectibles" still unopened in
      their boxes. I mean *full*. It was hording, but with cleaner
      stuff...Franklin Mint, Barbie, Breyer, on and on, packed in unopened
      shipping cartons. Somehow, she found a fellow with a backyard stallion who
      introduced him to her mare for a keep one/give one foal deal. I cannot
      express how messed up this situation was. This is one of the few people I
      have ever befriended that I had to cut off all communication with because I
      genuinely feel she is dangerous. The more I got to know her, the more
      cruelty I discovered, and the more people I encountered who'd been conned
      and shafted by her.

      And into that home of love was foaled India, and her dam died immediately
      after delivering her. She lived on at the trainer's farm, bottle-fed by the
      children and spoiled rotten. Like several of the woman's horses, her board
      payments had dried up. Through networking with the several boarding
      facilities, I learned that the "hidden" horses not only were not being
      supported, they were also never seen by the owner. Like the sealed boxes in
      her attic, she just wanted to own them. I was able to keep them from
      shipment to the packing plant (Ohio still had 2 at that time) by paying
      their board and getting legal ownership. I met India late in her 2nd year.
      She had received basic groundwork, shown in halter (including a futurity
      class), introduced to driving, and backed a few times. Right off the bat,
      she started rearing, so the trainer was reluctant to work with her for no
      compensation. India was a quiet filly, but she had an air of diva-ness
      about her, with a hint of "poor little me." She had no confidence, but a
      lot of insight into avoiding work. I have loaded, using behavior
      modification of various kinds, difficult horses that actively resisted, and
      I've loaded horses that have never been in a trailer. I've never loaded
      anyone else like India. It took four people two hours to get her loaded.
      She wasn't moving in *any* direction. She simply took root. Since she'd
      been hauled before, I didn't come prepared for her statue-like performance.
      If we moved her forward, she didn't try to back up. We moved each hoof
      about 1/2 inch at a time. sigh.

      When I got her home, I felt the first thing she needed to learn was that she
      was a horse. She'd never been with another horse in a free area. I turned
      her in with our 3 Belgian mares and the 16.2 gelding who was the master of
      keeping company with pushy stallions. India was 14.1. It took about 3 days
      for her to relax in the land of the giants. None of these biggies needed to
      say much about her being at the bottom of the herd. She didn't need to
      challenge them. She recognized one of the mares as boss and shadowed her.
      That's where she stayed for the next 20 years till the last Belgian passed
      away. When I put the group back with the big herd, she maintained a safe
      spot in that shadow. When the demographics changed, she became part of the
      little family of the other 3 smallest horses in the herd. They all watched
      out for each other and ate together. After her initial re-introduction to
      horsedom, she had a better idea that, even away from her protector, she was
      still part of a herd, and that included me. I didn't have any more issues
      with loading or other work. She adapted from spoiled orphan to good horse

      When Faith was at the vet hospital as a foal, was she away from her dam?
      Was she coddled a lot while recovering? Did she spend any/much time with
      other horses in her early months? Has she been pastured with a horse higher
      up the chain than herself? If not, does the farm have a huge patient
      older horse she could keep company with during contact time if not during
      pasture time? Two of our Belgians served as mentors many times to horses
      being introduced to harness. Both girls were bigger than most geldings in
      competitive pulls. The leggy 17 3hh girl was excellent for team hitching
      newbies. The shorter but brawnier lady was top-notch for working with a
      "jockey stick" and three novice horses in one hitch. In comparison, we also
      had the 17 2hh Standardbred we hauled with a fractious filly to the races.
      She was a nervous rider usually, and she had a big race that day. We pulled
      out the divider, and she leaned on our boy the entire long trip. Both
      horses won their races. Sometimes a horse can benefit from having a huge
      confident pal to help them understand they don't really want to be a leader.
      I haven't seen anything in your updates about Faith that mention she's ever
      been low horse on the totem pole, but it seems this might be a helpful
      lesson so she can relate to people also being alpha. It's not that she's
      lacking the instincts, but any time away from mama or "normal" upbringing
      during her early physical challenges might have passed the lessons mama
      gives in acting on those instincts.

      Looking forward to future installments...
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