Thoughts on Faith & India
- Aug 26, 2013 Expand MessagesView SourceThe 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...