When I first bought Chocolate, my second horse, I can’t really remember what I thought of her. I should have known that she was not the perfect horse. When I rode her for the first time, I was not super impressed with her actual skill, but I was impressed with how calm she was all the time. All the time.
When I brought her home, all of a sudden the fact that she wasn’t perfect seemed magnified. When I rode her, she seemed unbelievably lazy. Really, I have ridden horses that are pretty darn lazy in riding lessons. But I mean, I would ask her to go forward, and she would refuse. Not in the sleepy way a lesson pony would, but in an almost defiant way.
I didn’t know it, but I was becoming afraid of Chocolate. I really was. I put myself in positions that I wasn’t comfortable with, and pushed myself to get on her back, even when I was scared. That might have been the worst decision in my entire horse career. I just didn’t know any better, but Chocolate did. She continued to get worse and worse.
What really brought me to my senses about her was about a month ago, I figured out that both of my horses were in need of dewormer. Dewormer is a little paste that comes in a syringe that you squeeze in their mouths, and it kills any worms that may have come in while they were eating in the pasture. I don’t mean garden worms, but parasites that can multiply and take over.
I was by myself and knew that Chocolate did not like dewormer at all. I got the bright idea to try to give her molasses in a syringe, and teach her to not balk at it. I had the syringe and let her sniff it. Nothing, she only seemed curious. So I stuck it in the corner of her mouth.
It was instant. She flipped out, she flew backwards, I didn’t even see it, but her front hoof shot out. I turned to the side just in time to be kicked in the back. If I hadn’t turned, it would have been in the stomach.
I was shaken. It finally hit me full in the head she weighed ten times more than I, and she knew and I both knew it. I could not make her do anything, because she was in charge. She was stronger than I could ever be, and I could not control her with force even if I wanted. I finally had to admit to myself that I was afraid.
There is a saying by Buck Brannaman: “Horses are a reflection to your soul. And sometimes you may not like what you see in the mirror.” Oh, the irony, and I hated my reflection. Seeing that bruise in the mirror hurt. I hadn’t taken charge, and now I was scared of my own horse and knew I had made a mistake in buying her. I had put off recognizing this; I have owned her a year and have not done anything to actually realize this. I had lost any trust that might have been there, and Chocolate was not confident in me either.
I still don’t believe I bought a vicious horse. I knew that retraining her would not be hard, but I needed the time to rebuild my trust in her. Don’t get me wrong, owning up to all this to a lot of people is hard.
Time for a major change: the next few posts will be about what I do about Chocolate to turn it around.