I just visited Beckee's blog and it absolutely broke my heart. Everybody needs to go read this. She is Horsaii to the max, that's all I can say.
Connecting with Natureby Beckee Milton
My horse moved from a suburban boarding stable to rural Coolville, OH when I came to Ohio University. It was new world for us. We had an enclosed arena like we had known for years, but now we had over 1000 acres (some fenced and some open) that we were permitted to explore. There were trails in some places, many wooded areas, and plenty of open fields for running. I’d had my ten year old gelding since he was two. I broke Alibi myself and taught him everything since I was 14. It was a green horse/green rider situation, but we were lucky to have flourished with each other.Alibi is a true Quarter Horse with an athletic body, elegant head and neck, and plenty of heart. He is bred for Reined Cowhorse, but with bloodlines that don’t lend him to being a top horse. He is so much talent and athleticism that I wish a better trainer could have had owned him and done more with him in a specialized discipline. Together we’d gotten AQHA points in Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, Reining, Showmanship, Halter. Him and I have done A-rated Hunter/Equitation, he jumps up to 4’6, and we’ve competed through Second Level Dressage. I couldn’t have asked for a better horse as my partner. He’s always been so willing to listen and learn, although he is more than happy to show me his sassy side when he isn’t enjoying his job.
He is an arena baby to say the least, but definitely not barn sour or arena sour. I am a strict mom with many rules, but Alibi knows if he follows the rules that he gets privileges other horses don’t. For example, he is permitted to be loose in the aisleway if he stays out of the way, doesn’t bother the other horses, and doesn’t wander far from the loose hay. He knows that if he is easy to catch, he is allowed to graze in areas that aren’t fenced in. I think that it is because of the things I taught him and my strict but nurturing love that he is very attached to me.
Before moving to this new barn, Alibi had never been on a trail ride. At least not one that meant I couldn’t see the barn. He was scared of every little thing the first couple of times we went out. He’d spook if the wind blew too hard or a shadow changed unexpectedly. The cows were an endless source of spooking, bolting, and bucking. It was all very frustrating for me and I had trouble being strict while letting him explore and learn.
It was our seventh ride alone on the trails. Alibi was excited to be going out, his head was up and he was walking briskly. It was early May; warm enough for a t-shirt, but the mud was just a little too slick for a full out gallop in the open areas. Alibi was awake, but listening for the first time when I asked him to pay attention. We had been going for about six miles, just wandering and only staying on the trail when the hills were too steep to climb or descend without assistance. I was in an area I had never explored before, but I trusted my horse and he was relaxed and looking around at his surroundings. I let him pick his path through the woods, ducking under low branches and generally just trying to remember where I was in relation to the barn so that I could eventually get back.
I was daydreaming about my classes, stressing about finals and all my work when suddenly I realized that Alibi seemed to be heading in a specific direction, picking his way precisely to some location unknown to me. We were deep in the woods, no sunlight through the trees in front or behind me, but the creek was running about thirty yards to my left. Alibi would stop, listen, and then step carefully forward for a few yards. I sat quietly and let him figure out where he was going. He stopped one last time, surged ahead and we broke through a thick group of trees into a small clearing where he finally stopped for good.
Brush had grown up around the clearing and the creek, previously thirty yards my left, ran through the edge of the clearing. However, that isn’t what had drawn my horse to this place. Grazing in the clearing were a doe and two quite young fawns. The mother stopped grazing and looked at us as we broke through the woods, uncertain whether to shepherd her children away. As we stood, still and quiet, the doe gave us one last glance and resumed grazing. I gave my horse his rein and let him start grazing too; as he went, he inched closer to the fawns. He has always been fascinated by other animals and eventually was within range to be noticed by the fawns. They didn’t even hesitate once they noticed us and came running, bucking, and ready to play with my horse. He was overjoyed and spun around to leap and play with them as well. I found myself clutching my saddle to stay on as he played. The doe immediately noticed my horse’s behavior, squealed and ran the fawns off in huge bounds through the woods. I sat in stunned silence while my horse looked longingly after the deer family. Eventually he walked to the creek, took a drink, and then turned and walked back the way we had come.