Exhausted, covered in dust & stinking to high heaven of the feedlot I ran into a past work colleague whilst navigating the dubious looking buffet at the local tavern, it beat cooking myself, but not by much. Not that long ago I worked at a State government managed agricultural training college that is now no more. Kaput. Gates locked after 50 years of training the next generation.
Slyly she asked “how’s your horse?”. Took me a moment to work out to ‘which’ horse she was referring to as we have more than a few galloping around our dry, parched drought declared paddocks.
A few months ago the college ran about 40 horses through an online sale on the predominantly cattle selling platform AuctionsPlus. A bit of a mixed bunch, ranging from broodmares, weanlings, yearlings, unbroken two year olds & green horses that had been only ridden by staff, not students. I had this mare earmarked before leaving & as soon as I saw how poorly they did up her sale listing I knew I had to pull out all the stops & get her. I also justified the purchase as she is Hendra vaccinated & my workplace requires it. I won’t inject any of my homebred horses with it (but that’s a tale for another day)
One morning whilst drafting the plant horses for the students to go mustering through the yards & distracted ensuring student safety, I felt a soft nuzzle on the back of my forearm. Turning I saw the doe like & expectant eyes of an overweight, solid built bay roan quarter horse mare who was watching me intently. Strawberry as she was known (by RS Chisum) had ‘picked’ me. Still considered green she was off-limits for students to ride.
The students gave me a run down of her history & how the previous instructor had been hard & over the top with his ‘training’ methods. (#Cruel) I only rode her the once but was impressed with her cowiness & calmness. I can forgive bad behaviour when it stems from poor training & reacting out of fear.
She was also in a lot of pain which obviously would have contributed to her inconsistency. An equine chiropractor friend of mine put her back & hips back in & couldn’t believe how long & how bad she was & still poking along. Actually a testament to her grit.
Hence she was written off as being ‘piggy’. Always look for the rough diamond as this is what she is. It’s been a bit over 3 months now since she came home to live with us & we have had our fair share of battles. Quite a few times I’ve told her that I will out mare her!
Sweet by nature we now have many more good days than bad. Consistency, perseverance, patience & forgiveness are gradually letting the wounds from the past heal. A bond & trust has now been forged between us & finally I’m able to ‘throw the reins’ at her & get a job done. We win more than we lose & she now works willingly with enthusiasm. Time can heal most wounds as long as the right salve is also applied.