When I was younger, there was a time, every year, when my family and I would go camping at this thing called "Old Timer's Days." This is where I met my first "Horse Soul Mate."
I was drawn to this little Haflinger mare named June. She was like the sun to me. I would sit by her pen there and talk to her, or sit on the fence with my back against a tree and read, or pet her or brush her when she stood by me. I was so in love with her. I'd always bring her apples and she would take the little crab-apples from my hand as gently as could be. Though I only ever saw her for a few days, once a year, she knew my voice, knew me as the little one who brought her apples and knew the right places to scratch and never expected her to do anything. She would whinny at me as soon as I jumped out of the jeep, as soon as she heard me holler her name.
June wasn't actually a nice mare. Nor was she exactly pretty. She had a scrubby little mane and a wide blaze down the middle of her face. Her tail was short and scrubby too, and what of it she had, hung in dread locks. She was temperamental. She had a mind of her own. Try to grab her halter, and she would toss her head away and stamp a hoof, swish her tail. She didn't mind giving other, bigger horses, which were Belgians, by the way, a peace of her mind, kicking and biting and squealing. But to me, she was the greatest thing in the world. I don't know how to describe what I mean by "Horse Soul Mate." If there was ever a thing such as love at first sight, that was it. I just wanted to be with her.
The bond I have with Siaga is nothing like the bond I had with June. With June, it was like immediate friendship. With Siaga, it's a partnership. When I first saw Siaga in the stock trailer in the driveway that day, I fell in love with him, yes, but not because he was amazing or brilliant like June, I fell in love with him because he was mine. I hoped that Siaga and I would make that same wonderful bond that June and I had had. It still hasn't happened. It wasn't an instant bond. It was a bond that both of us had to work on, learn to give and take from.
I titled this post "Victory" because of the bond he and I have. We have developed a bond of extreme trust. He trusts me enough to let me in the stall with him when he's laying down, to let me stand by while he rolls in the dirt. He trusts me enough to follow me through scary situations or obstacles without a lead on. I trust him enough to sit on his back. To sit in his stall, to pick up his feet (which he's always had problems with) in the middle of a wide open space without a line on, and I trust him to not try to bite me in the butt when I'm doing that.
The reason this is a victory is because in the first several years of ownership, countless people told me "You can't do it." "You'll never be able to ride him." "You need a professional trainer." "You should sell him." "You need to buy a school horse to learn on." I have to say, I even told myself this. He would go through phases, or rather, we would together go through phases, where trust was minimal and energy high, and I would be scared to death of him. But here we are today, and while his rides have been minimal, he's been ridden, he's never bucked me off (yet,) he's never bolted with me, and all other sorts of victories, big and small. The previous post, about the farrier and the business of taking the obstacles without a lead on, really hammered this home for me. We've done it. We've created a working partnership.
I've had one friend ask me once, if I were to have to (heaven forbid) sell him for whatever reason, would the new owner be able to handle him, would they be able to ride him? I answered that I was sure that an owner with good horse sense, who was calm and nice, and also an experienced rider with good balance, would have no problem with him. And yet, I'm not an experienced rider. I've never had lessons, and this previous year or so, I've ridden two different horses (Siaga and Reggie) a total of 6 times, and before this year, I hadn't ridden a horse in about 5 years. I'm calm and nice, yes, and I have decent horse sense, but I'm still naive and inexperienced all the same. I guess what I'm trying to say is, Siaga and I have created a bond between the two of us. Neither of us are perfect. Out of this partnership that we had to create, came love.
So. In the face of disapproval, disbelief, and little support from some friends, 4H leaders, and many people online who told me off whenever I asked a question relating to training or my horses health, I would like to claim Victory, because I love my horse. He may not be my "Horse Soul Mate" and I doubt that he ever will be, but I love him all the same. Together, we work. It's a partnership of trust and love, dependability and devotion. It's comfortable. I'm content. Though I'd be more content, right now, if I were sitting on his back, instead of on the couch.