Here’s the thing about horses who’ve never been off the farm. They don’t know what anything is. And you kind of forget that until you find yourself with a young horse who has pretty much zero life experience. And it’s kind of hilarious.
With Stella, I noticed it the moment I led her into the barn at her new home. Make that “tried” to lead her into her new barn. She planted all four feet and refused to move. Sure it was just a barn, but it wasn’t “her barn”, it was some different barn and she only knew “her barn”. It took, I’d say, a good five minutes to convince her to walk over that threshold.
After that, it was little things. The barrel around the corner of the barn. The shovel leaning up against the outside of the round pen. The tractor that she has to go by when I take her for walks down the trail. The fly spray bottle. It’s all brand new. And for a horse who had spent her entire life on the farm where she was born, every single thing is something she’s seeing for the first time.She’s getting a little braver every day. Now she kind of just cranes her neck, bends her body away from the offensive item, and gives it the stink eye as she walks carefully past. A huge improvement over her initial method of dealing with the fear of something new, which was to try to leap into my arms (yeah, not an optimal reaction from a pony).
Do I mind that she’s a little, shall we say, dramatic about new things? No, not really. It’s all part of her charm – and part of the reason I love mares. It shows that she’s aware. That she’s energetic. That she’s expressive. I also happen to think that these are all traits that will make her shine in the dressage ring. The part of her that is quick to react is the same part that is quick to learn. It’s the flash, the spark, the quality that’s going to make people sit up an take notice. And I, for one, can’t wait to see where that takes us.