Today was an exceptionally trying day for May and I. I hadn't been able to make it out to the farm for the entire week, so I planned on having the majority of today set aside to devote to her. Our normal routine has been for me to come out, chase her around her pasture, attach her halter and lead rope and then work on training her with them. Jessica, a volunteer (who I completely adore and couldn't do any of this without), usually helps me lead her to the indoor arena, where we also work on herd separation, grooming, bonding, and more lead training. It needs to be said now that I am not familiar with horses, especially foals, so the training is mostly comprised of whatever I think might be best for her to learn. Everything is sort of on the fly with her, as we're both beginners.
Anyway, as I made my way onto the pasture today with Jessica to continue our routine, May decided it was the day to be a perfect angel. She didn't move when I approached her, or while she was grazing. She let us put on her new blanket, and she let me groom her without any movement or motion, or resistance, or anything. She played it cool while I hugged on her, and snuggled her, and baby-talked her, never moving away, or putting up much of a fight. It was crazy. Like, I didn't know if she was sick, or if she was just happy to see us, or if she just really didn't care about whatever we were doing to her. So what I initially thought would take us two hours to do, took maybe 30 minutes, and before I knew it I was making my way out of the pasture to work on the farm for a while before coming back to get her.
We worked on fixing broken fences in the pastures and paddocks for a while before finally going back to grab May. I had a gut feeling that she was acting too good to be true, but she surprised me when she leisurely walked on lead from the back pasture to the barn, only needing to be nudged from Jessica here and there. It was when we got to the barn though that May started to act up, resisting us with heavy thrashing, pushing, and jumping, which was terrifying to watch. There was nothing that we could do to ease her down from her panic attack, and every foot forward was met with a retaliation. At one point we had four people trying to control her, and when it became clear that she was on the verge of hurting herself, we decided to take a time out. We stayed where she wanted to stay and gathered around her, petting her into a calm.
At that point, I realized that I was scared of her. I had no idea how to react to her movement or her attitude, I had no idea how to control her, and I had no idea how to move her in either direction, be it to the pasture or to the arena. I was so worried that she'd hurt herself, or one of us. The resulting feeling of total failure sunk in, and I started to doubt everything. I couldn't do this, I thought. I am not able to do this.
It was then that I looked over at May, who was panting frantically with wide, scared eyes, and I snapped back into reality. I could do this because I WANTED to do this. I WANTED to be a part of her experiences, good or bad, and I wanted to be the one who made her feel safe. Made her feel easy, and calm. This moment, this temper-tantrum (or any other temper tantrum) wasn't going to throw me off and scare me away. I could do this. I was willing.
I got up enough courage to try it again. With a little smooth talking we were able to slowly bring her into the arena. I decided to let her run around and get all of her many frustrations out. She yelled as loudly as she could and she threw her fantastically dusty fit. She ran at me and headbutted me (smacking both Jessica and I in the head), and then she yelled some more. I stayed with my commitment, and took her headbutts and her tantrums, and I waited them out. After a lengthy amount of time later, she slowly started to wind down enough to where I could put my arm around her for hugs, which calmed her down even more.
There might be those moments where I feel lost and over my head in this, but those other moments, the ones where she is so totally mine, surpass everything else. They make the tough, scary moments and the glimpses of doubt go away. She is a living, breathing reminder that every second of work that goes into her will be worth it. She is so totally worth it.
If it weren't for all of the incredible, helpful people at the farm, I wouldn't have the confidence I have with May. They make such an effort to be as involved as I need them to be, and they help me on a level that I can never express enough thanks for. Without them, this journey wouldn't be as sweet or rewarding as it is right now.
Until next time.