It was Monday and, in the words of The Bangles, it had been a Manic Monday. But the evening was cool, and well suited for working with the horses. I was probably too tired, but I’d been unable to work them for so long that I was determined to get at least someone out. Roxie was my candidate – but Noble had other ideas. He was ignoring his snack, and talking to me as I prepared to get a horse out. “After I do Roxie, if there’s light left, big boy,” I told him. But he was insistent. I looked around at everyone else peacefully munching, then back to his expectant look. “Fine! I’ll get you out first.” It was probably a bad idea – but if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have learned just how far we’ve come.
Taking Noble out is always more work than the other horses. He’s just that big, and still a bit careless with his personal space. He’s also hyper-aware of any changes in the barnyard – and there were at least eight things that were very different from yesterday. But I find his new desire for getting out and working with me hard to resist. So, out we went to do a bit of groundwork.
As I expected, he stopped to survey all that was different. But, overall, it went well as we toured the yard and ran through some of our responses. I was aware that I was tired, and should have wrapped it up – but he showed an interest in exploring some of the new things in the yard. We wandered over to the hay trailer, where I’d stacked some cardboard sheets. He eyed them, but began to snuffle at them after I touched them. Then, in a split second, everything changed.
Noble pushed the cardboard hard enough that it bounced. In that same instant, I was aware of three things happening basically simultaneously:
- There was a bang from our neighbor’s yard, about twenty feet from us
- A very loud motorized bike whizzed down the road in front of us
- The neighbor’s dogs and our dogs started ‘World War 3’ through the fence
Any horse would have been challenged by the chaos that erupted in that moment!
Even as I registered those events, I was aware that Noble was headed for the exit. I knew that he was spinning and launching, but it happened so fast that I cannot even tell you which direction he spun. I don’t know how he turned within the limited space, without either bumping me or wrapping the rope around himself. As I felt the rope begin to burn in my hand, I thought, “It’s lost. Just let go.” But in a split second I changed my mind, and tried to hang on. To my shock, my massive horse, in full launch, hit the end of the rope and spun to face me. There was never even enough force to shake my balance!
He stood there on full alert, scanning the area where all the chaos had ensued – but he never moved a foot, as I walked up to calm him. I began to scratch his shoulder, and the tension melted into enjoyment, as his head lowered and his lip wiggled. The chaos was quickly forgotten, and we finished our session more calmly than we’d started.
For so long I could not imagine a day when I would ever trust that he wouldn’t break away if he was upset, or even just felt like it. Today he passed the biggest test yet, when his world blew up in a moment, but he stuck with me. Better still, he gave me a sign of trust I would not have expected, even now, when he allowed me to tell him it was okay – and he believed me!
There is a long road ahead, for me and Noble – but with every passing day, I grow more optimistic about the possibilities! I truly have my boy back again!
Be good to your horses!