**Note to self, I am not to buy this horse because I don't need another one.**
13(ish) year old Quarter Horse
Dun, complete with dorsal stripe
and tiger stripes on his legs
Anyways, look into his eyes and tell me you don't want to take him home? Ironically, when I started teaching lessons at the new barn I didn't see anyone ride/work with Calvin for months. He was half leased to a girl in her teens and she was the only one who rode him because for lack of a better term he was, "selective". I decided I didn't really like him because he was a grump on the ground and he was always filthy. Those are good reasons, right?
It became apparent about two months ago that Calvin was being pretty naughty. He was dumping his lease kid regularly and from her description/a few eye witnesses, they were dirty spills. I have very little tolerance for a horse that uses dirty moves against anyone, never mind kids, so I irrationally hated him even more. About a month ago half lease kid fell off him again, and the BO and I were the only ones at the barn. She came into the outdoor ring (where I was riding) leading him, with tears in her eyes, and my heart broke for her. She had become absolutely terrified of this horse and because I've totally been there before, I really really wanted to help her. I gave her a little mini lesson and for whatever reason I seemed to "click" with Calvin from there, and was able to figure out some of his buttons from the ground.
It became clear from that point that Calvin's lease kid was done with him. I know she didn't want to give up, but fear can be crippling as I think many of us know. Being the main "instructor" at this barn meant Calvin became my new problem child. The first time I rode him I was ready to go in guns blazing. He was getting an ass whooping and an attitude adjustment, stat. And then I got on him. I immediately realized he was one of the most tense, worried, insecure horses I'd ever sat on. And he also felt like he had horsey-scoliosis.
He was constantly balled up and tucked his head to his chest, breathed heavily the whole time, and tensed up every time he made a mistake. Anytime I lengthened my reins to encourage him to stretch out he'd panic. Everytime I took too much hold on the reins, he'd panic. It quickly became clear that he was not a kids horse, but he was my favorite kind of ride. Physically, he's not a tricky horse. And in all honesty he's only pulled one "move" that could have unseated me. But he's a mental ride and needs to be ridden every. step. of. the. way.
|Being awkward during our second ride together.|
As I mentioned in the beginning, I'm completely falling in love with this horse. The once cranky, miserable guy who turned his butt to you with his ears pinned when you went to catch him willingly walks away from his hay pile to meet me at the gate. He's gone from snapping his teeth on the crossties to reaching around to nuzzle me anytime he can. The horse who once fidgeted everytime I asked him to halt will now hang out for half an hour while I sit on him, pet him, and chat with others.
|Slightly less awkward, but still tense.|
Calvin has reminded me of why I love riding and working with "problem horses" so much. Very often the problems you think they have aren't what you end up combatting. The horse that I thought was a huge asshole turned out to be one of the sweetest, cuddliest boys imaginable, and I really hope he continues to build trust in me, and become a solid citizen for all his future riders.
And I secretly hope he doesn't sell for a while so I get to ride him all summer :)