I never did post about the rest of my Monday. I didnt want to write about the ride, but rather, the overwhelming feeling of pride I had for my little red horse.
A friend and boarder has a horse she is rehabilitating. He has come from hock surgery, and they are on the road to building their trust back together. He is a huge 17.2 hands, and they used to jump competitively in the past. Now, it seems, they need to find their trust in each other again. I am always pleased to see her and her handsome, huge horse at the barn (who has a personality nearly identical to Milo's, if thats possible. She likes to turn him out in the outdoor arena and I have been told that he and Milo love to play along the joining fenceline). On Monday she was in the back of the barn grooming and hand grazing her big beast. Her son was there, playing his DS and sitting on the hay piles. Apparently, there have been some nasty close calls between her son and her horse, and he is timid around horses to say the least.
However, I was told that he loves to see Milo in the pasture. As I led Milo towards the barn, he got excited to see him so close, but was still nervous about coming up to him. I assured him it was alright, and Milo is a good boy. He cautiously crept close to Milo, and gingerly touched his bold white face. Milo's ears were alert, but his eyes were soft and he reached his nose gently towards the young boy. With a little more confidence, he came to Milo's shoulder and stroked his red coat. The boy was grinning from ear to ear and as I walked away he exclaimed to his Mother how Milo was just the best horse ever.
In the cross ties, I asked him if he wanted to give Milo a cookie. Normally, Milo only gets cookies at the end of the rides, and usually only from me, even though many others in the barn want to feed him some, he can get too pushy and aggressive. But I felt a change in Milo that day, and knew the boy would be safe. I brought him to Milo's head, cookie in hand, and showed him how it was done, flattening out my palm as Milo lipped the cookie from my hand. It was the boy's turn now, and when Milo reached for it, he drew his hand back away quickly. I assured him it was ok, and led his outstretched, flat hand towards Milo's eager lips. He took the cookie gently from the small hand. The boy was still happy and continued to tell me what a great horse Milo is.
I showed him a tack box he could sit on that was close-by to Milo as I groomed him. Even as the boy walked about him, still cautiously, Milo stood like a rock, head relaxed but ears swiveling every direction the boy went. His mother joined us again in the barn and was happy and surprised to hear that he fed Milo a cookie. Apparently, he had never done that before with a horse. I let him know that next time, if his Mom allowed, he could sit atop Milo in the saddle and maybe walk if he wanted. He liked that idea very much. They soon left to go see a kid's movie at the theater, but the heart warming memory of his and Milo's exchange stayed with me the rest of that day. And obviously longer as I write this now four days later.
What really stuck with me too was this high level of pride for my horse. This horse who at three years old was mouthy, pushy, and sometimes aggressive. A horse that used to get anxious in the cross ties, to people moving about him, and nippy to those walking by. A horse who couldnt be fed hand treats because of the mouthy behavior, the rude demands for more, and the pushy demeanor. That is not to say that Milo can still be that way towards hand treats (it's been recent for even some boarders who wish to feed him, who I now no longer allow them to do so), but he does seem to be getting better, if not outgrowing it some. And more amazingly, his quiet and calm composure around the small boy, something he never would have considered with a cookie in the mix. My horse is growing up. And it has been incredibly cool to watch this progress unfold. I know I can still see him as the immature three year old I defended and worried over towards my friends. But he's seven now, its been four years.