“On a long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey and it is the greatest property.” ~ Buddha
The above photo of Argo was sent to me by Suzy Johnson. She took this last November at the adoption in Burns, Oregon. Thank you Suzy!
Just so everyone knows, I have borrowed a tripod from a friend to video my evening time with Argo. Most of it is us staring at each other, but every time I pull the camera out we get a few moments of interesting video. I will compile it all and then edit it into to one video. I’m hoping to have something in the next month or so.
Never in million years would I have thought hand feeding a horse would be such a rewarding experience. Over my 25 plus years with horses, I have rescued quite a few horses that were fearful of people, had been neglected and/or abused. I took my time and learned from them the importance of touch. I have always had an extreme compassion for these horses. It is from most of those horses my foundation in learning how to live with and care for them was learned. Argo, though never abused or neglected, is quite similar in some ways and a perfectly clean slate in others. I learned at a young age that every time we interact with the horse, we are training him. Whether it is right, wrong or indifferent, they are learning from us. I guess in knowing that, I try almost too hard to make sure everything I do with Argo is correct.
When I sit with him in the evening, he will step back if I move my hands. He is not worried about my legs or my head turning, just my hands. My answer to this was to offer good things that he likes with my hands so a few weeks ago I began offering my hand to Argo while he was eating. At first he snorted and backed up and I just kept my hand there about six inches from his food. He became used to it after a while and even managed to get a little closer to my hand. After a few days of just my hand being there, I had hay in my outstretched hand. I had no illusions of him actually taking it, but I wanted him just to be comfortable with my hand. I did this with him for about three nights. On the fourth night, my husband came into the barn and asked if I had given Argo his evening hay. I replied I hadn’t yet; I was still working on barn chores, so he offered to take out his evening meal.
Now just to give you a little history on my husband, he was raised on a dairy farm, his experience with horses did not start until he met me. Jeff is a very gentle man when it comes to the horses. He has been invaluable to me when I have a difficult mare in for breeding, I can always trust that he will be on the end of the lead with that mare and talking to her and being kind, but yet firm when needed. He always has been good with the horses in our care, sometimes a bit naïve, but always gentle and never has he even thought of manhandling a horse, like some men do. He rides about once every two years and I really wish during those times that osmosis would work with two people, who sleep in the same bed next to each other, but my senior stallion, Malarky is very good to him and Jeff appreciates it. Jeff is not in the barn on a daily basis, but he does help when needed.
Anyway, back to the night in question. Jeff takes out the evening meal. He knew I had been offering my hand with hay in it, and he decided to do the same, but instead of giving the hay to Argo and sitting next to it, Jeff sat on the hay and offered a handful of it to him. I guess Argo was not impressed, but Jeff just held it out there for him. After a few minutes Jeff casually dropped it a few inches away from him. Argo happily reached down a picked it up. Jeff did this a few more times with him and then to Jeff’s surprise on the 5th or 6th time of offering the handful of hay, Argo took it from his hand. I wish I had been there to see it, or at least have the video camera set up to “catch the moment”. Jeff hand fed hay to Argo for a few more minutes and then on the last handful Argo’s lip brushed over Jeff’s thumb. I guess the “touch” was just too much for Argo and he stepped back from Jeff. Jeff again just dropped the hay for Argo and he eventually came back in and took the hay.
When Jeff came back into the barn and excitedly told me what had happened. I couldn’t believe how extremely jealous I was that it was anyone but me who had had that first moment with Argo, but I was. I did my best not to let it show to Jeff. He was so very proud oh “His” moment as he should have been. It made me sit back and think though as to how perfect I try to be with Argo, and here comes Jeff with no significant experience in training a horse, just a gentle nature about him and Argo takes hay from his hand. Ughhhh!
I am extremely happy to say though, that for the past few days Argo has begun taking hay from my hand, it has been extremely rewarding to me. I know I have said this before, but looking into Argo’s eyes, there is such wisdom there. I am so honored that he decides on a regular basis to share space with me. The seeds of faith are slowly sprouting.