My plan for Rhythm up to now was to just get her acclimated and relaxed in her new home. Eating and drinking where top priorities and I did not want to stress her any more than she already had been up to this point. She's had 2 weeks or so to destress and I can see a visible difference in her demeanor and body every day.
When she came she was depressed and guarded. She comes around quickly so I also saw hope. I put as little demands as possible on her and just let her 'be'.
Yesterday was our first ride, if you could even call it that. The rescue people ( at http://www.ac4h.com/ ) put up a youtube video of her being ridden when trying to place her in a home so I knew she was broke. I really appreciated that video and the people who are willing to try these horses out like that. I am not that brave!
I am taking it slow so I can gain her trust and see what I have to work with. I see Rhythm tense up at the sight of the saddle so caution is always in order with a horse of unknown background. You really don't know what to expect so I took it slow. For all I know she could be one of those horses that flip over backwards when saddled. I girthed her slowly and just lead her around. She showed some anxiety so I wanted to see her relax.
My whole plan is for her to see I mean her no harm and am not going to overwhelm her. As a fellow trauma survivor I know how overwhelming seemingly routine activities can be when coming out of a bad experience. Being pushed when frightened never helps. Who knows how she was treated or what was done to her? I assume the worst and treat her with gentleness and respect. She is not showing any signs of being pushy or aggressive... just guarded and apprehensive. She respects my space so I don't have to enforce any boundaries. From this I know she just needs assurance and gentleness. I can do that.
The thing that is so rewarding is seeing her respond. Horses are so cool this way. I take the pressure off and I get a chew, a softening eye, a sigh , or a head dropping just a touch. these are all signs she is relaxing and taking in the experience in a good way.
To encourage her to do relax by doing the same. I know she is reading my body language more accurately than I can read hers. My body softens, my breathing becomes deep and slow, my eyes soften and my touch is light. I get one and off a couple times from the mounting block. I steer her just a bit so I can get a feel for what she knows. I put her back in her stall. Short and sweet. We'll do just a bit more today. This really is SO fun. She knows and I know things are going to be alright.
The above artwork is for sale by online auction at e-bay. 25% of the sale price goes to the rescue that helped me get this horse. I use my artwork to feed my horses and my horses feed my artwork so feel free to pass along the link to anyone you know who might have an interest either in my story here or my artwork. You can see more at http://www.suesteiner.com/ or my studio in the Canton Arts District at 324 Cleveland AVe. NW, Canton, Ohio 44702 at Second April Art Galerie. I currently have several pieces in the art exhibit, The Turning Point in the gallery in addition to work for sale in my studio. Just don't mind the mess in my studio.... I am redecorating and arranging in prepartion for our Open House April 30th. You are all invited , by the way! :)
equine and animal artist