I didn’t always spend my days this way. I used to be called on for the tough jobs. If there was a bull that needed to be roped, they called me because I am big, very strong, and bulls don’t scare me…..llamas do, but who isn’t afraid of Llamas? If there was a cow who was having trouble calving, I brought her in. If there was a long cattle drive ahead of us, I went in the back to keep things moving along. I have pushed in between angry cows chasing farmers, I have tolerated excited young pups who liked to snap at my nose, and I have even pulled a truck out of deep mud!
All of that changed one day when a 3-year-old girl was plopped onto my back. She sat up there feeling my mane, and after a few minutes she proudly exclaimed, “I’m fableeous up here mommy, just fableeous.” She was hooked.
Over the years, our relationship has developed from me ignoring her while she sat on my back to where we are today. In the beginning, her feet didn’t come past the saddle pad, so I could pretend I didn’t know she was there and just continue eating grass while she practiced steering and clucking and kissing me into motion. I would never run no matter how many times she asked. I don’t like running unless there’s a good reason. As her legs have grown, and she has gotten stronger, I have found that it’s more important to pay attention to what she suggests, or her polite suggestion will turn into a drill sergeant’s command…….always followed by ‘good boy’ and lots of hugs.
My skill set has changed also. In the past, there wasn’t much criticism when I ran after a calf, but now I am expected to change leads, and be on the correct diagonal….whatever that means. I am sometimes subjected to being shown on the halter, which really makes me uncomfortable. I’ve never liked being the center of attention, and there’s something about those people looking at me so closely that makes me fidget. This really upsets my little boss, so I try to do my best.
I know the other geldings think it’s weird when I come home from a trip to town smelling like strawberries, with my mane and tail all in braids. Sometimes the elastics on my braids are pink, to match my ‘pajamas’ that she dresses me in to stay warm on the ride home. But here’s the thing – I am comfortable. I get more treats than they do. I hear the knickering and commotion when I am brought back into the pen, but don’t forget who I am guys!
I am still big, I am still strong, and I’m still the boss!
All horses should have the good fortune to be loved by a kid at least once in their life.