Two weeks had passed since the little scared mare arrived with me on the lane that day. I had asked the vet to come and check her over and rasp her teeth down as they were sharp. Touching inside her mouth was akin to putting your hand in a bag of broken glass. She had struggled to eat, and the lack of food had forced her to seek me out. The moment she stood to let me feel inside her mouth, I knew there was a problem before I felt her teeth. She was feeling poorly, and she knew this was a moment in which I could help her. So following a few days recuperation and a good feed in her belly, I thought I would attempt to put her head collar back on. Now this was a trick! Over the days I had learnt that when she was frightened or felt threatened, this little girl would put her head in the corner, face her bum to me, and eventually just stand like a statue.
The flinching lessened to only when you moved fast, made a loud noise, or tried to touch her. In her “statue” pose I could reach out to her, stroke her rump gently, and try to remove some of the tangles in her tail. I realised that the best way to replace her head collar would be to lay a lead rope over her neck. Once she had done a few circles of her stable, and assessed the potential for attack from this foreign object, she would stand. From here I could put a head collar on with very little fuss. I was pleased, we were making progress. Now that I was satisfied she was not contagious, sick, or unwell in any way and had been wormed correctly, I brought Tom Thumb to meet her. Tom has always been a great foster friend for any new ponies that come into my care. He is small and friendly and happy with human interaction, I felt it was a good match. So with introductions out of the way, I gingerly opened the all the gates to provide a stress-free run-through to her new paddock. I wondered at this point if I would ever catch her or get close to her ever again.
Perhaps this was goodbye? Would she appreciate the time I had spent with her? And more so, would she care? I stepped back, took a deep breath, and left the passage clear. Slowly, a nose peeped out of the stable door, sniffing. Her eyes searched desperately, the fear was still there, like a flame burning brightly. She felt this was a trap, and wondered what the catch was. Was she free? Surely it wasn't so simple.. With a split-second decision, she lurched forwards. This was it, she was making a bid for freedom! Tom stood eagerly in the paddock awaiting her arrival, and she certainly made an entrance. With jelly legs she leapt and bounced into the muddy winter field, sending splashes of soggy soil into the air. Suddenly, she was a gazelle, free and elegant. Moving with grace, the wind in her mane. I tipped my head to one side and watched her; a smile spreading across my face, “It’s going to be a long long road” I thought, “But it will be worth it to see her flourish like this.” With a snort, she stopped at the other side of the paddock, looked me in the eye and gently nodded her head. Then, in a flash, she set off again at full speed, Tom trying his best to keep up.
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