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Penny's story - the one that got away
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Penny's story - the one that got away

The picture is of Penny; and I spent a long time trying to decide if I should write this article.

There are a few reasons for this; one I was worried that her owners would see this and be angry and the other factor was that I am still upset to this day that I had to give Penny back.

It was about six years ago when Penny came into my life. I was at a livery yard with two of my horses, letting my small field at home rest and making use of their facilities while I was there. Penny came to the yard with four other horses who all belonged to the same family. The family had a girl of 13 who was the main rider and who considered herself an experienced horse women.

Penny had been at a race yard although had never been backed. On her first morning out in the paddock she ran through the fence and along with another horse ran over five miles on the main road until she finally got caught miles away from the yard. She suffered extensive injuries and the vet was concerned she had permanently damaged the nerves in her legs from running on the hard surface of the road for so long. He wanted to do more tests to confirm this and to keep an eye on her but he never came back to the yard as her owner said she couldn't afford this.

Penny's owners gave her a couple of weeks rest and then went back to training her. Everything scared her; she had a permanent look of terror in her eyes when she was being 'trained' and considered anything you tried to do with her she took as a life threatening situation. They were so determined that they needed to back her as soon as possible that they persisted, even when it was clear that Penny was not mentally or emotionally ready.

One of their other horses was ridden so much on the road that when the farrier came; her shoe had worn away completely at the front and they were told in no uncertain terms that they needed to take better care of their horses or they would report them.

One day I arrived at the yard and just as I was getting out the car a terrible scene unfolded in front of my eyes.

Penny was in the school on a lunge line; the 13 year old girl was schooling her; pulling back and shouting and I could see the panic in Penny's eyes. She broke free and started running in frantic circles until she ran right through five rails and into the paddock next door. This didn't stop her though and she continued to run and ran right through another set of fencing and started heading down the long drive way to the main road.

The mother of the young girl shouted at me to get in the car and together we started to go after Penny. Someone else from the yard got in her car as well. By the time we turned the corner to head down the long drive Penny was already out of sight. We got to the main road and we couldn't see her anywhere. As we drove around we could still not see Penny. We drove around for a while, going down different roads to try and find which way she had run. As we headed back to the yard to start our search again, two people riding by pointed down in the ditch. As we looked suddenly Penny shot out of the ditch and started running on the main road. 

She ran on the main road with us following her until she saw some horses in another field and slowed down for a moment. We had to take that chance and got out of the car and got Penny under control as soon as possible. She was in a terrible state as we took her to a stable that belonged to the owner of the horses who she had stopped to see. What happened next I could hardly believe. No one wanted to call a vet; not her owner or the owner of the stables. She was bleeding from her legs; her nose and was clearly in shock.

So I called the vet and said if it came to it I would pay but there was no way she was not being examined.

Penny was taken back to our yard later that day and I knew that if something didn't happen someone, or she would die. There was no doubt in my mind that this was not only possible but probable. So I offered to have Penny on loan and to take her back to my house and my small paddock where I could just let her be; give her healing and the time she needed to balance out some of her emotional and mental issues.

I loved having Penny and over the following weeks she calmed down and became more balanced. I didn't do anything with her other than love her, heal her and let her be. There was no complex training system, no secret technique that I used, I just allowed her some time and let her be whoever she wanted to be knowing I was there to support that.

Penny was with me for about four months in total and I was desperate to make it a more permanent thing but when I spoke to her owners they insisted that I pay them a large amount to keep her or I had to give her back to them immediately. I didn't have the money and couldn't make it permanent arrangement, so Penny had to go back.

From what I hear they did break her in and she became a really good riding horse. I am glad that I was able to make a difference and from what I hear there were no further incidents that happened with her. Sometimes in our quest to ride we miss the chance to just let horses be for a while. All I gave her was a bit of time out with some healing and that was all she needed to go on to be the horse her owners wanted her to be. 

So beautiful Penny; I hope you are still happy and well wherever you are.  


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