Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How the Appy Became My Boy, Part III

About a month ago, my sister's significant other stopped by the grooming area to say hi. I had finished working My Boy and I was giving him a brush down. While we were chatting, My Boy inappropriately nudged my head. I knew he was only saying, no time to chit-chat, it's dinner time. The boyfriend commented on how I was definitely My Boy's favorite one.

When I started leasing My Boy, his previous owner said this about him: he's kind of a one-person horse. What does this mean? Is there even such a thing? Experience has taught me that not all people click. Perhaps this is due to different backgrounds, personalities, or just different chemistry. I believe that animals are intelligent. They can sense how you feel around them. I have witnessed this frequently with the dogs and cats in my life. What about horses? I think we all want to feel that our horse loves us. I know, I know, sappy, sappy, using the word love and all. I reflected on my year and a half-long experience with My Boy. And I do feel pretty special and convinced that I am the one for him. And that he is the one for me. Hmmm. Is he my horsey soul mate?

It wasn't that way from day one. Like most relationships, we had to lay that foundation and build on it. Like meeting your significant other: the initial meeting is the easy part. The attraction is there. Then the hard work begins to maintain the relationship and continue growing together. All of you married folks are nodding your heads. When I first started leasing and riding My Boy, he had my number. My horsemanship skills were rusty and My Boy took advantage of that. Besides, he didn't know me from any other person in the barn. And he was being ridden by various people. We spent a lot of time backing up, standing in one place, all of the stubborn you can't make me do it horse behaviors. Nothing dangerous. He just figured he was smarter than me.

As I built my confidence and got back into the swing of working around and riding horses, we began to make progress. It was like he finally said, oh alright Pony Girl, I get it. You ARE going to make me do it. But once I took him over as a care lease, and eventually purchased him, I began to see some pretty significant changes. For one, nobody has been able to catch him without chasing him around the pasture first. For me, he'll either stand where he is or let me walk up and get him. Or, he comes to the gate; which he has been doing more frequently, and pushes his nose into the halter. He looks at me differently than he does other people. When I leave him tied at the grooming area to fetch something from the garage, he always watches for me to come back, and sometimes nickers softly as I walk back towards him.

My Boy is more "affectionate" with me, in appropriate ways that horses show affection. Now, let me clarify that My Boy is not always an affectionate horse. He is not, as they say, "in your pocket." He usually prefers to be 5 miles from any one's pocket. I have often called him "indifferent" or jokingly, "cranky." He's a little introverted. He kind of minds his own business. But I see precious moments in him, moments of contentment or happiness, and I know I have made a difference. I have noticed these changes increase as I approach my year and a half anniversary of spending time with this horse. He has become noticeably more friendly and approachable over time.

In his past, I'm not sure that My Boy was doted on or really cared about in the way that I do. He was a show horse, a working horse. Maybe it was all work and no play? Maybe there wasn't a lot of time to enjoy being a horse and having positive relationships with a human. Yes, still mindful of respecting the space and doing what you are told, but done with feelings. The feeling I care about him, that I am emotionally involved with him, that I want us to be partners. I think he can tell that difference and has responded to it. The cynics will say horses are just prey animals, reacting on their flight or flight instincts.....yes, I agree with all of that, too. But I believe there is more. My Boy and I are establishing a connection, of what kind or how to label it, I do not know. It's a journey we will continue to take, and it is only just beginning.

Now, why can't finding my cowboy soul mate go this smoothly?

My next mission is to do some research into My Boy's past. I have basic information regarding his breeding, but I also have one little tidbit in my hot little hands: the name and phone number of one of his long-ago previous owners (the man that owned him before the last two women that owned him, goodness, does that make sense?) I plan to place a call to him this week. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he calls me back, and that he is willing to speak and share some history about my horse with me. Stay tuned for a history lesson on My Boy!


  1. Great post! You have given him a spiritual home with work and care and love, the best thing a horse can dream of. The sepia-tone photos are gorgeous.

  2. Ahhh-- you have found the True Gem in an Appy's "soul".

    Yes, Appaloosa's are most likely to be a "one person horse". As are Paso Finos. I hear the same about Arbas too. I suppose you could find that attribute in amost any breed, but the App and Paso are the ones I have seen it in the most.

    Enjoy it. Revel in it. Build on it.

    You will not regret one second of it.

  3. I had a similar relationship with my appy when I was a teenager. After I sold him when I was 17 I regretted it and have ever since. But now I am working on a relationship w/my Morgan mare. She is a challenge but I do see some progress. I am glad that you and your My Boy have it. You are blessed.

  4. I am sure he will love to talk to you about your boy. There is just something about horse people, they love to talk horses. Your boy is a handsome guy. Who needs a cowboy! They just complicate things!! LOL!!
    I just started my Appy project two days ago.

  5. I LOVE this post. I have only had three soulmates in my lifetime, so far, and all of them have been animals. My Boy has been blessed to be given into your care and I can hear how much he's blessed you in return. Group hug!!

  6. what a sweet post! i love the treatment you used on the pics!

    now i have to go back and read parts 1 and 2!

  7. I love this post and also the pictures that back up the attachment you are writing about. It's clear to me from the photo's that he loves you too. What an amazing discovery and how special for you to be bringing out the best in him too.

  8. It's so great to have a horse start to respond to your relationship!I haven't had Jack for quite a year yet, so I am like you- noticing every little hint of affection. I love when he nickers at me too! Your photos are awesome :-)

    Oh and thanks for stopping by my blog. My dog is an Australian Shepherd. Isn't that what "your" dog is? He was a rescue and is deaf because of poor breeding, so that's why you might not think he looks like a regular Aussie. He's the BEST though!

  9. Hi girl,
    Love the pictures! Wish I was talented like that. Your relationship sounds alot like Harley and I except he did do scary stuff to me but I think we are good now. So great you have found the "one" in My boy.

  10. Sweet story! You and My Boy remind me of Trailblazer Martha and her horse, Curly. He was raised as a "ranch" horse, and never really treated that well until Martha got him. Thanks to her love and devotion--and a lot of natural horsemanship!!--Curly has really come out of his shell...even it it is ONLY for Martha.

  11. You two are definitely a great match! There's that wonderful affection that a gelding can give a girl that can't be beat - My Boy is so your boy - and that love will just continue to grow.

  12. Pony Girl-I need to double check with Martha, but I am pretty sure that she uses techniques from everyone;Clinton Anderson, Ken McNabb, Craig Cameron etc...

  13. Coming from someone who has had more meaningful relationships with horses than with people-I think it is wonderful that you and My Boy have found that connection. I have always found a particular joy in getting introverted horses to come out of their shells. There is just something about watching them discover their own personality.
    As for whether a horse is capable of "love" the way humans think of it-I believe in it wholeheartedly. A perfect example is Megan and her Strawberry. That horse loves that little girl, plain and simple.

  14. It is so obvious how much you love your horsey. What a pleasure to read! :)

  15. It is nice to read so many nice comments from other horse lover's that "get" the special relationship one can have with a horse. I do feel truly blessed! BEC- I can relate when I read that you've had some more meaningful relationships with people than horses- so true!! ;)

  16. Your post and story have touched my heart. It's so beautiful knowing that it's ok to love on your horse and to appreciate and recognize that horses have feelings and connections towards us, too.

    Most people I've met treat horses as property, as livestock, as something to use up and make them do as you want and then when they stop and are not considered useful anymore, then they are dumped.

    I love just hanging out with my Baby Doll. She and I will magically take deep breaths at teh same time and then breathe out great sighs of peace and calmness.

    I love when she lets me wrap my arms around her neck and smell that wonderful horsey smell.
    And I am trasnfixed when she 'grabs' me with one of her great big beautiful eyes and just focuses on me as if she is trying to tell me something telepathically. I hope one day I can learn to communicate that way.

    We are great on the ground. But in the saddle I am still green and she likes to test me each time by either stopping or ignoring signals or trying to trot when I didn't tell her to.

    Thankfully she gives up after she realizes that I'm not giving up, but I can't wait for the day that she doesn't create these tests each time we ride.

    Thanks again for sharing your relationship with My Boy.

  17. I love this post. My mustang, Buddy Boo, and I have a similar relationship. I absolutely love him and he is fond of me too. My son just purchased an appy at a very discounted rate due to a personality clash with the previous owner. My son clicked immediately with Sweet William and now the big boy has a new home.

  18. Pony Girl, I had a wonderful mare, Lady, for a long time before I moved to AK and gave her to another home where she is living out her old age with a wonderful buddy and doting owners. My mother-in-law at the time once asked my former husband if I didn't get lonely riding alone out there on the trail on the weekends? There are two answers, as it would of course be nice to ride with others (sometimes I did). But I told him, "I'm not alone; I'm with my horse!" She was always wonderful company...........


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