Welsh type mare, born approx. 2009.
A challenge that melted my heart.
In October 2014, a friend of mine, and the owner of a riding school that Pride and I did a demonstration at, got in touch. She was keen to tell me about a nervous pony she had seen while visiting somewhere to view another horse for sale. She informed me that this mare was in need a new home and said she would be perfect for me. A kind old gentleman had rescued this pony, who was being badly abused and beaten. When he took her on she was in foal and had given birth to a beautiful filly. He had had her for 2 years but was looking for someone who would put in the time and effort into her, in order to regain her trust. They were looking for someone who would do right by her, as it would be so easy for her to end up in the wrong hands.
At this point I had no intention of getting another horse. As far as I was concerned my little herd was complete and I was done collecting anymore horses. I was told that I should go and see her, and after some thought I decided I could at least visit and meet her.
I arrived to find a very nervous pony in the stable. I walked in and she ran around me in fear. My attempts to catch her were unsuccessful and I vividly remember as she dashed back and forth to try to escape me. I remember exactly when my thoughts turned to; “I have to take her, no one else will want her”.
I went in there with an open mind, and came out certain I’d take her.
On November 1st 2014 we went to collect Penny. She loaded surprisingly well, perhaps to escape the people around her, and she thankfully travelled well. I had created her own little area while she adjusted to life with me, but on the first evening she broke through the electric fencing and got in with my others. With the assistance of friends, we managed to herd her back into her own area, as my other horses were not being very helpful with accepting her.
She was terrified when I would go into her area with her to muck her out. She used to literally buckle at the knees and shake. It always filled me with an overwhelming feeling of sadness for her, as well as anger at those who had done this to her. Penny was used to her own small space from her previous home, and one day, when I came too close to her, she broke through the electric fencing and into the big field. She lost her mind completely and galloped flat out back and forth. She went down into the woodland at the bottom of my field, where she found a confined space she was happy in and would keep going back to that one spot. In the end I had to gently herd her back to the top of the field, which took considerable time but I was worried about her safety in the big field with how scared she was. Once she was back in her own area she was calm and content. I admit, at this point I wondered what on earth I had taken on and wondered if she’d ever come around to being a happy, relaxed pony who would accept humans. When I wasn’t at the field I was always worried about her, and if something had freaked her out. She stayed separate over the winter but her confidence started to build which was lovely. She started to accept treats from my hand, albeit while I was on the other side of the fence. As winter started to fade she was giving me signals that she wanted to go in with the other horses, it was as if she was telling me she was ready. So, with my heart in my mouth she went out into the big field with the others. At this point I still couldn’t touch her, but I’d never felt comfortable with pushing her too much so had decided to take things at her own pace.
The herd had got to know her over the winter and they settled together well. Being in with the herd did her the world of good and her confidence started to grow significantly. She would watch intently as I played with, and rode, the other horses. She has given me many moments of joy, and I remember the first time she approached me in an open field. I was crouched on the floor and called her over with a treat, to my delight she came over and accepted food out of my hand.
I allowed her to do her own thing, and would start to gently touch her back end as I walked past. Although she would trot off slightly, she was not as nervous and scared as she was previously. We made a game where she would come for a treat, and if she let me briefly touch her face could have the reward. It took a few months, but one day, as I was stood talking to friends, she came up to my side and without thinking I stroked her on the head. From that moment on, things have been progressing well, so that now I can walk up to her in the field and stroke her on the face and neck. We still have a long way to go but we are on the right track now, and the future is looking very bright and exciting.
Seeing her so happy and content now makes me smile every day and she warms my heart. She is learning to trust humans again, despite having such terrible experiences in her past. She has a heart of gold, and has never kicked out when I’m behind her, even when she has been absolutely terrified.
She is a bright light emerging from a dark place, shining my way for understanding, patience and compassion. I found something in her that I did not know I was looking for.