Friday, August 31, 2007

Despite his pretty coloring, this five year old pinto was hard to adopt

The longer a horse has lived their life wild, the longer it takes to gain their trust and confidence. You can tell them till you're blue in the face that you only want what's best for them; that fences are there to keep them safe from semi trucks passing down the road or cougars out in the trees. They don't understand you, of course, and they take a long time to convince.

Some can never be convinced. We can offer food and water and shelter...but they'll turn their backs on us. Sunny is proving to be like that. She wasn't even that old when captured or adopted, but she's made up her mind that she doesn't want to be handled or taught to do things that she thinks are unimportant. She gladly accepts food from my hand, but doesn't want to repay the kindness with any form of relationship.

Quiet Storm, being adopted at such a young age, came around very quickly. Jet's natural curiosity has made her even easier. My farrier, Cheryle, has a gelding that wasn't adopted until he was 5 (or was it seven?), and he's proven to be a real challenge. He's taken a long time, just like Sunny, to win over. The older they are, the harder it is.

Quiet Storm and Darling buddied up quickly.

Domestic horses are introduced to a concept when they're young; at birth, for most of them. They're taught not to fear and can be approached in a completely different manner than their wild counter parts. I once bought a filly who, at age three, had yet to be halter broke. Still, she'd lived her life around humans and didn't have any fear of us when we haltered her for the first time. Her relationship with humans had begun at an early age, even if formal training hadn't.

Quiet Storm was a baby and her fear and distrust disappeared rapidly. Jet, a bit older, was naturally curious and came willingly. Sunny, no matter what I do, still hangs back. I offer her everything that is good for her, but she'd prefer to turn her back on me. Imagine how much more fearful she'd be if she'd been a couple years older before finding herself in captivity?

My horses are all offered a choice; a choice to trust and become productive members of equine society. Jet and Quiet Storm have made that choice; they've become willing, valuable partners. If for some reason I were forced to give them up, they'd stand a better chance of finding homes that would care for them. Sunny has yet to make the choice. She's come close, but not totally given herself over. Right now, Sunny is a prime candidate for slaughter, or worse yet, be be left abandoned or abused by someone who just tires of her and gives up. Which is why I don't give up. Sunny has great value to me in that I know what the outcome will be if she's allowed to stay the course she's currently chosen. It may take years, but I'm unwilling to give up on her.

Sunny sees herself as capable of taking care of herself in this world. She's the independent sort who thinks she doesn't need anyone else to see her through. You and I know that isn't true; she's very dependent on her owner in order to survive.

These reflections caused me to see a distinct similarity between my relationship with these horses and Christ's relationship with us. Some of us are introduced to Him at an early age. It may be an introduction like the three year old filly; we know He's out there and that He brings us good things and that there's nothing to fear, so that when formal training happens later, we're not shocked or opposed to it. It could be that we're introduced a little later, but still with open and curious minds. Or maybe...maybe we're like Sunny. Maybe we don't want to believe that there's someone out there that will love us unconditionally, no matter what choices we've made in the past or will make in the future. But just as I will continue to give Sunny every opportunity to make her choice, Christ will do the same for us. Yet his rewards will be so much greater.

Sunny struggles to accept the gift that is freely given.

1 comment:

photogchic said...

Very reflective post Tracey. Thank you for all the work you put in on your horses. I understand the frustration and the desire for that connection with Sunny. She will come around.