hahaha, famous last words.
A day or two into owning Blaine, we realized that he was quite a bit different from the dealers description. He was frightened for starters, he behaved like a youngster, and he was a lot smaller than we expected. It turned out that he was a LOT younger than advertised, he was just going 3. He had clearly been sedated for the farrier, as his shoes were fitted too perfectly, and he didn't even know how to pick up his legs. We quickly realized we were out of our depth, so we called a trainer in. Catherine has always been straight, and to the point, which is what I love about her. On meeting us, she asked, pointing to me "how old is it?" to which my mom responded: "it' is 13 years old." "Well," Catherine replied "I don't do children."
Her impressions of Blaine weren't any more positive. "He's the most frightened horse I've seen in 20 years of training horses, its the blind leading the blind, green on green, it won't work. But, let's see what we can do" after spending an hour with Blaine and me, she sat me down, and told me that the only condition on which I could keep Blaine, is that he won't ever be a riding horse. She told us that he'd been improperly backed, and that we'd have to restart the backing process, but there was a very high chance that he'd never be rideable.
I could write a book about Blaine, and I'm sure that I eventually will, but to sum it all up:
The journey of discovery and trust with Blaine has been the most rewarding thing I've ever done. It matured me, and challenged me to find the heart of horsemanship. It challenged Catherine, because suddenly she had to 'do' children, and she discovered the love that a family can give. It challenged my parents, who had always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, but were they leading me down a dead-end? It challenged Blaine, to forgive. To trust.
It isn't all fun and games, putting the relationship first has been a challenge!
We initially thought that we were helping a troubled horse, but we didn't realize that we had signed ourselves up for a life-long development course, that he would help us. Five years down the line, Blaine and I have the most amazing relationship. He is my 'go anywhere, do anything' horse. I can ride him, bareback and bridleless. We did pay a huge price, financially, emotionally, and time-wise and it was two years before I sat on his back. No one believes his history, as he is now a calm, people-loving horse. I'm now confident to put beginners on his back, and allow the children to lead him around. Not only is he a great riding horse, he is also a Parelli Level 3 online, and Level 2 at liberty. The ultimate test of his new-found confidence, was whether he would trust other people, particularly adults. When preparing to come to Tanzania, I realized that I would have to do something with Blaine, and went about looking for a loan home. He is now being loaned by an adult who is new to natural horsemanship, and Blaine is so happy and confident, that we are considering extending his loan.
A year after first seeing Blaine, I was asked by my dentist where I had put the old, frightened horse. Anyone that knows his history wouldn't believe that its the same horse!
"So you want to work with horses...its time you got an unbacked youngster, that'll put you off..." Thus said Catherine Edwardes, the horse trainer, who was watching my career ambitions with a degree of trepidation. Of course Catherine, who by now was more of a friend and mentor than trainer, should have known better. After all she was talking to the same person she had warned that Blaine would be a failure ("blind leading the blind, green on green, it'll never work!") and now, after two years of hard work and persistence, I was slowly gaining Blaine's trust. When Catherine told me to buy a youngster, I wasn't deterred, rather excited by this challenge! I went about searching the 'Horses for Sale' internet sites, and quickly came across Waznot.
Interestingly, every one of my horses has been the first horse I've looked at; none of this travelling across the country to find the 'perfect partner.' This is partly due to the fact that I'm a girl, and yes, I'm prone to falling in love with the first four-legged animal that comes my way. I'm also a very decisive person, and I honestly don't think you can buy the perfect horse, rather find qualities you like, and develop them. I also have a wonderful support circle; my parents, mentors, friends and family have been great. Financially, emotionally, and spiritually - they have been there! I have also prayed for guidance in my choices.
We bought Pippin partly as a companion for Blaine, and partly because we fell in love with his great looks and personality. Now 20 years old, Pip is the type of pony that every mother dreams of. We can leave children as young as 4 in his capable hands (hooves), and not need to worry. He taught both my younger sisters to ride, but he now officially belongs to 8 year old Kate. Kate and Pippin have the most fantastic relationship, and were pleased to pass their Parelli Level 1 assessment, and are now looking at submitting their Level 2. Unfortunately Pip has had back problems and Kate is now beginning to get too heavy for him. As a result, we are looking for a new pony for Kate, and plan to semi-retire Pippin. Kate will continue to do On Line and Liberty work with him though.
He was my mum's darling in every possible way. I was privileged to ride him for our final year in South Africa. We owned Histor pre-Parelli days, but my mum had a beautiful relationship with her first horse, and he has a very special place in our hearts. Tragically, Histor died of cancer in 2006.
This was the first horse I had on loan. I shared Bravestar with my older sister, and a friend. He was sweet and experienced, exactly what a bunch of children needed! Sadly, I don't have a photo of him.