If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my horse Ghost. The four-year old, half Arabian gelding, that I purchased in January. He lived the first years of his life in a big pasture, with limited contact with people. Of all the horses I’ve met throughout my life (hundreds,) he is the biggest challenge, including the wild mustangs I’ve gentled. Ghost is a gentle, very kind soul, with a high level of flight instinct in him. If he get scared, he will be out of sight in a blink of an eye. (Motion footage of him. To give you an idea of how fast he is.) Then you have nothing to work with, which makes things a little complicated. No method, or technique in the world can be successful if there’s no horse in sight (partly why I named him Ghost.) It’s all feel with him. It is both extremely frustrating, and rewarding, at the same time. I need to be 100% grounded, otherwise I have no horse to work with, period.
Ghost is very sensitive to pressure, and I’m not talking about physical contact, I mean the pressure of your eyes on his body, or your intention of doing something. That said, if he’s relaxed, he is very social. Loves to hang out, and he often showers me with kisses. As a bonding exercise with him I spend time every day hanging out in his pasture, doing nothing, or doing something, that isn’t work. I often bring a chair, and a book. One of his favorite things is to stand behind me, while I’m reading, with his muzzle gently resting on my cheek, or shoulder. He can fall asleep standing there. If I’m in the pasture doing something (cleaning up, fixing fences, cleaning water troughs etc.) he always grazes nearby. If I’m in my garden, next to the pasture, I can feel his eyes on me, at all times. If I’m in my bedroom, in the house, I often see him standing in the pasture looking at me. He is a very special horse. Some days he is scared of everything, and certainly don’t want to have his halter on. Especially those days, he looks for reassurance, a lot. He is a very verbal horse, he calls me out to the pasture, just to have me sit with him for a while, stroke his neck, and speak softly. After a few minutes, he draws a deep breath, sighs, and all is well in his world. Some days he need reassurance many times. I’ve noticed that if I don’t pay attention to this, he takes it out on my mare Fancy. That is when we get these problems of him biting her, that I’ve mentioned my concerns about a few times.
His beautiful summer coat have revealed some unique, twisted, spiderweb like, markings on his legs.
Ghost had lots of changes in his life this year, and I’ve realized that he wants me to slow down on my expectations. We may, or may not go riding this summer. I’ve told him over and over that it is not that important to me how fast things go. As long as he can be reasonably happy, and not hurt Fancy. For a while I felt that he distanced himself from me. I took it as a sign that he was jealous of my time with Fancy. That might be the case. I don’t know. Or maybe he felt too much pressure. I’ve limited our sessions in the round-pen, and increased time we play together at liberty, and just spend time grooming, hanging out. We spend a lot of time together every day, and I can see that he gets more comfortable by the day. That makes me incredibly happy.
Yesterday I had a barefoot trimmer out to work on Fancy’s hooves. Ghost have never had his hooves done in his whole life, since he haven’t been handled enough to be comfortable with that. He pretty much grew up like a wild horse. However his hooves are of excellent quality, some of the strongest I’ve ever seen. His Dam (mother) is an Arabian, and his Sire (father) a Mustang. Both breeds known for good hooves, endurance, and a wild spirit. Ghost is usually very reserved around people he never met, even people he met several times can usually not get close enough to touch him. That’s how flighty he is. Yesterday he approached Donna, the barefoot trimmer several times. He closely watched her work on Fancy, checked out her tools, smelled Donna’s hair, and even let her pet him. It was wonderful to see. Donna is a very soft, kind, and knowledgeable horse person. My smart boy surely realized that. It’s great news, because it’s going to make his first trim so much easier. His hooves are getting a little (not terribly) long, and he is going to have them trimmed, as soon as we can do it without him getting to upset about it.
Earlier this week I found Heather Binns amazing blog, Horse Magic. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon it, but I am so glad I did. It was soon obvious that I’ve started to read in the middle of a long, interesting story, about Heather’s experience with a horse trainer, that I’ve admired for many years. I even went to a demonstration he had in Europe. I’ve read all his books. This was interesting! I quickly found my way to the first post of this story, and I read post after post, I just couldn’t stop. I made a few comments here and there. I really appreciated the honest story. Heather is an animal communicator, and I asked her if she wanted to see if she could pick something up about my horse Ghost, if I sent her a photo of him (the first photo in this post.) She was willing to try. With her permission I’m sharing what she picked up from him. Thank you Heather for allowing me to share this.
The first thing I pick up about this horse is there was something amiss in early developmental stages – something he missed out on – or some trauma that happened. He can become confused and get frightened if something isn’t quite right. He likes a good routine. If things go smoothly all is okay. If something upsets him it can take a long time for him to feel right again. I think lots of understanding and going very slowly is the way to go!!! He knows you understand!
– Heather Binns, Animal Communicator
This made a lot of sense to me. He did have a trauma as a very young colt, being part of a bad hoarding case. I do feel that he isn’t as mature as your average four year old horse, he often acts more like a yearling. He does thrives on routine. It makes him feel safe. If he feels like I break his trust, it takes forever before I can touch him again. It makes me feel good to know that he knows that I understand him. I do love this horse so much.
Right now we’re being together in the moment. No pressure at all. Just being. Enjoying. Breathing together. Feeling good together.