|On October 18, 2007 several months of waiting and planning were met with finally having a horse at our home again.When Saoradh was dying, I had the impression that I should adopt a PMU Foal, that one would either be sent by him, or would be his reincarnation, as we tend to believe our animals often return. I had a feeling that if I felt I was right about the return and the foal was a filly that she’d be named Saorsa, after Saoradh. “Saorsa” means freedom as well, although “saoradh” has a “redemption” quality to it and “saorsa” is more “liberty.” And to those who might be reading this who have particular care for that word as a political expression, I am NOT doing this lightly.
We decided to adopt through Spring Hill Horse Rescue and applied on Saoradh’s birthday. We waited to hear if we got approved and began work on the barn (well, Aaron did most of it). After our approval was the anxious wait for the actual event. And more work on the barn. Until October arrived and eventually with the it the foals. Due to a scheduling issue with the young woman hauling for us, we had another wait…but at least we knew our little one was safe in Vermont.
The trip did not go as planned, of course. The plan was for Aaron and I to pack up the pack and ride down separately from the haulers. This was mostly as Scolaighe has been quite ill. So, after me getting only a few hours sleep due to work and a class, going to the class and hoping to get in some nap time, well…Bran refused to eat his dinner. When Bran doesn’t eat you know he’s sick. So I didn’t sleep, staying up with him instead. And then we decided he really needed to go to the vet, fearing that if we carted him to the Rutland area he’d died somewhere along the way. So…we decided that I would ride down with the haulers and Aaron would stay and try to get Bran to the vet. (He did, they x-rayed and couldn’t find anything…so it was wait and see. I’m glad we didn’t drag him out for the much longer ride, but, you know, I was hoping for more of an answer than that. In a few days it cleared up and was probably due to something he ate which he shouldn’t have).
Anyway, I didn’t really sleep on the way down of course. Skipping to the part you want to know we got there and this is what we saw:
That is her with a paint buddy keeping her company while she waited. Although she’s ignoring me at this point, she was very alert and taking things in. It was love at first sight for me, but not so much for her.
She really didn’t think leaving her buddies and getting in the trailer was a good idea, but eventually complied. The trip home was even less sleep inducing but I was actually feeling less physical affects. We stopped a few times and I would talk to her, but she kept her distance. When we got home we managed to make a chute out of metal gates and hay bales. She wasn’t coming out of the trailer now that she was in it. I got in and managed to touch her face briefly, then she moved away from me, I hooked my arm around in front of her to get her to move away from my hand and got her to finally move out.
She then walked right along the chute and into the stall, nosed the clean bedding and pooped. That’s that. She was home.
She is a dun American Quarter Horse, whose registration will probably remain forever in the name of her breeder. Why? Because the AQHA is pro-horse slaughter and fought against the closing of the three plants in the US and are fighting hard to prevent the Horse Protection Act, which will prevent shipping of horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter as well as prevent any chance of a plant reopening or starting in the US, from going through. Because they’re “brilliant” breeding program is all about quantity over quality, wanting slaughter as an option to cull. I know it will probably be a pointless act, but I may be writing to them telling them that I refuse to join and transfer because they’re not getting one red cent of my money unless they change this policy.
She has a great “oh, that’s what you want? Okay” attitude. She responds to pressure and release very well. I will have to start teaching her again to move out of my way though, as she’s gone from automatically moving away when approached (after all, ALL her interactions with humans have been them chasing her from one location to another, other than sticking her for a blood test and possibly worming her) to standing in my way when patting her is not what I want to do. I had given her a day off before starting touch training, which went quickly, within minutes she was letting me touch her with my hands and a rope. The next day we did halter training to prepare for the vet.
The vet freaked her out a bit, setting us back a little in the training. Even now, a month later, she’s still distrustful of Aaron who apparently remind her of the vet. But they have a long time to work things out.
A month later she’s settled in and starting to show some attitude and spunk. The footing already is limiting some of our work together, although out on her own she seems to have no problem.
I’m really bad at maintaining this site, blogging and social networks get in the way. So much of Saorsa’s training, or lack thereof for some time, gets chronicled there. This includes our homesteading blog now Dùn Sgàthan Notes, but here’s a bit of a summary of the last four years. First of all not a lot happened. With my night job, I felt overwhelmed by my young filly when I got home. I hired a trainer and some progress was made, but most of what I did with Saorsa was groom and hang out, with various exercises to keep her good about giving to pressure and backing away out of my bubble. She still had issues with the whole personal space bubble thing, was nippy and just plain felt she didn’t need to do what she didn’t want to.
Her personality is such that she isn’t afraid of anything, isn’t overly reactive, is very much a left-brained thinker. As you can see above she loves playing the pond, we actually had to fence in a section or she’d swim out, this love of water translates to even liking to be hosed down which most horses just hate.
It was clear from the beginning that she has “trail horse” written all over her. She just needed more training time than I could give and she needed a herd. But neither was working out. This past summer I made certain that the trainer could come at least once a week and that I’d spend more time with her myself. We also really did put it out there that we needed another horse, both for her and one for Aaron. The same trainer, Cory, had a mare returned to her after three years and we got ready for Misty.
She changed a lot through the degree of training she was getting this summer, although she could still be rather violently disagreeable at times. She LOVED getting out on the road and barely blinked at cars, some going too fast went by. She’d explore the banks go through the brush with no question.
We’re going to wait until next summer, when she’ll be 5 to back her. We want a lot more ground work on her first. We hope to continue to do what work we can through this winter, then start back up full speed in the spring. We’re also hoping that with Misty her attitude will be checked a bit and it will help with getting her to be the partner I think she has the potential to be.
Not the end, by far…so much updating to come!