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Aspen Continued

Posted by greygelding , 16 October 2017 · 5,615 views

Each day I would head for her corral and she would retreat to the far end. I would approach her , wait until she was receptive, give her a treat, and then just walk away. I would sit for awhile in her stall then come out and brush the parts she would allow. I then would return to my chair and she would watch me work on my computer from a distance. Progress was slow but it was occurring. I could groom a bit closer to those sensitive ears and get closer to the tail. She started to come to the stall door and watch me from a closer distance. One day it all changed. She came into the stall, sniffed me, received a carrot treat, nuzzled my ear. The next day I was greeted with a loud neigh and she stared at me from across the arena, unmoving, as I spent time with Mayo. When I started towards her pen she neighed loudly again and headed into her stall where she could watch for me from her window as I was heading down the path. Passing her stall she went to greet me at the gate. From that moment on she would follow me everywhere I went when she could. She became friendly to all and readily begged for treats. Her reputation rapidly changed from a dangerous horse to the stable sweetheart. This was the horse I was hoping to get.
The next ride was entirely different. She didn't back across the arena this time but as the equipment and the rider were new to her, she was still worried about making mistakes. She is a very sensitive horse and will respond to the slightest touch. Apparently, someone in her past was a bit rough with her whenever she failed to do something properly. Knowing the seller I knew she wasn't the cause, in fact, Aspen seemed to really like her. I was sure it was a male judging from her reaction to me. We made rapid progress and it was time to take her out on the trail. She was naturally excited but was a bold horse on the trail with two exceptions. Large trees laying on the ground was something evil only surpassed by very large boulders right next to the trail. Fortunately, her trust in me was building rapidly and she quickly got used to them.
One day while working her on the arena, for some reason I can't remember, I stood up on her. Except for Chris, the stable worker, I was alone there and as I completed our lesson I stopped her and dropped the reins. Why I did it I'll never know but suddenly I wondered what she would do if I stood up on the saddle. She would stand perfectly still for me whenever I stopped her so with no indication of me having a brain in my head, I drew my legs under me and kneeled on the saddle seat. Aspen just flicked an ear and remained motionless. Emboldened by her acceptance I slipped my feet under me so I was in a crouching position now. Slowly, so as not to frighten her or lose my balance, I straightened up to a full standing position. Almost like she understood what was happening she never moved a muscle. I looked all around the stable from my new vantage point and saw that Chris had stopped cleaning a corral and was watching me with astonishment. I cheerfully waved to him, he waved back, and not wanting to push my luck I slowly returned to a proper position in the saddle. I showered Aspen with rubs and carrots and decided that I wouldn't try that again, well not more than two or three times anyway.
The next day Pam was up at the horses and of course, I just had to do it again.
"You're nuts, but I can't wait to get a picture."
I worked her for awhile then stopped her in the middle of the arena facing the bench where Pam sat. Up I went and Pam took a picture. As I settled back into the saddle I decided that that was enough and this would be the last time, after all, I now had a picture, but there would be one more.
A trainer moved into the stable with her clients. This filled the place up to capacity and made arena time a precious commodity. Aspen's corral was run parallel to the arena sharing the fence line. It was about three feet lower than the arena but afforded her a nice view. She would watch horses being worked and sometimes she found it exciting and would race around her corral rearing and bucking. One afternoon we were sitting on the bench watching the trainer doing slide stops and roll backs much to Aspens delight and she was really fired up. Sitting next to us was one of the trainers clients and she commented "Boy that horse is really turning it on. She's very pretty to watch. Too bad she can't be ridden."
"Thanks. That's my girl and I do ride her."
"She's actually rideable?"
"Oh yea. She's really a nice riding horse."
I could tell that she wasn't buying it so I decided to saddle her up and ride while the trainer was saddling another horse to work. I brought Aspen out and she proudly pranced on the lead over to be saddled. When the trainer was done with the current horse I asked if I could slip into the arena for a quick work. Receiving the OK, Aspen and I entered the arena. I stepped into the saddle, and just like she knew she was on display, she became the well mannered girl I had come to expect. Head arced and ears perked she made a pretty picture as we circled the ring. Generally I prefer to work in private and don't show off very often but this time I made an exception. I could see the trainer was just about ready to resume her riding so I headed across the arena to the gate when the little devil in me made me stop her. Dropping the reins I placed my feet on the saddle seat and stood up tall and proud. As I waved to the nice lady still seated on the bench next to Pam, a quiet descended over the place as everyone stared in disbelief. It seemed even the trainers horses were staring as well. It wasn't visible to the onlookers but I could feel Aspen slightly shift her weight. She had never done this before but I decided the time had come to finish our display. I maybe crazy but I'm not suicidal and as I rode from the arena I knew that was the last time for that stunt. I have never repeated it but I have pictures to remember it by.
One other thing I did a few times came from my younger years. With Primero I used to crawl under him when he was loose and come out either the other side or from between his legs. I haven't had another horse I felt that I could successfully do this with until now. Aspen wasn't too sure about this and shifted a foot the first time I appeared on the other side. Quickly growing used to this it became a fun way to saddle her. One day I was doing this in the arena when another boarder appeared and she spooked slightly and stepped on my leg. If I ever needed a reminder that this was a dangerous thing to do, this was it. realizing that I'm getting older it was time to stop the foolish and dangerous things.
Aspen turned into the most loving horse I have owned. When loose in the arena, if she spotted me heading her way, she would come racing at a full gallop to meet me at the gate. If I went into the arena she would follow me around or just hang out with me. Anytime I was talking to someone she would stand right there usually with her head between us and seemed to be listening to everything said. One day I was feeling like a nap was in order and Aspens footlocker looked perfect. I set up a camera, something I like to do, incase anything interesting happened. When I laid down on the locker Aspen came over and stood over me. The video shows her sniffing me, licking my hand, and finally yawning from boredom but she never left me unattended. When I was at the stable and she was in her corral she would "assume the position". She would stand at the corral fence staring at me as if willing me to drop everything and come to her. The only thing that would move was her head. The fence boards were at such a height that she would raise her head to see me over the board or she would dip her head to see under it. When I started her way she would neigh loudly and start for her stall to look out the window. Before she entered the stall she always took a last look through the fence to ensure that I was on my way. When loose in the arena, and she spotted me heading toward the gate, she would raced at full speed and do a slide stop at the gate where she would wait for me. The board owner started calling her my "four legged mistress".

November 2020

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