When Henry first stepped off the trailer last November, he was a nervous gelding with his head on a high swivel. While the majority of the Graham horses we took in that day allowed us to bustle around them quite casually, gathering measurements and even some basic vitals, Henry remained wary of his new surroundings, of us. He was a delicate and sensitive guy, and would require a little longer than some to settle.
Every day, we told Henry that he could stay as long as he needed. And every day his head began to come down in increments, his anxiety reducing. We put him into work, where Bonnie helped him learn how to relax. Over the many hours they spent together, Henry learned how to stop panic-running along the edge of the round pen when sent loose, how to understand that the touch of a flag was not a scary thing, how to load onto a trailer calmly, and how to tune-in to his handler in a way that wasn’t simply out of fear, amongst many other things. He was a soft and responsive horse, and one who all that worked with him would describe as ‘a pleasure to have in class.’ Bonnie’s hard work alongside Henry helped set the stage for the day when he would meet the person who would take him home forever.
That day came in the summer, when a young, horse-loving lady contacted SAFE looking for a horse of her own. She was not looking for a riding horse, but rather a companion for herself, to dote on and shower with love and attention. When she met Henry, she fell in love. And Henry, who had come a long way from that gelding we first met, who was nervous to be haltered and handled, helped to show her what all he’d learned.
After several visits that helped to strengthen and solidify the bonds between horse and human, Henry was ready to make the trek to his new home. The morning of his departure, Henry only hesitated for a moment before hopping on the trailer, his second ever ride. Upon arriving, his human was there to greet and support him in his new environment, showing him around with the same love and care that Henry would receive every day for the rest of his life. After about an hour, Henry relaxed into his new home, and even came into a stall that night, something relatively new to him, without issue.
Over the last month they have been together, Henry, who is now called James, and his girl have spent loads of time together, and it was music to our ears when she told us at the end of their trial period that she wanted to keep Henry forever! It is a common belief that every young girl’s dream is to have a horse to call her own, and I think the only thing better than being a girl with a horse is being the horse of a girl.