Before she came to SAFE, Ciara was living alongside her filly, Inula, in a mud pit of a paddock. She was yet another of the Gig Harbor horses to arrive here back in May, and yet another who was afflicted by the same poor coat, long hooves, and lack of clean living conditions that also plagued her herd mates.

But when she stepped off the trailer that Saturday in May, her luck began to change.

Ciara is a curious mare, and while she was cautious and wary of people at first, we felt it would not take long to earn her trust. Over the fence on that first day, she allowed a few cursory head pets, and while she wasn’t accepting of a halter at first, it seemed to be more out of a bit of coy unwillingness versus fear or true misunderstanding.

So we started from the beginning. The time we spent with her in the round pen those first days reaffirmed for us that Ciara was a smart mare, but one who had learned some less than ideal concepts in her past, and was in need of a bit of a refresher. Ciara, like many of the other horses from her case, had a severe misunderstanding of pressure, defaulting to pushing into it rather than giving. She dragged against the feel of the rope with a bull-headed intensity, the concept of drawing in virtually unknown to her. It took a great deal of repetition, but eventually she began to get it, and by the end of day two was a bit more understanding of what was being asked of her, an understanding that would only increase with continued work.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it was clear Ciara had a good deal of un-learning and re-learning to do, but we were confident she would get there. We utilized her itchy coat as a way to get closer to her (who can refuse a good scratch?) but she was not ever really fearful of touch. Still, it took a bit of time before she was able to be caught out in her paddock, but we got there sooner rather than later. She was able to get her feet trimmed a few weeks after her arrival, and despite having some hesitation during those initial days of being asked to lift her feet, did very well for the farrier. She also saw the vet, both for vaccinations and a dental, and did very well for both. She has taken more and more walks outside of her paddock, into the big covered arena, and while cautious, becomes braver with each trip.

These days, Ciara continues her training, likely towards a start under saddle in the eventual future. The path ahead may still be long, but we are happy we were able to meet this mare to walk it with her.