Our longest resident at SAFE is a little chestnut mare named Lacey. 7 years Lacey has been here, so you would think that by this point we know her very well. And while this isn’t wrong, there are many ways in which Lacey remains an enigma to us. For a while she was going well under saddle – she had gone off to training, and had been put through the paces by multiple different riders. But there is something that lurks beneath the surface of lake Lacey we have yet to identify. Getting along with Lacey is easy until it isn’t, and that ‘isn’t’ can be dangerous.
So for a while, Lacey sat dormant as we decided what to do with her. She could go out any time as a companion horse, yes, but she has her fair share of challenges even in that realm. She has not historically been the kindest to the people in her space, especially if said people are asking her to move (and if food is involved, forget it). If you touch her back end at the right time (or, wrong time rather) you risk a kick. She is one of those chestnut mares who give chestnut mares their stereotypes.
And I don’t mean to be unfair to her. There are many ways in which Lacey is a wonderful, sweet mare. She loves dogs. She can have the very softest of eyes. She enjoys being brushed, and she has been the support buddy of many an anxious horse out in the arena because of how well she can stand tied. The people who have spent the most time with Lacey keep a chamber of their hearts reserved with her name on it.
But she leaves a question mark in our minds. How can we best serve Lacey going forward?
We have decided this year to once again give it a go with Lacey under saddle. With the help of Joel, we’ve brought ol’ Snooki back into the fold of our regular horsemanship program. The biggest challenge with Lacey remains keeping her lively (the old saying goes, a dull horse is a dangerous horse) and not picking a fight with her. This is especially true for her restart under saddle, as it will be hugely important for Lacey’s success to ease her back into the swing of things. It’s early days yet, and I don’t want to jinx anything, but even after just a few days of riding, the positive changes Joel was getting in Lacey during his time spent with her were appearing to stick. For now, her sessions will remain short and – hopefully – sweet, as to make the lessons we’re trying to teach her crisp and meaningful. It may take some time to either get Lacey over the hump as a riding horse or decide once and for all it’s the companion life for her, but with 7 years here already under her belt, what’s a little longer?
Ultimately, it is going to take a special type of person to get along with Lacey — or at least, one who can understand who she is and be able to meet her halfway. Or some days, 3/4 of the way. But no good relationship exists without compromise. Lacey is a handy little mare who just requires a special kind of partner, and while there may come a time when she lowers her standards a bit, we will never accept for Lacey anything short of the very best.