Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same applies to the education (or re-education) of some horses. Montana’s arrival at SAFE coincided with the end of summer last year, where we were spending lots of time picking up fallen apples from our trees and starting to think about stall assignments for when our herd started coming into the barn at night. Montana then was a nervous, snake-necked gelding who spent his days in the back corner of his paddock doing all he could to avoid the people who came to clean his pen.

It was apparent from the time we first got hands on him (honestly, even before) that his journey to being gentle would take a little longer than some. And that has proven true — nearly a year later and he still struggles with some of the more basic things like letting just anyone halter or brush him. But here SAFE, we are patient — good things take time, and that’s okay. Here for 6 months or 6 years, we will give the horse the time they need to grow in the ways they need to and find the situation that is best suited to them.

This is not to discount his forward progress. Thanks to a lot of hard work and the partnerships between himself, Terry, Joel, and Lexee, Montana has made some major strides over the past few months — he’s seen the vet for potentially his first ever dental float and vaccinations, he’s stood for the farrier and had all four feet trimmed, he’s come into a stall, been on a few trail walks, and, most recently, has begun getting saddled regularly.

The past few months Lexee has been working with him on closing the literal gap between the two of them, as well as preparing him to be saddled. Then when Joel came a few weeks ago, the pair finally cinched him up and have now continued his work with the saddle on. As Montana learns to turn loose to his handler, you can see the physical peace that washes over him as his feet get under him and he learns to move with balance. His poll area, once a spot that nearly sent him skyrocketing at the even suggestion of being touched, is now barely an issue. He even leans in on occasion to be being brushed on the face, another incredible display of his growth. Lexee says that she “loves watching his confidence grow and how he’s able to find the releases sooner in every session.”

It may be true that this special guy still has a journey ahead of him here at SAFE, but we will travel the road alongside him for as long as he needs.