Much like watching a plant grow, it is difficult sometimes to see the change in something unless you can clearly see from where you began. Sure, you know it’s different, but how different can be hard to quantify without a comparison.
We first met Artie as a untouched stallion, one whose extreme amount of self-preservation came by way of necessity. When you’re defending a band of mares, it works in your favor to always be looking over one shoulder, to react strongly and quickly to something coming over top of you, to kick out at things that have the misfortune of rubbing you the wrong way. But when you’re a horse bound for domesticity, these traits become a bit less desirable. The threat of things above you makes it very difficult to ever wear a rider, and the casual brush of something against your hocks means the farrier needs to consider taking out a more robust life insurance policy before touching your feet.
Artie showed us from very early on that these ingrained traits would not go quietly. His initial reactivity was what had us relegating him to companion status in the first place, feeling that the amount of work it would take to make him a safe riding horse would lead us all down a steep and difficult road. But if horses do anything, they surprise us time and time again. Artie showed us that with a little bit of patience and a lot of time, he could accomplish those things we thought were out of the cards for him, one example being working through things in his blind spots.
In his early days, Artie had an incredibly difficult time changing eyes. Having something behind him in his blind spot, even for a moment, caused him a lot of anxiety. On his better days, this looked like a quick spin. On his not as good days, it looked like a sharp kick in the direction of whatever was behind him. So much time went in to helping Artie through this spot of anxiety — hours upon hours upon hours spent helping him change eyes, showing him that that scary flag or rope or person wasn’t out to get him. And slowly, sometimes nearly imperceptibly so, Artie began to change, to see the light, if you will, even if that light was in his blind spot at first.
This short video shows Artie at a place close to where he began (those earliest days, unfortunately, live only in our memories), fearful and anxious to change eyes. It ends with Artie where he is today, a lot more willing to let people in that blind spot, to change eyes, to have things touch him. Something I didn’t mention was Artie’s other blind spot, under the chin, which is a story for another time. But you can take my word for it in believing that he has come a long way in this department as well.
We knew that Artie has transformed from a seedling into the beginnings of an impressive tree, but it is very fun to be able to watch back and see exactly how far he has come!