Where do ‘grandma’s horses’ come from, what are their origins? Just as all grandmas were once young women, some surely more wild than others, such must be the same for the horses who earn this moniker.
Continuing the metaphor, on the ground, Veronica is closer to middle-age. Not quite ready for grandma, but with that in sight. She is, these days, quite easy to catch and lead. She stands well for grooming all over and tolerates long braiding sessions, she’s cooperative with the farrier, and she no longer considers a blanket as something that might very well eat her. She went from a practically feral horse, skittish and shy, to one we use to teach newer volunteers how to be around horses.
But under saddle, Veronica is in the earliest phase of the grandma’s horse pipeline, the amount of life she has terrifyingly electric in her veins. The touch of a rope against her hocks is still sometimes enough to send her into a tizzy, that sense of self preservation which exists in her fighting against all the tools we have tried to instill. But we believe in Veronica. She has made such astounding progress already, it just will take a while longer before she’s ready for the grandkids.
Aside from our standard groundwork, we are trying to excavate any and all hidden spots in Veronica, and help her find comfort through moving her feet, even in situations that might spark fear. Recently, a lot of work has been done with Veronica and a tarp – such an innocuous object, but one whose terror really knows no bounds when it comes to horses. It can flap! It can drag! It can crinkle and crunch! Walking over it is, for some horses, akin to traversing the deepest of oceans. Having it wriggle in a man-made breeze conjures all sorts of terror-inducing thoughts. In short, it’s the perfect object for training.
Veronica has spent a lot of time recently getting to know the tarp. It has been on her back, under her feet, above her head, against her side. It has been dragged on the ground around her, and tossed casually around across her. We are trying to invent new and unique ways to expose Veronica to the tarp. Why? Because there are still moments when it bothers her, and if we are looking for Veronica to be grandma’s horse in the future (like, distant future) then a little tarp action shouldn’t be any worry to her at all.
In the below video, Terry discusses how she utilizes the tarp in her work with Veronica:
Ultimately, each wave of the tarp is a step towards this special mare’s success. And while it may be some years yet, we hope to give Veronica the best possible chance at one day being grandma’s horse.