Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Maia
I searched for a task, anything to keep me busy, to keep from pacing up and down the grooming area. I kept hearing imaginary engines pulling imaginary transport trucks down the drive. I would poke my head out the locker room door, and sigh in disappointment, nothing. Diane was in the ring for a lesson when she finally arrived. I rushed out to meet the huge truck, searching the trailer windows for a dark bay filly, with an L plastered on her forehead. The driver jumped down, cowboy hat and all. She was shipped from South Dakota, after all. I walked around the back of the rig to get to the driver’s side, and he had already opened the top gate of her stall. The second I turned the corner, she stuck her head out and looked directly at me, a blank stare. I caught my breath. She was here. I couldn’t believe that I had gotten my second horse. And this was no quarter horse, like my old buckskin mare, Lady. Oh no. This was a well bred, registered, beautiful moving Holsteiner filly, and she was all mine.
The younger, soft spoken driver walked with me as I led my new horse into the barn. We walked down through the grooming area, and on into the stall area. The beautiful pine wood lining every wall of the barn was enough to make someone ooh, but the Dutch door stalls with pine green steel and the fans whirling from the 30 ft. ceiling added some ahhs. We walked slowly; I watched the filly’s feet clop on the cobblestone hall floor. Her feet needed to be done; I needed to choose a farrier. She was put in the furthest stall down, and it wasn’t easy to get her in. The girl had been on a truck for three days, I didn’t blame her for wanting time outside. I got her hay once she had been backed into the stall. The shipper explained that she had been tough to get her on the truck every time they loaded up. I apologized. The guy watched her in her stall for a minute, as if to say goodbye. Then we walked down the aisle and he handed me the paperwork, hopped in his truck and he was gone. Diane was still in the arena, in her lesson. I turned to walk back down the aisle, to the very end.
I was surprised at how mellow she was, but I knew she must be tired, and now she had delicious eastern Oregon hay to eat. I leaned on her door and really looked at her for the first time. She was leggy, she was lean and a little lanky, but really not bad for a two and a half year old. She had already gotten a good part of her winter coat, much darker then in the videos and all the pictures. In the summer she had dapples and she was a brilliant bay, like glossy dark chocolate. Her neck was still a little short, and her withers were slim, but she already had a built back end, which made me grin. She had multicolored feet, and three ankle socks, two with black spots in them. Her most remarkable feature, though, was the large L in the middle of her forehead. I stood next to her in the stall, talking quietly and stroking her.
“But you’re not a loser; you’re going to be a winner.” I whispered as I stepped out of her stall. I spent the rest of the day at the barn, checking on her every now and then, making sure she was content. That night, I played it over in my head, trying to picture her, trying to picture what was in store for us.

The next couple weeks showed me all the things that grown and trained horses do that now go unnoticed; like standing in the cross-ties, for instance. It was day 2, and the filly was leaning back, bracing on the green nylon halter she had come in. She was filthy from the 3 day trip in the trailer, but it was my luck if she let me get the brush even a foot from her side. Each time I would step behind the rope attached to her halter, she would swing her entire body in my direction, and she wasn’t a small 2 year old, either. She started charging the ropes, moving forwards and backwards, as well as side to side. On occasion, another horse would be standing, perfectly still, and would look at her as if to say “I’ve been there.” I quickly learned to swing the lead at her face whenever she charged forward, and sometimes it even would work to get next to her. I read of many recommendations saying to have 2 people while training a baby, simply because it took less time and it was easier. I never took the suggestion. A couple of times Diane would see me struggling and would move over to help me, but besides those few times, I was the only one to touch her.
Once I had discovered the swinging rope technique, along with how much my new horse liked to be curried, things got easier. I went and bought a leather halter, which she broke by flipping over backwards the very day I got it. Diane was actually pleased when this happened. She said it scared the living daylights out of her, and she probably wouldn’t ever do it again. (Turns out it was one of the many things Diane has been right about, it never did happen again.) I got a replacement crown piece for the halter, and used the old broken one to make a handsome collar for Dartagnan, my black lab. Day in and day out, we fought, and then we compromised. The quicker she let me curry and run a soft brush over the whole of her body, the quicker we got to go for our now daily walk on the maintained trails that covered about 80 acres of Diane’s property As soon as she realized what our deal was, I was able to use the vacuum on her with no problems. Grooming training was nearly complete.

1 comment:

  1. Hillary, you are a very gifted writer! I really enjoyed reading about your Maia, more than I can express. What a wonderful story you've started. I look forward to following your blog. Keep it up!
    Uncle Pete