Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Blind Jim

Sometimes working with Jim, our new to us, blind Appaloosa is like the blind leading the blind. Having always had sighted horses, we now tred on rather unfamiliar ground. Funnily enough, as much as he has special considerations, he’s also very much, a regular horse. He still tries to get away with what he can. He gets impatient, and must appreciate that blind or not, he has to behave and be obedient, just like every other horse.
There’s much we learned about our Jim in these first, six days of having him on the farm, especially as he comes to trust and be more comfortable with us. When he’s impatient with us, when he wants something, he pushes against whoever’s close with his big, freckled nose. When he doesn’t want something, like have his ears stroked (he hates that), his poll gently massaged while being crooned to (he thinks he hates that), he tries to push you away with that same nose. The pushes are very different from each other, yet the result is the same, you get pushed. This isn’t such a horrible thing. After all, it’s a positive change from the wary distrust and suspicion he came to us with. That horse was darn near impossible to catch. That horse was consistently nervous, gulped with fear at an unexpected touch, as if anticipating something awful, something painful. After only six days, this horse, this Jim of ours, is showing us a bit of his personality, and that’s a far better thing.
When he stopped walking away at the sound of the girlchild’s voice, but stood and waited instead, I knew we were on the way, to recovering his trust in humans, his humans. On the fifth day, there was no Jim in the round pen when sweetpea and I went to move him. Hubby was already all the way at the day pen with him. On the sixth morning, when sweetpea led him from the round pen to the big ring so he could graze, I stood far away and watched. As he’d been doing, Jim walked off when released from the lead with a last pat and a scratch. Then the most wonderful thing happened. The girlchild called him back, and he came. He looked in her general direction, and then just like that, came back to her. It was a beautiful thing.
Jim no longer flinches when touched. It’s time to begin teaching him that not only can he trust us, he must listen to us as well. We found out that not only does he not pick up his hooves, he doesn’t like his legs touched either. He threatened to kick, only to receive immediate verbal admonishment from both sweetpea and myself. Down went the big hoof. As she was busy wiping on bug repellent, sweetpea persisted. Up came that hoof again, just as swift as could be.
“Uh uh,” we warned in quiet tones that meant, no nonsense would be tolerated. “Don’t you dare. Put it down, Jim.”
He stood there, hoof up under his belly, as if contemplating his choices, and after about a good, long minute or so, he lowered his leg.
We have some work ahead of us, but that’s okay. He has so much to learn, so much angst to let go of. It’s going to take time. We’re working towards being able to touch his head and ears without protest. He has to learn to lower that great head of his, instead of imitating a giraffe, and he must relax and obey without fussing.
Jim loves sweetpea, Jim’s good with her boyfriend, and with the grunpy, old fellow as well. This sixth day, he’s finally good with me, too. I can finally walk up to him, while having a one-sided conversation. By the end of the day, he came to me when I called. Five steps at a time, but it still counts.
Tomorrow is another day, and another day of surprises to look forward to. Jim likes us, he really does.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB