Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Horse Tails

Summer Days of Jim

To see a horse come around and develop a relationship with humans after having its faith and trust seriously shaken, is a beautiful thing. To have a blind horse that had experienced things that most certainly terrified him, come to trust in a relatively short time, is truly amazing. In two short weeks, Lucky Jim has touched the lives of everyone who has met him, as well as many who haven’t. The ever so suspicious, ever wary horse that was difficult to catch, now comes when called. He doesn’t flinch or jump away at a touch anymore, or hardly ever. Putting the fly mask on, is no longer an Olympic event, and we’re working on getting him better with his legs and hooves. As soon as he picks up those big hooves of his for us, he’ll be getting a good trim.
For the last few days, Jim has been living beside the equine ladies that he’s eventually going to live with. From there he was moved into another pen, still beside Spirit and Aurora, but for the next step to going onto a pasture with them. He settled into this new pen without any issues, other than he takes issue with steel, water troughs. One could easily blame it on being blind. I’m more inclined to think, he’s had some unpleasant sort of experience with a steel trough. He’s not the first horse I’ve known that won’t drink from one. One was afraid because an electric, trough heater had shorted out, and the poor horse had experienced a significant shock. For that matter, the others had received shocks as well, from touching an electric fence wire, the same time as drinking. My educated guess, is that Jim’s experienced a shock in the past, and remembers it all too well. I wouldn’t want to drink from something that punished me either, so understand his aversion.
Jim has learned to follow a hand down to water or feed, which is wonderful, yet still not a solution. On hot days, horses drink a lot of water. Avoiding drinking, because he’s afraid of the trough, isn’t at all good, and we’re not always around to help him drink. Thankfully, it was a fairly easy fix. The plastic tub, Jim is comfortable drinking from, is now right beside the regular trough, problem solved.
We wanted Jim to get out onto pasture so much that I moved things along yesterday. Taking Aurora the Arabian into Jim’s pen, I walked her around on a lead, with no issues at all, not a one. Things were such a non-event, that I decided to take the next step. I released Aurora.
The funniest things happened. Initially, Aurora stood between Jim and myself, something Jim was clearly concerned about. When I moved around the suddenly protective Arab and met Jim, she left us both, to go and bellow at Spirit instead. Then the second, funny thing happened. I wasn’t holding onto either horse, and was simply standing there, calmly talking to them both, reminding them that I expected them to behave. Jim put his muzzle to me then began to walk by. At least, I thought he was walking by, he wasn’t. That big horse positioned himself directly behind me, and stayed there. No matter how I moved, he remained behind me. Apparently, I’m useful after all. Maybe I’m not his favourite human, or even his second favourite, but I do serve a purpose in his life. I’m more than just one of the people who feed and care for him, I’m a protector, and that’s a great thing. Jim figured that as long as he was with me, he would be safe. For a horse, that’s huge. He’s not running from percieved danger, he’s not making his own decisions, instead, Jim stayed with me, hid behind me, his nose to my back, as if making sure of where I was. Not only was it an amazingly wonderful thing, it touched my heart as well.
After observing a while, to make sure that there wouldn’t be any tiffs at this point, I left them to share the space for a little while. After about an hour, Aurora went back into the little, adjoining pasture she’s sharing with Spirit, and Jim had the rest of the day to himself.
We love how he comes to his name now, how he trusts us to guide him, and how he’s learning to relax. We were told, no, cautioned that caring for a blind horse would be a challenge. So far, it’s been no different, from working with any horse that’s suffered at the hands of humans. We’re mindful of his handicap, but it hasn’t been a problem. Today he grazed on pasture, and when evening came, he came when I called. From this day forward, he will go onto pasture for the day, eventually with both old mares, and not just Aurora. We look forward to the future, and can hardly wait to see what Jim is capable of. He’s a lucky boy, our Jim, and darn smart too.

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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