Stampede is well known both on this blog and amongst those who know him personally as a difficult special needs horse. Prone to spooking and almost running people over, getting anxious going to and from turnout and in turnout. Often he had to be brought in from his less than four hours of turnout early because he would get upset and just run. Then he would be in his stall, maybe pacing, maybe falling asleep then almost falling down due to sleep deprivation. The horse that wouldn’t lay down in his stall unless he fell. The horse that never ate all of his grain. The horse that didn’t like to stand in the cross ties in the grooming bay area – he would swing back and forth, pooping nervously every few minutes and calling to me if I left his sight. I gave up and just used the aisle cross ties where he would calmly stand most of the time.
Stampede required a hay pellet snack mid day and an extra third scoop of grain to maintain his weight. Later I even added a flake of one of those insanely expensive compressed alfalfa bales to his evening snacks. I went out daily, determined to give him the best care.
Under saddle he would be just as likely to be perfect as he was to be spooky about things that hadn’t changed. I gave up years ago on asking anyone to ride him if I was going out of town after a friend fell off once. No one else could get him on the bit anyways. I would specifically ask a friend who I knew wasn’t afraid of him to get him out for grass and take care of him when I would go away (Thanks R!). My friend D always helped keep an eye on him when I had to work extra and couldn’t get out.
Over the years Stampede has given me some good injuries on the ground – a badly swollen and angry foot from being stepped on and launched off of, a black eye, a split lip, and a bump on my arm so big my husband was convinced it was broken until I got x-rays. I’m sure I’m forgetting some.
I really had no expectation for who Stampede would become at home although I assumed it would help his arthritis having more movement. I had long forgotten the horse I fell in love with back in 2006. The one who after a year off quietly followed all my commands on the end of a lunge line the day after we met. A calm horse who while sometimes spooky was happy and inquisitive. A horse who went out all day on grass happily. A horse who laid down in his stall. The one who I trained on my own for over a year before changing barns to get some professional help.
So it has been a surprise to me to see the horse that has appeared at my house. Once he adjusted to the move I started noticing things here and there. With the option to come in any time he wanted, he never got upset. I put him in the cross ties for grooming and he doesn’t move all around and almost falls asleep with a leg cocked. He even enjoys a good curry now. In the morning when I go out to feed I always put fly masks on and add a layer of fly spray and he will take the time to cuddle with me. He’s the first horse to come see visitors. Often even when we pull in the driveway he will walk over and look at us. When I clean stalls he randomly comes in to say hi as I work before going back out to eat with his brother.
Stampede still doesn’t eat all of his grain (P would love to help him though), but he does lay down at night. No more sleep deprivation.
It was then I realized. I have my horse back, the one I fell in love with all those years ago. And it makes me so happy…