Sunday, January 2, 2011

Building a Relationship - Part 2

This photo (taken by Gisele Mitsuk on New Year's Day) shows how much of my time with Angel is spent. The person in this photo is actually David Haley, one of our DreamPower therapists, introducing himself to Angel. On this day, she was feeling insecure and was not interested in meeting any new friends. She is very, very afraid of people, although it appears to me that she wants to relate to them.

Today, after many long hours of hard rain, I turned her out in the grass next door. She bucked and cantered for about four strides. That was only the second time I have seen her canter. She does not move around very much. Nick, my Arab, was a pacer and in almost constant motion. I'm not used to a horse that stands quietly for most of the day! When I turn her out in the grass, she quietly walks off. No explosion, no drama. But I learned from Forest (a horse that DreamPower rescued from starvation four years ago) that you do not know what a horse's energy level will be like until they are at a good weight and feeling good.

I am having to get used to the idea that she is not pregnant. Her chest and her butt are so narrow and small, compared to her belly, that I previously viewed her as a narrow horse who was pregnant. Now that I know that she is not pregnant, all the parts look like they are put together wrong! When she gains weight and gains muscle, it will be interesting to see if the parts fit together any better. One of the reasons I thought she was pregnant was because we could see things moving around her belly. We thought we were seeing a foal kick. It turns out we were probably seeing food passing through the colon! That is movement you would not be able to see on a horse with normal muscle and fat. But on an underweight horse, you see things (like digesting food!) that you otherwise would not see.

In the meantime, she nickers every time I come to her paddock. She's a smart girl - she knows where the food comes from! She still runs to the gate, waiting to be taken back to her home after grazing. It amazes me that she leaves the green grass so easily and trots straight to the gate without being asked. And she still sometimes allows me to pet her neck while she stands very quietly and rests her head on my shoulder. Inevitably, she will then let out a very deep sigh.

Some horses that have been abused, just like some people who have been abused, are never able to develop trust or a sense of safety. They are so scarred from the abuse that they are forever unable to form healthy relationships. But some horses, and some people, are able to overcome their abuse histories and go on to have wonderful relationships. I am hoping that Angel will be one of those resilient ones. At this time, it looks to me like signs are pointing in that direction.

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