The Heart of A Rescue: Part 3

Christina Mitchell, Business Manager •

At my first show I was 10 years old, and convinced that I was behind on getting my career with horses off the ground. I was both excited and nervous, the same feeling that any athlete feels before a competition. Ruben was ready, he was always show ready. He had been bathed and was a lovely white, absolutely beautiful.

Our first class was a nightmare, the arena was full and Ruben was much less than pleased. Needless to say we didn’t place at first. We did, however, place later on in the show when we did our walk/trot classes. It was tremendously exciting. Our first show had been a success. When we returned home that evening Ruben was treated to a dinner of carrots.

We wouldn’t attend another show for a year. This was a point of anxiety for me since I was still set on becoming a professional trainer and competitor at some point. This year I was determined to do better and we had improved. We were set to enter walk/trot/canter classes, and we were avoiding the full classes.

Our caution, in the end, did not make any difference. Our very first class we cantered past someone carrying a long crop, a dressage whip. I did not even think of Ruben’s past abuse as he took off galloping and I fought to get control of him, yelling at him and pulling as hard as I could to get him to stop. That moment is one of my greatest regrets.

If I had paused to think and pushed aside my own terror for a moment I would have realized that he was as terrified as I was. If I had done things differently I would have spoke to him calmingly and given him time to settle instead of jerking on his mouth and making matters worse.

I was upset, I couldn’t see past the embarrassment of losing control of my horse and the rest of the day I rode my trainer’s horses, barely handling Ruben at all. He did not get a dinner of carrots that year, we simply unloaded at the barn and gave him his grain. I wish now that I would have rubbed on him and comforted him. Instead, it was my mother who took care of him and made sure he was settled.

The next several days I went back to the barn and worked him hard. I was still upset with him but I never considered that he still loved me. That horse has never stopped taking care of me, even when I was upset with him. I think he knew it would blow over before long.

He was patient as I worked with him. Without sacrificing his spirit, he was was calm and gentle, still not easy to handle, but a very good babysitter. Ruben has always been exactly what I needed, even when he upset me he still taught me things I cannot even put into words. It was not for a long time that I learned what he had to teach me from that show.

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