When I was picking my daughter up from school, I stopped to talk to a woman whom I knew that also owns horses. We are only casual acquaintances, so just to make conversation, I asked, “How are your horses?” She launched into a story that I’ve been thinking about all night.
Here’s what she told me: This woman wanted to compete on a higher level. In order to buy a horse of the caliber she felt she needed, she sold her other three horses, took out a loan and spent almost $100,000 on a mare. This mare was selected for the woman by her trainer, who knew another trainer who was selling the horse. In the beginning, things were fine, but after several months, the horse began to resist everything she was asked to do. She wouldn’t let anyone tighten her girth or put a bit in her mouth. She exploded when the woman was riding her. Fearing the horse, the woman tried to sell her. No luck. Finally, the horse went up for auction, and the trainer who originally sold her the horse bought it back for a third of the price. The woman had lost over $60,000 and now had no horse. With tears in her eyes, she told me that she still loved the horse and was really worried because she just heard that it was being sold again to a young rider.
How many of you know a similar story? There probably isn’t as much money involved, but the suffering of the horse and the heartbreak of the owner who couldn’t handle the horse is a familiar saga. I came home and opened my email to find photos someone sent me of four beautiful foals that need to be rescued or they will be sent to slaughter. There are so many “lost” horses in the world. Looking out my window, I could see my girls eating hay, fat and happy in their corral. It all seemed so overwhelmingly sad.
The ambiguities of the situation are complicated. I’ll bet the trainer who sold the woman the horse and then bought it back for so much less believes that was a noble thing to do. Selling it to another person who is too inexperienced to handle the horse is probably not something that ever weighs on the trainer’s mind. Silk’s life story is similar, being sold eventually to someone who got so frustrated about not being able to control her that he beat her. She was too much horse for me too until I dedicated myself to gaining her trust. It takes a huge leap of faith to not give up on building a relationship with a horse that resists everything and does dangerous things. I don’t know what made me do it, and I certainly understand if someone says that they can’t work through the fear.
As the woman ended her story, I knew I needed to say something. What popped out of my mouth is, “Have you ever heard of Carolyn Resnick?” I just thought that it might help her to learn about Carolyn and her philosophy of training horses. This woman already has a new horse, a four-year old gelding. I hope that the next time I see her, she’ll have a better tale to tell.