When I first realized that I was "afraid" of Denali I didn't tell anyone. I would go to the barn and groom her and when asked if I was riding I'd give an excuse. I was full of them, and they all fit the situation. It's been a year. It's getting old. I'm getting old and it isn't going to get better.
When I went to the barn on Wednesday someone (sorry I can't remember who) said that I need to throw the switch back on. I laughed, but they're right. I still remember the few short moments that lead up to this. Hilariously, none of them involved riding and all of them happened in a three week period of time.
Day 1 back in the United States (actually Day 2, but first full day....rambling sorry) and Ophie's mom drove me out to the prison that my horse was being kept in. O's mom was trying to explain to me what the place was REALLY like. She didn't own Ophie at that point, and wanted to leave, but couldn't...not yet. Denali was the thing I dreamed about for 5 months. I fantasized about her, I couldn't WAIT to see her. I hadn't heard a lot about how she was doing due to our lack of phone. I had gotten e-mail tid-bits here and there. I was beyond BEYOND excited to see her. It had been 5 LONG months and I longed for her smell, for her little quirks, to be with her again. I ran to her stall, ignoring the fact that the barn was a piece of shit.
I opened her stall and she looked so different. Her eyes were angry, and it almost looked like no horse was behind them. She was eating and lunged at me when I went into her stall. I was stupid and jumped back out without reprimanding her. I was shocked. One of the people at the barn stood there telling me that she had lost a lot of weight due to the stress of the snow storm that Seattle had last year. I couldn't check her that night because it was really late, and I didn't know the barn well enough of where I could take her to check her out. The next day I went to get her, opened her stall and she turned and double barrel kicked me. I was still totally shocked, but hit her butt with the end of the lead rope. She turned and I got her lead rope on her. We walked out of the stall and she tried to take off running. I pulled back, and she started to rear up. I yanked her, and she came down and then started bucking around me. She was wild and unruly. I kept thinking that this wasn't what I signed up for. I started backing her down the aisle way towards the round pen. I couldn't let her walk forward, she's freak out.
I somehow got her into the round pen. I was sweaty. She was sweaty. It was 10 degrees and January. It was MAYBE 50 feet from her stall. I somehow got her blanket off of her. I don't know how I did it. One of my friends held her, but it wasn't easy. She kept moving. When I got her blanket off I was shocked. She had no muscle tone. Her neck looked horrible, she looked horrible. I started to cry. I could count all of her ribs (easily, not TB counting) and the guilt set in. I should have taken pictures, I should have done something. I didn't know what to do. I knew I needed to feed her. I assumed that she hadn't been fed, her water had been frozen over. It was a horrible, HORRIBLE three weeks. She took out the arena wall, she broke out of her fence at night, ate 8 other horses breakfast and I got into it with the owner because she wanted me to pay for it (I asked her to fix the fence at least three times) I couldn't let her run anywhere because there was no real turn out. I moved her then. We found my current barn and I'm not sure where we'd be without my trainer. I need to remember this when I get frustrated with her. She came to my barn and loaded my horse. I was crying too hard, I couldn't do it. I was terrified of her. I have referenced this experience several times in this blog, but those three weeks totally changed our relationship. She was depressed, angry, and sick. I was excited and then all that excitement was quickly deflated. She's back to normal. She's happy, she's healthy, she's normal. I want to feel the way I felt about her on the way out to that hell hole my first day back in Seattle.