It took an entire summer to woo Merlin so that he would acknowledge my presence.
The end of summer meant that school horses on loan to our barn would be going back home to their rightful owners. I did not understand that Merlin was not owned by the barn where my daughter rode — that he was on loan. Just a few days after he first whinnied for me, my husband (who did not like Merlin at all because Merlin did not like my husband either) and I went to visit him. Several of the summer school horses were gone. I asked one of the grooms where they were and he told me that they had gone back to the owners. He then said Merlin would also be leaving.
I turned to my husband and buried my face in his chest unable to stop the tears.
My husband is strong, generous, kind, and wonderful. His first words were simply, “then we will buy him so we can keep him here.”
I could not believe my ears. I was not even riding at this point but had a strong emotional bond with Merlin that was still a little stronger on my end. Buy him?
“Oh, yessssssss please!” I screamed inside my head, but the adult wife responded that it was sweet but did not make sense.
It turned out that Merlin would remain on loan to our barn. He would stay. Having faced the possible loss of my new friend, I resumed lessons almost immediately.
Getting Back On My Horse!
My desire to buy Merlin was now a real possibility. My husband was supportive of the idea and I had lengthy discussions with my trainer and barn manager about the responsibilities of owning a horse as well as the realty of buying an older horse (Merlin was 20.) Despite my being a (very) beginning rider, no one discouraged me because of my low skill level. That could be improved upon. The emphasis was on facing the possibility I could be buying a horse that could no longer be ridden in a few more years.
Now that my heart was secretly set on buying a horse (someday) I knew almost nothing about, and had only ridden a handful of times, I decided I should probably learn to ride him.
My daughter and I began taking one hour lessons twice a week together. That lasted one month before I half-leased a pony for her and Merlin for me so we could ride together three times a week.
Our barn manager, who is one of the kindest, most wonderful women I know (and one of the most horse crazy people I know — in a good way) was thrilled Merlin was being half-leased. She told me “every horse does better when they have a person” and she referred to me as “Merlin’s mom.” My heart was bursting with joy. I was no longer just “carrot lady” I was “Merlin’s mom!”
She proved to be right, too.
Six weeks into leasing Merlin he completely understood our schedule. We rode Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays. The other four days of the week I was just visiting but I took him out and walked him or groomed him whenever I was allowed to. He began to walk with his head higher. He tentatively touched noses with other horses in the bathing area and he no longer shied away from them. Merlin had a person and he was proud of me, or at least proud, he had a person.
I still could not ride very well and had not even cantered at that point but Merlin no longer bit me. The horse that once shied from my touch now craved the messages and pets and pats. He followed me with his eyes and offered cuddles and leaned gently into me when I would stand next to him.
And, he whinnied softly when he saw me. That, was big progress. The barn manger even commented how selective Merlin was about trusting people and that for him to whinny for me was “huge.”
Buckit list items:
- Learn to ride;
- Learn to care for an older horse;
- Buy Merlin.