When Atticus came to us in July he was a light rusty color, but as winter approaches, he has become a horse of a different color. Not only has his winter coat added a deeper hue, but his mane has really grown out from its previous roaching, and Atticus looks like an equine rock star with his mohawk mane.
It seems the darker shade of his hair has also brought out a slightly more somber attitude in my sweet boy. After accompanying Hubby on a hunting trip in Colorado, Atticus came back without the willingness to ride. Of course, I was greatly concerned. Hubby told me that twice Atticus stopped when they were riding up the mountain and simply would not go. Hubby had to get off and lead him. (This defeated the purpose of taking a horse to the mountains and did not bode will with the hunting party.) When I attempted to ride him on the farm, Atticus calmly allowed me to groom and saddle him but would NOT budge once I was in the saddle.
No amount of kissing, clicking, or kicking could get him to go. We even tried baiting him by separating him from his girlfriend Winn-Dixie. Atticus couldn’t have cared less that my daughter rode Winn-Dixie out of the corral and out of sight. I hopped off, did some ground work with him, jumped back on, and still no steps would he take. I led him to the top of the pasture meeting up with my patiently waiting daughter and Winn-Dixie. Back in the saddle I went, but nowhere was Atticus willing to walk. Eventually, we ponied him back to the corral with Winn-Dixie.
I did what anyone with a horse that is all-whoa-and-no-go would do. I called Superhero Amy. Amy looked him over and agreed with my assessment that maybe he was a little sore from his trip, but she also pointed out that he learned on his trip if he refused to go a lot of riders will give in and hop off. Sadly, I admitted that had been my case in the times I had tried to ride since his return. We did some ground work, and after showing he us that he most definitely could move, Amy said, “Let’s try this again.”
She hopped in the saddle and after some mild hesitation, Atticus gave into her cues to go. Super Amy had not been as timid as I using the reins as a reminder to move. With some additional prodding and patience, I was able to ride Atticus in the corral. The real test came when we rode out into the pasture. It took focus, strength, and cowgirl spirit to maintain my position as the one in charge of the situation. Superhero Amy, of course, jumped on Winn-Dixie with nothing but a lead rope and halter, and we had an enjoyable ride.
Since Amy’s visit, I’ve had more success at getting Atticus to move and built up confidence in myself as I learn to care for and work with a rescue horse. I guess you could say Atticus isn’t the only one whose changed since he arrived. The pride I feel when we make new strides is evident in my outlook and demeanor. With each new season, I am excited to see what colorful adventures Atticus brings to my life. Hopefully, just as his color has deepened, so will his willingness to take on new challenges and my confidence in the ability to give him positive purpose and energy.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Fun Fact: Horses’ hair actually gets bleached by the sun and elements in the summer. To help prevent a horse’s coat from turning color, you can put a fly sheet or cover on to block out the sun’s rays.