Recently I had the opportunity to attend a grooming class at the barn. It was mostly a refresher course. At the end of it, though, I felt more confident about cleaning/picking a horse's hooves. If you could care less about the cleanliness of horses' hooves, cool. I'm still going to write about it.
Before I found Horse Haven, I never really developed the confidence to pick up a horse's leg, hold his hoof, and clean it. Depending on who you pull out of the stall, they're big animals compared to humans. About five years ago (before Horse Haven, when I used to take riding lessons), I groomed a horse who didn't like to stand still. He was a big boy, and his constant moving about while I was trying to clean his hooves made me very nervous and apprehensive...especially when it came time to do his back hooves.
The back legs are the scariest part for me. In order to keep yourself from getting kicked in the face, you pull the leg up and out, and sandwich it between your legs and hold the hoof. If the horse decides to pull forward to kick, he essentially can't because you have control of the leg.
There are other techniques and things you can do to avoid getting kicked, and now I know a few more of them. I think my lesson in building confidence was immensely helped by the horse that I groomed. If you recall from a few posts ago, I introduced Perry.
He's a sweet little boy. Many thought that he wouldn't survive when he came to Horse Haven. When he did succeed, he still had other issues to work through. Trust was and still is a big one with him.
I won't lie to you when I say that one of the reasons I picked Perry to groom was his size. He's not the smallest equine at the barn, but he by far is not the biggest! I also chose him because we get along well. I know where he likes to be scratched (which is practically his entire being!), and he comes running and is all silly when I come to the gate. He's my little buddy.
And so we groomed. First the curry comb and then the stiff bristled brush. Then his face with the soft brush. We broke out the Cowboy magic for his tangled mane and tail. Then it was time for the hooves. With guidance from a wonderful lady and friend named Donna, I cleaned Perry's hooves. When it came time for fly spray, which he had never been exposed to, the barn manager handled that. The two of them did this funny circle dance. Perry did not like it at all, but Sonja did a great job of teaching him to trust and to be okay with it.
Let me tell you, he looked pretty handsome afterward.
Throughout this whole process, I learned a great deal about caring for a horse. I also learned more about that deep connection one can have with an animal. This connection of trust and of love can be very spiritual if you open your eyes. I did, and I am ever so grateful.
Through Perry and other horses, God has taught me a lot about the simplistic nature of love. Animals can't say I love you in a language we humans can understand, but they do have ways of telling you. Animals offer us a way to learn how to say I love you and I trust you, without words. It is even more beautiful because in Perry's situation, as well as the others at Horse Haven, trust is a big deal to them. You have to earn it, build it, maintain it, and safeguard it.
Perry let me groom him and love on him. He trusts me. In fact, he trusted me enough that he fell asleep several times! But I think that was only because it felt so good. I think it is akin to when my friends play with my hair, it feels good. Though my hair usually only stays in ponytails and braids, not curls or anything fancy-like. Anyway...
I think that if we all could love like animals do, we would be better able to love one another. We would also be one step closer to realizing the love that God has for us, but even that is much much more than we will ever understand.
Trust and love like that feels good.