Cindy + Paladin
Breed Missouri Fox Trotter/Trakehner
When Paladin came to my little farm, he was just another chestnut foster horse. I had my boy already, flaxen ex-reiner named Jose. I’d already let one good foster go to a forever home, and I really didn’t want to get close to another. Ah, the joys of fostering.
Paladin didn’t do much at first to endear himself to me. He was quite shy and afraid of human touch. One of the other board members told me his story; how he was kept in a barn and run from stall to stall for cleaning, never led, never touched with kindness. As far as I know he was never starved but he just existed. Then he was broke to ride, but no one wanted to be his person.
I began to try to form a bond with him. He was so scared but wanted to be somebody’s horse. As the months went by he would reach out and lightly touch me with his nose, just to be close to me. I think that was a big step for him. He tried so hard to do what I asked, even though I’m not a trainer and have only a vague grasp of how to teach. He really loved me, I think, before I loved him.
After several months, I decided that my home was the right home for this chestnut Trakehner/Missouri Fox Trotter cross (really strange combination, but there you are). I knew he would have to adjust to someone else if I didn’t take him, and I didn’t want that for him. I adopted him at Christmas 2018.
Then on a windy February day in 2019, my Jose got a broke his hock and had to be put down right outside the stall where Paladin was. People who say horses don’t grieve didn’t see Paladin. He was almost desperate to be with me whenever I went into the barn. When he was in the field, he would look over at the mound where he knew Jose had disappeared. We built a bond over our shared loss and many tears were shed while we stood together. Thank heavens he has a long thick mane to catch mine.
We are still a work in progress. He won’t go across wooden bridges unless other horses do and ring work is still a mystery. But every ride he tries his best to trust me and do what I want. I didn’t need another horse when he came into my life but somehow he became mine.
What #RightHorse means to me
Some people, myself included, can ride a horse but not actually bond with a horse. In my former life, I rode show horses. I boarded them and kept them in training, but I didn’t get to take care of them on a daily basis, or run out and kiss a muzzle, or just stand in a stall with them.
Finding a horse that you feel a connection with is different than a human. You shouldn’t communicate on the same level with a different species, but you can feel it. When a horse trusts you to lead him/her over a wooden bridge, against the teaching of thousands of years of evolution, you know the connection is real. When a horse overcomes bad treatment to trust again, you know the connection is real. When you choose to give a horse a chance through adoption and you get far more than you gave, you know the connection is real.