In December of 2016, just after Christmas, we inherited TWO loan ponies. Basically, they were an indefinite loan to us, and all we had to do was pay their transport to The Shire. (Transport prices are extreme in Kenya since horse trucks are few. We'd love to own a truck because of this issue, and possibly use it as a sustainability project, but that's a whole different article.) Anyway, $600 later, we got our 'free' ponies to The Shire!
We were told that the grey gelding, Aby (Abyssinian Silver), was a 'toad' and would buck kids off if asked to go faster than a trot. The bay, Jazzy, dumped her 82 year old rider, and she now was not being ridden regularly, but instead, was just keeping another horse company. "She has 'issues,'" they warned.
Once we got the two ponies, we began the process of schooling them. Everyone loved Aby, the sweet, grey, 'bucking' boy. He actually didn't want to move, at all. This was comforting to my new riders who were a bit afraid of going too fast. (We have trained him well over the last year and a half, and he no longer bucks and can canter without being rude. He is very sweet!)
Jazzy, on the other hand, was HOT. She wouldn't let you get near her nor touch her. With the slightest touch, she'd speed off... and she wouldn't allow anyone to get close to her face or ears. She was shy, and she didn't like 'just anyone.' If she didn't like you, she'd try to throw you off with a big shake of her head, or worse- she'd try to scare you off by going FASTER and FASTER until you gave up riding her. When we tried using her for therapy, she'd put her ears back and refuse to let the child on her back. There were times we considered getting rid of Jazzy...
Also in the beginning, Emma Caite was scared to ride her because she was so intimidating. Keep in mind, Emma Caite was only NINE years old and hadn't really ridden a horse up until this point, but for some reason, Jazzy LIKED Emma, and this made Emma extremely glad. Jazzy accepting her was HUGE.
Emma Caite has her own issues that I think caused her to connect to Jazzy and vise versa. She has a difficult time reading, and out of all of my children, she has the most difficult time controlling her emotions. She is an 'all or nothing' type of girl; either all angry or all loving... Well, she used to be before we got the ponies...
When Emma Caite would ride Jazzy, she often would get emotional and just cry because Jazzy was 'scary.' If Jazzy did something Emma Caite didn't like, she would get angry with Jazzy and lose her temper, but she had to control her temper because she knew Jazzy was extremely sensitive. Jazzy didn't need much to make her listen. One touch, and she'd respond, often times dramatically. In fact, we removed her bit and put a 'bitless' hackamore on her. People who knew this pony now think we are nuts. "Surely she'll take off with your daughter?!" We found the opposite to be true. Without the painful piece of metal pulling in her mouth, she actually calmed down a great deal and was able to listen to Emma Caite's body and ques.
Over time... Jazzy and Emma Caite became one.
Now, Jazzy is the one building Emma Caite's confidence. When we ride over jumps, Jazzy is the one who is most brave and the best jumper. She and Emma Caite lead the way over the 'scary jumps' when other horses and people are not able to do them.
I look back to when we first got Jazzy, and because she was so sensitive, touchy, and emotional, I almost decided to give her back. Now, she's the best pony in our yard. Her quirks are what make her perfect and beautiful. Her issues have gone from being weaknesses to being her strengths. Her sensitive soul just needed understanding. Now, her touchy self is easy to teach as she aims to please, responds quickly, and is such a confidence booster for Emma Caite. Sadly, Emma Caite is getting too big for her. Soon, Eowyn, age 8 and very petite, will share in bonding with sweet Jazzy. Still, Jazzy is no longer our least favourite. Now, she is the star.
So as people, we should try to take the time in this day and age of fast speed everything... to find the quirky people in our lives and get to understand them. You might just find that the people you once didn't want around, are in fact the ones you learn to love the most. They will challenge you, shape you, and in the end, build your confidence.
And if you are quirky, it is my hope that you find people who will take the time to understand you and love you just the way you are. <3
And in case you didn't notice, horses can teach us and mold us into being better people. They help us control our emotions, give us understanding and patience and open our hearts to learning new things... This is one of many reasons why I believe every person should own a pony.