That girl

From the first time I saw Sophie I knew she was the horse for me.

EQUUS - - Truetale - By Meghan Na­maste

the other horses. And when we were fin­ished rid­ing, when I tied her up and brushed her, she changed shape. Her head low­ered, her eyes soft­ened and she looked at me.

I’d tried out so many horses, and none of them had ever sought a con­nec­tion. They looked right through me, or they shoved their faces into my per­sonal space in search of food. This mare looked right at me, and I knew that was im­por­tant some­how.

How do you tell some­one you love that you won’t hurt them like the oth­ers did? And how can they be­lieve you? It would take some time---we faced a rocky road.

Sophie had once been on a rental string, and that’s only one of at least three for­mer own­ers that I know of. The woman who was sell­ing her had bought her as a backup ---a good trail-rid­ing horse to fill in while her geld­ing was re­cov­er­ing from an in­jury. I don’t know when, if ever, the Paint mare had her own spe­cial per­son be­fore.

I think that’s where a lot of her anx­i­ety came from--no sta­bil­ity, never know­ing who she was go­ing to be cart­ing around or if they would be kind to her.

She had some phys­i­cal prob­lems to be di­ag­nosed and treated. Part of her for­ward-go­ing, almost fran­tic na­ture was due to her painfully thin-soled feet. She was lit­er­ally try­ing to stay off her feet by run­ning. We had her fit­ted for gel cast­ings and saw an im­me­di­ate change: The ner­vous, bel­liger­ent horse who had just dragged my mom down the aisle was sud­denly a gen­tle soul who would stand qui­etly with her lead rope on the ground.

Her feet weren’t her only prob­lem. She also had com­pen­satory mus­cle is­sues and ad­vanced arthri­tis. Based on the x-rays, I was told, I might be able to ride her only at a walk. We tried in­jec­tions, and they only made things worse. For sev­eral weeks, she was so un­com­fort­able that I thought about hav­ing her put down. I knew I would have to if she didn’t get bet­ter.

But grad­u­ally her stiff­ness eased, and we set­tled on a more nat­u­ral ap­proach. I put her on a com­pre­hen­sive joint sup­ple­ment and rode her through her stiff­ness, back­ing off and go­ing back to hand-walk­ing dur­ing the oc­ca­sional flare-up. Over time, her hock fused, and she re­quired no time off at all.

After five years, Sophie and I have set­tled into our life to­gether. When I walk out to the pas­ture to catch her, she picks up her head and watches me. Some­times she’ll walk up to me. When I ride her, we flow. We’ve adapted to fit each other, and we’ve de­vel­oped an easy lan­guage. She will al­ways be my fa­vorite horse to ride.

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