While I never take Frankie as a whole for granted (I’m extremely grateful every dang day for this horse), I realized recently that there are quite a few aspects of his behavior/personality that I do take for granted. These are things I can’t imagine having to handle differently, because they’re just life for us.
He likes to be groomed. He’s extremely happy with literally any type of brush I use on him, leans into the curry comb, picks his feet up for me before being asked, and genuinely enjoys the attention and feeling of being groomed. He’s not particularly sensitive, and is not at all picky about any part of the process. In fact, he’s noticeably much happier when I take extra time to groom him. It’s clearly one of his (several) love languages.
He walks pleasantly on a lead rope. In over 3 years of owning him and taking him to various hectic places, I have never once needed a chain to get his attention or give me some leverage. I’ve used the same plain cotton lead since day one, and it’s pretty much always loose. He is very polite whether we’re walking around the farm, walking onto any size trailer, around a busy showgrounds, or anywhere else.
Speaking of which, he walks on and off the trailer with no fuss. He’s been on 2-horse trailers, 4-horse trailers that he had to back into, commercial semi shippers. Even when there’s commotion around him due to other horses protesting the trailer, or showgrounds packing up, or airplanes flying low overhead, he ambles right on and starts munching hay.
And then once he’s on and off the trailer he’s an easy traveler. Even after a long trailer ride, he hops right off to get a drink of water and roll. He eats well, he drinks well, and he’s generally very happy to go for a walk and explore. He’s always very interested in his new surroundings but very rarely (if ever) anxious about them.
He will bend over backwards to make sure I’m safe. This struck me especially recently, when I went to bring a horse in from a field and she very clearly projected her intention to kick me every time I got near her with a halter. Not fun. Frankie has never once expressed any body language with even a whisper of aggression, and he has even deliberately placed himself between me and other horses that were playing rambunctiously. He’s a big horse so I handle myself with care around him, but I 100% trust that his intentions are good.
On a related note, his intentions in general are good. Sure, he likes to try new evasions to get out of work. But when something doesn’t quite go perfectly I know it’s because (a) I’m not asking correctly or (b) he’s not sure how to use his body in that way or (c) this is hard work for him and he’s building strength. Trusting his intentions means that we give each other some grace and I think really helps him thrive and feel proud of himself (oh jeez this is gonna be a whole other post about this one topic).
Overall, I think I take for granted what an easy horse he is. I never have to consider how he may act or feel on any given day – he has his ups and downs like anyone, but they never affect how he is to handle or how safe he is to ride. I never have to say no to anything because I don’t think he can handle the atmosphere/travel/challenge. He doesn’t require anything special to be happy (though he does really love his massages). I love that I can just show up and trust that he’ll be my trusty steed.
Your turn! What do you take for granted about your mount?