So why is it she feels like so much more than "just a horse" to me? What is it about her that moves me in a different way than most any other horse I have been lucky enough to be around and to work with? After all, I've been involved with and trained horses for over 40 years, which translates into a LOT of horses.
All of our horses are special - each in their own way. They are special because they jump higher, or they slide further, or they uncomplainingly and safely carry the beginning rider around in circles, (all the while getting pounded on the back and pulled in the mouth). They are special because they bring a smile of joy to the child with special needs who is held on their backs by dedicated people volunteering their time at therapeutic riding centers. They are special because they ride out with their cowboy partners in all sorts of weather to check fences, or to look for that stray cow, or to gather the herd back in to the ranch. They are all special.
River has only been here at Blue Fountain Farm for a little over a month now, but she has had a profound effect on most everyone around her, myself included. Like I said, I have been involved with many, many horses in my life, and I've had my share of very special ones - two in particular. In the 70s I owned an OTTB champion jumper, "Lucky Moment" ("Moses" to all who knew him)......
I think that for who she is inside - her heart and her soul. River has a gentle soul and, I feel, an old and wise soul. She has been through some horrible situations in her young life - we will never know what transpired before she was saved from the Fallon feed lot - but we know she was starving and had scarring from a very nasty wound on her leg when she got there, and yet she accepts everything now with trust and acceptance. In the short time she's been here, she's gone from a horse we could barely touch, whose first instinct was to flee, to a horse I can now trust around a toddler. I've never seen a horse do such a quick turn around. It's as if she now knows that it will be OK, that her life will never again be as scary, as unpredictable and as hurtful as it was before she was rescued from the pens. I have worked with horses who have had troubled past lives before, (not to the extend that River had, though) and yet none of them showed such trust and acceptance as quickly and as fully as she does. I don't know why I am constantly surprised at how well she is doing, both in her life and in her lessons. I think I keep looking for that first time that she will be more what I'm used to - a horse who needs constant reassurance that everything will be OK. She already knows it will.
I think River is more than "just a horse" because of who she is becoming and who she is yet to become. By that I mean that River is becoming a representative of who a "rescue" horse can be and what they can do. River is quickly developing a following of people who are seeing what can be done with a horse that was once a "throw away" when it is given a second chance. Yes, she still has many lessons that I would like her to learn before she reaches our goal of joining the ranks of the world of Cowboy Dressage, but those lessons are not strenuous, and they only serve to strengthen the bonds between horse and human. She loves people, and I know she enjoys doing whatever it takes to be a part of our world, (again in spite of her past). She is so willing to let us into her world now, even though her past was populated with people who did nothing but harm her and others like her. She is a representative for all those horses who can't speak for themselves - there are so many horses in countless rescues across the nation and, indeed, across the world, as well as in BLM holding pens, who still have plenty to give to the person who will take a chance. Take a chance that a "throw away" horse can possibly, just possibly, be the best horse you ever allowed into your life.
She's just a horse. No, not to me. To me she is River - a beautiful young mare who has opened my eyes to how wonderful a "reject" horse can be. To what a wonderful feeling it is that she has allowed me to be a part of her life. To see life from a horse's eyes in a different manner than I have ever done before, and to enjoy her beauty and grace on a daily basis. No matter where this journey I have undertaken with River ends up, I'm enjoying the ride. Thank you, River.