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A Different Horse


     Caleb had an owner already, but she was very sick and had been for a long time.  She had not played with him in years.  Wanting him to belong to an actively caring owner, she offered him to my instructor.  My instructor turned her down (she didn't need any more horses at the moment), but he was much on my instructor's mind.  I began hearing more stories about Caleb's previous life.  She said he had some trust issues.
     One time he was tied in a stall when somebody unexpectedly started a tractor right behind him.  Caleb panicked, struggled, and fell down in his stall, hitting his head on the concrete hard enough to knock him unconscious.  His owner thought he was dead.  Caleb probably thought the tractor snuck up behind him, roared, and hit him in the head.  Needless to say, he was a little afraid of tractors.
     Caleb was also scared of fly spray.  One time, his caring owner glared at him and sprayed him in the face with chemical fly spray, with no warning.  That's scary to a horse.  Of course, the owner's actions were not intended to be scary.  She was so frustrated with mean horse flies who were attacking her beautiful Caleb.  There were flies on his face and she reacted, spraying them angrily.  But how would he know that?  Sometimes "trauma" comes from well-meaning people.
     I started making a point to give him a quick pat or call a friendly greeting to him when I went out into the field.  Sometimes I stopped to pick a brier out of his mane.  He appreciated that.  My heart went out to him.  Even though he was well cared for, there wasn't a person playing with him, and he obviously wanted to be played with.
     He was very different than WhiteStar.  What he liked and disliked, his view of the world, his opinions -- these were all very different from WhiteStar's or Selah's.  By this time, I knew what made WhiteStar happy or unhappy.  I could pretty much tell what she was thinking.  But Caleb was different.  He was his own horse.  It was kind of neat for me to see that not all horses were exactly like my WhiteStar.
     As my heart went out to him more and more, he came to me more and more.  The idea of playing with him continued to roll around in my head.  I hadn't talked to my instructor about it yet, so all of my friendly game in the field felt a little covert.
     One day, when I went to get WhiteStar from the field, Caleb followed, nearly making a nuisance of himself, although I couldn't help but notice he was in perfect stick-to-me position.  I wished I could reward him for his attentiveness by playing with him longer, but I was there for WhiteStar.  So I went on my business, and he followed me to get WhiteStar and to bring her back to the arena.
     When I finished playing with WhiteStar, Caleb met me at the gate again.  I gave him a quick pet, swatted some flies, and left.
     It was time to talk to my instructor.


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