This one is going to be mushy, and sweet, and I have to say, I just don’t care. So, before I run off down this rabbit hole, let me rehash Zeus’ story for any of you who don’t know.
I bought Zeus about a year ago because I needed a horse for my husband to learn to ride on. We had just had disastrous results with a percheron we had bought. He was sold to us as just being rusty, and the initial ride appeared that that was the case, however as time went on it became clear that horse needed a serious amount of work. The final straw was when my husband was kicked in the back for trying to lead him in a circle.
I went hunting for Zeus and knew I was looking for a unicorn. Michale is 6’4″ and not a small man. He had never been able to learn, despite wanting to, because of his size. Our budget was limited and it needed to be something I could trust. Michael had become a bit skittish.
Zeus was listed as a tennessee walker, but I had never seen one as built as he was. He was the next state over, which is further than I will normally go, but he was gaited. Thinking of Michael’s lack of balance this seemed like a good thing. I went and test rode him with my best friend. I did not bring a trailer which some would disagree with, but I find it best practice.
The woman who had him was nice enough, but specialized in Quarter Horses, and didn’t have much use for him. When I asked why she was selling, with a sigh she explained he was the product of a failed relationship. The man was gone but the horse was left. She didn’t have use for a gaited horse in a lesson program, and if he didn’t sell he was going to auction. I asked how long she’d had him. Her answer was less than 9 months, and didn’t know anything about where he came from.
I test rode in the days prior to Irma hitting, and the wind, shaking, and off balance riding didn’t phase him. He seemed great, but certainly was an introvert. I brought him home as soon as I could, and like in his previous home he was low man in the herd, fine by me.
The strangeness came when I first tried to pet his ears. He had never had a problem bridling, but he didn’t seem to have any idea why I’d be coming at him without tack. He didn’t like being caught, and he didn’t know about stroking his nose either. He was strange about gently picking up his feet and preferred them to be yanked up. He was unsure of taking treats at first as well.
I tried to lunge him for the first time and he acted as though I was going to kill him with the whip. When under saddle he was fine, but anything else he acted as though he had no idea how to interact with humans. I began to piece together his likely history through is behavior.
Horses don’t tend to go far when sold. With him being large, strong, and gaited he likely came from a series of trail riding stables. Chances are, based on his behavior, he didn’t stay in one place long, and definitely didn’t have any understanding of affection. No one necessarily abused him (though I am suspicious of his interaction with the lunge whip) but likely no one ever really loved him either.
My work began. I started with catching him just to groom him and then releasing. I got him used to getting treats, and slowly let him come to us for petting. He watched Holly as the leader. She had been loved completely her entire life, and with me for the last 6. Slowly but surely he began to come around. We aren’t done yet, but we are getting closer. I now present the first ever selfie he has ever let me take with him. It is wobbly, and not great, but its one of my favorites.