How to catch horses

… and what really counts!

Gaining the trust of a horse often puts patience to a hard test. A young woman struggles with her imported stallion until she is finally rewarded and realizes for herself what is really important to her.


She had always been one of those whose wishes had all been fulfilled, including a place at medical school. But somehow, everything was different now. She stood at the gate of the pasture and looked into the distance. At the other end of the pasture grazed her new young stallion, a raven sat on his croup and swayed with every step he took. She just stood at the pasture gate and waited.

He didn’t even raise his head when she called him. But you could tell by the way he played his ears that he had noticed her.

And she knew exactly that if she opened the gate and walked towards him, he would turn away, at first leisurely, but in case he had to with lightning-fast movements.

He looked great when he got going. His fur shone in the sun and his movements were swinging. In the box she could easily halter him, there, he stood still politely and motionlessly.

But once he was on the pasture, she could not get close him. Even though he had everything here. He even stood in the pasture with an old gelding. It should be possible to catch him, damn it.

But now, he just carried this bird around and played with her. With the halter in her hand, she opened the gate and got closer to him.

He let her come within two meters of him, walked away for slowly a few steps, his head lowered, as if he still hadn’t seen her. The old gelding poked her from behind.

She stroked his forehead briefly, then she went on. Her horse had stopped, kept on pulling the short grass. Hello, she spoke to him, are you coming with me now?

He turned his head toward her, waited. She was even allowed to touch his fur, but when she had worked her way up to the height of his withers, he suddenly flinched as if he had been electrocuted and turned away on the spot.

She wanted to irritatedly throw the halter after him, but then she paused. Then she didn’t, she called after him..

It was the same every day. With two people he could usually be haltered.

So she’d just ask old Ben. He would let Bet halter him. But Ben didn’t want to ride him either.

This really wasn’t what she needed right now. She had enough stress, studying was harder than she had imagined.

Although, what does hard mean, it was endless memorizing and learning things by heart. And now, she wasn’t sure if she even wanted all of this. Her father said to go through with it.

But sometimes she had no time to meet her friends. Her horse was six, imported from Iceland in winter and was supposed to go big.

A young stallion par excellence. Her father had given him to her after graduation, they had gone to Iceland together, the whole family. But since he was here, nothing worked out the way it was supposed to.

She ran back to the rider’s room. Ben, she smiled at him. I need your help. He got up, blinked at the sun. You’re going to work in this heat?

Behind his grin you could see many gaps between his teeth, but his laugh was warm. Of course, if he can walk in the pasture, he can also do it under the saddle, she was indignant. Girl, what do you always do with the good guy?

Ben’s steps were slow, but when he called him, it was as if her horse was approaching step by step.

Ben held his hand out to him, let him sniff and then tickled him under his crest.

You were sweating, right big boy?, he asked. It’s really is way too hot today. He stroked his forehead. The horse could be haltered without any problem.

It would probably have gone on like this until she had completely lost the desire and then a new horse would have come.

But even though he was not always so cooperative when riding, she took him to a tournament. It was late summer, the whole day was sultry, he was surprisingly calm, but probably he just didn’t have the energy to get excited.

At noon the clouds began to gather on the horizon, in the distance the thunder rumbled, but it remained calm. In the afternoon was the five-gaite Futurity competition of the six-year-old horses and just as she was riding off, a thunderstorm began.

It started pouring so suddenly, or maybe she just hadn’t noticed it before because of concentration or tension.

And with the rain came the storm. The judges’ tents withstood it for exactly two minutes. She no longer heard the speaker interrupt the test.

She also no longer heard the cries of the judges and spectators, the barking of the dogs. She only saw the blue tent moving towards her. Damn it, they couldn’t get away in time…

Her horse trembled under her, on the right was the oval track fence, solid wood. She tried to push him forward, he didn’t react.

The tent slammed against the fence directly in front of them, the poles got caught in the fence, the blue cloth rattled in the wind.

Her horse snorted, retreated, she felt him tremble, he wanted to break out to the right, she tried to steer him away from the fence. Quiet, she said, but her voice was anything but quiet.

He turned a deaf ear to her. And even though he was under so much tension and wanted nothing more than to run away, he stopped.

She felt the rain on her skin, how soft her knees were all at once. She got down, stroked his neck gently.

Then she hugged him, he was soaked, she was soaked and he let her hug him. You really are a great horse, she said, and this one time she meant it.

She did not speak of his gait disposition or his quality. She didn’t talk about his ancestry and she said it only to him.

You did great, big guy, she said. You did just fine. And the next day, in the futurity tölt test, she felt him, and he listened to her.

Maybe there were still a few days where he didn’t let himself be caught right away, a little fun doesn’t hurt anybody, but often he came now, when she stood at the gate and called his name.

She respected him now. And even though she sometimes got glances because her horse did not always work like a perfect horse had to work, even though she was not always as consistent as she had learned in class, they got better and better.

And what was even more important: She knew that she could rely on him when it mattered!

Gwendolyn Simper

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