George arrived to LEARN early summer of this year, a 14 year old stallion who had been tied up behind an abandoned mobile home with a rope embedded in his neck. He was a little thin, had an raw rope wound and was full of hormones. Due to his, shall we say, extremely amorous nature, he was not exactly the favorite around the barn. Well taken care of, certainly, but didn't have as many fans as some of the other guys. He paced the fence constantly, and even once gelded, still tried to get his groove on in all manner of inappropriate ways. Eventually he moved to a pasture further from the barn and began spending his days hanging out with another chestnut gelding, bossing around the two bay ponies already out there.
So Saturday afternoon, the news that George, of all horses, was going for a ride created quite a stir. We all hurried out to the round ring and made jokes about how many seconds we thought the rider would manage to stay on once mounted. I was laughing along with everyone else while George was being tacked up and had my camera ready to go, feeling certain something entertaining was going to happen. Then it suddenly struck me that he was being really, really good, especially considering no one knew the last time he had been ridden, there were a lot of people laughing and chatting and there were children posted up near the top rail - all things that can be spooky for a steady minded animal, let alone one with a questionable background and hormone challenges.
All of a sudden I felt like a jerk. George couldn't help his beginnings or the fact that being gelded in middle age might have been difficult for him to acclimate to. And since I'm also a huge sucker for an underdog, or in this case, an underhorse, it was with great pleasure that I watched him be good as gold while being saddled, mounted and ridden. George walked around being nothing but well behaved just like an old pro. The rider stayed on for only ten minutes or so, long enough to feel him out but short enough to reward him for being so good. Once back in the barn, he was lavished with treats, love and praise. The next day he got to go out again with the teen girls that spend so much time at the barn, cementing his place as a barn contender.
Honestly, I almost cried. I have no idea why this touched me so deeply. I couldn't even fall asleep that night for thinking about George and his exceptional afternoon ride. I just kept smiling to myself about how this skinny and sometimes whackadoodle pony made all us "intelligent" humans look like dumbasses. It was an amazing feeling, to be honest. Sometimes, especially when we aren't at our best, all we need is for someone to come along that is brave enough to give us a chance. I'm happy to report that George has now gone on more than one ride around the farm and has leapt into the hearts of many as a reminder to not give up hope for redemption, be it for animals or people. And for that I say, thanks, George. I needed that.
PS. George the