“A woman was admiring my rabbits, and we started visiting. She told me of a six-month-old palomino filly that she was looking to sell. Before the day was done, we had a tentative agreement for me go home first and then drive back to Illinois and check her horse out…”
By the time that took place more than a month had passed, because Ava wanted her dad to go with her and verify that this was a good idea and trade.
“… When we pulled up, the place had the appearance of difficult times: a fenced-in paddock with sheep, no grass that I can remember… and stuff here and there, which the sheep and this blonde, funny little horse climbed on…”
She learned that this was where the young filly had been living all her life since weaned at two months.
“…It was not long before I knew I would be taking her home.”
At home, one sister said that “Twinkie” would be the right name for her, “Because she’s yellow on the outside and full of crap in the middle!” And partially, that was true. Ava didn’t entirely disagree with the assessment:
“She (the filly) had a good reason: she never learned horse etiquette… never had her mother nearby long enough to teach her right from wrong, or a herd to kick her around a little bit. Instead, she mimicked what she had learned. And all she had learned she knew from a flock of sheep, laying the ground for her unique and quirky personality…”
Twinkie failed to understand how to get along with other horses through no fault of her own. Even though Ava took her in at only eight months of age, she already had developed certain behavioral traits that would never change.
“… But I loved her anyway, challenges aside.”
* * *
Dr. Frick’s experiences with a variety of animals by this time—she had been in practice since 1980 and the ‘90s were upon her— taught her that each living creature brought lessons to her about virtues and qualities, which, in her previous thinking, almost exclusively had been assigned to human-to-human relationships, one being Patience.
“Riding a horse can be an opportunity for people to learn patience; it was for me the day I tried to get one to cross a creek, and my mount was insistent that was not going to happen.
“I knew that getting frustrated would serve no purpose and that whipping with the reins was not the solution. I had learned the hard way the best approach was to train in a way that let the horse think he or she had decided to cross the creek or ditch. More often than not, that meant trotting, trotting, and more trotting close along the side of the obstacle. The more stubborn the horse, the longer the session. And at a trot, before long, sitting well in the saddle became a necessity; otherwise, bum, back, and legs ached for hours later.”
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