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The fifth day she greeted me and came to eat her grain. However, when I offered her a treat from my palm she pinned her ears and charged at me. I stood my ground and issued a firm “no!” She stopped inches from me, calmed down and finished her grain. Was I scared at the sight of a 1,000lb mare charging? You bet I was! I knew by her soft eye she would not hurt me. She was merely saying in her horsey way that I had entered her personal space and she wasn’t comfortable with it. An abused animal is the same as an abused child, her only intent is to protect herself and she wouldn’t harm me unless I harmed her. Now a neighbour came by and said he would have thrown the pail at her because she’s mean. This is where I stopped him and explained if Barbie was mean she had had endless chances to hurt me and not taken them, and that if I had thrown the pail at her she would have associated me with pain and fear. This would have destroyed all the work I had done to convince her I am safe and will not hurt her.
On day six I entered her stall and was brought to tears when Barbie gently lipped a treat from the palm of my hand for the first time, without pinning her ears and threatening me when I held it out to her. We are making progress! It is slow and sometimes bitter sweet, but baby steps and lots of love are what’s needed to teach a frightened, abused mare to love again.
If you would like to follow along with daily updates and pictures of Barbie’s journey to discover love, please feel free to follow me on Facebook at Killarney Sheffield.