Just last night, Michael, my sister Laura, and I got back from a trip to see Michael's family and nail down our wedding plans. Here's a picture Michael's brother took of us after we applied for our marriage license:
Although a good deal of the first two days there were spent meeting with people (the minister, videographer, chef, florist, manager at the venue, etc.) regarding the wedding, I also took advantage of the time to spend some quality time with my horse, Panama.
If you've been reading my blog regularly for the past year, you'll know that we got Panama as a rescue after witnessing his pregnant mother being euthanized by Michael's brother's stupid neighbor. We've made a handful or so of trips out there to see the family, and every time I spend as much time as possible with my horse.
Panama has grown a lot. I can remember when he was this little, scrawny colt, and now he's almost 14 hands. He'll probably be a small horse, but that's okay with me -- I'm small, too.
To show you how much he has grown, first check out this picture, taken in July of 2006:
The next picture was taken during this trip, almost nine months later:
Panama has matured a lot as he's grown, too. We haven't gotten him gelded yet, and late last summer he was really becoming a handful. His fiestiness culminated around Labor Day Weekend, when he kicked Michael's brother when the ferrier was trying to trim his hooves, and even reared up on me when I hooked a lead rope onto his halter.
Then around Thanksgiving, I noticed an abrupt change in him. He'd had his halter off for about a month, and had grown quite wild. We were able to corner him and get a halter on him about halfway through the visit, and from then on he was a changed horse. He started displaying quite an attachment to me during that visit.
This visit was even more satsifying. Panama can still be a little fiesty, but he is as sweet as can be with me. On Friday morning the ferrier came, and was able to trim three out of four of Panama's hooves before Panama fought back. In fact, he stood so calmly for the first three that we're thinking the fourth one happened to be sore that day. I stood in front of him the entire time, holding his halter and stroking his nose while I talked to him soothingly, and I think that might have made a difference, too -- he responds really well to that.
Panama is definitely becoming very attached to me -- there's no longer any question about that. On Saturday I decided to brush him, and I left my sister to hold Panama's lead while went to get the brushes. Panama became very anxious and kept his eyes on me the entire time. When I came back, I led him out of the pasture while my sister managed the gate; Panama did surprisingly well for that, too, despite the fact that the previous day walking out of the gate had meant getting his feet messed with.
I worked with Panama as much as I could while we were there, but Saturday was the only good day I had for it, so "working with him" primarily meant re-teaching me what he had unlearned in my absence. He was rather stubborn about being led at first, but I worked with him until he willingly walked with me when I had him on the lead rope or had a hand on his halter. I realized at the end that I'd inadvertently taught him the command, "Come on," because that's what I was saying to him out of frustration when he wouldn't follow.
Sunday morning, bright and early before we left for Denver, I went out to say goodbye to Panama. He and his best friend, Cuervo the donkey, were playing in the pasture. They ran all around, chasing each other. Sometimes Cuervo would rear up and put his front hooves on Panama so that he could nip at him; other times, Panama would get down on his knees so that he could nip at the little donkey. It was really cute, so I'm posting a video of it. There's no sound, but at least you can see Panama in action.
It was harder than ever to leave. I love visiting Michael's family, but I especially like being around my horse. I love the way he smells, the way he feels, the way he nuzzles me sometimes. I hope I'll be able to move him out to Denver this year!
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