This story is about Scout, the little red mare who gave rise to my journal. It's called Finding Home.
This is what she was the day I got her, a seven-year-old scrub mare with a name so unlike her, I won't even say it. Sound, strong, unattended, she was an island unto herself. Pretty, curious and unkempt. A jouster who'd quit her job. She drew me in, brought me back to horses after 25 years away. I had all of her to love.
I cleaned her up and built her up. Lots of hands on, hours and hours. It was easy for me, not so easy for her. She was used to indifference. It took her a while to develop a taste for attention, but she did, she did. Along the way, she re-learned ground manners and played at trusting me. I was deeply invested in winning her affection. I didn't ride her very much, just dawdles here and there around the indoor.
A couple of years in, I began to see she was too much for me. A little too hot, a little too fast, with real rawness around the edges from erratic training and a rough-road career that I didn't have the experience or skill to handle. I could do some reshaping, and I did, but not where it was really important. She challenged my confidence and fired up my doubt and soon those things ran away with me. We needed help.
I went through one trainer before finding another who worked with us for a while. The trainer rode, then I rode, but I couldn't ever convince myself that Scout and I were the right team. My anxiety ramped her up, and we quickly found our way into a dance of mutual tension-building during most rides. I loved her more on the ground than I did on her back, felt more able there, more present and equal. Five years after I got her, I put her up for sale, doubtful but resigned.
I abruptly pulled my ads less than month later, when she was kicked at a barn I'd moved her to where she might be seen by prospective buyers. She underwent surgery to remove a shattered splint bone. Her fierce strength through the operation and subsequent nine weeks of stall confinement made me know I could never leave her in the hands of someone else. I was lovestuck.