Rearing and striking, lunging forward and striking, trying to run you over on purpose – biting with snappy bared teeth, kicking at every opportunity, barging through gates, ripping the lead rope out of your hands and bolting off, feet trimming time was incredibly dangerous and everything – everything! – was fear and aggression.
THAT was Bluey’s story when he came to Valezka as a two year old, just gelded pony nearly three years ago.
It got worse though…
He almost caused a divorce. He was banned from the house after repeatedly chasing her husband from the yard, biting him nastily on the back and kicking him as he fled his own back yard. There was lots of pressure for pet food.
Her feet trimmer, who used the Zen Connection work in her trimming practise, commented “lucky he’s not a warmblood or you’d be dead!”
Val and Bluey spent the first year fighting with each other, with Val alternately running away from him in fear and trying to use the lunging whip to shoo him away – but Bluey met everything with retaliation and aggression.
Then Val realised that she had to soften rather than harden and gave him the benefit of the doubt even though he was trying to bite her face off. (I am using Val’s words here, they just make me shiver!)
She realised that she shouldn’t touch him – shouldn’t even try to. He wasn’t allowed to invade her space either and if he did, she would leave and wouldn’t come back for a couple of days. They had to find a peaceful place doing nothing.
He didn’t trust that Val could keep her temper. The violence from him was so big that she did lose her temper many times. And every time she lost her temper she was in despair – she thought she had failed, she felt that she had lost her integrity and damaged him.
Meanwhile, Val’s husband was pushing very hard to get rid of him.
Then Bluey got colic so severely that the vet wanted to euthanize him.
Val had a far away look on her face as she described the night that she sat there, making the decision to euthanize or not. The colic attack and the vets recommendation could have been a very convenient way to end all that trouble.
But she decided that he was an important member of the herd and that they COULD work it out. He got better and things started to change.
Val had to accept that Bluey was never going to be kids pony. She had to accept him just for who he is. But even dropping THAT expectation brought up its own problems. The husband was on her back even harder. There’s no point to a pony if it can’t be a kids horse. What can you do with them? How can you justify the expense of him when agistment has to be paid every week when he’s useless?
Man, this cute looking little fella raised some heck in that household! And he didn’t even look cute then either!
Val had read Zen Connection Horses and she was on our program that later became Fast Track to Brilliant Riding and used the connection with him to make her break throughs, but mannn… she took it a LOT further than me to make the breakthrough with Bluey who became Merlin.
She was only allowed to use a scarf or a whippy piece of long oat grass to defend herself. She had to trust that he wouldn’t kill her since the only tools he allowed her meant that she COULDN’T defend herself – but she felt strongly that that was the only way to get through to him.
Bluey couldn’t control his anxiety at feed time, (which brought up even more aggression) so he was isolated in a yard to keep him away from the big horses while they ate. He liked the safety of the little pen and his own little bowl of food. And he had to back away before she would put the bowl down for him to eat. Val felt that this was another big key to their progress.
Val also must honour him and she has to walk her talk at all times or forget it!
Bluey’s name was changed to Merlin as he changed his behaviour, because the name Bluey was associated with such dreadful things and he was no longer that dreadfully behaved little pony and Merlin is a wizard of the forest, like where they live.
I heard about Merlin again recently when Val posted on our discussion group about using the power and energy that they were developing to get what she later googled as the Spanish walk. She can also get him to bow and to lay down. I am just awed at the dedication that it took to bring this little guy around. But Val would tell you that it is a two way street – he has done wonders for her as well.
What wonderful progress for the energy of these photos here and now he wants to learn haute ecole at liberty! Crikey I can’t wait! Well… I can, but I sure am looking forward to it!
Val’s husband took these photos today – the first time he has seen Merlin in a very long time and I think even he was impressed…