Moving horses and living with autism

Kobeejo

This should be old hat for me. In the over 13 years I have owned my horse, we have moved 12 times! That doesn’t mean we have moved almost once a year; just that each move has had various durations. One of my very first large, lifelong dreams was to own a horse. I was one of those “horse-crazy” girls for as long as I can remember. At age 39, that dream came true. My horse has aided me in dealing with my autism (Aspergers to be exact) and he has been my rock throughout some of the toughest and loneliest times of my life. But, it has not been easy.

Because I am plagued with autism, my social skills are less than adequate. Quite frankly, they stink! Asperger’s is, on the autism scale, known as the “genius gene” and far onto the highly functional end of autism. I’ve had my IQ tested. I definitely received the “genius” level, but what exactly does that mean? For me, it means I see so far out of the box (so to speak), that most cannot even fathom what it is I can “see.” I seem to just know things before they happen. I am not sure how, as I am scientific minded and not spiritual at all. But this brings me once again to my horse.

When I finally decided I could afford a horse in my life, I started to look. A few trainers at the stable where I took lessons helped me. They knew what I wanted.

“Preferably a Paint (one of my favorite breeds), registered and showable.” ¬†However, I was adamant, that no matter what color or breed, I refused to accept a grey or white horse!! I like a nice shiny clean horse. Whites and greys are a nightmare to keep clean. Plus, at the time, I simply didn’t like the lack of “pizazz” associated with a dull color scheme.

But, sometimes, things don’t happen as we plan.

One of the trainers came to me one day. “I found the perfect horse for you,” she said. She went on to explain he was a double registered Paint/Pinto (Paint is the breed, Pinto refers to the horse’s markings). Then came the clincher she saved for last… “He is grey and white.”

“Nope!”

And I was dead-set against this horse. I refused to even go look at him! After a week of guilt trips, she wore me down. I agreed to go and see him JUST to say “no” and shut her up once and for all. And so, she and I and a trainer I’d been working with, went to see him. I stepped out of the truck, feeling all cocky, ready to turn this horse down immediately. We walked into the barn, down a short aisle entryway.

“There he is,” she said, and moved aside.

His stall was diagonal from the aisle we had just walked into. And through the vertical steel bars, he lifted his head and one light brown eye spotted me. I did not even see him; he was mostly hidden within the closed-up stall. Nowhere to peek his head out, nowhere to see any full views–just a small back window with bars and full bars along the front of the stall and door. But that eye caught both of mine and from there I can’t easily explain what happened. Something came over me. A feeling. A warmth. Peace. And I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt!!

“That’s him! That’s my horse,” I said.

“Don’t you at least want to ride him?”

“I don’t need to,” I said, “but okay.”

He was a highly trained hunter/jumper and I was a lifelong western rider. To ride him, I had to get into a jumper saddle. Not a comfortable place for me. But he made me feel safe. I walked him around the indoor arena and offered him a bit of a trot. I was still a rather unskilled and unbalanced rider in an English saddle. But his gait was smooth and the moment I felt even a bit off-balance, he stopped.

And that was the beginning of horse owner history for me.

The nightmare came in the guise of boarding stables. As I have not the land, zoning, nor money for a barn of my own I have had to rely all these years (over 13 at this writing) on boarding stables and people’s back yard barns. As a person with very poor social skills, this has ended in one disaster after another. And, as I got to know and bond with my horse, we developed a communication beyond anything describable in mere words. I know his every thought, feeling and need without relying on body language or guesses. And, as he has aged, his needs change, as do mine. My need is to give him everything he desires as a horse…and that includes not being stuck in a small box 16 hours a day! At near 25 years old now, and plagued with Cushings, Insulin Resistance, laminitis and even founder, I have become very particular about his boarding situation.

And so, we move once again because I cannot afford the full care service at his current barn. The new place is far from our ideal, however. The stall is too small, there’s no shelter in the paddock and once more he will have to remain inside at night (in winter and bad weather). However…. with me being on disability and TRYING hard to make it as a writer, this place is affordable (rough board, meaning I do the care, which I prefer anyway). He can also stay out on nice nights (though with fall coming, these will be getting fewer). The rules are very lax, which is important as I have, through the years, developed methods and ways that work for my horse and I. Full service¬†(full board as it is called here in CT) barns have their own way of doing things, which makes sense, but has never worked for us.

So… as soon as I find someone with a trailer to move him the 14 miles from one barn to the other, we will be once more, on the road again!