Monday, November 14, 2011

Navajo: the ultimate transformation

Navajo 2005 and 2009, respectively

If I had a penny for every time I thought about or talked about Navajo, one of my previous horse projects, there would be no need to win the lottery.

Navajo is a wonderful Appaloosa horse that first came into my life about 7 years ago... or I came into his life- not sure which...

I sat at yet another auction, watching horse after horse go through the sales ring. I was looking for a project horse that needed saving...but nothing quite seemed to fit. Finally this gangly looking white thing came in with a halter that was too small and was dragging a rope. That was my first clue that he was perhaps going to be my selection. I was feeling so bad for him that I failed to really take note of all the ringmen cowering behind the safety shields in the ring. I now think of it and laugh. About 20 seconds after he entered the ring he was mine!

I went out to the back of the sales yard to his pen to get a closer look at him. I entered the pen and slowly approached him. As I gently reached out to grab onto his rope the horse lunged at me-striking out with both front legs. Quick reflexes got me to a safe place and I quickly exited his pen. What did I get myself into????

I can't believe I actually went into the sales office and asked the receptionist if I had to take him!!! Thank goodness the lady said in a rude voice, "Of course! He's yours now!" She was probably thinking what a stupid, young girl I was! With that rudeness I wasn't going to try to argue, so I decided I'd give it a go.

Somehow that evening I was able to approach him, lead him to the trailer, and load him quite easily. When I got him home....that was a different story.

Navajo ended up wearing that small halter for another week as I wasn't able to get close to him to take it off. Every time I'd approach that rope, he would kick at me or strike out with his front hooves and run away. He jumped about every fence I had in order to escape being caught. Finally one day he took a wrong turn and ended up stuck in a blackberry bush. Being very brave, I walked up right behind him as that was the only path through the blackberries. (for those of you not familar with Washington blackberries, they are like a forest of their own sometimes) Without being kicked I was able to grab his rope and lead him to the roundpen. He pretty much lived in the roundpen for the next month! The roundpen helped me change everything.

I remember giving him his vaccinations! I had to hide behind the post to the roundpen (which was an old telephone pole!) because everytime he saw the needle, he was going to try to strike at me.

Soon I was riding him, longing him and was able to get his feet trimmed. He had horribly cracked hooves that were long overdue. The crack healed and was always 100% sound.

Navajo eventually become one of my top lesson horses. He was teaching kids what it meant to love a horse and how to ride. Navajo turned from a strange looking white thing into a loving white horse. He also started taking on Breeze's lessons when Breeze was lame due to navicular issues.

I sold Navajo when I was pregnant with my son as I was not going to be having time to give lessons for a while and I wanted my lesson horses to go to a place where they could be used. He found a wonderful home where he was going to be loved and ridden. I hope that Navajo is a happy guy and I hope he knows what he did for me and what he meant to all those little kids who learned to ride on him. I also hope that we meant as much to him as he did to us.

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