Chloe is a pony of small size but great conviction. Seven years ago, I went out looking for a large, quiet pony and came home with a small spitfire. Why? Chalk it up to destiny, I guess.
She was supposed to be "broke to ride," which meant, it turns out, that the man who owned her had one day pulled her out of the brood mare herd, slapped a saddle on her back, jumped on board, and she had not gone crazy. As time gradually revealed her character to me, I came to realize her ability to withstand this was entirely the result of her stout heart and probably nothing to do with any prior experience under saddle.
She arrived with the name Coco and no love for human beings. Renamed Chloe, she began to be re-educated. I had lately discovered John Lyons and was delighted to find that his techniques brought about many positive changes for Chloe. Didn't want to be caught? No problem - within a short while, she was easier to catch than the easy-to-catch horses. Doesn't want to stand still? No problem - in no time she was standing untied to be groomed and saddled.
I could write volumes about Chloe. But suffice it to say that despite becoming a "fun ride" (for an experienced rider), she never came to embrace the whole project. She just does not approve. She is, I believe, of the type which Hempfling calls "The Origin" - wild in their nature, unyielding, sensitive, independent, noble, honest, demanding righteousness.
I wish I'd known her before whatever happened to her in the first 12 years of her life caused her to become so sceptical. I wish when she first arrived to live with us, I'd known what I know now and had not insisted on various behavioral "improvements" without waiting to find out what she thought about it all. But that is in the past. Today I have instituted the "Chloe Rule," which states: Chloe Never Has To Do Anything She Doesn't Want To. Technically this applies to all the horses. But the other horses want to do a lot of things, whereas Chloe is On Strike. Chloe says, "No, nope, nuh uh, forget it, not likely, nothing doing." But since the institution of the Chloe Rule, she - for the first time - sometimes seems to find me an acceptable companion. She'll play a little in the field; sometimes if I open the gate, she'll come through into the barn and potter around of her own accord. Sometimes she'll come and stand by me so I can brush her. She'll volunteer to do tricks to get treats out of me. She'll even stand placidly while I lean on her and hug her and generally act like a silly sentimental person. Once - memorably - she even followed me out of the barn when I slipped a rope around her neck and invited her to come out and find some clover.
She's about 19 now. I hope she lives to be 40. How long will it take for her to forgive all the impositions that were heaped upon her (by myself and others) in the past? By all accounts, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling can heal a horse in a few minutes or hours or days. How long will it take if, instead, she's stuck with Harpo Marx?