A few months ago, one of the horses we had adopted out about 10 years ago came back when his owner was unable to keep him due to medical and financial issues. Hershey had been at a retirement facility for a number of years, and as a result lost quite a bit of his muscletone. When we got him back, we weren’t certain if he would be rideable at all, and our focus was just on getting some more weight on him and building back some of the muscle he had lost.
We decided this week that, although Hershey still needs weight, that we would get on Hershey for a short time this week to determine his comfort under saddle. Before he was adopted out, Hershey was lovely under saddle, both in the arena and out on trail. Although he should not be jumped again, he could still have a wonderful life as a pleasure horse.
On a fluke, Elizabeth asked Megan to bring Hershey into the arena during her short archery practice. Megan stood at the far end of the arena while Elizabeth shot a few arrows; he didn’t care. She brought her up until they were about 10 feet from Elizabeth as she shot the arrow; he didn’t care. Megan brought him up right behind Elizabeth as she shot the arrow; he didn’t care. We were beginning to believe he really didn’t care about the arrows.
Today Elizabeth hopped up on Hershey and rode around for a short time- about 10 minutes or so. He was a little stiff at first, but he started to work out of it, and as he gets a little more weight and conditioning, he will feel better. We decided to see if Hershey would be OK with horse archery while under saddle, so, while Elizabeth was riding, Megan brought up the arrows and bow and introduced them; he didn’t care (do you see a pattern developing?). Elizabeth pulled the bowstring several times and then shot arrows as Megan held the reins; he didn’t… you guessed it… he didn’t care. She walked him while shooting the arrow and… well, you get the idea.
As Hershey becomes more fit, we will continue to work with him under saddle, and will continue the archery practice. He may find a home with someone who shoots arrows; he might not. Either way, as long as his new owner gives him lots of treats, we don’t think he’ll care.