WoodFinn's Summer Storm ( Aka- Suzi) arrived at my barn one cold December Monday afternoon. My good friend and I took a Monday 'off' to go to a nearby horse auction sale. We were going to make a day of it ; enjoy watching horses get sold, shopping at the vendor's stands and having a nice yummy lunch. I also went because I needed another pony for my riding lesson program. I needed one around 13-14 hands tall, and QUIET.
We arrived early and took our time looking at all the horses, deciding that IF we were seriously looking to purchase, which ones' we would buy. There simply were No ponies in the right size, and those who were acted like they were terrified of humans. Not good for beginner students to learn with..... We walked to the stands and took a seat to relax for a while. Horses were being sold hot n' heavy- about one a minute. We had a hard time listening for the bids that were offered. We saw some great looking horses sold, and some very sad looking horses as well. Since there had been no ponies to interest me enough to bid on, I was having fun Not paying close attention, until the auctioneer said that the sale was over- no more horses were for sale.
Then a small white pony was ridden into the ring by a tall Amish fella. One more pony for sale ! My friend took one look and said " YOU need to buy that pony !" Then she raised her hand and bid on it. We didn't even know if it was a mare or What. Turns out after a few questions that said pony rode and could be driven , was 12 years old and a mare. She was to small though ! And it turned out MUCH older than 12 years......
I bought the no name pony and hauled her home..... We had a 'Name the Pony' contest amongst all the kids who rode there and "Suzette" won. ' Suzi' around the barn.
Suzi was scared of being hit, she walked Way to fast when being led for short little kid legs to keep up with her, and as we all got to know her, we realized Suzi had been mentally abused prior to living at this barn. I remembered talking to the dealer who'd purchased her at an Ohio sale and he'd told me that some Amish kids had driven her the whole time before she'd been sold, and then one had ridden her into the sales ring.
We had a meeting of all those who were going to work with Suzi and as I explained what her life was before, those students started coming up with ideas about making her feel better and not be so scared. She had bitten most anyone but me if they tried to catch her in the fields -Suzi chased kids out of "her" pasture, she'd threaten to bite them, if they didn't run away in fear..... she was generally a Baaaaaaaaaad Pony.
The students ( and this was a big surprise) felt sorry for her. We decided that I would be the one to go bring her in for each riding lesson. And that if she was good, she would be praised and if she made mistakes, we would simply try to get her to do it again. Not to cause More fear, but to help her understand that at This barn , mistakes were alright. If Suzi was bad and acted nasty, THEN she would get yelled at loudly.
It worked.... but it took a Long time. Suzi learned that not all young people were cruel, and she began trusting in that once again. She still couldn't be trusted 100 % if one of them went out to get her from a pasture, but she was much better.
Suzi is now a wonderful flea-bitten 47 yr old pony who is semi-retired. She's still territorial but so much better. Under all that gruff exterior lived a very sweet , kind pony. She's been in the play " The Wizard of Oz" that was presented at a community theater in Maryland. Suzi has taught SO many youngsters to ride ,how to be patient and show something other than parents love. She taught them compassion and to be understanding too.
But mostly Suzi has taught us All that once wounded mentally, a little grey pony Can return to being kind in return.
Below are a couple of photos of Jaide learning to groom Suzi..... in 2009.