A friend of mine was out walking in our pasture. I watched as she was followed closely by Jihad “the horse”. When she got to our yard, she confessed that she had been afraid of this big, black horse named Jihad. I explained to her that “jihad” only means spiritual war, which I thought I had undertaken when I started training him shortly after his arrival at our farm.
There was clearly abuse in his past. Effects of abuse in a horse are difficult, if not impossible, to heal. When I rode him the first few times he bucked hard and long. He didn’t throw me but the next day I was sore from the bone jarring ride. After a few days, the bucking ended. He was afraid, perhaps phobic would be a better word, of odd things that he encountered as we rode. I could rarely figure out what he was afraid of. They were phantoms to me but seemed real enough to him.
I’ve been riding him regularly lately. I can still feel the effects of fear surfacing, but he’s holding himself together very well, especially compared to what it used to be with his sudden leaps as if trying to avoid an unseen enemy. The rest of the time he walks with his head down like a quarter horse: calm, collected, easy-going. It seems like whatever phantom he was carrying is either gone or greatly diminished.
The upshot of this is that I’m going to call him by a new name, or actually by his original, registered name “Sunny Delight”, which I think is some juice drink. I hope he carries this new name as well or better than his past alias. Goodbye, jihad!