My relationship with Taco grew steadily as time went by. I was now the sole source of his grooming, exercise, and companionship. He had transformed into an old gentleman, a marked difference from the dirty, depressed horse that I saw a few years earlier. By then, I could not remember what it was like before I had him.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
All through that time, I had continued riding. I even leased a horse one summer, so I was at the barn several times a week. I also competed in local horse shows for two years, and racked up a number of blue ribbons. Things didn't seem like they could be more perfect. I had my riding career, and I had my old man, too.
However, one summer day in 2003, after making my way down to the riding arena to say hello to everyone there, I heard words that, at first, I thought were a joke.
"We're being evicted."
Now, I won't get in to the details of this, but basically, a great schism was set to happen. My riding instructor and her throngs of students and horses were being kicked out of the barn by the property/barn owner. There was a lot of he said, she said on both sides - to this day, I couldn't tell you who was wrong, and who was right.
Though I was told that it wouldn't happen for months, my mind instantly raced. Taco was owned by a whole separate party, and had lived here his whole life. He was around thirty-seven years old at the time. Should he stay behind, to live out the rest of his life with the few horses that would be there? Or, should he go to New Jersey, to a place over an hour away from me? Would I still be able to see him and care for him in either of these scenarios?
It was a hard place for me to be in. The barn owner actually invited me to come back and continue caring for Taco, even after the riding group was gone. But, as some of you may know, when two groups in the animal fancy (be it dogs, cats, horses) start feuding with one another, it usually boils down to every one taking sides. I tried my hardest to avoid doing so, but the tension was mounting and the barn became a very unpleasant place to be. It was basically assumed that I would stick with the riding group and sever my ties with the people here. Things got very nasty.
My riding instructor did try to convince Taco's owner to move him to the new stable. But, he did not wish to do so. The picture was originally painted as bleak for Taco's future - there were horror stories circulating about how badly he would be neglected if he stayed where he was now. I do not know where those claims came from or if there was reason to believe them, but I was scared for him. I was told to start distancing myself from him because it was unlikely that I'd ever seen him again.
The day finally came where the last horses were loaded into the trailer, and the evicted group was set to leave the scene forever. Not knowing if I would ever see Taco again, I broke down in to a million tears. I was given the unsatisfactory statement by my riding instructor that there would be "plenty of other old horses for me to care for at the new place," which totally demeaned my relationship with this one, very special old horse, for whom I could never find a replacement.
For a week or two, I basically treaded water. I knew I had the opportunity to continue going to see Taco, but faced the whole issue of allegiance to my riding friends. When they caught wind of the fact that I was considering doing so, they once again told me that it would be dangerous to go back there (implying that the barn owners were nuts).
But, I just couldn't give up like that. Not on him. So, the phone call was made, and I set up a day to go to the barn and see him once again. Whether my riding friends knew about this or not, I'm not sure. Eventually, due to a misunderstanding with one of the barn girls, I lost touch with them all. I still think back to what might have been if I continued riding and showing, but I made my decision and they made theirs, too.
Though, for the most part, I no longer keep in touch with the barn owners, either, the years that would follow would be some of Taco's best - maybe the best in his life.
Part 4 to come soon..
MargeBlog started in early 2009 as a training journal for my newly adopted, skittish Lab mix, Marge. Marge's world was small back then; her fears really limited the things I could do with her. Aside from trips to the park and attending beginner training classes, Marge was mostly a stay at home gal - not because either of us wanted her to be, just because the demons from her unsuitable upbringing continued to haunt her.
Slowly, the fear diminished, her world grew. Now, Marge is a fun-loving, squirrel-chasing, winning Agility and Rally dog who accompanies me to a wide variety of places. Here, you will frequently find detailed training updates, snippets from Marge's every day life at home, and photo-filled posts detailing our many outdoor adventures.
This is more than just a dog blog - it is an actual look in to what one shelter dog's life ultimately became when she found her first and forever home and began to blossom.
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A rescue from Georgia bounced around from shelter to shelter and state to state with her siblings, Marge did not have the luxury of living in a home - my home - until just past her first birthday. A life behind bars had taken its toll on Marge, whose obvious fear of people, noise, and city life in general left a lot for her to learn about how to get by in New York.
Marge is a different dog now than she was back then. It took years of new, positive life experiences, but her fears, which used to consume everything we did, are now only one theme in a great big book of adventures.
These days, Marge enjoys going to training classes, taking trips to agility trials, having play dates with friends, and eating anything that's even remotely edible - not bad for a dog who spent her puppy days in cages.
My time with Marge has been a learning experience for which I am ever grateful. As my first dog, she has taught me and continues to teach me so much more than I ever imagined about dogs, training, and behavioral/fear issues. She's a fun dog with a sense of humor who loves life and learning.
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- My Incredible Journey - Part 6
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