Wednesday, December 6, 2017

On Rejection and Moving: A Pig Update

At the end of October, the therapy barn let me know Pig wasn't going to work out in the program. Over the month, our worst fears about his suitability had come to pass. His spookiness was only getting worse, not better. Worse still, the staff didn't think he was enjoying the work or the people. The decision was made to remove him from the program and relocate him to a full retirement home.
"Get me outta his place!"
A large part of me expected this outcome. Since I've owned him, Pig has always proved himself to be a one person horse with a... quirky personality. It took months after I brought him home before he trusted me enough to go on hacks or exploratory hand walks. The number of times he spooked at something and almost knocked my teeth out in those early days cannot be counted. Eventually, he opened up and really bonded with me, but that relationship had limits.
It took so much time, effort, and tears to forge his bond.
Others were still viewed with suspicion by Pig. While he maintained his manners when being handled by them, he was coldly indifferent. Never cuddly to anyone, it took me years before I appreciated the small gestures of affection he allowed me alone. I have always described him as the consummate professional. He embodies the Victorian ideal of relationships, making sure to always keep PDA to a minimum. That said, over our time together he had become very warm and loving, at least with me. Gradually, he had begun expanding that warmth to others he met.
"God, human, why are you so weird?"
I have always trusted other's safety with him implicitly, but have been very protective of his emotional safety with others. Knowing his distrustful nature, it's only been in the last two years that he has been able to be ridden by others without taking it out on me when I hop back on him. (Seriously. This horse can hold a grudge. I once popped him in the mouth in response to him biting me, and he greeted me at the stall door by turning his butt to me for a week.) He's been so confident with others, I've even been letting others ride him when I have been out of town, something I'd never done in all the years I owned him.
He apparently immediately bonded with this construction cone, though. They were insta-besties, and the barn manager reported he often tried to carry it with him into his stall.
I had hoped this and the easy work at the therapy place would allow him to mentally deal with multiple handlers, but it seems that was not the case. On top of being upset with too many people handling him, Pig also seemed very depressed by the lack of 24/7 turnout and busy barn aisle. He's a very serious professional horse who requires just the right atmosphere to do his job and quiet time to recuperate. Apparently without this everything is terrifying.
Because we all love it when our 16h horse grows another 9ft and spooks violently... sigh. At least he's pretty? (Also, yes. I swear to god he's only 16h.)
During the few weeks it took me to find him a new home, Pig became very depressed. It was so hard to see him moping in his stall. Every day his behavior was regressing, and he seemed to be losing his trust in me. Grooming him was impossible, as he would pace and fret. Taking him out of the stall for walks was to take your life in your hands, as he was completely feral and terrified of everything. The biggest stab in the heart for me was his complete refusal to let me touch his face, nose or ears.
"This is not okay, Lady"
Again, when I bought Pig, he was very much like this, and I wasn't allowed to come anywhere near his ears. Over the years, ear kisses and face hugs have become one of the ways he and I have shown each other affection. To once again be unable to touch his ears without a complete meltdown felt like losing the connection we had built. It hurt.
Me trying to re-familiarize him with ear caresses while still at the therapy barn. The results were... mixed.
Finally I found the perfect barn for Pig. It was nearby (actually closer to the city than where Bast is) and surprisingly affordable. The whole place is basically set up as a retirement facility, and Pig would get to be out all the time with almost no one handling him but me. I made arrangements, and let the therapy place know when he would be leaving.
Freshly bathed to take advantage of our last access to a wash stall.
Realizing I didn't have much in the way of multiple grooming or first aid kits, I worked on assembling those things. Thankfully moving your horse over Thanksgiving weekend means you can take advantage of Black Friday deals to stock your second barn trunk. I also bought a store of grain, as the new place does not provide and I would have to take care of all feeding myself.
One last stroll on the trails we've called home these last few years.
When the day came, I was looking very forward to giving Pig a new lease on life. I hoped he could find some peace and happiness, and begin to learn to enjoy his retirement.
Being happy is literally his only job now, and I want to help him get there any way I can.

16 comments:

  1. Ahh bless him, I'm glad you found him the retirement yard, hopefully he will be happy there! Also made me snort with laughter the image of him turning his butt to you for a week!! 😂

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    1. Omg it was so funny. I've certainly always been sure any "punishment" meted out is "fair" since then. Haha!

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  2. I am sorry that it didn't work out. I love how you are putting his needs first. Keep us posted on how it goes.

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    1. He's my buddy, even if he's a snarky old bastard with a mood that swings more often than the pendulum on a grandfather clock. <3

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  3. That cone LOL

    So happy you were able to find a different, better situation for him so close to home! I'm sure he'll return to his happy self in no time at all - especially with the new trails. =)

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    1. Fingers crossed! Hopefully he doesn't deposit me on my butt somewhere on those trails either!

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  4. Too bad the therapy place didn't work out, but sounds like you found something even better for him! I hope he loves the new place ☺️

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  5. So sorry the therapy place didn't work out for him. Fingers crossed this new situation brings him back to his old self!

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  6. I'm so glad you found a great place for him to be. I hope he settles in and loves it!

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  7. So happy he found what sounds like a great retirement place! He is so lucky to have you! Wishing you a great retirement Mr. Pig!

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  8. I'm sorry it did not work out. :( Thank you for sharing this journey, though. I'm starting to seriously investigate retirement homes and your writing has been very useful for my thinking and planning.

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  9. Bummer about the therapy place. Hope this place is exactly what you need it to be.

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  10. ugh I'm so sorry the therapy place did not work out, I'm hoping this new place does.

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  11. Sorry the therapy place didn't work out. He sounds like a sensitive soul and it's clear that you have his best interest at heart :)

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  12. So glad you found a spot for him! It sounds like a good setup

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