A Happy Ending

Meet Jason.

Jason is a twenty year old Merens.  He spent the first eighteen years of his life high in the Jura mountains, working with a shepherd.  He transported everything on and off the mountain for his human, including people!  Two years ago, his owner decided that the mountain life was becoming too difficult for Jason, and sought a new home for him.  He ended up with one of our local friends, who had always dreamed of owning a horse.

The happy ending? Horseless man meets manless horse?  Not quite.

Life intervened, as it does, and Jason’s new owner realised that he wasn’t able to look after his horse as he should.  He asked me if I could think of anyone who could give him a good home.  I asked around, and was pointed in the direction of another friend who lives nearby.  I know her reasonably well, but I didn’t quite understand how her mind works at the time, so I wasn’t sure what her answer would be when I asked her if she could take a retired horse, or if she knew anyone else who might take him.

“Why not?” was her answer.  “But in the Spring, when the grass comes through.”

Three months later, and the time came for Jason to move to his new house.  I offered the services of my jeep and trailer.  Long story short, that didn’t work out so I borrowed MC’s truck and used that instead.  (Never, ever leave your trailer parked with the handbrake on.  I know this.  The person who borrowed my trailer last unfortunately did not.  I should have checked.  Mea Culpa.)

Jason arrived safely at his new home and was led into a field adjoining his future herd.

There was a lot of mutual interest and gazing at each other over the fence.

The little donkey, Willy, had lost his best buddy last year.  He was distraught.  He spent nine days waiting at the paddock gate to see if his friend would return.  Finally, he gave up and returned to the herd, but has remained slightly apart ever since.  The hope was that Willy and Jason would connect and form a pair bond.  Things looked very promising, they seemed particularly interested in each other, so Willy was put into Jason’s paddock later that day.

They were joined at the hip.  A week later, the two were re-integrated back into the herd.  After some initial discussion about polite distances, all five settled down to graze peacefully.  Willy and Jason may or may not retain their bond, but no matter what happens, this is Jason’s home for the rest of his life.

You see, my friend wants to give back to the world of equines.  She learned to ride as a child and progressed through the levels of equitation the ‘normal’ way, enjoying her sport and competing regularly with various horses throughout her life.  Then she achieved HER lifelong dream of moving from the big city to rural Provence and started to look into Equitation Ethologique.  Like me, she started to question everything she had ever accepted as ‘normal.’  Bits.  Spurs.  Hitting with a whip to encourage a better jump, or a bigger stride.  Keeping horses in solitary confinement in small boxes.  The way in which many riding schools will keep a horse for as long as he’s useful and then pass the duty of care onto someone else, just when he needs extra time and attention.

Her little herd consists entirely of rescued and retired horses, with the exception of Swing, the appaloosa, who is her riding horse.  In terms of riding, she roams around her little valley on Swing, with the rest of the herd following along as they wish.  It’s quite safe, there are no roads to cross, and no-one can get lost.  She practices her equitation ethologique techniques to better communicate with and understand her herd members.

Jason has found horsey paradise for the rest of his days.

That’s the happy ending.

If only every horse could have an end like this.

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