The last three times I have interacted with Sunshine, he has surprised me. The small actions that I experienced with him show a big shift from my red horse. Witnessing his changes convince me that we have to continue on this off-roading, coloring outside the lines journey we’ve started.

The first example I’ll share happened on the day that our farrier was out for trims. It was miserable outside. Rainy, windy and cold. It was the type of rain that causes horses to put their head down and sideways if they absolutely have to move into the weather. In fact, it’s the very head position that Sunshine would assume when he’d get his “disease” and leave. Sunshine was eating from the round bale, and I walked up to bring him in, working diligently not to get bracey myself about the situation and doubt his willingness to come in. To make what could be a long story short, he came in with me, despite the icky weather conditions. I was amazed and delighted at his choices. What a good boy!

The second time that Sunshine again chose to come with me was no less significant. Blue, the little paint pony, had managed to get into Harley’s area. Although this seemed to be no big deal to Harley, it was upsetting Sunshine. When I walked out into the area, Blue started running. Getting caught is not high on his priority list at the moment, and I am willing to bet he thought I might have catching him in mind. Blue’s running was not okay with the red horse. Sunshine’s ears were pinned, and he was chasing the pony from the other side of the fence. I opened gates and directed Blue back to his normal field. I made sure things were situated, and then I went out to see if Sunshine would be willing to come in.

I had my doubts, and still tried to keep any brace out of my body, as well as my thinking, as I opened the gate and went into the field. I stood just inside of the gate and saw Sunshine making his way over to me. He stopped a polite distance away. His eye was actually soft and there was no biting during the haltering process. He was letting me know that his evil twin was the one chasing Blue around! Our time together afterward consisted of much tension release from the red horse.

Today there was another rewarding choice from Sunshine. He again came right up to me when I went into his field. It’s starting to be more of a norm for us, but I still don’t want to take it for granted. I also really like it, and don’t want it to stop, I will admit. Without any biting, I haltered him and started on the walk to the round pen. On our way, we were greeted exuberantly by Dave’s dogs, Sadie and Jax. I love Sadie and Jax, Sunshine not so much. He started to run, and I just let go of the halter rope. There was no way that I was going to be able to stop him, so I decided not to make it an argument. After things settled down and the dogs were away, I walked toward Sunshine who was grazing about 20 feet away. As I started toward him, he picked his head up and walked toward me. With no excitement, I picked up the rope and went into the outdoor arena.

I decided to change my plan. I’m not really sure why, it just felt right. We stayed in the outdoor arena instead of heading in the round pen, and I kept the halter rope on. This turned out to be a good decision. I asked Sunshine to walk, trot and change directions. After we spent some time moving around the arena, I witnessed it! Sunshine released tension at the walk, on the halter rope. He licked and chewed, shook his head and gave some nostril clearing snorts. I had been hoping I would see that from him, and finally it happened. I am hoping that Sunshine continues to find this journey we’re on together worthwhile, because I am sure finding it so. The trust I feel for and from him is growing more and more ever time we work together. I will keep listening, Sunshine, I promise.

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