When I rode him, his head was constantly in the air and he was very tense, and at every noise and opportunity he would bolt with me to the opposite end of the arena, just wanting to be back in his paddock. After the ride he was very sweaty and the battles continued once more as I untacked and brushed him and put him back to bed.He used to always give me a look as if to say 'what are you DOING to me?!' when I tried to brush him...
The yard was so helpful in helping me with him, for example when there was a hack in the mountains they would try to take him out just to help him get used to being ridden again, get him used to other sounds and horses, and just get into the swing of things. I also lunged him frequently in aid to help calm him down in the riding schools and to relax him a little.
There were constant battles all the way and throughout. However, in just a few months in April time, during my Saturday morning lesson, something suddenly seemed to click.
I don't know what it was, but he grew calmer and calmer and started to accept the bit more and more, and bolting became much less and it became a massive achievement to see him trotting around the entire arena without having to cut corners because of a scary tree!
Tanoka was a real looker, everyone always stopped to stare and would ask 'what horse is that?' I began to feel more and more proud to say 'That is Tanoka!'
Another fond memory was the first dressage competition with him. He knew what to do and was a superstar, unfortunately I was very nervous and he picked up on it, as well as he was excited. I made a lot of errors on the test and we didn't place at all but that wasn't the point. The fact that it came to me being barely able to ride him because he was in such a state to us being fit and good enough to enter a dressage test was a massive achievement and I was so proud of my boy!
And in the test itself we both had our moments!
But he was my special boy and I wouldn't change him for absolutely anything.
When he started standing still for me whilst grooming and tacking him up (and even picking out his feet!) I started to get worried, thinking 'is he ill, or sick?' but he just looked at me with his face, as if to say 'What on Earth are you talking about, Human!'He was such a massive highlight to my life and I hope I helped him with his nerves and the endings to his life and riding career too.
I haven't seen him since and my mother visited the stables shortly after I started studying back in the UK, but he was no where to be seen... I have no idea what has happened to him and I secretly think he has perhaps passed on. He certainly was an old boy and it absolutely saddens me to think it. But I hope I made a difference to his life as he did to mine.
So why this blog post? I feel like this story needs to be shared, to share the sentimental values that this horse had over me. He was such a massive part of my life as I was suffering from a culture shock and a new place and surroundings, and Tanoka was there undergoing a similar trauma of a nervous state. We both pulled through something together and now I wish to create something amazing to remember him by... So why not a full horse sculpture...
The only problem is... Which pose to choose...