• Kathryn Hulland

Tigger's Return

I was full of so much emotion driving to the yard to see Tigger for the first time in about 3-4 years today. Due to cancer/cancer recovery and covid I'd not managed a visit. Would he remember me, will he be freaked out/scared with his sudden move, can I handle him still....

All those questions added to my concern about whether my health will hold up to taking care of him on top of everything else.

I still carry the grief of having to let him go. Horses have always been my life but he was different, he was my pony of a lifetime. He taught me so much about my energy and other ways of being around horses. He was my catalyst for a new and better understanding. The sadness and grief of having to let him go never left, it eased but was always there.

Tigger is the love of my life, rounded up off Dartmoor in 2005 I took him on when he was 6 month old, he was pretty much unhandled... but actually worse because a headcollar had been forced on him and he'd been pulled and pulled until he gave in. He'd experienced no other touch anywhere else and what experience he'd had traumatised him for life.

It was slow progress building his trust. But working in a non confrontational way, spending hours sat with the herd, sat with him eating he slowly built up trust in me. Over time he accepted everything, positive reinforcement was what really helped turn him around. However, still if too much pressure was put on his head when he pulled back he would rear. I found amazing ways to work around this, I backed him and had some help to school him on a bit.

I took him to a show once for an experience and he won nearly every class we entered, got a rosette in all of them and behaved impeccably!

We loved wandering the lanes, doing obstacle courses, and playing around in the school most, just hanging out.

9 years ago my health finally hit a point where I could no longer look after him properly, thanks to friends and a fab livery yard I probably kept him in my life 2 years longer than if I'd had to care for him alone. The problem was he's a very good doer and even with careful dieting he puts weight on, exercise helps alot and I couldn't offer him that anymore. I was petrified he'd get laminitis, that would be excruciating for him and even less manageable for me. I tried a couple of sharers but it never quite worked out.

So he left, his welfare was my priority as was mine. After a year in his first home he had to leave as they were moving on all their horses, my friend kindly offered to take him to live with her 2 horses. He has remained there in pony bliss for 8 years and hadn't even left the field, until last week when heartbreaking decisions had to be made and Tigger was coming home. Typically the week I simply couldn't be there.

I do smile at how the universe works, the most amazing lady came into our lives because Grace was told she needed jodhpur boots at a riding lesson, they didn't approve of pink wellies, riding hats and coats - I was told she was a bit too pink - like the ponies care! 🤷‍♀️. In searching for the boots we met the livery yard owner and she has since let Grace ride her pony so we've not been back to the riding school and Grace continues to wear as much pink as she likes, the pony definitely does not mind. She has been a saviour for me and Tigger. She had a place at her yard, dealt with him arriving and is keeping an eye on him whilst I'm away. To have this fall in place feels like a miracle, and meant to be. My gratitude for her and this place is indescribable!

So back to me driving the road to see him today, my one day before going away again. Excitement mixed with anxiety and a bit bewildered that he's actually back in my life, I still wasn't sure I believed it!

The moment I saw him stood in the field I knew he remembered. I felt the connection immediately. I felt overwhelmed with love for that boy and can't wait for us to continue our journey - he's 17 now!

I had tears in my eyes, a feeling of connection & relief. I asked a couple of things of him like pointing with the word "back" and be stepped back, it's still all there. I had a fly mask to put on and worried how he'd take that. His first time on the yard other than when he was unloaded and I wanted to put a mask over his eyes and ears as his eyes were getting sore from flies. I took it slow checking in with him and he didn't bat an eyelid!

I'm so proud of him, he left his field of 8 years an hour after his best friend was put to sleep, he loaded first time, had to be unloaded for another horse en route and loaded again and happily did it. Got to the new yard and it's like he's always been there.

Every day since I knew what was happening I've been sending distance healing to him and his buddy, envisioning how it will all happen, him remaining calm, talking to him. His wonderful carer who I'm forever indebted to for caring for him so well for the last 8 years has been grooming, talking to him and doing the same, it makes a difference!

Driving home I felt relief, more tears and so excited for what's to come; I could smell horses and horse feed and it is the best smell ever!

I'll be blogging our journey of course!

Top photos from today then some from our first 7 years.

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