It really doesn't come as any big surprise.
I mean, how can it?
The horse was with a man who drank himself out of the lives of every person he loved. The anguish of that horrible decision had to exert its way out somehow.
Maybe the horse understood that if the man beat him, then he wouldn't beat his wife and children.
- - - - -
That first Monday, I saddled Danny Boy and brought him over to the round pen. I already had all the usual stuff hanging on the bridle rack - a rope, stick and string, a flag, and my nice long purple longe whip. Once inside, I would use the equipment to check Danny Boy's state of mind.
But before the equipment, I always check to see how the horses feel about the round pen. Until I put them in, I don't know if they've ever been in one before. But they all have their own unique way of telling me.
Danny Boy walked right in without reservation. I waited while he looked around, nickered a sweet hello to the two neighbor horses who always come to observe and then nuzzled my hand. I turned him loose after checking the cinch and he walked off, poking the ground with his nose in exploration.
As Danny walked about, so did I. I paid him no mind while he was busy. I picked up deadfall until I couldn't find one more piece and then I gathered my longe whip and carried that around, swishing it about like a boy pretending he had a brand new fishing rod.
Danny Boy's investigation came to a swift halt. I had become much more important than mindless snuffling along the ground. With eyes bulging and muscles quivering, Danny Boy locked eyes on me.
Ah, I thought, too bad.
I stopped the movement and walked a direct line away from him, dragging the whip along behind me. When I reached the far side of the pen, I turned and leaned against the panel. And I waited for Danny Boy to resume his exploration.
He could not. His mind flew to the beatings he'd received and he acted them out right in front of me. I propped a foot on the lowest rung and draped my arms, knowing I'd have to wait. His behavior had nothing to do with me. Danny Boy needed to act this out on his own. The only thing was, I didn't know how long it would take. That timeframe would give me valuable information on how to proceed....
It lasted as long as it lasted. Honestly, I can't really say that I paid attention to how long, because I paid so much attention to how it felt. I struggled to keep my emotions locked deep; Danny didn't need any more negative energy flying about. He was producing plenty, all by himself.
Danny Boy flew about, whipping himself into a frenzy, avoiding any connection with me. And then he just stopped. Panting and drenched with sweat, he quivered. I observed, but did not move. The next bit had to come from him.
Hindquarters facing me, I couldn't see his face. He was running sweat off his belly and fetlocks; puddles in the dirt. Then the quivering stopped. He went back to normal skin movements, wiggling the flies off. He shook his mane and flopped his ears. Wonderful! And then he looked over his right shoulder at me. Rivulets of sweat ran off his chin, dripped in his eyes. He blinked and lifted his right front and landed it one step closer to me. All the better to watch me dead square and centered. I remained where I was, still, smiling, content, relaxed.
Danny Boy moved another step closer, then another. He licked; I watched his tongue flick down and touch his chin. Intent on my eyes now, he made steady progress over to me and stopped when his forehead touched my chest. And then he leaned. I wrapped my arms around him and rubbed.
We stayed that way for quite awhile.