A lovely blog written by one of our Ambassadors, Justinn Harrison:
I love playing fairy godmother. For people, and for animals, particularly those I share my heart with. For the animals, most of their needs are pretty basic. Food, water, shelter, the occasional peppermint and a good grooming keep them happy and healthy. Only when we start to ask our critters to do things for us do the needs get a little more complex. Then, we have to account for their physical and mental comfort as we teach them new skills. They will put up with an awful lot of shortcomings in their equipment if we have made them mentally comfortable, but when you put the two together, it’s practically magical.
Well, in this case, I knew what I was in for. Summer of 2012, I ordered my very first Comfy-Fit. The harness was everything I dreamed of, and so much more. I swear, my handsome horse went from James Bond in casual clothes to James Bond in a tux. I might have swooned a little. And the changes his new harness made in his work were simply mind blowing. Still, it’s been some time, the memory isn’t as clear as it used to be.
That brings us to our present day tale. I have a new equine friend who has been plugging away just fine for most of her life in a decent leather harness.Kyra is a24 year old Swedish Gotland, a rare breed these days, but if she is the yard stick by which they are measured, then I am a fan. At 11.2 hands she is a small pony, the first little horse I have ever owned. To my delight, she has defied every stereotypical story about naughty ponies. While she has some very mareish opinions, she is easily one of the sweetest horses I have ever known. And that is saying something, since I think my horses are sweet enough to put the sugar industry out of business.
Her people liked to pleasure drive, mostly belting down the road at a trot. No need to bend or use her body efficiently. Go and whoa safely were her whole world. When she came to me, we had many discussions about being soft, warming up her older muscles, and learning the art of subtlety. However, we had limits brought on by equipment. Her buckboard wagon made bending through turns difficult, and the weight of it meant shorter work sessions.
Thankfully, a local member of the driving club wanted to rehome a cart she no longer needed. From the first moment I hitched Kyra to it, she was delighted! Her willingness to work with me blossomed, and her golden coat seemed to shimmer with a happiness that came from the inside. As far as she was concerned, I had given her a gift, not only by getting the cart, but because I had listened to what she needed.
The next step in the equation meant improving her harness. While I couldn’t afford to purchase everything at once, Chimacum worked with me to purchase the pieces I knew would make the biggest difference for my Wonderpony. Though Kyra was accustomed to the tiny, close fitting blinders of her bridle, I knew she would enjoy a Comfy-fit bridle just as much as her larger herd mates did. With her downhill build and low set neck, I also wanted to get her a Deluxe Comfy-fit breast collar, with the deep V to free up her shoulders.
As always, putting on that Comfy-fit for the first time seemed to elevate my equine friend, like Cinderella properly dressed for the ball. She finally wore something worthy of her giving heart. No longer simply adorable, she gained a class and refinement anyone could see, even through the thick winter coat.
But, pretty is as pretty does, they say. Day one, we could only squeeze in a short drive before the farrier arrived. From my end, I immediately felt a change in the reins. We had gone from dial up internet to high speed DSL. She was light, remained straight without being reminded and made turns with just the slightest whisper of a feel. I wanted to wiggle in the seat, I was so happy!
It took her another drive to discover her freedom of movement. She felt hesitant at first, moving into the larger width of the breast collar. I waited her out, let her warm up without being pushed. Didn’t take long before I actually saw her withers shift, and she moved up for the very first time. Forward has never been an issue. She loves to boogie. But suddenly, she could use her whole shoulder! Her neck became an accordion, moving up and down, expanding and contracting into the contact from the reins. Parts of her unlocked that I don’t know she even realized she wasn’t using!
I would have happily played forever with her, vicariously enjoying all this self-discovery. But between her being in her winter woolies (and a bit out of shape), and using parts of herself she hadn’t before, she wound down quickly. So, we took a short jaunt down the driveway, where I enjoyed her being able to walk straighter on the downhills. She’s always felt the need to serpentine a little, but this was much less extreme. The biggest change came as we turned to head back to the barn. In times past, she would drop her head way down to lean into the collar. The grade on the hill is not steep, but is unrelenting, so I never minded giving her the reins so she could use her whole self. She did the same this time, because that’s just how things worked to her mind. But within two strides, her head came up and she smoothed right out into the most delightful trot, practically dancing up the hill!
Kyra in her breast collar before. Still a beautiful golden girl, but little does she know just how good things can get!
Kyra in her new Deluxe Breast collar! Now she can be Cinderella at the ball!
In the case of most fairy tales, I would say “And they lived happily ever after!” Appropriate, sure. But in our case, I’m pleased to say this is but another chapter in Kyra’s story. As her fairy godmother, I look forward to giving her more of what she needs to do what she loves. As her driver, I can’t wait to see what more she has to offer.There’s a big heart in that little body, and I look forward to her finally making it to the ball, where everyone else can see her shine.