I've never been completely sure what is hiding in her eyes, but I can tell you what it isn't. Trust isn't there. It isn't in her. It wants to be, but trust is a tricky thing.
From the day that I brought her home, nearly 3 years ago, I've been learning about trust and respect. It has taken a horse to show me even more clearly how boundaries are necessary with people. Every move that she has made with me has taught me something about myself. See, her past is tricky because there is evidence of abuse. Someone used fear tactics and pain to try to make her perform. I applaud Halle for defending and protecting herself in those times and for not becoming the showpiece that someone wanted. I applaud any human being today for defending and protecting themselves in their decisions to not be the showpiece someone expects.
Trust cannot be forced. No matter how much someone desires and tries to convince me that they will never discard or betray me - whether or not I trust is up to me. It's my choice, ultimately. You cannot make me trust you. We can exhibit trustworthy behavior until we are blue in the face, but the decision to trust or not trust rests solely in the heart of the person being asked to.
Lack of trust might be irrational. If someone never betrays you, year after year, and you continue to withhold trust, most likely there is an old wound inflicted by someone else being used and held against the wrong person. As broken humans, we can have a tendency to carefully fold up those wounds, pack them neatly into our baggage and carry it right along to the next relationship - unpack it and neatly tuck it into its new space, every ready at the fingertips.
I believe this ..... love drives every decision and trust determines its course. Love and trust or the lack thereof. We go nowhere without these.
I posted a photo of myself and Halle on Instagram a few weeks ago that said this.. "She has been one of my greatest life lessons: trust takes time and it must be earned - and our faithfulness is evident in consistency. If she can't trust me tomorrow - there's no good reason for her to trust me today."
I had thought that we were turning a corner. Halle had returned from trail training where she had improved by leaps and bounds. I went there and rode her myself under the supervision of her trainer. But once we were home, her dangerous behaviors made a gnarly appearance. Gnarly. For several days I tried to find balance with her but she wasn't having it. Maybe she prefers her trainer over me. Maybe she preferred the safety and security of the trails that had become so familiar. All I really know for sure is that after the 3rd time that Halle endangered me, something shifted in both of us ~ and as if two humans had sat across from one another at a divorce table and spoke to say "I don't trust you" and "Yeah, well I don't trust you either" ~ just like that, it was over. I looked at my husband, walked away from Halle and said "I can never ride her again" and then I sobbed for 30 straight minutes.
I'd had to tell Halle that I don't trust her either. If I can't trust her tomorrow, there is no good reason for me to trust her today. It shattered me. Trust is two ways.
Our new relationship based on defenses has been devastating. I feed her twice a day, pet her and tell her I love her but this doesn't comfort her at all. She still jumps and spooks - afraid I am going to hurt her because she knows that she hurt me. She expects me to retaliate. She's carrying old wounds and sincerely, I don't blame her.
I still carry around some old wounds too. A few weeks ago I ran into an old friend of mine. She was my favorite friend for 17 years and then she broke me. It literally took 5 years for me to get over the pain. Seeing her brought up possibly the most bizarre emotion I have ever felt. As if 15 years hadn't slipped away - everything was the same. Eerily the same. From her squealing my name, hugging me tight, holding my hand..... she was so very right there in the flesh messing me up. How could she hold my hand like that? How could she be her, with me? It was so wonderful and so devastating because it only lasted for a few minutes. It was suggested that we get together - but I can't. Because I can't trust her tomorrow. I have grieved all over again.
So Halle. Halle-Looyah .... I believe the best thing for her is a sanctuary where she can be with a herd and just be a horse. A horse that no-one no one rides, who doesn't force her outside of her comfort zone. Another friend of mine who rescues horses is welcoming Halle into her family next week. All they do is love and rescue, love and rescue, love and rescue - with nothing expected in return. They already know and love Halle and Halle already knows part of their herd. It's a sanctuary and that is what Halle deserves.
Almost 3 years ago, I rescued Halle, and next Monday I will rescue her one more time. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done - and just when I think I'm out of tears, more come. Sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing.