She had made so much progress, that Dad felt it was time to test her with someone in the pen. He didn't want me to do it, but she wasn't used to anyone else, so finally he agreed to let me try it with him a short distance away.
I felt confident that the mare would be fine, but as I approached the gate, my heart was pounding.
I had seen what the mare could do and what she had tried to do to Dad and multiple other people who had crowded her.
The mare eyed me curiously as I approached the pen, seeming to sense that something unusual was going on.
I took a deep breath and focused on relaxing. I knew that my emotions dictated her emotions to a certain extent and the last thing I wanted was her becoming more nervous than she already was.
When I felt ready, I slowly eased open the gate and inched inside.
I kept my eyes averted, my shoulders round and my head tilted to one side, just as Dad had taught me.
I watched the mare out of the corner of my eye and saw her head come up and her nostrils flare as she realized there was no fence between us.
With a challenging whinny, she started toward me. I held my breath as I waited to see what she would do. Her manner didn't seem as confident as when she had charged Dad that first time, so I just stood there, ready to slip out the gate if I needed to.
But the mare stopped in the center of the pen and reared up. She pawed the ground and snorted, but did not come any closer.
During the next ten minutes, she trotted back and forth across the far side of the pen, stopping occasionally to stare me down and paw angrily, but she did not charge me.
With tears streaming down my face, I latched the gate and ran to Dad who was waiting with open arms. "I did it, I did it, I did it!"
I knew we were still a long way from being able to handle and ride her, but that didn't matter right then. I had seen her behavior before and this was a huge step in the right direction.
Dad's eyes were shiny as he held me at arms length. "I'm so proud of you, honey. You've done a great job."
I smiled. "Now do you think it’s a crazy idea?"
Dad laughed. "No, Rachel. I think you both needed each other. I'm glad I bought her for you."