We call him our mini-Friesian. Merlin is an “aged” miniature horse with a coal-black coat who moves in the trot like a fancy Friesian horse. Merlin joined Feather on the journey to Ravenheart from Blackbird Ranch Equine Rescue and Sanctuary. We know very little about his history except that he came to Blackbird Ranch from a neighbour no longer able to care for him. Merlin is clever, wary, and very independent. He does really well in our herd and yet we often find him grazing alone in another area of the pasture. This habit sometimes worries me as I go out and don’t find him with the other horses. A quick call though brings him running.
We have a ways to go in getting both Feather and Merlin comfortable being handled and building trust with people. We’ve given them a year to settle in not asking a lot of them. Now it is time to find ways through clicker training and positive reinforcement methods to help them along and giving them the best life we can.
Feather and Merlin
Feather and Merlin (aka Raven & Max), the two dark horses in the forefront of the picture,came to Ravenheart in the fall of 2019. We adopted them from Blackbird Ranch EquineRescue and Rehab in Manitoba.
As you may know if you have followed us for a while, Raven is the namesake for RavenheartFarms. He died shortly after we moved from our original Ravenheart location to this new landnortheast of Kamsack, Saskatchewan. He was 22 years old and is buried here.
A young client noticed one day as we were walking the land, and visiting the place where Raven is buried,that a tiny tree was growing up from the ground in his burial spot. He said “look, a tree isgrowing from Raven’s body”, and he started to gather rocks to put around the base of the littletree to protect it.
It has grown tall and strong over the past few years, and when we haveclients here we often go out on the land to “visit” Raven and invite them to gather up a rock ortwo to add to the memory pile.
Back to Feather and Merlin. I had been scrolling through the adoptable horses on theBlackbird Ranch website one day. I was not looking to adopt a horse but was thinking ofsending a small donation as I had seen a request for support from them, when up popped apicture of “Raven”. She looked so similar to my original Raven that it stopped me in my tracksand I clicked to read her details.
This was her description; “Raven is a beautiful little girl thatcame from auction in October 2017. She is very fearful of people but slowly coming around.She will take treats from people and when she sees you coming will nicker to you.
We havebeen working on gaining her trust. She is approx. 2 years old and possibly a Morgan cross.She was very thin coming into rescue but is blossoming
She watches you interact withother horses and we believe this is helping her along. Last week we were able to pet her neckand shoulder without halter or lead.”
I was hooked now. She was very similar to my Raven when he came into my life. Intelligent,sensitive, willing, and gentle, and just needing a soft place to land, settle in, and learn to trust.I made the call to Blackbird Ranch and the next thing I know, I’ve adopted not one, but twohorses. Little Merlin (aka Max) had been rescued by Blackbird Ranch as an “aged” gelding,also shy with an unknown background, but thought to be in his late teens or early 20’s.
As thetrip to Ravenheart from the outskirts of Winnipeg is a long 7 or 8 hour drive with horses, Ithought that it would be good for them each to have a friend along for company, so I adoptedMerlin as well.
I am a horse “caregiver”, not a horse trainer, so over the time we’ve had some good traininghelp with both Feather and Merlin, and will continue to do so. We renamed “Raven” toFeather, and Max became Merlin, names which seem to suit them both very well. They participate in our programs in their own quiet and significant way.
Like people, every horse has their own unique story, personality, and background and all are valued and appreciatedfor who they are, and who they are Be-coming. Their stories often help our clients see thatthere is hope, recovery, understanding, and possibilities.
This picture is from their first winter, on a snowy day like today, with a few others from their past.