I know that at one point Chi had taken a bucking fit that gave Gab a spot of whiplash. She rode it like a cowboy in Calgary. We didn’t realise at the time, but looking back that ride seemed to be the origin point for a case of chronic back problems for her, and in the end she had to quit riding for a while. She was going away to school soon anyway, and Chi was perfectly content to be a freeloader. He munched away on hay in his own private paddock for a while, the cow.
The bugs were quite bad that year, and I was treating everyone to a round of flyspray every day. I tried to go out and douse Chi, but he was having none of it. He backed away and reared a bit, but I’d had horses do this all before and was pretty proficient at this point in getting the job done with good timing and a little bit of bullying. Finally having had enough of it, Chi reared and struck the arm I was holding the spray bottle with. He scraped his hoof from the top of my shoulder all the way down to my wrist, and I carried that scar for years.
Chi taught me a very good lesson that day, and I also look back at this a window into the psyche of the Canadian breed as a whole, because I have see this attitude in every Canadian I have ever handled. They will do anything for someone they trust and respect, but if one of those is absent, they will fight like gentle tigers. I use the word ‘gentle’ here deliberately. I put myself in a bad situation that day, though in my defense he went from slightly-upset-horse mode to full-on-aggressive-stallion mode in the blink of an eye. Still, Chi could have broken my arm, he might have killed me, actually. Instead he very deliberately reached out and slapped the bottle out of my hand, sending along a clear message without (really) hurting me. I was shaken and angry, but I walked away from that encounter with the point he was trying to make - “Don’t force me into anything I’m not okay with. If I don’t trust you enough it aint going to happen.”
That day marked the beginning of our understanding. And the need for a new fly spray bottle.