A couple of years came and went with the same routine.......... A trainer here and there. I had gotten my trailer in 2005 and that seemed to be the best year I had with Dakota. By that time I had the little grade mare worth her weight in gold, Misty, who Jess and Gerald had found for me.
I had been able to get him on the trail. The first trail ride, Todd took him out along the road while I rode Misty, Dakota reared at a passing truck. The second was on the trail and Todd rode again. Getting him to cross water was a challenge, but once he did get in the water, we had to get him out quick. Dakota loved water! The next few trail rides, I was able to take him out with a group, although he could behave so badly on the ground, he wasn't too bad out on the trail. He loved the trail and wanted to go, go, go................Every now and then, he would give a little kick and then try to run, but was easy enough to stop and spin around. I could put complete non riders on Misty and she would take care of them and the times I had Misty on the trail, wow, what an awesome little trail horse. I was even able to take Dakota on the shared bicycle trail several times and survived. He actually handled approaching bicycles quite well. The first time, to turn and run, but again easy enough to stop and with each passing bike a little less scared and then some encouragement from me.
He definitely wasn't the horse, I could just relax on, but all and all that was a successful summer. A lot of work, but successful in my opinion, however, hind sight is 20/20, and that is also the time when I believe MS was beginning to creep up on me, although I didn't know it at the time. By Autumn 2005, he continued to give me crap on the ground. Again, my fault, I'm sure. So I mulled it over and over and decided to give it one more chance by Spring 2006. In March, I sent him to another trainer and could never get it together with that trainer to go and ride him. I was going to keep him there for two months, but after one month, pulled him out. And another lesson learned. When you walk into a trainer's barn and it's so strong with the smell of ammonia, run away.......fast! He came back to me even worse. Where as I could ride him in the training pen before, this first ride back from this trainer, was bad.
That was finally when I decided to take Jess's advice after all these years, now 6 years spent with Dakota and sell him to someone who could handle him. He needed a firm hand and I wasn't it. I had put him up on the Internet. Had one gentleman come and look at him for his Grandkids and I straight up told him that this was not the horse for Grandkids. I was able to saddle and ride him for the gentleman, but not for the kids. In the end, he agreed and left with his family.
The day came to bring Dakota to Jess's to sell. Jess met me here and Gerald was already at the vet in Janesville with a trailer and horses, so the plan was to meet up in Janesville and hand him over there. Dakota made the decision that much easier for me at that point because he gave us so much crap in getting him loaded. In the end, I left it to Jess and Gerald to sell him and find him a good home.
In saying all of this, I do not regret a minute of my time with Dakota. I learned a lot. I alone made the decision to buy him and I alone made the decision to keep on going with him for as long as I did. He could be a lot of fun and was quite the doofus at times. He loved a bath, would just dance in a bath and then promptly roll in the dustiest place he could find. There were many things endearing to me about Dakota. He would rest his head on my chest when getting his feet trimmed. Every time after that first time. Steal my hair ties. Never try to leave the boundaries of the fence, even when Clorox and Misty did. He would sound an alarm, screaming for them at the end of the fence while they had broken out.
I learned a lot from that horse, mostly what not to do and he was more than just a horse to me. He symbolized a freedom in a sense. The freedom to finally do what I wanted to do with my life.
And not be constricted by oppressive men, although in his own right, he too had constricted me. Again, my problem, not his. Which is why it was so difficult to let him go. I've learned that I get along much better with mares. I learned how to better care for my horses and I learned that a best friend, does truly stick by your side, even when you don't always listen to her.