I started to reevaluate my life with Beautiful Girl compared to my other horses, and I realized that with Beautiful, I've always had "goals". Whereas, my others are allowed to just be horses most of the time.
With her it has been all about getting her used to humans--picking up her feet--getting her to lead--taking lots of pictures. I noticed about two weeks ago when she saw me pull out my camera, she ran out of her stall and kicked up at me.
Did I imagine that?!? Hmmmm...if not, that's not a good sign.
So, today I went out and walked into her stall.....
She left her stall.
I followed her out into her run and scratched her hind.
She backed up for more.
Then, I moved forward and scratched her withers.
She relaxed and moved closer, and sniffed my jacket.
Then I saw those three coyotes not far out in the field, running for the woods, and I didn't see my Lab, Maggie. So, I darted to the fence and yelled at them to get out of here. Sheez, it's 3:00 in the afternoon and those coyotes are that close to the barn?!?!? Three of them together could take on my little Maggie.
(Luckily, Maggie hadn't seen and followed them into the woods.)
When I turned back to Beautiful--
There she was, in my back pocket, so to speak.
I continued petting her for a few minutes, then fed them all and came back in.
I hope to backtrack and start "being" with her at least once a day (along with the "training", too)--like I did in the beginning when I was getting her used to seeing humans. It actaully takes stress off of me, as well, to go out there sometimes with no expectations. It's easier to pull my muck boots on, my parka, my black Kerrits hat I've had for years and years and still love, my black gloves with the holes in the index fingers--all of which smell like manure most of the time. It's just easier to get in my stinky barn garb knowing I'm going out with no other reason than to LOVE on them.
Pony Girl, a link to her blog is at the side, mentioned that she has to drive 45 minutes to see her boy. I remember the days when I had to do that, too--20 minutes. Whenever I went to the barn it was to RIDE!! Well, unless they were sick and I had to spend time giving them antibiotics--then they got the TLC--and I really enjoyed doing it.
Back then I so, so, so wished I had them home so I could just go be with them whenever I wanted. There was such a sense of peace at the barn--of being "home" for me. Home is where the heart is, right? When I actually did get them home, I found I enjoyed being with them as much as I did riding them, if not MORE. (However, I still miss the indoor arena and daily companionship of horse friends--and someone to feed--and free woodchips--and, and, and...)
Having them home with us deeply changed the dymanics of my relationships with my horses. I am more a part of their herd now. They have developed ways of communicating with me--like looking into the Family Room window and staring me down when they're hungry.
They can actually see me moving around in here and I can watch their heads follow my actions--from the comfort of my chair, to the coffee pot, back to my chair. (I remember the day I realized they could actually see me--DARN!) You can also clearly see their disappointment turn to being PISSED off when I don't get out there. They're not subtle!! It's like--
Hello!! We're doing the stare down--that's one step before we break this pathetic little fence and charge the place!
I learn a lot about them from this window. I see Cowgirl, Shiloh's mare, go to Beautiful's side of the pasture and get as close to Beautiful, my yearling Mustang, as she can through the fence. (Cowgirl has a mothering heart, like Red). I see Beautiful move as close as she can through the fence then run into the barn when Cowgirl enters--a mutual friendship developing between them. I see Cowboy, my boy, teasing the rest of the horses, then getting run off (no wonder he's the Omega). I see gentle Red, 29 years old, caretaking all the rest of them, except Shadow, the leader. And, I see Shadow, the leader, turn to Red for friendship.
Living with my horses is a luxury. I guess it's good to remind myself of that on winter days like these--when getting to the barn seems a chore. I believe our relationships with our horses are formed more in moments of "being" then any other time. Some old Cowboys would probably disagree with me on that--as I've heard many a one say HORSES ARE NOT PETS!!
I agree with the idea that horses are not pets in the sense that dogs and cats are. Horses have a different set of herd dynamics that we must adopt and enforce or be kicked, bit and run over. But just look at them with each other--mutually grooming--playing--almost laughing with each other sometimes--and you have to believe that being with them--being their leader even in quiet times when you're petting them--is developing trust, respect, and loyalty.
I know I'm rambling--and I know I'm not writing anything that all you horse lovers don't already know yourselves--but I just needed a little reminder about what my ultimate goal is with my horse, Beautiful Girl--and all the rest. I want a friendship and not just an obedient horse for the farrier.