Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 61 Experimenting

Because we did such a long walk yesterday, I decided Little Love and I could stay in the arena today.  I didn't really plan anything, except I thought walking for a while would be a good idea.  Little Love didn't agree.  The first five minutes she looked like she had swallowed a lemon, then, since I obviously was not getting the message, she started tossing her head angrily and once she even grabbed my shirt in between her lips.  She looked pretty vicious.  This is completely new behavior, as she would never had done this in her previous life, express her opinion while being walked (while brushing, yes, but never when being led). 

At first I was sort of offended and could feel myself get angry.  Then I thought about it and decided that she was right; walking in the arena was sooooo boring.  I also think she was a bit tired from all the activity yesterday.  She had the right to be pissed off.  So, I took her halter off and let her loose.  At first she walked off to the other end and turned her bottom at me (just to make her opinion clear, I guess...).  I sat on the tree stump that is in the far corner of the arena and watched my dog digging around under the bushes.  Little Love and I have spent time together in the arena like this just a handful of times since we moved to Becky's and during that time she has not really shown much interest in me.  But today, after about five minutes, she suddenly turned around and marched over.  She passed me very close, stopping a few feet away to nibble on something.  Then she lifted her head and looked at me.  I would know that look anywhere.  I jumped off the stump and raced down the arena, and Little Love followed at trot, tossing her head back and forth.  We stopped at the other end and went our separate ways for a while.  When I returned to the stump it didn't take long for Little Love to show up again, too, giving me that look again.  We ran down the arena a second time, this time a little slower.  After that she wanted to be alone, so I sat in the dirt and played with my dog.

After our arena time, my plan was to put Col and Little Love back into the pasture, since it was still early and the weather was absolutely brilliant.  Instead of putting the halter back on Little Love to take her to the barn, I just took down the makeshift fence my husband had made weeks ago.  This opened up the entire other end of the arena.  I wasn't sure where this was leading, but I wanted to know where Little Love would go if I didn't put the halter on (the property is fenced after all, so she can't go too far).  At first she went to the closest patch of grass and I kept an eye on her while rolling up the strip of "fence".  When I was done I walked towards her and she immediately started moving away, up the walk way. 

Good, I thought, she's going to the barn.  Or not. 

Suddenly she took a sharp right through a small gate into Becky's garden.  Okay, I didn't see that coming.  I walked after her, thinking I should really catch her and lead her out of there, but it was easier said than done, as she sort of halfheartedly walked ahead of me, no matter how I positioned myself.  We zigzagged around the garden leaving hoof prints everywhere.  It was so comical, I finally started laughing.  Which is when Little Love took a b-line to the gate and walked into the parking lot.  She stopped and waited for me and then followed me to the barn.  I swear she was smiling to herself, the little sneak.

Letting her loose like that was sort of an experiment, for myself.  It took a lot of self control not to start panicking when Little Love didn't go where I expected her to go.  I have been so drilled to always control my horse, to the point of being obsessed about it - 30 years of traditional horsehandling will do that to a person (especially a control freak like me).  It's time I learn to relax a bit and let go of some parts of myself.  And I think it is valuable for Little Love, too, as she has been obsessively controlled all her life.  Together we can slowly discover a new kind of freedom!


  1. I wonder if horses like making us laugh. I was trying to get our at-liberty pony back into the field the other day, and it finally dawned on me that the two of us were putting on quite a Laurel and Hardy show, and I started to laugh - and at that precise moment, she headed toward the open gate where I'd wanted her to go all along.

  2. I swear they do that on purpose! Every time I experiment with letting Olga loose, she always does something I did not think of. And I do a lot of thinking before I let her go :D

    But it is a good lesson, to cope with that "I did not see this coming".

  3. So I think when we start to laugh, we give up the (sometimes even unconscious) idea of control or predictability, and that's when the horse gives in and rewards us with co-operation. Are they training us with positive reinforcement? :D

  4. Aren't horses so curious and sometimes silly, when given the choice. I was laughing at this post today, very sweet. Little Love is so telling you what she needs, and you get it! Good for you two to play and explore together!

  5. That sounds like a ton of fun, though walking in the garden might be a problem if she decides to eat the produce ;) Mmmm, tomatoes.

  6. Wouldn't it fun to actually live with your horses - like maybe have the downstairs of your house a shared area? and have a part of the yard where everyone could hang out together. You'd have to probably put the BBQ grill and the tomato plants in your own private section though!

  7. Love your comments! I think horses have a great sense of humor, given the chance to have one. Little Love is certainly showing signs of a new personality that includes making me laugh.
    June, brilliant idea! I would love to live with horses, like I live with dogs. It would be so interesting to see what would evolve from something like that. Now I just have to talk my husband into it... hhhmmm, that might be a tad tricky. Honey, can my horse move in with us? :-)

  8. Funny, just this week I was thinking along very similar lines. How I have this special relationship with my cat, based on freedom and friendship. He decides when he wants to share time with me - or not. This kind of living together is very helpful, I think. And it would be great if something similar could be possible with horses. I keep my horse in a stable that was built around the former owners house. But sadly I don´t live in that house. Would be lovely. They had a window from the living room into one of the stables, a view from the kichten to the corral, and the part of the garden did belong to the horses, too. As I can´t have that, I am thinking about having a small place inside the pasture where I could sit and "be", or even read or work in the middle of the horses.