Little Love has been a picture of serenity, but this morning when I went to the barn she was visibly agitated. My husband had volunteered to muck her stall while I brushed her, but when I tied her to the grooming post, she kept spinning around and yanking at the rope. I quickly untied her, walked her into the indoor arena and let her lose. She took off like a rocket, whinnying loudly and tossing her head around. Then she exploded into a series of bucks followed by several stretches of extended trot and another impressive round of bucks. She stopped for a moment to take a roll, after which she continued her show. This went on for about five minutes. Then she came down to a walk, panting. I hooked on the lead rope and lunged her at the trot on a circle for a moment as a cool down. Then we walked around for another ten minutes. I figured that for a horse that hadn't had such a fit for months, it was a good idea to take some time to bring those muscles back to "normal".
I wondered where all this animated behavior was all coming from, and I think it was maybe two things
a) the stress of traveling the day before and
b) staying in a stall for 20 hours (apart from me walking her yesterday).
She isn't used to either anymore. After the running, though, she was back to her composed self. I guided her behind the arena where there was a patch of grass on which she could graze. Once my husband was done mucking the stall, he joined me with our son and dogs for a walk up the steep hill behind the barn. Little Love left the barn confidently, never calling back at the other horses, but occasionally touching my arm for assurance. There were some stones along the way and she stepped around them carefully, as she wasn't wearing her boots. Once we came back, I saw that one of the smaller pastures was empty and I asked the barn owner if I could put Lilo out there, to graze for a few hours. He just nodded and smiled. He isn't a big talker, but he has been extremely helpful and kind.
Little Love settled into the pasture without a problem and this gave me a chance to spend some time with my family. We had lunch and took a great bike ride along side the Rhine river which devides France from Germany and finally runs into Basel, Switzerland. When we came back to stables, some four hours later, the barn owner was in the process of taking Little Love inside. She had to change stalls, because of her stall being needed for an injured horse coming back from the vet clinic (the first stall was in a barn with a "flatter" entry way). Again, she didn't seem to mind the change. I hung out with her for a bit. Several people came by to talk and ask how we were doing. Yesterday, with all the drama going on, many people had offered help by giving telephone numbers to horse transport companies etc. Seems like I know half the barn now. Little Love has made an impression on all these people; I can't tell you how many of them said: "she is such a calm and kind horse". Calm and kind. Now there are a lot of things she has been called during the 15 years of her excistence, but I'm thinking calm and kind are not on that list. One woman, who actually gave me the number to the person who is transporting us tomorrow, said: "Your horse is so wonderful. Today, when I walked by her, she pushed her head out and let me rub it. She is such a kind and friendly horse."
Friendly?? Ok, I can honestly say that I was beaming from ear to ear. I think Little Love has decided to leave her old life, along with her reputation, behind in Switzerland. It wasn't but just a little over a week ago when the lady who works for Becky in the mornings called Little Love mean. "She is a mean horse," she said at least three times, obviously to provoke some kind of reaction from me. Remember, this is the same woman Little Love "bit" on the head while she was doing her fly sheet. I wrote about it on the 10th of June, but was at that point unsure of what had happened. Later, when I saw the woman in person, she informed me that my horse was mean and that she had just point blank bitten her on the head with no reason at all.
First of all, Little Love never ever bites anyone without several warnings. Which of course you can miss if you aren't paying attention. Secondly, she always has a reason to bite. It is never random. You have always violated some boundary. My guess is that this woman probably did something to provoke Little Love. I never liked the woman in the first place and usually avoided going to the barn in the mornings when she worked. There was something very negative about her. I also felt like she wasn't congruent and if there is one thing Little Love (as well as myself) can't handle, it's people who are incongruent.
Today was a good day. Of course, this was also a day we didn't do any traveling. But I think both Little Love and I needed some time off from the stress. I certainly feel a heck of a lot better. Tomorrow morning the woman is picking us up at 8 am. I am hoping Little Love won't put up too much of a fuss about the truck. I made sure to talk to her about it in length today. So she knows what she is up for tomorrow. Hopefully she will be able to regulate her emotions and stay with me in the moment as we load. I will do my best to do the same!
PS. I am not sure if there is internet at our next hotel, but if there is, you are sure to get an update tomorrow night European time :-)