Melissa and I walked down the road to an open area where we thought it would be best to unload. Little Love's new home is at the end of a very small dirt road and it was highly unlikely that a huge horse truck would be able to make it all the way up there, not to mention turning around afterwards. We sat at the fork in the road for about ten minutes until we saw the massive horse truck slowly pull around the corner. By then I was sick from anticipation.
Little Love was the last horse to be dropped off, but she stood quietly in the truck. She came down the loading ramp calmly and carefully. Her eyes were on sticks, but it was obvious that she recognized me. The transporter gave me her passport (along with her expired vet papers... thank godness there was no control at the harbor) and told me that she had loaded onto the truck like a pro. He had stopped twice on his way through Sweden and each time she went back onto the truck like she had been doing it all her life. He said she was a really kind and easy horse, and a suberb loader. Wow.
Little Love was covered in a coat of grime and had lost about a 100 kg in weight. She looked angular, rather than round. Her feet were in better shape than I had aniticipated, but she had a fleshy rub on her bony bottom. Other than that she was still the same horse I left behind in Germany. She walked eagerly down the road, her eyes the size of dinner plates, but following my lead trustingly. When we arrived at the barn, we walked over to the pasture to say hello to her new girlfiriends: Kira and Manta, who were beyond curious, falling over each other to see the new horse.
After saying hello, I put Lilo in her stall, just so she could have a moment to chill. She was very confused with the bedding, as it is not shavings nor straw, but cut up flax plant (linen bedding :-). It was obvious she was thirsty, but she shyed away from the water bucket. We gave her hay and she ate it half-heartedly, turning around in her stall in between each mouthful. After a while I took a brush and went in to clean her up, which seemed to calm her down. She was very pleased to be around me. In fact, at one point I left the barn to get something from outside and according to Melissa this caused Lilo some distress. I told her immediately that I would never ever leave her again like I left her in Germany. This was her home now and we would be together. I had to go home and sleep, but I would always come back. This seemed to settle her a bit.
After a while it was obvious that Little Love wasn't happy in the stall (well hello, the other horses were outside!), so I took her out and we walked her into the little fenced area next to the bigger paddock where the two horses were. The barn owner had set this up earlier, to give Lilo a space to be where she could touch the other horses, but still be separated by a fence. All three horses were very curious and eager to get to know each other. Here is a picture of them saying hello for the umpteenth time
There was a lot of screaming and peeing going on, since Manta is in full blown heat and Kira and Lilo just were being mares. It looked to me that Lilo seemed to assert herself quite a bit and the two other horses accepted that quite well. Manta seems very submissive and Kira is definitely the leader of the two. But with her newly gained self-confidence it may well be that Little Love will take the lead mare role in this heard.
I was a bit worried because Little Love was not drinking. She seems to have a thing about drinking out of buckets as she had no problem with the automatic water dispensers in France and Germany. I recall her having this same issue when we first moved to Becky's. Today she checked out the water bucket in the pasture about 30 times, but would not drink. Other than that she seemed to be doing fine, she even rolled twice. Melissa, who hadn't seen Lilo for almost a year, couldn't believe how much she had changed from the nervous and insecure horse she used to be. That horse would not have taken a journey across Europe in stride.
After 4½ hours of hanging out at the barn we decided to leave her be. The barn owner sent me a text message two hours later to inform me that Lilo had consumed a half bucket (they are big buckets) of water and had pooped twice. Which is all good news. Hopefully she will be able to relax a bit tonight. Tomorrow I'll be going over in the morning. Because all three horses seemed very peaceful today and there was no major commotion between them, I feel confident about putting them together tomorrow. Hopefully it will go well and the three mares will find peace together.
I, on the other hand, am exhausted. I can't describe the relief I feel now that Little Love is finally here. I thank everyone for the support; all the emails, blog comments, telephone calls and text messages I have received. Every little bit helped me get through this. Which in turn helped Little Love. Now we can close this long long chapter and start a new one. I am beyond excited!