I hadn't been to the barn since Friday, so when I saw Little Love, my heart jumped from joy. She was sleeping in the shade under a pine tree, but when I called her name, she perked up. She immediately started walking towards the fence with her ears forward. When she was closer, she let out a happy nicker. She has only nickered at me a handful of times, usually when Col was gone on a jumping lesson and I showed up to entertain her. But this nicker was definitely a "Thank God you are here, thought you had left me again" sort of nicker. Brought tears to my eyes.
Since we were on route from the summer cottage to my parents house, I had my whole family with me; husband, kid and two dogs. This, of course, meant that my time with Little Love was sort of limited. My husband only has so much patience to hang out at a barn.
I took Little Love out for a quick brush. Kira and Manta called out to her, but Lilo didn't care; she was obviously on a mission to spend some time with me. Apart from getting quite annoyed with the dozens of horse flies buzzing around, she was really calm, leaving the herd willingly. I let her graze for a while, then I walked her to the other side of the barn where there are a few good sized pinetrees standing in a line. There used to be a post there, where you could tie your horse, but they took it down for some reason. Hopefully the barn owner will replace it, because although my goal is NOT to tie Little Love (like at Becky's), at the moment that is just a distant dream. When the trimmer comes (and some other times, too), she will probably have to be tied. So, I tied Little Love to one of the trees. She didn't like it much, but I gave her carrots when she stood still. I only had her tied up for about two minutes, but we have to start somewhere.
Afterwards I walked her onto the road. She was relaxed, so I decided to walk her up the road some 30 yards. This went well, even though I could feel her get more anxious. I think we could have ventured even further, but since I had some time constraints, I turned back and let her graze. Mia, the owner of Manta, showed up to feed the horses and I decided to put Little Love back into the paddock. I was curious to observe the herd while they were fed. When I first arrived, I had sensed another "shift" in the dynamics; Manta and Kira were standing together while Lilo was further away, alone. I wanted to know what that was all about.
Once the hay showed up, Manta became aggressive. Last I had seen her, she had been in heat and very curious and friendly with Little Love. That behavior was all gone and she fiercely defended her relationship with Kira, making sure Little Love didn't go near the black mare. Kira on the other hand, seemed to accept Lilo just fine, which is really interesting since apparently she has always been the one who doesn't accept new comers. So when Little Love and Kira were eating out of the same pile of hay, Manta chased Little Love off and took her place. Lilo didn't question this in any shape or form, she merely moved away and found another pile of hay. After a while Kira showed up again, slowly inching her way to the same pile of hay. Manta followed and soon Little Love had to run off again. This carousel went on for a few minutes, until all three settled for their own pile. I didn't stick around to see if Little Love was allowed to eat all her hay, but I hope she did. I would prefer free feeding, but at the moment this is not an option at this barn. But perhaps in the future? It certainly eliminates all this fighting over food.
The other thing that came up as I was leaving was the pasture grass. I saw that they had fenced in smaller pasture area on the other side of the paddock. The gate was open, but the horses were in the paddock when I arrived. Mia told me that in the morning Kira and Manta had been in the pasture to graze, but Lilo hadn't followed. A horse doesn't decline the chance to graze on new grass unless there is a reason. I asked Mia if she had seen Manta or Kira chasing Little Love out of the pasture, but she told me that both mares had been way at the bottom of the pasture, well out of Lilo's sight. She didn't think Little Love wasn't going in there because of the other two horses. I agreed. I suspect that the large gray rock in the middle of the entrance is perhaps the real reason. Little Love can be quite afraid of rocks and this one is fairly massive. Tomorrow I will definitely work on taking her through the entrance and teaching her to pass the rock. Hopefully this will help her overcome her fear and enter the pasture when I'm not there. Of course, I also hope Kira and Manta are not chasing her out of there either. Perhaps I need to spend some time at the barn just observing the situation.