Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Pacifist

On Monday Manta, who during the weekend had finally been upgraded from stall confinement to a small paddock outside, decided she was done being "sick".  Between the noon and afternoon feeding, she busted through the hot wire and joined the herd.  As last time, Manta's presence in the herd created turmoil.  Suddenly nobody could relax at feeding time.  It wasn't long that the barn owner contacted me, because she was fairly sure Lilo was not eating most of her rations.  This is not because she is at the bottom of the pecking order, but rather because she can't be bothered to fight over food.  It is as if she is above such behavior.  She really tries to avoid conflict as much as possible without being submissive in any way.  

Perhaps Lilo feels that she has had enough conflict in her life to last her the next twenty years.  And it's true; when I met her, her life was one big conflict.  It was all about Little Love against every human she met.  I can't imagine how much she must have suffered from the constant state of argument she was in.  Just thinking about it breaks my heart.  So now she makes sure to stay away from any drama.  Can you blame her?

Or perhaps this is who she is; she doesn't believe in violence and fighting.  She would rather walk away than engage in a bloody battle over a pile of hay.  Peace is what she seeks, peace is what one feels in her presence, peace is her middle name.  My horse is a pacifist. 

She is also becoming quite the culinary expert when it comes to plants.  It is intriguing to watch her select her menu and chew it down with efficiency.  A few weeks ago she was really into plantain, which I have been familiar with since childhood when my grandmother told me about it's medicinal value.  The list of benefits of plantain is so long that I will spare you this time, but I would like to mention it's effectiveness as a general detoxifier.  Did Little Love subconsciously know this and that's why she ate lots of plantain?  Her newest favorite is milk thistle which is loaded with antioxidants.  Also, thistle's active ingredients are specifically good for the liver and kidneys. There are other greens she obviously chooses to eat, but I have yet to figure out the names of these plants.  I'm sure that whatever she chooses to eat, it is no accident; she goes at it with such conviction. 

Yesterday Melissa and I walked with Little Love to the first dirt road crossing.  Lilo was alert, but stayed with us mentally and emotionally.  We stopped to graze at the intersection before returning back to our "safe spot", the grazing area at the slope near the barn.  Today I felt confident we could venture further and I was right; Little Love took me beyond the first crossing and turned right down the dirt road.  She was calm, pacing herself to me rather than the other way around.  We walked almost all the way to the end of the road, which is where on Saturday we had taken the forest path to the lake with Kira and Metku.  This walk was different than any of the walks we have ever done together; I felt that we were walking completely and utterly as equals for the first time.  Or maybe "equals" is the wrong word.  It was rather a sense of not having to worry about anything between us, we were just two friends, walking together. 

Later, when we were coming back, two people  who were Nordic walking, came around the corner.  Little Love heard them before she could see them.  The poles (that are like cross country ski poles) the walkers use make a funny whizzing noise on a dirt road and Little Love's mental alertness went from 0 to about 70 in a split second (100 being the state where the eyes pop out of the head and you brace yourself because you know your horse is about to take off).  We went home a lot faster than we had ventured down the road, but it was never out of control.  In fact, we tried a bit of trot up a a hill as I knew this would help Little Love.  Unfortunately I'm a lot slower than her, once she really gets going LOL. 

Once we got back to the familiar grazing spot near the barn, Little Love was back to her Zen self.  Interestingly enough my pulse never really went up during this episode; I remained calm and confident even when Little Love was anxious.  I realize it is because I trusted her, even when she was a bit scared; there was nothing between us.

Back at the barn I told the barn owner about the Nordic walkers.  She laughed and said: "Yeah, wait until it's winter and you'll see your first cross country skier!"  Yikes.  Now that will be a test of Zen, if there ever was one!

PS. Lilo's fecal count came back good, so at least I know she doesn't have worms.  Now we are waiting for the results of the hay analysis.  Once I know the quality of the hay, it will be easier to find a supplemental feed for Little Love that is in balance with the nutrients she is getting from the hay.  She definitely needs something to help her gain weight before winter.  I have been asking the barn owner to keep giving her more and more hay in the evenings and mornings (when she eats in her stall), but it doesn't seem to be enough.  Just today I told her to give her another 2 kg at night.  I have never seen Lilo eat this much, but at the same time be this thin.  She is also obviously hungry, eating every piece of hay she can find in her stall.  Hopefully I can find a solution to all this. 


  1. Don't know if you can get stabilized rice bran, but it's a good supplemental feed for weight gain.

  2. It is an old Native American belief that the medicines you need will present themselves to you by growing in your area. They also believed that animals would seek out and take in only that that would make them stronger. Just a thought that popped into my head whilst reading about Lilo's culinary exploits

  3. I agree with Kate, the rice bran is excellent for weight gain.

    I mix a bit of senior feed in with Griffin's joint supplements for Tammy to give him with his evening feed and I find that that also helps him keep his weight better. Being an older guy, he doesn't digest his food as well as he did when he was younger (I don't recall if you've ever said how old Lilo is...). I also feel better knowing he's getting much needed fiber and nutrients his body needs with the senior stuff..

    Your post about Little Love's interaction with people and now with the herd got me really thinking.....I wonder how often a horse's relationship with humans affects their relationship with other horses. Griffin never got along well with other horses when I first got him (..and his racing trainer was a jerk, to put it nicely). He always had to be turned out alone because he would chase others (even to the point of going through a fence). Thankfully, the barn where he lives now does an excellent job of pairing him with horses that stand their ground and therefore make a better match for him (and he also feels less threatened than he used to and isn't as reactive). He actually has several horse friends now and I enjoy seeing him play with them. So-- I would be curious to see how often a horse's interactions with other horses have become affected by the way they were treated by people. I want to know...and yet I don't, because it might make me mad at the human race once again (and I don't like going there *sigh*)

    I suspect by winter's end, the skiers will pose no threat to Little Love. She KNOWS she has someone who will give her the time she needs to get used to them :)

  4. Carol, I do think horses copy the way people treat horses.

  5. I know that horses will take out their aggressions on the nearest "thing" when they're frustrated or pissed... horse or human. There's so much communication between horses that is so subtle, we can't see it but they do. And Carol, sigh... I know what you mean! We humans just expect horses to "get" it, and we're asking in a language they don't understand, and then we get impatient or even mean when they don't "do" it! BUT, here we are now watching this wonderful journey with Lilo and hopefully helping to create similar journeys for all the horses that cross our paths! I have hope for the human race yet! :)