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.