Little Love's knee looks completely normal now, which means I didn't need the antibiotics after all. I did, however, go get them from the pharmacy. I figured that having them was sort of like an insurance against ever needing them :-) haha.
Manta is doing much much better as well. She is still kept separated from the herd and that is causing some anxiety in all the horses. The wound on her shoulder is oozing puss and blood, which is good. Her owner thinks she saw the tip of a wood sliver today when she was cleaning the wound and squeezing the puss out. If this is the case, I hope the sliver comes out on its own so Manta doesn't need the vet to open up the shoulder and dig it out...
Little Love is starting to really enjoy her life as part of the herd. The barn owner calls her "the peace keeper". She has a reason for that, as it is obvious that when the three black mares are together Kira accepts Metku as part of the group. But the second you take Lilo out of the paddock Kira squeels and kicks out at Metku, chasing her to the other side of the fenced area. Then Kira spends the rest of the time waiting for Lilo to return as Metku stands by (far far away) and does the same. When I walk Lilo back to the paddock, both horses rush to the gate to meet her, obviously overjoyed to see her. Metku especially is quite attached to Little Love. In fact, it's becoming somewhat a chore to get Little Love out of the paddock without letting Metku slip through the gate as well as she is not only attached to Lilo's hip, but also not exactly respectful of "human space".
You would think that all this drama would make Little Love apprehensive to leave her friends, but it seems to be quite the contrary; the second she sees me, she comes to the gate and lowers her head for the halter. I can tell she is eager to spend time with me, which needless to say makes my heart sing :-)
Today we ventured out down the road. We haven't gone down the road alone for a while and I was curious to see if Little Love had made any progress in terms of being less nervous when walking away from the barn without other horses. The weather wasn't exactly ideal for this excursion as it was really windy and dark rain clouds were passing over head. But somehow I had a feeling that this would be the time to go out. Perhaps Little Love told me she was ready?
Little Love stopped twice when we left the yard. Neither stop was a "I'm growing roots" sort of a stop, but rather a "are you sure?" type. Both times I told her we would only walk to the bottom of the hill, not any further. This was enough to convince her to follow me. She stopped a third time at the mail boxes some 100 yards down the road, but I barely had time to ask her to follow me, when she already did. She was calm, but alert; the Little Love I remember from those few times we had great walks "alone" in Switzerland.
It started to rain. The drops came down heavy and hard. We found a birch tree that gave us enough cover and Little Love settled down to eat grass. I couldn't believe it; it was raining and she was calm enough to eat??!! This was a milestone, if any. The rain stopped as soon as it had started. We stayed at the bottom of the hill for over 15 minutes. Every now and then Lilo would lift her head, look over the fields and past the forest line. But then she would settle down again. Once or twice we heard a horse, most likely Kira, calling out from the barn, but even though Little Love acknowledged the call by looking towards the barn, she never called back. I felt that she could have walked further, but I didn't want to push it. Besides, I had promised her we would walk only to the bottom of the hill.
I think we could have stayed there even longer, if it weren't for the garbage truck. We both saw (and heard) it at the same time on the other side of the field, coming down the road adjacent to our small barn road. I didn't know if it was going to come our way, but I know my horse well enough not to wait and see. As I heard the truck approaching, we walked up the hill briskly, took the right turn at the mailboxes and returned to the barn just in time to turn around and watch the truck pick up the trash next door. Little Love is not a big fan of garbage trucks and since our outing had been pretty much perfect, I wasn't going to risk spoiling it with a face off with a garbage truck on a narrow country road.
Maybe we only walked 200 yards down the road today, but it was a great accomplishment as it was the first time Little Love was truly comfortable with leaving the barn "alone". It's funny, because a few years ago, if my horse would only leave the yard to go down the road, I would have thought that I had failed. But now I see this as a success. It's all relative, isn't it? But I guess a few years ago I would have also forced Little Love to go further, which would have resulted in an awful and anxious trail ride. And we would have both returned to the barn in a state of fury.
I rather prefer this other way.
PS. I made a mental note for future reference to remember that the garbage gets picked up on Tuesdays around 3:30 pm. Don't need to meet that garbage truck quite yet, but maybe some day we can do it. I'm up for it, if Little Love is.