After applying the clay, Melissa and I decided to take Little Love for a short walk. Manta's owner had showed up to clean a small puncture wound on Manta's shoulder (which was already healing well) and said she could go with us. This was great, since I wasn't sure we would get very far on our own. I also think it's great for the horses to go out with each other in pairs; it helps with the bonding. And since Manta and Lilo were not exactly best friends to start with, a walk together could help in that respect. Not to mention giving Kira and Metku some time together in the paddock.
We walked down the road and Manta's owner showed us the way to a lake we had seen on the map. To get to the lake, you have to walk to the end of a dirt road and then take a path through the forest. It's a fairly long walk, so we didn't go all the way, but rather just explored the beginning of the forest path. I told Manta's owner about Little Love's anxiety concerning the forest and she was open to just hanging out and helping Lilo get comfortable. It was perfect! We stopped at a narrow clearing with lots of grass (but trees all around). Manta started grazing immediately and after a few seconds of walking around and checking out the surroundings, Little Love followed her example and grabbed some grass as well. She was definitely not as relaxed as Manta, but the grass was pretty tempting and she ate vigorously. After a while we started to slowly head back, letting the horses graze on the way. As usual when heading home, Little Love walked quite fast, leaving Manta behind. Melissa walked with Little Love, practicing slowing down together, stopping and being able to keep the rope loose through all this. She did a superb job and Little Love was working with her really well. She has a way of showing people when they aren't releasing fast enough or are applying too much pressure. At the same time we were also training - with help from my younger dog Chai - Melissa's dog Indie how to go out with the horses; it was her first time. She did brilliantly as well. So between all the horses, dogs and people, there was lots of learning and teaching going on.
We had been gone for 45 minutes and accorcing to the barn owner, Kira and Metku had been sort of lost in the paddock without Lilo and Manta. Kira had stayed at the gate, calling out and Metku hung out in the back, waiting. Both were pretty happy to see Manta and Lilo! When we left the horses in the paddock, Little Love was pairing up with her buddy Metku. I don't know if I was imaginging it, but perhaps the swollen knee was a little less swollen? I'll have to check that first thing tomorrow morning.
I didn't take any pictures today, but in the beginning of the week I took a picture of my dog in the forest near the barn. The picture isn't even taken at a particularly tight spot. I'll post it here so you can get an idea of how narrow the paths are. I can understand why Little Love feels confined in between the trees. I hope that more experiences like the one she had today will help her gain confidence in the forest. Manta's calm presence was invaluable; what a great example she was of a horse that is completely comfortable with her surroundings.
|Chili walking in the woods|