Monday, October 17, 2011

Human drama

Well, there have been some developments at the barn which I have not talked about before, but need to address now, so everyone knows where we are at.  For quite some time there have been some issues between the humans at the barn, mainly involving Metku's owner and the barn owner.  I'm not going to get into too much detail, but basically the way Metku's owner wanted to keep, feed and exercise her horse did not exactly match the way everyone else was doing it.  She also had some demands concerning different areas of horse care that the barn owner could not fulfill as well as no respect whatsoever to the rules of the barn. 

I talked to Little Love about this already weeks ago, because I was starting to foresee the outcome of the situation well before it actually materialized.  If you remember my post about the truck coming and Little Love thinking it was there to pick up one of the horses... well, she didn't just make that up.  I had just a few days before talked to her about the situation concerning Metku.  She really did think the truck was there for her friend.  After that incident, I continued to prepare Lilo to what was to come.  Even though I couldn't know for sure what that was, I tried my best to keep her posted.  All I could do is hope that she understood what I was saying. 

Now I'm happy I talked about all of it with her because this way it didn't come as a complete surprise when Metku's owner took her horse away this past weekend.  I do wish I would have known about it beforehand, but I didn't, nor did anyone else.  One day the horse was there (at this point kept in her stall 24/7 by the wish of her owner who was worried about the muddy paddock) and the next she wasn't.  When I heard about her departure, I went to the barn to talk with Little Love, because I knew she would be upset.  Metku was her paddock buddy and they were friends. 

During the last two weeks Metku was at our barn, I actually worked with her a bit, taking her on some walks either alone or with Lilo and Melissa.  I offered this to the owner not because I wanted to help her, but because I felt the need to help Metku.  Her owner was injured a while back and stopped riding her horse.  But at the same time she stopped doing much else as well and Metku was left "hanging".  Lilo was very understanding of the situation and I think even wished for me to interact with the ever-so-social Metku, who at this point was having very little human contact (but doing her best to get any, if the opportunity rose).  There were times when I went into the paddock (when Metku was still going outside) and Little Love wouldn't let me catch her (completely unheard of!).  Metku, on the other hand, would crowd me, doing her "take me, take me!" routine.  Little Love would merely watch me put the halter on Metku, but when I brought Metku back to the paddock, she would finally walk to the gate and let me halter her.  She has a big heart and these past weeks have reminded me of that fact over and over again.

When I got to the barn after Metku's departure, I was worried Little Love would be really sad.  Instead I felt like she was relieved.  Or perhaps it was the relief of all the humans I was feeling?  The tension at the barn had escalated in the past weeks and I'm sure the horses were affected by it as much as us humans.  Now that the energy is back to the familiar peaceful zen, Little Love is definitely more relaxed.  She has been going out with Kira since Manta has been a bit unwell and had to be out in a small paddock on her own.  Kira and Lilo seem to have an "understanding", meaning they hang out but never crowd each other too much.  Hopefully Manta will fit right in again once the time comes.

But this incident yet again shows how horses are truly at the mercy of us humans.  I have come to the conclusion that the only way to guarrantee some sort of "social stability" for your horse is to own your own property and all the horses on it.   Sigh. 


  1. We ask a lot of our horses, and it seems only fair that we offer them living conditions that help keep them emotionally and physically healthy. It's very easy for human beings to focus on the physical needs a horse has and forget about the emotional needs.

  2. What a sweetheart that Little Love is

  3. Fetlock: Exactly!!! I think a lot of people focus on what they think is the best thing for their horse physically, but often even that doesn't really match with what horse truly needs. It's just the human idea of what the horse needs (like that horses should never be outside in the rain, for example, but in the end if you give horses the choice, they stand outside in the rain). My mission is to give Little Love a chance to live at a place where she can be both physically and emotionally healthy, but I am finding it really hard to do this as certain things are out of my control...

  4. Or if you owned two or three horses and always made sure they were kept together, even if they lived on someone else's property, that'd work.

  5. It's true that you have more control over horses' buddies if you keep them on yourself on your own land, but even then... if I take one of them away for a ride (the arena is not on our property) or two of them away to foxhunt one morning, the others are not happy. One of mine simply does not know what to do with himself if he doesn't have his buddy with him - he doesn't know when he's supposed to eat, or go get a drink, or take a nap... it's like he needs a herd leader to tell him what to do or he's just lost. I imagine that some horses, like humans, thrive on social change, whereas others prefer a standard routine with their BFFs. It must be very difficult for those in the second group when any kind of change happens to their herd, especially if it's a small group.

  6. I think that letting the horses choose is really at the base of emotional health with our horses. What we humans think is wonderful from a physical standpoint might be sheer hell from the horse's. That same thing goes with their emotional well being. K, you've done so much to bring awareness of horse behavior/language/herd culture to us readers. It's so important to remember what the horse's natural inclination would be (given the choice), and try to keep our anthropomorphic evaluations to a minimum. I think you should film a day in the life of Little Love! This is just great stuff!

  7. Griffin also had to deal with the loss of a good friend a couple of years ago. This was a paint gelding that Grif had grown quite attached to (which suprised me a little since Grif has always been a bit of a "loner" personality). He had a friendship with this guy like none he'd ever had before. The two of them entertained everyone on the farm with their playful antics when they were together. Unfortunately, his friend was sold after his owner was injured and became a little fearful of horses.

    Tammy did her best to put a variety of horses in with Grif to see if he would connect with another, but he has not since made a connection like he had with his buddy, Spot (and I miss Spot's owner too :( -- she was a good friend).

    I don't think there is ever a way to shield a horse from never loosing a buddy. Even if they live together with the same owner, tradgedy can strike and one can still be lost (and I have read traditional studies done that prove that horses can and do actually grieve over the loss of a friend).

    I think the best you can do is to try and reassure Lilo that she will always have you and you will do your best to help her make a new friend.

    When Grif lost Spot, I found that walking him around the farm and letting him "visit" with the horses in the other pastures (that he had never been out with before) helped a little to take his mind off of things. He also has horses he get's along ok with -- but nothing since like he did with Spot.

    I am still hoping that one day we will find another "Spot." :)

  8. Oh Carol, I felt so sad for Grif. I hope he finds another "Spot", too!
    Shelby, maybe I should film Lilo's life... not a bad idea. :-)