Had an interesting encounter with Nevada yesterday afternoon. It was cool and overcast when I got to the barn around 2:30 or so. It didn’t look like they got as much rain out there as we got here at the house (just under 3”!), so it wasn’t especially muddy, thank goodness.
Nevada and the mares were grazing toward the east side of the pasture, keeping an eye on one of the barn staff, who was trimming bushes along the fence. She acknowledged me when I arrived, but didn’t offer to come over, and declined to walk with me back to the fence where I’d left her food (out of sight). I stood around with her for quite a while, just watching and being in the moment, matching her movements and hanging out. It was so pleasant outside for a change!
After ten or fifteen minutes, I checked again to see if she’d come with me—nope. So more matching/mirroring for a while longer. Still nope. So then I decided to move her around a bit, to get her more in the mood to follow my lead. I kept her going, slowly and gently and in no particular direction, but wouldn’t let her stop and graze.
After a little while I began to direct her over toward the west fence, away from the herd. She went, but stopped every few feet and moved as though to turn and go back to the others. When she did that, I just pointed toward the fence and gently raised the tip of my stick (if I hadn’t had the stick, I could have just signaled with my hand). She’d then walk along a few more steps and stop again, asking if I had changed my mind.
I think she thought I was going to take her out of the pasture, and while she would have gone with me, she wasn’t too much in favor of the idea, for whatever reason. But when we got near the gate and I motioned away from it and toward where I’d left her feed pan, she figured out what was going on. Then she was more than willing to move with me. Food!
After her dinner, I walked back with her toward the rest of the mares. She moved easily in that direction, but stopped every time I asked her to, so it was clear that she was walking with me, not the other way around. Halfway across the pasture I asked her to stop. Then I backed away to break our connection, and sent her away quickly. She trotted off with a little toss of her head.
Galahad, on the other hand, came over to me from way across the pasture almost as soon as he saw me. I met him halfway and we walked back to the fence together. He also stopped whenever I asked him to.
Galahad wanted to go out, though. As far as he is concerned, all the fun stuff happens outside the pasture, and he hasn’t been out for a while…too hot for this old lady! When I tried to send him off after he ate, he kept running off and then circling back to the gate. “Out, Mom! Let’s go out and play!” I never did get him to actually go away. Eventually, I just laughed, called him over, and did a few minutes of moving around and backing up. Then he got the last carrot and I left.
Love those horses! Every day is different, and the two of them have such different personalities. It’s exciting to be around them, and to just let them be themselves like this.