This is one of those posts where “nothing much happens.” (That’s a great podcast, BTW, for helping the listener fall asleep. Check it out.)
Galahad was eager to leave the pasture, though I’m not sure why—they have lots to eat this summer. They are locked in the west pasture, though, and maybe he doesn’t like that. The grass is not as good on that side, with a TON of yellow foxtail (Pennisetum glaucum), which they don’t like to eat once it blooms (and I’m not sure about even before that).
I was following him over toward the fence, but stopped to read a text message (which I almost never do out there). He came over and gently and politely nuzzled me and demanded my full and complete attention. So I put the phone down and talked to him for a minute. Then he walked around me, close but again very politely and not touching me, and suggested that I might want to walk with him toward the gate. Not bad herding behavior, for a cow pony! Politeness isn’t always their strong suit.
When we got to the west end of the pasture, I put his halter on and swung the gate partially open. He walked out and started grazing right there. But just as I went to close the gate and put the chain back on, his best buddy Dancer started scratching his always-itchy butt on the bars. There is NO WAY I could counteract a thousand pounds of itchy horse, so of course the gate swung open and banged poor Galahad in the side. He jumped but didn’t spook, just moved a few feet and went back to grazing.
I actually think that the gate business was less about scratching an itch and more about fly spray; Dancer soon moved away, stuck his head through the fence, looked at me, and whickered. Since he and I both knew that it wasn’t yet carrot time, I got out the fly spray—and he thanked me profusely, with looks and nuzzles, after I soaked him down with it. It doesn’t do much, and only for a few minutes at best, but it must give him at least some relief.
Galahad and I practiced his basic manners for just a bit—we do that about once a month. Move your hind end, move your front end, back up, walk nicely on the lead line. That’s the extent of our Natural Horsemanship work these days. He needs to be good with those things and be willing to do them when asked, since he lives in a public boarding barn and there are lots of others around. He doesn’t seem to mind a bit—I swear he even enjoys it. Maybe it feels like a game to him, and he does love games. Whatever his reason, he’s super good at it (especially considering it’s not something we work on very much!) and I’m always proud when he’ll step over, or back up between obstacles, with just a look from me. “Sure, Mom. I can do that.”
Most of the rest of the morning was just wandering around and finding good spots to graze. I did ask him to step over to a picnic table to let me get on his back. He did it the first time; I put nearly all my weight on him for a minute, then got down again. Next time I asked, he wasn’t especially interested. That’s OK—it’s his body, and I’d much prefer to have him willing and happy to oblige, considering that he weights 1100 pounds to my 140. I do hope to ride him just a little one of these days, even if it’s just to sit on his back while he nibbles grass.
An hour or so later I put him back out into the pasture and fed him his carrots. When I turned away, he cantered over to his buddies. I love that he’s happy to be with me but also happy to be in the pasture. Best life I can possibly find for him, and that pleases me no end. Love that big, cheerful guy!