It was a beautiful thing.
Today when I arrived at the barn, I found all the horses in their stalls, as Andrew, the stable guy, had heard that a storm was on its way.
I turned Bridget and George out together in the paddock by the barn to get better acquainted, as - poor little Bridget, I thought - stuck in a pasture with two middle-aged ladies, she needs to have some fun. George, although often studdish with mares, was gentlemanly. I thought maybe they'd cavort and play, but after a short you're-cute-no-you're-cuter conversation, they both started grazing.
The storm threat having been called off, Andrew arrived to turn everyone out. I put Bridget in the pasture and went to get Chloe. Chloe made a beeline for her pasture gate, but as soon as I started to open it, she stopped. After a pause, she hurried me over to the gate which I had failed to open for her the other day. This time, I complied. She took a quick circuit of the paddock and then lead me out the gate again. I said, "Would it be fun to run toward your pasture?" Yes, and we ran. Back at her own gate, though, she paused again, and there we stood, until the other pasture-mate arrived and was let in by Andrew. Chloe followed through the open gate. I kept the leadrope on her, and followed her for a bit. Then I put the halter on Bridget and invited her to come out for a walk.
This time, Chloe was sure what she wanted to do. She wanted to come too! She followed us out of the pasture, through the barn paddock, into the barn, and out into the great wide world.
And there she was! There was the intrepid, dashing Chloe that I knew was in there somewhere. The Chloe that used to stride past thoroughbreds on the trail, determined to take the lead (until she would suddenly decide to head home without the thoroughbreds) - the Chloe that has been hiding out ever since she realized she didn't have to go out into the world if she didn't want to.
Off she went down the path, at a brisk trot, leaving Bridget and me behind.
where no pony has gone before
We caught up with her, and the two of them lead me on an exploration/grazing expedition around the manure piles, the trailers, and the piles of miscellaneous and interesting junk that accumulate around a barn, Chloe periodically trotting or cantering proudly ahead.
After about 20 minutes, our circuit drew us closer back to the barn, and they headed in that direction. Chloe went into the barn, and I lead Bridget through the barn, into the barn paddock, and then into her pasture. As I stood with the gate open, Bridget having been released, Chloe came up, stopped beside me, looked at me with a kind and frank expression, and then followed Bridget into the pasture.
As I said, it was a beautiful thing.