Today, after Bridget was tucked back into the pasture following our grazing walk, Chloe hung back, as is becoming her habit.
She proceeded to go in and out of gates and doors and stalls, stopping every now and then for a micro-nap. Sometimes I'm not sure if she's telling me something or just wants to take a break. Today, for instance, she insisted she wanted to go into her stall, so I finally opened the door for her, which made me wonder if she wanted to do knee bends and neck stretches, since that's the first place we did them. She really likes her "exercises," and I do think her sway back has improved since we started them. When she touches my hand with her nose, I wonder if she's telling me to work on her. But I'm not sure!
We were pottering about in a rather sleepy way, when all of a sudden she snapped to attention and whinnied. She strode purposefully out of the barn, up the driveway and toward the other barn. She seems to be in heat at the moment, and Gus, a rather high-testosterone gelding, lives up at the other barn. The door leading to his pasture was closed, however, and Chloe tracked down three handsome Friesian geldings. On closer inspection, they failed to impress, and she led us back to her own barn.
Are there any Real Men around here?
Returning to the barn is all very well, but then there is the question: How do we persuade Chloe to go back to the pasture? Following Jenny's advice, I offered treats and explained the matter sympathetically to her. Didn't work. Finally my tact gave way to exasperation: Oh for goodness sake, Chloe, you've got to come now. Whereupon she sweetly stepped forward and accompanied me back to the pasture gate.
A few short months ago, Chloe never ever wished to leave the pasture, and would take every opportunity to try and get back there as quickly as possible. When she was being lead, she would either refuse to move or rush forward, dragging whoever was on the other end of the leadrope behind her. Today she walked calmly forward, about half a length ahead of me, the rope loose, and she has absolutely no desire to go back to her pasture!
When we first went to see Chloe (seven years ago!), I saw a little mare who, although rather anxious and oppressed on the surface, seemed as if she could be sweet and helpful and kind. I kept that Chloe suppressed for all these years, and she has only been able to emerge when given the freedom to choose for herself.