Lately she's been a bit standoffish with me. I didn't know whether she felt left out because I've been paying attention to Bridget or if, now that she has her own friend, she doesn't need a silly old human.
She's been coming up to me, getting her treats, staying for a minute, and then heading off to graze by herself. Today was no different. After Chloe left, I spent some time with Bridget, brushing her, and admiring her ability to open and close the lid of the mounting block. Then I went over to Chloe, stood beside her, and started to put a rope over her neck. It startled her; she moved off but immediately returned. This time she didn't object when I put the rope loop around her neck. I asked her if she wanted to come with me anywhere, but she didn't. I took the loop off; she touched my hand with her nose, and I put it back. Waited a minute, took it off, she touched my hand, I put it back. We did this over and over again. She started lowering her head after touching my hand so the loop would slide over her head more easily.
When Bridget came up, Chloe tried to send her off with the evil eye. But it doesn't work any more. So I shooed Bridget away, and she went off to tidy up the grooming box. Chloe and I continued our conversation. I stopped taking off the rope; asked her again if she wanted to move - no. What she seemed to want was for us just to stay put. Her head lowered, and her eyelids started to droop. I sat down beside her, and we stayed like that until Bridget hove into view again. Chloe seemed to want to move away from her this time - I took the rope off and said goodnight.
I wonder if the rope represented some kind of connection between us that Chloe wanted to maintain, and if she enjoyed having some quiet time together, with the rope joining us.
If I had taken Chloe's initial departure as a "no" to contact with me, I would have been mistaken. Without the rope, she did not display annoyance toward Bridget or try to stake a claim on my attention. But the rope seemed to give her confidence to stand her ground. (Either that or she felt more vulnerable with the rope around her neck and thus needed more space.) But she was very clear that she wanted me to keep putting the rope back on, and then was very content to keep it on.
On the way to the barn today, I felt very tired and was thankful that all I had to do was go and visit, with no need to muster up the energy to exercise, to train, to ride. I went looking forward to some quiet time - and lo and behold, Chloe had the exact same idea!
Bridget has tidied up the grooming box.