The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sharing Space

The trouble with taking the horses out of the pasture is that there is way more edible green stuff growing outside the pasture than within. That is to say, there is no edible green stuff growing anywhere on all 12 acres of pasture and a little tiny bit growing outside. So when you take the horses out, they have pretty much one thought:  Food!!! Can't blame them.

Lately, it seems, the horses and I have been asking each other for things. I ask them to take us for rides or to practice being polite or to stand still to get their feet trimmed. And they are often found standing by the fence, going: "Hey, what time do you call this? Where's dinner?" or "We're getting low on hay over here!" or "Let me out! It's my turn!"

Today, I went into the field with no agenda. As long as I was on the other side of the fence, I was fair game - on call to perform my butler duties - but as soon as I entered the field, closed the gate and moved a few yards into the hinterland, it was clear the horses no longer viewed me as a butler but as a buddy. George came right over and stationed me in his favorite spot by his left hip and started grazing. (Grazing = pulling out a few last, sad vestiges of shriveled grass.) Then Bridget wanted to play. And then Chloe wanted me to stand beside her while she had a nap.
Chloe's sleepy little ears
I guess you always have to keep coming back to Sharing Space. It's the time when everyone's free to come and go as they please, when you can re-establish friendship, where everyone's equal.

When I took George out today to graze, we paused, as per our new custom, to establish a moment of quiet before proceeding. He remembered and settled right away - he poked his nose at me gently, but it wasn't an impatient nudge - more of an understanding nudge. I've been thinking about Widdicombe's advice to be soft. I asked George to move his quarters over. All I had to do was move slightly in that direction and look, and he immediately moved. I backed off right away, because he feels threatened by being asked to do that. I think it's important for him to learn that not all feet-movers are like he is - that it's possible to be polite. I'm not going to ask him to move the way he tells the mares to move. He was very helpful today about the gate. He moved aside promptly for Rose, and then later for Chloe. Both times he turned around but didn't move back towards us.

It's probably just my fond fancy, but I like to imagine that George is getting a little nicer to the mares, that Chloe feels just a little more confident around him. Here are the two of them today, resting by the fence - I don't think I've ever seen Chloe so relaxed in such close proximity to him.

Later, I went out into the pasture again while they were eating their hay. George never lets the mares eat out of his pile, and he frequently chases them away from whichever pile they're eating. I thought: maybe I don't have to move George off his food - maybe I could just ask him to share it with me. So I went and sat down on the edge of his pile. Of course he didn't mind at all. If I want him to copy me, shouldn't I confine myself to asking him to share, rather than asking him to move? I dunno.
Sharing space with George's nose

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