When I reached out to touch her, she gave me a cranky look and swiped at me. I was startled and swiped back, whereupon she walked away. Oops, sorry, Rose. I walked over and stood by her. She drooped her lashes and said, "Well, I'm sorry I guess, but I'm just feeling funny."
As I was playing with Bridget again, Rose stepped right into my bubble and drooped her head and said, "I'm just going to stand here ok, but you don't have to touch me."
George came over. He was in one of those loony moods where he bites himself.
|Reaching round to bite his own leg.|
Soon the cause for all this angst became apparent. Rose is in season, and George is beside himself because she is not In The Mood thank you very much.
|Look at Rose's cross face|
|Rose walks away.|
|Why doesn't she love me?|
We wandered down into the trees, where I found a stick to offer her. She held it for a moment. I picked up a big stick and started banging the snow, which made a satisfying noise as the stick broke through the thin layer of ice on top. Pretty soon, Bridget grabbed a stick of her own and, I think, tried to do the same thing.
I went to get out a new toy which I'd discovered lying around in the barn.
Rose and Bridget figured out how to move it around with their forelegs.
While they were thus engaged, George came over and stood by me for some sympathy.
He was quiet for a while. Suddenly he could contain himself no longer, reached over, yanked my hat off my head and grabbed my sleeve.
A little snack always cheers everyone up. I got out a bale of hay, and pretty soon they were all munching harmoniously.
When George wants something, he usually just demands it. For instance, when he wanted to look at the tire today, he marched over and drove off Bridget and Rose in his usual peremptory fashion. But when the thing he wants is attention from a pretty lady, he can't force it, and he becomes all bashful and pathetic.
|She knows he's there; he knows she knows; she knows|
he knows she knows. She's not having it.
Today I had cause to reflect on how different an approach I now have toward the horses. Two years ago I would not have permitted myself to be chewed on in the manner I often am now. Two years ago, if Rose had swiped at me, I would have chased her - today I apologized for reacting. George is a formerly/potentially aggressive horse, who has badly bitten me; yet I indulged his desire to use me as teething ring, and confined my reaction to simply walking away when I felt he was carrying things a little far. And Bridget is allowed untold liberties with my person.
There's another side to the coin, however - I'm not the only one who is making allowances and being considerate. The horses modify their behavior for my sake too. As I said before, when George was gnawing on me, the way he was he was chewing was distinctly milder than the bites he had administered to himself. Rose swiped at me, sure, but she swipes at Bridget too, and Bridget is the dominant one. It's a defensive, pouty move - not at all aggressive. Bridget is quite cautious in the way she uses her mouth in her investigations. All the horses seem aware of the difference between clothing and flesh and appear to know that they can be rougher with my jacket collar than with my ear, for example. This is not to say that I shouldn't be vigilant, but their mouths are a bit like our hands, and I feel that it's oppressive to deny them the ability to investigate with their mouths.
And it may sound funny, but I was sort of glad Rose and George came out of their shells in this way today. Rose was emboldened to "talk back," which was fine. And George, who is often so very buttoned down, was all pestery and annoying, which actually I was glad to see. Hormones. The equine recreational drug of choice.
And where was Chloe in all this? Keeping her dignity and her distance, and waiting until I came to my senses and served up some food.