Chloe has been looking at me lately. And I've been thinking she and I should do something together.
Today the horses were out in the yard. I fetched a halter and rope and approached Chloe. A halter is always an invitation to dialogue where Chloe is concerned:
"Do you want the halter?"
"Yes, I do."
"Do you want to put it on?"
"No, I don't. I want you to follow me."
So I followed her for a little bit. She stopped. I asked to put the halter on again, and she agreed. After some hesitation, she also agreed to follow me toward a gate we don't normally use, but as we headed off, George et al came scurrying after us, making me feel a bit threatened.
Despite my determination to be calm and polite, I felt I had to be quite sharp with George to keep him off Chloe. Earlier today I saw him lunge at her, bite her, give a little kick, and then drive her off - and I wasn't going to have any such shenanigans while I was holding the leadrope.
However, to show how inept I am at reading situations, I was also determined to keep Rose away, whereas it turned out Rose was not threatening, and Chloe didn't mind at all when Rose came up and nosed her. Chloe and I made it to the gate, but as I was undoing it, I was reminded of the wasps who are currently residing there. One sting later, I decided we wouldn't go through.
Chloe was a very good sport, and more or less trusted me to defend her against George. After a certain point, it seemed like we weren't going to manage to exit the field and, besides, she'd put up with the situation long enough - so I cut her loose. She scampered off, with George and Rose in hot pursuit.
Cue Bridget, who came marching over to have a turn. I put a halter on her and took her out to graze on the driveway. Uncharacteristically, after a few minutes she raised her head and started whinnying for the other horses. She turned back and stuck her head over the gate. So I lead her back through, asked her to walk beside me toward the other horses without rushing ahead, stopped, called her back toward me, and then took the halter off.
She walked a few yards towards the others. Stopped. Thought for a bit. Turned around and came back to me and stuck her nose at the halter.
After we'd played around with a few things, I took the halter off again and stayed to hang out. Pretty soon I found myself hanging onto Bridget's neck, standing on my left leg, and putting my right leg up onto her back.
Took my foot down, walked a few steps away. She walked back up to me, we repeated the trick. She was quite interested.
Then it was time to go, but she followed me all the way to the house. She really likes activities. And I like this feeling of being able to be like a monkey with her, and sort of scramble all over her in a way that feels playful and comfortable, and seems to bear no resemblance to what I would normally think of as "training."
And now I must share a story about TIME. While all this horse stuff was going on, my daughter was busy getting ready for a soccer game, and once or twice she stuck her head out the door to call over to me that it was almost time to leave. I looked at my watch - 3 o'clock - loads of time, as we didn't have to leave til 3:45. Later, as I was leaving the house with her, she said, "Hurry up, it's 3:49." "What?! - It's only 3, isn't it?" It really was 3:49. Turns out my watch had stopped because I'd accidentally pulled out the button.
Here's the thing - I must have looked at my watch at least three or four times over at least a half-hour period, and each time it said the same thing: 3 o'clock. And that never struck me as odd.
To resume: The horses were put back in their field, we went to soccer, and after we returned, Chloe was waiting for me up by the gate, giving me the look. The other horses were safely distant, and so although it was getting dusky, I let Chloe come out.
She was actually not particularly interested in grazing and instead approached me to get scratched, and followed me when I stopped. I got the brushes and groomed her, which she enjoyed, and she even let me brush her mane and tail.
As I was about to leave her to graze for a little before dark, I thought I might ask her to shake hands, just for fun. I was turning toward her with the merest thought of this in my mind, and she immediately raised her foreleg and handed it to me.
When I went later to put her back in the field, she reluctantly agreed to put her halter on. Then we had to wait until George was properly positioned. She stood, refusing to move, until she saw George heading off toward one gate, whereupon she freely walked with me to the other one.
They're all just so full of ideas.