George has not been speaking to me lately. I assume it's partly because I haven't been doing much of anything with him for a while, and also partly because he has been very annoyed about the lack of spring grass this late in the year. He has only had one thing to say to me for the past couple of months: "What the heck? Get me some grass!"
A few days ago, I took him out for a grazing walk. After I returned him to the "pasture," he was very gentlemanly in allowing the mares to each have a turn to come out as well. However, once everyone was back in with him, he stood by the gate and stared his most meaningful stare at the pasture across the driveway, where the grass had attained an inch or two more in height than in his current abode. I'd been intending to wait a few more days, and possibly until it had rained again, before moving the horses. But really, it's too hard to make them wait - they need that green grass now that spring is on its way, and they can see it staring at them on the other side of the fence. So I moved them over.
George approved. When I went in this evening to play with Bridget, George came over, shooed Bridged away, pressed his side up against me, and stood peacefully. After a bit, he moved forward so I was positioned next to his tail, where we stood for a while longer.
George has been looking rather beatific lately - even despite the lack of grass (for which I personally am entirely to blame, so he has had no particular need to look annoyed except when talking to me). In general he's just been looking a little more radiant or sunshiney or something.
When I took him out for the grazing walk, we played the Bored Game first. Then I asked him to back up, which he's gotten more philosophical about than in the past; then I suggested he move his hindquarters over, which he did - that's not much of a problem for him. Next, I asked him to move his shoulders over, and them's fighting words for George. I was very careful not to touch him. I simply pointed at his shoulder and said, "Scoot" in a friendly voice. George pinned his ears and grumbled and wanted to chew my clothes. I persevered, so he turned his head away, whereupon I gave him much encouragement in the way of intermediate bridges (thanks, Maire, and more on this later) and then he finally moved his little tootsies over and away from me. No difficulty in making him understand what I wanted - just a finger pointing from several inches away - but so difficult for him to bring himself to comply with my request.
Today, when we were relaxing together, I felt - is it my imagination? - that George might be growing a thin bubble. In the past, I've always felt that he had no bubble at all and that that is why he is so uneasy around the other horses. He's ok with Rose, who has a fairly thin bubble herself, and who doesn't pose a challenge to him. But the presence of Bridget, whose bubble is the size of Texas and who has a very forceful character, causes him to become tense and defensive. He feels exposed. But today - again, is it my imagination? - I felt a kind of warmth or aura around him, just a tiny, tiny bit (microns only!) larger than his actual body.
I don't want to intrude into his precious personal space and make him feel more exposed than he already does. I like the new feeling of warmth coming from him, and I'd like to encourage him to cultivate it. So this evening, instead of asking him to do anything, I thought maybe we could do a little bit of "Name and Explain" (thanks again, Maire, and more later maybe). I started with his knee - I touched it and said "This is your knee." No problem. Then I touched his elbow, saying "This is your elbow." This triggered the stink eye and pinned ears. So I thought we'd better name first and touch after. So I said, "I'm going to touch your knee" and did so. Then, "I'm going to touch your elbow," and did so. This time he didn't react. But the third time I touched his elbow, he just up and left. Which is ok.
The unfolding of George has been and continues to be a mysterious process. When I first knew him, he was very bold and in-your-face. He liked to keep you in front of him, in the crosshairs. He was still liable, on occasion, to bouts of aggressive behavior. He seemed outgoing and would approach people confidently, but I've come to learn that George's head is his shield rather than an organ of communication (as it is with Bridget), and that it is when he puts you by his tail that he is letting you in. Bridget is all in her eyes - they beam out through her charming screen of forelock to make contact with you. George is somewhere deep within himself. His eyes can signal menace or anger, but when he looks happy, his eyes are innocent, his look diffuse.
The next day, I was sitting on the kitchen step drinking my tea, and a warm breeze was blowing. I closed my eyes and felt the wind on my face and listened to the birds singing in the trees and the geese calling in the distance. I have been becoming a little jaded about the visible world around me. It has been failing to enchant me. I realized, as I sat, that I rely on my sight to connect me to the world around me, and that there is a whole tangible world of perception that is not experienced through the eyes.
Perhaps I have been coming at George head-on, eyes-first. I must learn to be more diffuse like him, to approach him obliquely, to listen and feel rather than watch. A bubble can be a fragile thing - perhaps even from a distance a pointed finger is too sharp.