I now have FOUR horses grazing on my property until winter sets in. As a person who adores animals but has never had much experience with horses, this has been a real blessing and joy for me to get to interact with this small herd on a daily basis. I’m really trying to have no expectations and to not impose my will upon them, but to simply learn from them and interact with them on their terms.
I go out and talk to them and pet them everyday, and every other day or so I’ll feed them apples, trying to avoid having our relationship be solely based on me feeding them treats. Although I am somewhat of a new acquaintance to them, they have all been quite receptive of me. As I approach them they never run away and will let me stand in very close quarters with them, sometimes tightly sandwiched between their massive bodies. All of them let me pet them, but the two bay mares are the most receptive to my affections. The buckskin gelding, whom their owner says is a little dumb, seems mostly indifferent to me. The smaller, reddish mare seems the most wary of me, but not so wary that she avoids my pets. I refer to them by their color and sex because I only know two of their names. The indifferent bucksin is named Ticket. Although he is indifferent and maybe dumb, he seems to have a very gentle, mellow, nature. The smaller of the two bay mares is named Cece. Of the four, she is the most affectionate and personable. The larger, older, bay I’ll call “Softhead” for now. Her forehead above her eyes and between her ears is incredibly plush and soft, moreso than any of the others, and I enjoy petting her there. I’ll call the smallest, reddish, mare “Red” for obvious reasons. Softhead is the most pushy of the four, and she is the only one whose behavior I’ve felt any need to correct at all. When I feed them apples, she has poor manners and will push her way into my personal space, trying to grab the apples out of my hand or to even dig them out of my pockets. My neighbor’s horse Beau does the same thing. And so I’ve had to push back to a degree, telling her no in a lightly stern voice, pointing my finger in her face, and sometimes pushing her head away. It’s quite a new experience to me to have to push back against so large of a beast that could easily trample me and kick my ass if she chose, however, I’ve noticed that she is quite receptive to my admonitions and clearly understands my intent. In just a couple days she has shown remarkable improvement in this regard. Although she is pushy when it comes to apples, she otherwise comes across as quite intelligent and good natured. She is the largest of the four and I believe she is the alpha of the herd. She was slow to warm to me, but is now quite personable as well, receptive to affection, and nearly as sweet as her slightly smaller twin Cece.
I felt that yesterday was a bit of a breakthrough day in our relationship. Around dusk, I walked out to the pasture to feed them apples. They all behaved quite well. When I first started feeding them, all but Softhead were hesitant to even take the apples and spent a good amount of time smelling and investigating the fruit before taking them from my hand. That is no longer the case, and all four are eager to take the treat from my hand. I find it funny how even with something so simple as eating apples, they all have their individual nuances. My neighbor’s horse Lefty always drops pieces of the apple and I have to pick them up and refeed them to him. Cece is still a bit hesistant each time, while Softhead the most enthusiastic. Red has a funny habit of taking the apple by biting into each slice with his teeth to grab it, while all the others just scoop them up in their lips and then proceed to chew. After feeding the apples, I petted them all for a minute and then walked away far across the field to the highest point on my land where I have a wrought iron bench for watching sunsets. I never try to dominate their attention or take up too much of their time, rarely spending more than five minutes or so with them at a time. As I said, I’m trying to avoid imposing too much of myself upon them. I’m grateful for the minutes we have, and I don’t want to distract them from their natural function of incessant grazing.
After sitting on the bench for a few minutes watching the sun go down, I glanced over to the herd a couple hundred yards away. They were all facing my direction attentively watching me. Then, led by the two bays, they all started meandering towards me. Ticket at first lagged behind munching grass but then trotted to catch up. The bench is in the northeast corner of my lot. Here they all congregated and continued to graze, well aware of me but not paying me a whole lot of attention. My heart was warmed by the fact that they came all the way over just to be near me. They already knew I didn’t have anymore apples. I really enjoyed the peace of watching the sunset in the company of my new equine friends. Then both Cece and Softhead sauntered over to me at the bench. Softhead walked behind me, and Cece approached me from the front. I’ve read that a clear sign of affection and bonding from a horse is when they put their noses right up against your nose and mouth and share their breath with you. Both of them did this several times while gazing into my eyes. They were both fully relaxed and had the kindest look in their eyes. I too was very calm and relaxed, and reflected back to them my own love and affection, softly petting both of them on their necks and under their chin.
This experience meant a lot to me. I hadn’t asked anything of the horses, but they chose to come and keep me company of their own accord and to give these expressions of bonding and affection. I felt like Sally Field in her somewhat awkward but charming Oscar acceptance speech many years back: “You DO like me!!!” That’s why I felt yesterday was a breakthrough day for me and the herd. It was the first time they sought me out and showed their affection without me asking for it or trying to earn it through pets or treats. It really warmed my heart. These horses DO like me!!! I have very few friends out here in Wyoming so far. These horses are becoming more than just the beautiful beasts in my pasture; they’re becoming my friends, and I look forward to watching and writing about this friendship as it grows.
I don’t know if any of this is actually interesting to my few readers, but that’s okay. I’m writing this blog for my own understanding, as well as to hone my craft of writing. Nevertheless, I hope it brought you just a touch of the joy that these horses bring to me.
3 thoughts on “Wyoming Horse Diary 9/29/21”
Mateo that sounds so happy and smiley and grinning and heartwarming that you are among friends there. They DO like you!!! I am so glad for you. You will be protected by them too i would think. Like if they see an alligator trying to sneak up on you they will warn you! Haha! Or maybe a bear or wolf or snake or wildcat? Be safe and enjoy your new home!
Give me an animal, any day, over people!! Love reading your stories!
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I agree! I basically moved out here to get away from people and closer to animals. It worked! Thank you, Suzy!
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