It fascinates how much depth there is in getting to know horses, how many layers. Not having spent much time around horses, at first I was getting to know the general nature and temperament of the animal, how they communicate, what they do and don’t like. Then I discovered what it’s like to establish familiarity with the herds, to get a place where we’re all comfortable and okay with each other. But now I’m getting to know these horses on a much more personal, intimate level.
I really noticed this today feeding apples to both herds of four that I have access to, the four grazing on my lot and my neighbor’s four horses. I fed my horses first and spent some time with them, and then left them to graze in my north pasture and went and fed my neighbor’s horses along my southern fence. I’ve known my neighbor’s horses about a month and a half longer than I’ve known my horses. My horses and I are really starting to have a rapport. They follow me around more often now, and I have unique ways I interact with each of them according to their nature and how our friendship has progressed. I think we all still feel a little new to each other, still retaining a degree of shy politeness, but we’re definitely getting over the hump into more casual relations. Ticket, the only gelding of the group, and “the dumb one” as JW puts it, is just as mellow as can be. He just stands there. I feel I could set a table on his back and eat dinner off him and he wouldn’t even mind. Or I could place my laptop on his back and write my next journal entry. Maybe I’ll try it. He’s not a moron though, just mellow. He’s plenty receptive to my attention and affection. Cece and Jasmine, the two bays, have opened up to me the most. We’re all quite comfortable with each other now and there is warmth between us. The smaller, but well-toned, reddish horse, who I uncreatively call Red, is still the shyest. But she may just be the omega of the pack. My neighbor’s mare Macy acts similar and is definitely the omega of that pack. She loves me, it’s just that the other, more dominate, geldings box her out and make her stand back. When I catch her alone she always runs to greet me, in fact, of all eight horses she does seem the most happy to see me each day. She’s beautiful and graceful, and has an angelic air about her.
After feeding my herd apples, they followed me for awhile, and then got the picture they weren’t gonna get any more servings. I felt like such a king being followed by a single-file line of large, majestic, beasts. I had intended to just go inside, but I saw Beau staring at me from across the fence. I’ve come to really believe that horses are telepathic and can beckon me from a great distance. Beau wanted me to come say hello. He wasn’t hoping for apples, I think he was just bored and hadn’t seen me in awhile. Nevertheless, I quickly ran inside and cut enough apple slices for all four, knowing the rest would come if they saw Beau getting treats. Indeed they did.
Spending time with these four who I’ve known considerably longer, it became very apparent how much more at ease and familiar we were with each other. It was as if we could all be our true selves and leave careful politeness behind us. It felt playful, and with much more content in the communication between us; we had more to say, greater rapport. As I’ve mentioned before, Beau can be incredibly pushy when he smells I have apples. I feel though it’s become a bit of a game, even an expression of intimacy. He loves to test my boundaries and is definitely smart enough to know when he crosses them, but loves to persist doing so even when I chastise him. But I’m no pushover, so I’ve started to match his willfulness with equal force in pushing back. It’s almost like wrestling. He likes to see what he can get away with, but I like to see how forceful I can be with him before he gets mad or spooked. We both enjoy it, and in a way it expresses how comfortable we’ve become with each other. It’s like how you can spar or wrestle with your buddies. You love each other and mean no harm, but it’s fun to test strength and wills sometimes, or to be rowdy just for the sake of rowdiness. I enjoy fighting with Beau. He knows I won’t hurt him, and I know he won’t hurt me. Sometimes he’ll even grab my fingers with his teeth, but just like a dog, he knows just the right amount of pressure to be felt but not to injure. One of these days I’m gonna bite him back!
Lefty is the horse I’ve grown closest to out of all eight. He’s a beautiful horse, and even my neighbor agrees that he’s the brightest and sweetest. He’s a great horse, exactly the kind of horse one could hope to have. He can be all business when it comes to apples, but when the feeding is done, he’ll spend more time with me than any of the others, and he’s even protective of me. He’s the alpha of the herd, and when we’re bonding, he doesn’t let the others come near. Him and Beau are good friends though and will usually start grooming each other after my visits. Today I spent a whole five minutes rubbing and scratching Lefty’s back while softly singing the Hunuman Chalisa. I noticed that both his hears were turned around in my direction listening intently. We had a real moment. We’re definitely friends.
Later Old Man Baker came around. I really like him. He’s well older than all the rest and is all skin and bones. He almost always keeps to himself and has never taken an apple from my hand, but in recent weeks, he will hang around and let me pet him. I think he has a beautiful face and eyes, but he does have these two deep pits above each eye, I guess just a sign of his gauntness. Today for the first time I scratched the inside of these pits with my finger. It was weird. They were so deep! He didn’t mind though. He’s a smart, sensitive, horse, but his age really shows, even in his attitude. He’s so independent and has this air about him that he’s seen it all and isn’t impressed. I love that guy.
It’s such an exciting adventure for me to not only get to know horses, but to discover the depths of their intelligence, warmth, and personality. I really am becoming friends with all eight. It uplifts my heart, enriches my life, and these experiences make everyday a good day.