Friday, June 20, 2008
I admit that I tend to believe that my horses have the same understanding and emotions that human beings have. Interacting with them every day, I am very aware of the nuances of their behavior. Yesterday, I was in a hurry to put Silk into the pasture, so I didn’t take the extra minute to fuss over her the way I usually do. Siete needed my attention, and I was concentrating on her rather than her mother. If a horse could go off in a huff, Silk certainly did. When I realized that she was jealous, I tried to coax her over to me and make amends. She wanted no part of it and jogged off to the opposite end of the pasture to stand still as a statue with her back towards me.
I’m always intrigued by how jealous my animals can be. My dog and one of my cats compete constantly for my attention. Just like people, some animals are more needy. Siete isn’t as sensitive as Silk. She’s a very affectionate, almost cuddly little horse. She welcomes every person who comes to see her with equal enthusiasm. Her mother really only wants to be with me or other horses. Silk shows her displeasure if I’m gone for a day and someone else feeds her and cares for her. I get the cold shoulder when I come home. If I vary the routine and forget to do something that she likes, she withdraws her affection. Even though she can’t speak, she’s amazingly expressive and more fine-tuned than Siete.
As much as Silk clearly shows her discontent, she also lets me know her gratitude. The cost of horse bedding is getting so high that I’m not putting new shavings in the stalls as often as I used to, trying to go an extra day between dumping in a bag. Wednesday night, there were some thunderstorms rolling in. I always wonder what the horses do in the barn during lightning and thunder. I imagine they stand on either side of the inside wall since there’s a window between the two stalls so they can touch noses. I know that they are both happier when they have fluffy shavings to rest on when they lie down. So, even though it was not in my new thrifty schedule, I spread some pine shavings just before the storms started. Silk made some “Nmmm, nmmm, nmmm…”noises and rubbed her head up and down on my arm to thank me.
I ask myself, if I were Silk, what would I prefer? It usually leads me to the answer that makes both of us happy. If I go on automatic pilot, not noticing what her behavior is telling me, I end up with an irritable, stand-offish horse. Taking that extra minute or two to be aware of what’s going on in Silk’s world is the easiest way to reconfirm to my horse that I care about her and she can trust me.