Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Nice and Naughty
This is a tale of my two horses --the nice one and the naughty one. Can you guess which is which? Some days, I wish that Siete wasn’t quite so smart. You might even say that I long for a dull, boring horse. I’ll get into that in a minute.
First, I want to tell you about this lovely little ritual that Silk has created with me. When I was in the barn, cleaning the stalls a few weeks ago, she came over to stand in the ditch in the pasture and stare at me. She clearly was asking me a question. I realized that she wanted to drink out of the big bucket that was on the other side of the fence inside the corral. Seeing that she couldn’t reach it, I brought her a small bucket with the hose in it that kept filling so she could really slurp up a lot of water. Both my horses enjoy drinking water out of a bucket while I hold it for them, and I know that if I approach them with it, they act like they’re getting a treat. So, there was something really warm and satisfying for both me and Silk as we stood on either side of the fence. I held and filled the bucket and she drank and drank and drank. Then, she nuzzled my hand that was holding the bucket with her wet nose to thank me. And I got some horsey kisses.
Every day since then, Silk does the same thing when she sees me in the barn. She waits until I clean Siete’s stall and then wanders over to her spot along the fence. It’s my cue to stop what I’m doing and bring the small bucket and the hose to her. There’s a full bucket of water about ten feet away from her in the pasture, but it’s just not the same. Some people will undoubtedly tease me about how I spoil her. I don’t see it that way at all. Silk knows that I take care of her, and she obviously appreciates it, When I’m riding her, she takes care of me. It makes us both really happy when I hold the bucket for her, like we’re having a secret meeting.
Now, her daughter is definitely feeling better. Going out to the pasture this morning, Siete pranced around impatiently and let out some little, excited squeals while I unlocked the gate. We had to wait and back up, which she did without exploding. As soon as I stepped out of the way and closed the gate, she began bucking and running in circles. Her mama ignored the whole performance when I led her out. Coming back into the barn yesterday with my husband, Siete tried to race into her stall and pitched a hissy fit because she was dying to get to her lunch. He wouldn’t let her, and she was not a happy camper. I had a feeling that I was in for more of that nonsense when I brought her in today.
Sure enough, Siete began carrying on as soon as I opened the pasture gate. Silk stood perfectly still, ground tied. The little horse danced and I stopped her and backed her until she was calm, over and over. Finally, we made it all the way into the stall, facing the back window, before she decided she couldn’t stand it one more moment and had to buck. I knew it was coming, so I was ready for it. What’s difficult is to let her know that it’s not okay, settle her down and then turn her around in this small enclosed space. She’s smart enough to have figured that out, so she times her misbehaving for the exact moment when claustrophobic me is up against the wall. I think we’ll have maybe one more attempt at this on Siete’s part before it sinks in that she’s not going to win. Call it the change of season, with the cold weather, or the willful challenge of a healthy young mare, I don’t look forward to these punky horse games. I keep reminding myself that when I first got Siete’s mother, Silk used to pull these stunts and look how good she is now. It only took us eleven years to work it all out.