My ten year old quarter horse mare, Jo, was out of our barn for over a month. She was over at a studs barn (Major Duomo), hopefully settling for spring 2016. Before the month she was on vacation with her boyfriend Major, the weather had been very disagreeable. Jo arrived back at the HK Bar barn the mid part of last week and then I was out of town until today…so after all this time of very limited time other than feeding and basic needs, Jo felt like a new horse to me.
There is a familiarity that comes with frequent contact. I have been hugely missing my time with Jo, and have been anxious to get back into a routine now that she is home.
Our county is currently under flash flood watches, and our town has actually closed the flood gates due to rising waters everywhere. So as you can imagine, the HK is a soup bowl of mud and water. Unfortunately we do not have an indoor arena, so it equates to limited opportunities for good workouts.
But that’s OK for now. I took Jo out and groomed her for a good hour. I brushed through the rats nest that had become her mane and tail until I could run my hands through without a catch. Then I curried the mud patches ……OK her whole body was a mudball lol. After that I soft brushed her and massaged her legs and picked her feet.
She started out fidgety and restless, absolutely not the horse she usually is. She kept her head held high and shuffled quite a bit. She felt like a new horse that I was Learing to navigate. But as the minutes passed that unfamiliar horse chipped away. With every pass of the curry the Jo I know was revealed. She began to stand quietly, her head drooped, and her eyes relaxed.
I have often wondered what a horse thinks and feels. I have no doubt they fear, want, need, and love as we do. No doubt on a more primal level, but still just the same. It makes me wonder if I had somewhat betrayed Jos trust, wounded our bond by sending her away. I think her slightly bad manners and high handedness was her way of telling me she was unsure of our relationship. She was testing me to see if I was still the same me. Her months vacation was just that, she came back spoiled and unsure of her manners.
So after she relaxed with our grooming, I went back to basics and worked on ground work. At the begining of the lesson she was a bit in my space and pushy, trying to walk past me. So we did a lot of walk, stop, back up, walk, stop, back up. After thirty minutes she was acting as mannerly as the Royalty that she is. My expectations of her were made quite clear and our relationship didn’t feel so unfamiliar anymore.
So the plan for this week is lots of grooming, manners, and reconnecting. Our horse show season starts Sunday, but Jo will just be riding along to see the sights and maybe walk trot a few classes.