Wednesday, June 08, 2011

the senior horse, 6: sweet moments

I'm not sure if this is a senior thing or just a November Hill farm thing. All our equines have sweet moments pretty much around the clock.

But somehow the moments seem sweeter as they get older, maybe because we know that as much as we wish they did, horses do not live forever, nor do they tend to leave at the exact moment we do, which would in some ways be the perfect ending for people and their long-time senior equine companions.

A couple of days ago I was in the barn. The pony stuck his head over the stall door at the exact moment I was walking behind Salina, who was definitely in pony range. She squealed and stomped her front leg at him, and the squeal and stomp, though not near me per se, caused me to exclaim "Whoa! I'm back here!"

I walked on to the end of the barn aisle doing whatever it was I was doing and within a few moments, Salina had come to where I was and turned so that she was looking me in the eye with her eye, and nuzzled my arm.

I've said before that Salina is incredibly telepathic, and I feel extremely attuned to her. But she is not what I would consider a particularly affectionate mare. She enjoys being groomed and pampered, and she often backs me up when I'm asking one of the geldings to do something. I feel like she and I are on the same wavelength almost all the time. But lately she seems intent on thanking me for things, and in this case, seeing if I was okay and apologizing for startling me.

She stood there until I put my arms around her neck and leaned my cheek against hers. "It's okay, girl. I know the pony was pushing the limit." She gave me another nuzzle and we spent a few moments communing.

The day after that, I had opened the stall door to do something for Keil Bay. He very much wanted to come out through the barn aisle and spend time in the barnyard but I was busy and said no. He got a little pushy - shoving the stall door as I tried to close it. I stopped and just looked at him over the stall door. I waited a moment and then said "Don't be so grumpy! You can come out. Just please be nice about it."

I opened the stall door and let him out, thinking he would saunter straight out to the grass. But he turned around carefully in the barn aisle, angling his big body between the stall door, the wheelbarrow, and me. He came up to me and just stood there, touching my arms and hands with his muzzle. He, too, positioned his head so he could look me right in the eye. I rubbed him under his forelock and we stood quietly for a minute. He waited for me to say "go on, Big Bay," before he went to graze.

As much as I love riding and feeling the beauty of lightness in the saddle, these sweet and tender moments when I'm having conversations that were initiated by the horses are my most favorite times.

It boggles my mind that there are people who believe that horses don't feel affection and attachment and that they will try anything to get their way.

I wish I could put everyone who doubts or doesn't believe into my body so they could know what happens between horses who are treated with kindness, care, and the deepest respect, and a woman who simply learned how to listen.


Anonymous said...

As you say, these things are happening all the time if only we take the time to notice - thanks for a lovely post!

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I love these posts of yours the best billie. Because of you and your herd, I have started to (try to) listen better to Val.

Just yesterday morning, as I was somewhat hurriedly going through my morning feed and clean up routine, Val had something to tell me.

He wandered up to the 4x4 post to which I recently attached scratching pads, and half heartedly rubbed his neck. I said "Oh good - you're using those."

Then he backed up to the post. I said, "Great, now you won't tear up your tail so badly like you did last year!" He just stood there, not scratching his behind, like I had assumed he would.

Curious, I walked over and gave him some butt scratches, but sensed he wanted / was waiting for something different. So I checked out his dock, and what did I find, but a bad fly bite with a tick about to attach to it - totally hidden under his (luxurious) tail hair. Sweet relief!

Sorry for the novella - (Val says thank you billie!)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Very well said and very touching. If only more people would listen and interact on a caring, open minded basis with their horses, they would be surprised at what they can learn and feel.

All of our horses are very sweet and well behaved too. People can't believe how they will follow us around and not need leads half the time. I'd have to say that our resident mush is Donnie.
He's the official greeter and gives the best hugs. Salina sounds like Dusty, she's not the most affectionate either but I believe we are starting to bond.

ponymaid said...

billie - ahhhh, you should be giving courses on this. It isn't hard to communicate at all when the channels are open and the receiver on.

Victoria Cummings said...

Your relationship with Salina reminds me so much of me and Silk. You've really expressed that magic of having a horse connect so closely with you that it seems like she/he can read your mind. I believe that if we talk to them, they completely understand what we say. And you're right, learning to take that extra moment to listen to them enriches our lives.

billie said...

Thank you, Kate.

billie said...

C, I loved your comment and hope everyone feels free to write as much as they want here any time!

If anything I have written has helped you in your quest to deepen your relationship with Val and to experience the things I write about, then that really, truly, makes my day! Thank you for sharing the story.

billie said...

A, I can imagine your herd is much like mine - I feel like I know them all from your stories and updates. I would love being greeted by Donnie! :)

billie said...

Sheaffer, I would love to teach with you as my co-teacher!

billie said...

Victoria, I think they CAN read our minds. In a way we probably don't understand yet as humans but there is no doubt in my mind at all that they understand what I'm thinking and respond to it.

Jessica Keener said...

I, too, adore witnessing these moments as you recount them and learning about how horses communicate. I'm attracted to horses, but don't know how they "work" --I do know that yours are supremely lucky and blessed to have you in their lives.

More, more, more of these stories, please.


billie said...

Thank you, Jessica. I will eventually get the book out there. :)

Michelle said...

So True! Those moments are what make everything matter. I love it! Tiny and I often have moments like that after we ride. I'm not sure what she's trying to tell me, but she really likes for me to just stop and spend a moment with her after I dismount. I stand right at her head and she presses her forehead into my chest and we just stand that way for a minute. Sometimes I rub her cheeks or her ears, sometimes I stroke her forelock. It's one of my favorite parts of our time together.

billie said...

Michelle, exactly! I think it speaks to something deep in us and them when we have that kind of communication that simply goes beyond words.

Máire said...

Those are great moments, Billie. From how you write about your equines, I am not at all surprised that they offer you such interactions.

billie said...

Thank you, Maire. They bring joy to my moments, days, and life in general. I hope I bring the same to them!