Monday, December 27, 2010
"HOUSTON, WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM"
Houston belongs to a neighbor of mine, across the road from us. They have a very nice little ranch with long, lovely open fields...much flatter than our place. He's an 'only' horse. His buddy died a couple of years ago, so he gets pretty lonely over there by himself. I've watched him from the road. He stands as close to the fences as possible, gazing off towards his neighbor's horses.
His human partner has severe arthritis, so she isn't able to work with him much or ride him. He's just a bit chubby and out of shape himself. (Well, OK...he's fat!) She was one of the people I called the day we had Chaucer come to stay for a while. While we were talking about our mysterious visitor (Chaucer, also known as Beau), she asked what we were going to be doing this year for Christmas. I told her " I spect we'll be staying home. I think one of my sons may be coming in for a visit with his wife. It's going to be a nice, quiet weekend for us."
The conversation wandered around a bit, as they always do with neighbor ladies who are catching up with each other. And then she asked if I might not mind coming over to care for Houston while she and her husband were out of town. Of course I said yes! I never pass up the opportunity to meet another horse, especially one I've watched from the road for so long. I'd heard that he was a "keeper"...real sweet and easy to be with.
Look at the contrast in his face here. On the right side (his right), his eye is soft and his ear is towards me. On the left his ear is still back and his eye is harder. The muscles in his face are contracted on his left side too. Fascinating! John caught his change in expression at the exact moment it began to change!
"Grain? Carrots? Grrrr...no wait. I don't mean it! BRING ME MY GRAIN! I didn't mean it. Honest. I'm nice. Really." See why he made me laugh? What a character!
Guess the "Bringer of Food" title worked. Look at how nicely he's coming in to me!
I have to stop and tell you here that it really is easier to get a horse to bond up with you when he's as lonely as Houston is. On his side of the road, since his nearest horse buddy in the next field died in October (a lovely, gentle and ancient quarter horse of more than thirty years), he can only hear neighboring horses. From his point of view, he's ALONE! Very scary situation for a horse.
Look at that massive neck! He is way, way over weight. But his conformation is very nice and square. His back is still level. He's a Tennessee Walker, by the way. Somehow these gaited horses keep showing up in my life.
This was when I knew it was time to stop. It was perfect! He let me find his scratchy place! I've never had any horse except Lucky allow me in that close, that intimate, and with such complete abandon THAT QUICKLY before! I stopped here, turning and leaving him half asleep with contentment, making these soft, little crooning noises. It was that profound for him.
As we drove out, his person drove in. We stopped at the end of the drive and I told her how things had gone while she was out of town. Then I offered to help her with him. She said " We'll see. I need to think about that." Good answer! Always be cautious and thoughtful about who you let work with your horses.
We went back home and spent some more time outside with our guys, playing at Liberty and just hanging with them. When we went inside, there was a message waiting for me. Houston's human had called. The message said " I don't know what you did, Nancy. But I want you to come back and do it some more! And I hope you'll teach me too!" Her voice had tears in it.
Maybe she will be one of my Parelli Recruits?!
I am, ever yours, Nancy...smiling at the wonderment!