Today has been stormy. Since about 4AM, the rain has come and gone in angry waves. Lucky for me, I’m a Savvy Club member and a rainy day never goes to waste. I spent the morning being inspired by the fifteen article Yvonne’s Journey, if you’re a fellow member and want to check it out.
Around 2:30 this afternoon, the storms took a breather. I pulled on muckboots and walked (read: squished) out to the pasture were Sara and Tiki are. My goal is undemanding time. I want trust and I want scratchy spots! And hey, if Sara is up to playing the “how far will you go from the herd game,” I’ll take it. I made the decision not to bring out a halter or line. I realized this could be a threshold for her that she’s not ready to overcome. Lo and behold, I stopped when she saw me, asked permission to come in the field, and went and stood in the herd’s bubble but out of nose-reach.
Tiki, being the loverboy he is, was the first to inspect. I’ve noticed a big change in his confidence since we’ve moved. Travel stresses him out. Just another reason for me to become more savvy! I didn’t snap a picture on my iPhone, but he was muddy with a single burr adorning his wee forelock. When he edged away (I think he knew my goal wasn’t to focus on him, honestly), I turned, cocked a leg, and softened my posture. I could feel Sara’s eyes on me. That’s a start!
Finally, the herd’s presence was in my favor. A dominant mare came to push me out of the way. I gave her the “Schwiegermutter” look. When this phase was not enough, I raised my hands and forearms enough to push energy that way. Surprised, the mare backed off. I herd a foot slop in the mud behind me. Five second later, a nose whose feel I recognize tentatively touched my elbow. How interesting! It was a great moment for me; my theory about Sara’s fear was correct. When I established myself as dominant, she recognized me as safe.
I spent an hour playing this game. When she gave me permission, I scratched her itchy spot and rubbed under her forelock. She stomped at flies and splashed both of us with mud, eyes half-closed and yawns. The dominant mare returned to test me some five or six times, each time I left Sara to drive her away then returned outside of nose’s reach. And each time, Sara would come up and nose me. Everytime! That was cool for me to witness.
I played with stepping away, relaxing and thinking how nice it would be if Sara came to visit me and we could scratch each other. She must’ve followed me fifteen times. Yesterday, I couldn’t get her 4 feet from her mates. Today, we were maybe 12 of her own volition!
Thunder. Here comes the rain again. Sad to leave but tickled with Sara, I went to the gate to leave. After my first two steps, I hear much larger slipping and smooshing. No. Way. She followed me to the gate! She left her herd and followed me all the way to the gate. I couldn’t help it. I turned as slowly as I could and hugged her. Apparently we’d played enough friendly that this did not upset her (it has previously).
Undemanding time = success. Even in mud and rain.