No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.

~Helen Keller

The Company I keep

I often go to the stables and do nothing more than sit with my horse in his pasture. I find doing this is very relaxing for me, and it has had the added benefit of making my horse relax too because he has figured out that I don't come here just to do something to him or with him. For me it is all about establishing a partnership with my horse.. but that is a story for another post.
When I come out to the stables I am often greeted first by the cat. If I haven't seen him in a few days he is very talkative and tells me all sorts of things with sweet purr/meow sounds. Often I'll pick him up and take him into the pasture with me, or he follows me on his own. I try to find a comfortable place to sit and settle in with the cat on my lap. My next greeting is often by the alpha mare, or the third and last horse in the herd.

Lately my horse comes up to the fence when he sees me coming, which has been a great positive change for him. We have to be careful to watch for the mare because she will chase "Aristoitle" away if I'm not in the pasture to stand between them. Over time I have taught the mare to not crowd my space and keep an arm's length away from me. Aristoitle stands behind me off to my side and I say hi to the mare and then go back to saying hi to Aristoitle.

When I took these pictures yesterday, the mare was not in the pasture so both geldings came over to visit. Aristoitle stood near me and let me pet his face and neck without turning away. He is very un-confident and normally doesn't allow me to touch his face until I've spent some time around him. The other gelding is the opposite- outgoing, searching my pockets for treats, pulling on the tabs on the cuff of my parka, you know, a little TOO friendly. Often Aristoitle will walk away to go back to eating after saying hi to me, and the other gelding hangs around to visit. This is what happened yesterday.

Here I sit on the edge of a plastic water trough, cat on lap. Off camera is gelding #2 trying to come in close for a sniff of the cat, and to continue pulling on my parka. He really wanted to play! He tried to get Aristoitle to play with him and it nearly happened but they both heard me reach into my pocket for the camera and stopped!! It would have been the best photo- both horses standing face to face, with head and neck outstretched looking as though they were going to start biting one another. I'll have to be more stealthy next time.

Aristoitle walked back to the hay and the other gelding came over and stood by my right shoulder, still trying to check out the cat, but I kept moving him back one step until he finally gave up. He stayed with us and dozed off right beside me.

He has napped next to me like this before. One time I was sitting on a tree stump and he came and put his muzzle on my shoulder. I cautiously waited for the lips to start wiggling all around -which often precedes a nip, but he never did any more than that. It was more of a rub... then he just stayed there and fell asleep. He eventually lowered his head so that the flat of his forehead was against my upper arm. The sun had set and I was the only person out with the horses in the quiet pasture. I sat there in the dark and looked into the black, half closed eyes of this horse and had the most magical and peaceful feeling come over me.

I have more photographs to post from today but it's 3:20 A.M., I've had 6 hours of sleep -and for some reason I am still awake! I need to get away from the computer NOW.