“The water challenge, part two”
Clover and I are becoming friends.
She is the morgan mare re-routed from the slaughter truck 10 weeks ago with her boy Cooper. She is a bit of a challenge, but in fairness she would probably say the same of me, being a human. So we have been progressing slowly. As long as we have been moving ‘forward’, I’ve considered this good.
Recently Clover and her boy switched fields, to the smaller one below, to start meeting other horses over the fence. Her ‘scary face’ has softened a touch over the past week, and we have begun letting the rest of the band in with the pair, in their field, bit by bit. Minor scuffles, which is excellent. No injuries. Separate. Repeat. Bit by bit, they have been joining the band.
Yesterday they were allowed out into the big field. Clover was quite excited about the amount of new space to run and stretch her legs. But this field was accessed first by a hill and Clover proved not exactly the most graceful or elegant creature on a hill. Either she is pregnant, with her belly throwing her off, or she has perhaps, never been released onto hills. We have had many horses that have never seen natural running water, maybe Clover was a broodmare in some small boring flat field (read ‘what I used to think horses needed’).
So Clover stumbled and slid and managed the hill. But not the water. That same tiny little creek that stumped Comet just a few days ago, now proved an impassable barrier for the morgan pair. Early this evening, we opened up the neighbors field, tall with yummy grasses, and the horses lit up and rushed the gates like a crowd of housewives midnight on Black Friday at a Target store. But missing from the herd were the morgans. I found them up top, sulking in the pole barn. Clover nickered to me (she talks to me a lot now) and I got out a tiny amount of grain to work on her front feet (I am trimming them now, at liberty, bit by bit). I talked to her about coming below, telling her that she could do this. After her snack and mini-pedicure was done, I grabbed a lead rope and slung it around her neck. “C’mon sweets, let’s go below”, and she willingly moved out beside me.
Together, with Cooper following us, we crossed along the hilly ridge, and cut down towards the water. She paused a bit, and I waited, and then we continued down. When we got there, I slid the rope off and hopped across myself, and turned to look at her. “C’mon, it’s a tiny hop, you can do it”. She truly wanted to. She watched carefully and I hopped back over and back again. I don’t think she had ever been across water before. From a littler higher up, Cooper watched to see what momma would do. The other horses, 100 feet farther, were face deep in luscious grasses. She wanted those grasses!
Clover trotted along the water a bit, and then turned back, looking for a better way across. I hopped back across, encouraging her. It was so interesting to me how intently she watched and how clearly she wanted to. Another three times I hopped over to her, petting and encouraging, but I did not want to use the rope to pull her, it had to be her decision. She was crouching back now, readying herself, and then POP! She cleared the stream clumsily, but with room to spare. “Yay!” I cheered her victory and she trotted out to the green pasture….But wait! Cooper wasn’t across yet! He whinnied and she turned around. But Cooper is young and strong and came down to the water’s edge, hesitated, and clearly it easily. Together again, proud and happy, they trotted out to join the others for a sunset graze.