Have you ever seen one? A monstrous, white dinosaur that reaches all the way up to your knee while it fluffs its ominous black tail feathers and gives you the death glare?
Emilie isn’t usually afraid of chickens. There were chickens on the farm we bought her from, two years ago. Chickens aren’t frightening. Heck, when we moved to the new barn two weeks ago, she seemed happy to see chickens again. Chickens were a comforting sight.
The arrival of another new pony this week changed things. The new guy is extremely stressed out and has little to no experience being handled by humans. He seems to never really have learned how to socialize either, whether with horses or humans. New guy is neither dumb nor mean but obviously, there’s been elevated stress levels in the herd (since then, he’s been put in a separate pasture with two older geldings to help him settle in).
I’ve probably mentioned that Emilie is firmly convinced that she is a boy. The other day she went into full stallion mode as I was walking her in from pasture. Those who’ve seen me walking Emilie on a lead know that in our case this means, she walks, I kind of lean in over her for support, and she paces herself to be my living crutch. She’s a very caring horse that way. And protective.
Particularly against devilsaurs.
The farm’s chickens had decided to nap out in the courtyard. Emilie came to a crashing halt, puffed herself up with tail high and round neck like a stallion defending his herd. Then she shouldered me away until she was firmly between me and the vicious raptor gang. We walked sideways to the barn door, her shielding me with her own heroic flesh.
I’m still giggling gratefully. Giggling because it looked friggin’ hilarious, and grateful because I own a horse who sees me as a herd mate that she wants to protect.
Whenever I visit barns there is one thing that always draws my eye: The tack rack. Are the bits clean? Very often the answer is a resounding no. To me, that’s a deal breaker. If you can’t be bothered to get your hands dirty cleaning the bit after riding, you have no place using a bit to begin with. Don’t go telling me your horse is your best friend if you’re willing to force your best friend to suck on a bacteria-infected, filthy piece of metal.
I’ll be honest: I hate washing bits. So this is one of numerous reasons I ride bitless.
Emilie got to be out with the herd for an hour today, introducing her to most of the other horses at the new barn. She immediately formed a group with her barn neighbour, Icelandic horse Gäskir, which was then joined by little grey Blomme who seems to love everyone as long as they have four legs. Pinto herd leader Tush allowed her into his herd but kept her separate from the other horses for now.
Fjord horse Loke took one look at Emilie and went for a nap — and he’s supposed to be the grumpy one!
Emilie will only be doing 1-2 hour pasture visits this week so that we can be sure that she doesn’t eat enough through the mouthguard to cause her laminitis to flare up again. But from the looks of it, she’ll fit in just fine.
Emilie has been safely moved to a barn that’s just 2.7 km from our back door. The trip went mostly smoothly; the vet gave me a bit of painkillers for Emilie so that her laminitis and hip wouldn’t act up, and she was fine. Unfortunately, however, she slipped on one hind leg during unloading, and the lead rope tore up the driver’s hand. I feel rather bad about that. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but I hate seeing people getting injured.
Emilie is settling in fine though she is quite unhappy that we won’t let her into pasture with the others yet. Laminitis baby needs her new mouthguard before she gets to run free again! Apart from that she’s settled in fine. Her new box allows her to pop her head out and say hello to people who walk by, and my hyper-socialized horse is abusing the heck out of that. Piiiiity me, the poor locked up priiiiisoner …
Emilie came down with laminitis on all four legs two days ago. In spite of the pain and the stress from the treatment (no food, no pasture, no nothing), she is able to talk to me. This morning she did not want her treatment.
Every morning this week I give her an injection in the neck, for pain relief and lowering her blood pressure. The vet showed me how to do it Saturday. I may have turned a little green around the nose Sunday, but I got it done without Emilie catching on to my discomfort (I’m terrified of needles). This morning, when I approached with the needle, Emilie moved away.
I walked after her and pinched her neck skin lightly as one does, to distract her from the incoming needle. She flattened her ears and glared at me. At this point I remembered how sore muscles get when nurses keep jabbing in the same place day after day. So I pinched her 5 cms further to the right — and voila! She stood statue still and relaxed.
Tomorrow I’m going to jab her on the other side of the neck while I quietly give thanks for how good horses are at communicating if you’ll just listen to them. No stress, no panic, no anxiety. Just letting me know that this spot is sore. Please give the injection a little to the side of yesterday’s spot.
I’m ever impressed with how much information horses can convey with how little voice. I’m no horse whisperer, but my horse certainly can whisper me a thing or two.