I can’t afford to keep Rocky shod, the way he loses shoes to the sucking mud in the Back 40 (which has taken off my rainboot more than once; it’s a menace). So we accelerated the plan to move him to the front and put him in the smaller front pen by himself, where he’ll stay a few days so the big front pasture herd can get used to him. The geldings get the big pasture during the day and the mares get it at night, so Rocky’s meeting almost all of the other horses on the property, over the fence.
Saturday night around eight, I went out and lay a towel over the big stump, then settled in to read for an hour. I used my headlamp (thanks, Seth!) and bundled up in many layers and I lasted an hour before the cold and wet drove me inside. I read the first 70 pages of The Revolution in Horsemanship by Robert Miller DVM and Rick Lamb.
Rocky paced patterns around the pen for the first 30 pages or so, pausing near me for increasingly longer spans of time (seconds, then minutes), and a few times nosing the book. I ignored all of that, even when he snorted on the book, and kept reading. By about page 35 he found a comfy spot under the tree, with the trunk between his hindquarters and me on my stump, and his head about four feet away. He stayed here, nose down, hoof cocked (well, I think so; it was really dark what with the clouds) until I got too chilled to continue. I folded my towel and stretched and tucked towel and book under my arm to walk to the gate, and he poked his nose out to nudge me as I walked by; I patted his nose and kept walking.
It’s the best non-demanding time we’ve had since we got here, and I have visions of spending several nights a week reading out there when it gets drier and warmer.
It hit me only today that non-demanding time is a foundation for Liberty specifically, as well as the relationship in general. It’s the most basic, important, necessary Friendly Game of all. And as Linda often says, Liberty is the truth. That Rocky stopped pacing and came to rest near me in that big space, in the opposite corner from his hay and nowhere near the horses in the next pasture, warmed me as much as my scarf and gloves and extended my stay by at least 20 minutes.
I have not forgotten what it was like to drive 20 miles to the boarding stable. I am so lucky to live on the farm. Four hundred miles and thousands of added debt (due to the Los Angeles house taking four months to rent out, yeep) is nothing compared to the wonder of living together with both my animals.