About a month ago, my sister's significant other stopped by the grooming area to say hi. I had finished working My Boy and I was giving him a brush down. While we were chatting, My Boy inappropriately nudged my head. I knew he was only saying, no time to chit-chat, it's dinner time. The boyfriend commented on how I was definitely My Boy's favorite one.
When I started leasing My Boy, his previous owner said this about him: he's kind of a one-person horse. What does this mean? Is there even such a thing? Experience has taught me that not all people click. Perhaps this is due to different backgrounds, personalities, or just different chemistry. I believe that animals are intelligent. They can sense how you feel around them. I have witnessed this frequently with the dogs and cats in my life. What about horses? I think we all want to feel that our horse loves us. I know, I know, sappy, sappy, using the word love and all. I reflected on my year and a half-long experience with My Boy. And I do feel pretty special and convinced that I am the one for him. And that he is the one for me. Hmmm. Is he my horsey soul mate?
It wasn't that way from day one. Like most relationships, we had to lay that foundation and build on it. Like meeting your significant other: the initial meeting is the easy part. The attraction is there. Then the hard work begins to maintain the relationship and continue growing together. All of you married folks are nodding your heads. When I first started leasing and riding My Boy, he had my number. My horsemanship skills were rusty and My Boy took advantage of that. Besides, he didn't know me from any other person in the barn. And he was being ridden by various people. We spent a lot of time backing up, standing in one place, all of the stubborn you can't make me do it horse behaviors. Nothing dangerous. He just figured he was smarter than me.
As I built my confidence and got back into the swing of working around and riding horses, we began to make progress. It was like he finally said, oh alright Pony Girl, I get it. You ARE going to make me do it. But once I took him over as a care lease, and eventually purchased him, I began to see some pretty significant changes. For one, nobody has been able to catch him without chasing him around the pasture first. For me, he'll either stand where he is or let me walk up and get him. Or, he comes to the gate; which he has been doing more frequently, and pushes his nose into the halter. He looks at me differently than he does other people. When I leave him tied at the grooming area to fetch something from the garage, he always watches for me to come back, and sometimes nickers softly as I walk back towards him.
My Boy is more "affectionate" with me, in appropriate ways that horses show affection. Now, let me clarify that My Boy is not always an affectionate horse. He is not, as they say, "in your pocket." He usually prefers to be 5 miles from any one's pocket. I have often called him "indifferent" or jokingly, "cranky." He's a little introverted. He kind of minds his own business. But I see precious moments in him, moments of contentment or happiness, and I know I have made a difference. I have noticed these changes increase as I approach my year and a half anniversary of spending time with this horse. He has become noticeably more friendly and approachable over time.
In his past, I'm not sure that My Boy was doted on or really cared about in the way that I do. He was a show horse, a working horse. Maybe it was all work and no play? Maybe there wasn't a lot of time to enjoy being a horse and having positive relationships with a human. Yes, still mindful of respecting the space and doing what you are told, but done with feelings. The feeling I care about him, that I am emotionally involved with him, that I want us to be partners. I think he can tell that difference and has responded to it. The cynics will say horses are just prey animals, reacting on their flight or flight instincts.....yes, I agree with all of that, too. But I believe there is more. My Boy and I are establishing a connection, of what kind or how to label it, I do not know. It's a journey we will continue to take, and it is only just beginning.Now, why can't finding my cowboy soul mate go this smoothly?
My next mission is to do some research into My Boy's past. I have basic information regarding his breeding, but I also have one little tidbit in my hot little hands: the name and phone number of one of his long-ago previous owners (the man that owned him before the last two women that owned him, goodness, does that make sense?) I plan to place a call to him this week. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he calls me back, and that he is willing to speak and share some history about my horse with me. Stay tuned for a history lesson on My Boy!