I’ve blogged about Holly before, the senior mare whom I rescued from the kill pen because she was supposedly pregnant. And I’ve talked about how she’s super distrustful of humans and almost head shy, which makes me wonder about her past.
Well, while she’s very good about demanding her breakfast (whinnying at me) and waiting for her feed at night, she’s not so much a fan of the one-on-one attention like the other horses. Where I can walk up to the others and hug them, kiss their noses, ruffle their forelocks between their ears and in general be a human pest (but a loveable one), Holly is much more content to just be a horse.
We’ve been working on it, though I was hampered by first the duties I had in caring for mom, then my own health, and lately a string of hot weather combined with a bit of fibro fog. However, on the days I work from home, I try to go outside and fly spray my horses (Holly thinks spray bottles will kill her. We’ll work on that later.) and give them love. If nothing else, that way Holly sees the lady who comes to the pasture and talks to them in a silly, soft voice means love.
Today, I consider us as having a breakthrough. When you walk purposefully toward a horse, following it even if it turns and walks away, that’s called “walking a horse down” and we’d done that to some extent. At the end, I either stand very near to her or touch her shoulder and pet her, before walking away to make sure and reinforce that nothing bad will happen when a person approaches. When we started our routine today, it didn’t take long before she stopped and let me pet her shoulder and neck. Progress!
Since Thunder, my loveable dopey gelding, had come toward her, presumably to make sure HE wasn’t missing anything, she’d walked away. So I went back to the others, talked to them a bit, and then walked up to Holly again. This time, it took even less of a “walking” to get her to stop and let me pet her. Double success!
I went about my afternoon business (mowing and some yard work) and saw that the horses were close to the house when I was about to go back inside. So I gathered some horse treats (horse cookies) in my hand, ducked through the fence, and though she walked away from me the first time, I simply turned and gave the others treats as if that’d been my plan all along. Sure enough, when I walked up to her, she eagerly took the treat. Once more Thunder had to put his big nose into things (I love him. I really do, but he’s like a big goofy lap dog who doesn’t know his own size). I patted him, and by that time Holly had walked around him to see what was happening and she was happy to stop and eat the three pieces. We ended on a good note.
I know this seems like pretty routine stuff, especially since my other three horses will let me hang all over them and hug them like the crazy horse lady I am. But for Holly, who endured who knows what, from wherever she was previously, this was a huge milestone, and one that makes me smile.