Horses are snowflakes. You might think you know what they are like, what they do , how they react, but they are all a little different. No two will be just alike, just like snowflakes.
The other day I had a snowflake moment with my two. The lower lot had run out of grass and was left worse for the wear from two "ponies" and a lot of mud. It was time to move them. The plan was to put Pip in the one small lot and Chloe in the other. Now if you owned bicycles this wouldn't be difficult. It was a nice day and the wind was up, which isn't always a good influence on horse behavior. Separation is also something that can get them a little emotionally dicey, as well.
I had gotten out lead ropes and halters. Had my carrot stick and smaller strings in case it looked like a good time to play. The equiment was sitting by the house, where I had left it. I took some time to walk the fence first to make sure there weren't any problems before the big move. Chloe was watching me, fascinated. I thought that since she was by herself it would be a simple enough task to just invite her into the smaller lot. So I decided to forgo the halter and just have at it. I dropped the wire gate. I stepped back and forth a few times so she could see for sure that the wires were down. I stepped inside the smaller lot, looked at her. Then diverted my gaze and walked backwards a few steps while giving her a smooch noise. She calmly walked up to the gate and I was thinking, " Man! this is just too easy!" That was probably my mistake because she stopped in the gate, looked me square in the eye and said,"What's in it for me?" A lot of people think horses don't say that... but they say it fairly frequently.
So I decided to repeat myself. I would be more succinct. I moved the gate wires farther back. I stepped in and out a couple more times. I walked backwards a little bit farther. I gave several more smooch noises while looking away. Brought my hands out a little. I was as non-menacing as I could be. Chloe stepped up and put her feet squarely in the gate area and said, " I don't believe you answered my question"
Now, I think this would be a good place to say that I don't believe in being anthropomorphic. I don't want to make my horses into Disney creatures/ orphan children that worry about evil in the world of fantasy animation. No! They are horses and THAT is what makes them infinitely wonderful. But, anyone who has spent much time with horses learns their faces, watches their body language, looks for the soft or scared or questioning expression. I TOTALLY knew the expression on Chloe's face.
In the meantime, Pip had arrived. I was kicking myself. I should have just gotten the halter and this would have been done already. Now, I figured the opportunity to separate them was gone. They would just squirt through the gate together and I would just have a tougher time of it next time. So, I gave myself another kick to make sure I had learned my lesson.
Then Pip did the most interesting thing.... she arched up her neck, brought her ears forward and asked, "What are we doing?" So, I stopped kicking myself for a moment and thought we would just go ahead and try this and see what we had working for us. I stepped up to the gate, caught her eye, looked away, stepped back and smooched. Pip shifted her weight a couple of times, said,"Well, okay then!" Trotted calmly through the gate, across the lot and shoved her face into a stand of grass. I closed the wire gate.
Chloe watched Pip. Looked at me. Looked at Pip. Then screeched,"Hey! She's got grass!!!"
I walked across the thirty foot alley, opened the wire gate to the other small lot. I muttered to her, "Looks like this is going to be your side now" As soon as the wires were pushed out of the way, she trotted through. Got no farther then about five feet and had her face into the grass. Apparently, she had figured out what was in it for her.
It's been interesting watching these two.... unlocking their personalities. Chloe is my screaming little fishwife, demanding and shrill. Pip has a really soft expression these days. She asks questions. The other day for the first time, she called to me. It wasn't Chloe's strident,"Hey Lady! it's time for supper!" She called when I was walking into the woods and disappearing from sight and her tone was soft.
Yup! I definitely have myself a pair of snowflakes!