Horses never cease to amaze me. Nellie has been my companion for over 2 years now. She is a beautiful palomino Quarter Horse mare and, having just turned 15, is still in her prime. Nellie has very few negative dispositions, aside from being of an anxious inclination, anxiety which takes the better of her around other horses, probably because she was subjected to some kind of abuse somewhere along the way from her original home in Oklahoma to this her latest home in Quebec. She actually has a full hoof mark permanently imprinted into her right buttock – so yes, some horses have not been kind to her, and this has left its imprint in both her flesh and her psyche. Fortunately, I have been able to arrange it so that she spends her days with equidae of the smaller variety such as ponies and donkeys, which she loves as if they were her own progeny.
Over the course of this latest winter, Nellie had become especially fearful of a massive Gypsy Vanner named Lord Jamieson, James as we call him. As I said, Nellie becomes agitated around other horses even when they give no apparent cause for concern. However, last winter James began giving Nellie cause for concern, frowning, posturing and twitching his ears at her whenever we approached his paddock. It came to a point where I could not even approach with her on a lead, she would try to bolt. Riding her around James’ paddock became quite risky, but we had to in order to reach the trails.
Now, James is a very friendly and gentle horse around humans as well as most horses, but he sometimes acts up this way towards one horse or another, although this is infrequent and far in-between. Last summer, when he was turned out to pasture with a couple of other geldings older than him, James actually gave me a measure of his true character. One of these other geldings sometimes acts unpredictably, and as I was approaching him in the pasture he started posturing aggressively towards me for no apparent reason. I did not even have time to think about stepping back, and there was James interposing himself as a huge horse-wall between me and the other horse – and almost immediately the third horse followed James’ lead and completed that wall of horseflesh to shield me from the first horse! If I had any doubt before then, I knew then and there that I could trust this huge and impressive horse to do right by me whenever he has the chance.
So, coming back to James’s antics towards Nellie this last winter – one afternoon, coming back from a trail ride, Nellie and I came alongside James’ paddock as we followed a couple of other riders – and all hell broke loose: James approached menacingly towards the side of his paddock where Nellie and I were approaching, and she bolted! I did not fall, but it was a near thing; it took all I had to reign her in, and the incident left me quite shaken – I had to get off and walk her to the barn.
Now, over the last couple of weeks, I started noticing that we could walk to and by James’ paddock, and nothing of the sort happened anymore… No more menacing looks, posturing or ear twitching on James’ part, no more antics from Nellie – she would even nibble at the hay strewn on the ground before his paddock while James just stood quietly watching us… And I started to wonder, how and when did this happen? And it dawned on me that James had stopped his antics since I had almost been thrown to the ground in Nellie’s last panic… Believe what you will, but my guess is that this is no coincidence – I don’t believe in these anyway.