More than any other animal I’ve encountered, horses have the quirkiest personalities. They are each so unique in their own way. Sometimes entertaining, sometimes exasperating, often times sweet and oh so loveable.
Misty, my heart horse, is by far the quirkiest in the herd. She is an alpha mare (translation very bossy), yet there are times she comes to me asking for love and attention. She absolutely knows that she is my favorite and takes full advantage of that fact.
Because she is alpha I have to be careful to maintain my role as über alpha. When she pushes the limits I often give her the mare squeal, literally or figuratively, depending upon my mood. She gets the message either way and usually responds with submissive body language.
It wasn’t always that way, we traveled a bumpy road to get to this place, but now her challenges to my authority are infrequent. Which brings me to the reason for this post.
Each day when I go out to feed, I bring Rusty and Merlyn out of the pasture because they get a larger portion. Usually I can just motion for them to come through the gate and they oblige. Sometimes they need a little encouragement. Rusty is so easy going that I can just grab a handful of mane and guide him out. Merlyn sometimes takes more persuasion because Arlo, the mini, snarls at him and he’s afraid to pass by. He cracks me up. He’s the tallest and he’s intimidated by tiny Arlo!
After I get the remaining herd members settled with their feed I go out the pasture gate, leaving it open, so that I can drive the tractor through and fill the hay boxes. Most days I’m able to time it so that I can leave the gate open while I put out the hay and then close it after I drive the tractor back through. It’s a routine I’ve worked out that is quick and efficient.
Then there are days like yesterday where one or more of the herd starts eying the extra food outside the gate and moseys on out while I’m haying. On this day I saw Toro get the idea and start heading for the gate. I hollered over to him that he really should rethink that. He stopped, mulled it over, then turned and walked back to his own feed. Smart boy and such a sweetheart. It always surprises me when he acquiesces like that. He is, after all, the herd leader and takes his job seriously, bossing the others around, sometimes because he can.
Misty, on the other hand, has a very different attitude. After watching the Toro episode she decided that she would go through the gate and help herself to some extra food. I hollered over to her that she needed to get her butt back. She didn’t even pause, just kept moseying on out and helped herself. She knows it will take me a few minutes to drive back out and do anything about her flagrant defiance. She was also sending me the message that surely I didn’t mean the rules to apply to her: my black beauty, my special princess. Surely she was entitled to special privileges. Sigh.
With that I hustled on over and told her in no uncertain terms that she was not entitled to ignore my wishes and defy my authority. My little princess has to follow the rules just like everyone else. Off she went with no hard feelings. It’s just her nature. She has to test the waters every once in a while to see if I’m serious about remaining über alpha. I am.
I love that mare!