Strange things are going on at the barn. The stall next to me has lost a wall. It isn't the wall that separated mine from that stall, or I'd just have a really big stall! There is a large pile of dirt on the floor of the other stall. I've heard the humans talking about the groundhog that's been digging near the barn, but that would be an enormous groundhog. Mother said something about the owner moving the water lines. They hired a groundhog to do that? I hope he's licensed. I wouldn't want my stall to flood.
My friend Sonney was out in the rain with all of us today. While most of us came in at dinner time and started munching hay, Sonney was the victim of the blowing /slurping air machine. I saw the machine the first time the other evening, it was making a different noise then. Aunt Erin was running the weird fat snakey hose with a funny end over Sonney. It freaked me out, but Sonney just stood there. He doesn't seem to mind... I am almost curious about the machine, but not quite curious enough. It is loud!
Mother was proud of me tonight. She laughs with Aunt Nancy that she gets way too excited sometimes about my accomplishments, compared to things that most humans find pride in. Hey, I never asked to be a show horse. Domestication was a big enough step.
Mother was picking my feet out, while we were standing in the back porch crossties. I don't like those crossties as well as the ones inside the barn, especially when it is night and I can't see very well out into the dark because the light is by me, and especially when it is in the cold season and the open window wall stalls have their walls up and I can't see any other horses when I am out there. Mother was picking one of my front feet and something scared me.
I am a good horse. I pick up my feet when asked, and I keep my feet planted unless I am asked to pick them up. "Four on the floor", as Mother likes to say. I keep my weight on the back hoof of whatever side Mother is on, like she taught me. She says it is easier for vets to feel my legs and work on me, and to wrap my legs or put on boots, and put on my Keratex. She says it is impolite to lift a leg when she is near my haunches, even if I was just going to rest it. I don't know why she worries, I've never kicked at a human. Well, there was that one farrier, but they're not really humans. We had irreconcilable differences. He liked loud noises. And I only kicked him once. Actually, I've never seen him again. Hmmm... I guess he's OK.
Oh, so when Mother was cleaning my feet there was this sudden noise and it startled me. I hunkered and leapt a little to the side and Mother released my foot, because she knew I might need it to run from the danger. I stood and shook, peering into the darkness to figure out what frightened me, but I realized I wasn't going to get eaten, so I held my foot up again for Mother before she approached to ask for it. I kept looking into the darkness, though... what was that?
Mother thought it was very smart and sweet of me to re-raise my foot while I was still shaking from my scare, resuming our previous activity after my interruption. That's just good manners. I assure you, if I had thought of removing my foot from Mother's grasp under normal circumstances... well, that isn't really an option. She is very persistent. I haven't even tried in well over a year and a half.
Mother respected my fear and released my foot without my really asking for it. I like that she respects my need for my feet. She knows when I am being willful (she calls it bad, but I am entitled to my own opinion, aren't I?) and when I am not. She taught me how to pick up my feet when I came to Ohio. In North Dakota, there were rules to staying alive, one of the most important: You must always keep your feet. She helped me realize humans could hold them and do things to my hooves and it was safe. It was harder for me to give that up than Devlin Pony, but I was almost seven and had never had anything control my feet but my legs. I am smart, but instinct trumps brain. It took a long time for trust in Mother to override instinct.
I have thoroughly assimilated now, you'd never know I still have so many instincts. I like shavings and delivered-to-my-feet hay and grain and easy, clean water and cookies. I like having someone clean my coat and that they don't leave gouges and '"friend marks". I even like having cleaned, evenly trimmed feet. If I have to deal with a few idiot-synchrocies of Mother and follow all her rules, it's worth it. No one is trying to eat me. Speaking of eating, that's the best part! COOKIES! Yumm...