Some might say I have a very unorthodox relationship with my horse, Pumpkin.
Most people who have a horse go to the barn, fetch their horse from the paddock, bring him into the barn, groom him, perhaps tack him up, maybe ride him or work him, untack him, give him a carrot and lead him back to the paddock.
I, on the other hand, go to spend time with my horse. To hang out with them. Just hang.
And Pumpkin seems to look forward to it.
When he sees me arrive, he realizes it’s the “carrot and apple lady”.
He hurries over, with a whinny or nicker or two, and I greet him with an exhuberant pat and stroke of his lovely head and neck.
I then proceed to methodically cut up the carrots and apple that I have brought into his treat bucket, and he supervises me over the fence, sampling the end of each carrot and apple that I cut.
It is our routine.
One that gives both me, and him, great pleasure, I am sure.
When I am done cutting up his carrots and apple into his treat bucket, I let myself through the gate into the paddock and to an eagerly awaiting Pumpking, who may or may not by this time be pawing in impatient anticipation of the treats to come.
While he is enjoying the treats out of the bucket, I always give him a grooming or lots of stroking and sweet talk, to let him know what a good boy he is.
Fortunately, we are at a friendly, low key barn which doesn’t judge us for our unconventional relationship (at least not in front of us).
But who knows what people say or think when we are not looking.
I am too old now to care.
And besides, what other people think of you is none of your business.
Pumpkin always hangs around after his treats for a little more grooming, a few more words telling him he is a good boy.
Then, when he deems we are done, he heads away to hang out with his pasture mates.
I always hang out for awhile after that just to watch him and them. Their tails swishing, their noses touching, always moving and jockeying for position, so to speak, in the herd.
Pumpkin is the head of his herd. For the first time since I have owned him.
He is a fair boss, not a bully. When he deems he would like to taste some of the hay that another horse is eating, he saunters towards that horse and the horse reluctantly moves out of the way.
The politics of horses does not always seem fair to us humans.
But it has worked for them for thousands of years, long before humans came on the scene to interfere, so who are we to judge.
Just watching, observing, one can see that it is all about energy for horses. A pinned ear. A tossed head.
It is fascinating to watch, if anyone has the time and patience.
But just by watching and observing, one can learn so much.
And that is what I love to do. Part of what I enjoy doing at the barn.
Not the tacking up or riding.
Not the sending off with a carrot when done.
But just hangin’ with ‘em.
It is a real treat.
Observing their interactions with each other, not influenced in any way, shape or form by humans.
He is a companion horse in an alternate sense of the word.
Not sure what good, if any, I provide to Pumpkin – but to me, he is my idea of good therapy.