Friday, December 07, 2007

What I love about my horse

Days like this one make me marvel anew at what funny creatures horses are. They all have such distinct personalities, and as I get to know Panama better, I've found that his personality is especially cute. Here are some of the things he does that I love:

* The deep nicker he uses to greet me every day. It's surprising, considering what a little horse he is, but Panama has a very deep nicker — maybe because he was left a stallion until he was two. He always greets me when I arrive, and sometimes he nickers to get my attention or when I give him hay before I leave.

* The way he follows me sometimes when I walk. After he'd been in training for a few weeks, Panama suddenly started to follow us sometimes after we finished lunging him. My trainer then taught him to turn and stop when we did, too, but I'm tickled that he was inclined to follow us on his own. Now he does it with very little encouragement, particularly when he is ready to go back to his stall or when he is looking forward to getting turned out.

* His "What next?" look. When my trainer or I ask him to "whoa" when lunging him, Panama always stops with his head high, turns to look at us, and puts his ears forward. It's adorably eager, like he's saying, "Okay, Mom. What next?"

* The way he plays with me in the arena. This is a fairly new phenomenon, but the last few times I've turned Panama out into the arena, I've noticed that he seems eager to play with me. I chase him a bit, sometimes jumping toward him suddenly when he's running past, or dodging him as he runs by. He often responds by bucking (which is how I got kicked) or changing directions abruptly. If you have ever seen horses play together, imagine that without the physical contact, and you've got a pretty good idea of how Panama and I play together.

* His "I want a treat" head bob. Part of our daily grooming session is the occasional treat. I don't like to give him too many, as I don't want him to get mouthy, so the treats make grooming time special. When he knows he's about to get a treat, he turns his head to watch me dig the treat out of my pocket. Because he's tied up, there's only so far he can turn his head, which results in a gentle bobbing as he pulls against the ties.

He's doing it a little here, because he's trying to figure out what I'm doing — see how his head is tilted a little sideways?

Isn't he adorable?

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