(Pebbles and Jake’s friendship flourished because of the fence.)

It’s funny how some friendships are expressed. I guess it’s the same with people as with horses. I probably just tend to notice it with horses because I’m around them more often.

For example, when I go in the field to get Radley, he will stroll right past Dallas’s paddock without so much as a look. But if he gets to the barn, goes into his stall, and realizes that Dallas is not right next-door in his stall? Well, let’s just say you need earplugs. He’ll start to scream like his life is about to end simply because his Palomino pony is not in the adjoining stall.

I was thinking about that because today we had to keep Pebbles in for the blacksmith. When I go out in the field to get Pebbles and Bella, they’re usually standing at least 20 feet apart. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen them any closer than that. In fact, at the end of the day when it’s time to come in, if I clip the lead to Bella and then walk towards Pebbles to try to clip him up, I have to hold her back, sort of behind me so that Pebbles will let us get close enough for me to clip the lead line on his head collar. He seems to want to have nothing to do with her and she returns the favour by seemingly being quite indifferent to him.

Well, not today.

Today when we put Bella out in the paddock and left Pebbles in, you would have thought the world was going to end. Bella called and called like a mare whose foal had just been taken from her to be weaned. I’m not sure Pebbles could hear her and I’m not convinced he would have cared even if he could. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Pebbles has a quiet arrogance about him. He would be unlikely to register any real surprise that she missed him but rather he would just think that this should be the way the world unfolds

I wish the two of them could be better friends but at least now I think we know who’s holding that process up.

I find it endlessly fascinating to watch these kinds of dynamics. In this instance, I suspect it is because Pebbles has reached an age where he realizes defending himself or even running away would likely not end well for him. So, he makes the decision to keep a safe distance. The same thing happened to Jake years ago. Although a dominate horse in his youth, as he aged he became less and less confident and finally was happiest when we took him out of the large herd and teamed him up with just one or two friends.

If nothing else, these moments should remind us that regardless of how domesticated we think horses are there is still a wildness about them, a connection to nature that is primal. It is a good thing to remember this when we train and ride horses. Not only does it help keep us safe, it also helps us understand the horse’s world view.  When we keep that view in mind, we can make wiser decisions about when and what to ask of him.

(Imagine Pebbles not liking a charming girl like Bella…)

One thought on “Friendships”

  1. Beautiful article. These are nuggets of information most people dont know, even if they take riding lessons. You have to spend time on the ground with horses to get to understand their language and even then one is constantly learning!

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