I had good intentions. I got home from work, fed everyone early, warmed up leftovers for supper. Ate early. Washed up all the dishes, got my water jug ready. Then, like much of the afternoon, my tummy started to protest, and took my motivation with it. Bah humbug.
I decided to skip the ride. Looking back, I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't get a little motivated and at least longe Harley, but oh well, it's done. Instead, I grabbed four cookies, and wandered out to the pasture.
I got halfway to Harley, when he stopped grazing long enough to notice me. With a nicker, he walked right up to me. I walked to a clear part of the pasture, and stopped to find he'd followed me. Cookie flex left, cookie flex right. A little snuggling and rubbing. Harley stood still and enjoyed, licking & chewing in gratitude.
Romeo was still out in his pasture, so I had to navigate through the rosehedge and weeds to get to him. ooch ouch ooch! Cookie flex left, cookie flex right, a little praise. Harley nickered at me from his pasture.
Back under the fence to Harley, I rubbed on his withers, scratchie scratchie. He gently rubbed my waistline with his nose, then barely opened his mouth to nibble. I waved a hand at his nose sharply, and he very quickly backed a step away from me, lowered his head, licking & chewing. I explained, "Harley, let me scratch on you, but I'd prefer you not nibble-groom on me. Thanks, though, for wanting to love on me." I rubbed on him a little more, and found Romeo had come up to the fenceline, curious. "You want some too, Mo?"
I slid under the fence one last time, and tried to scratch on Mo. Quickly, he twisted his head towards me, as if to bite at me. I popped him in the nose, and he squirted away from me. Romeo turned to face me, arched his neck, and tucked his nose in. He hopped up a little bit in front, and tucked his nose again. Cute, he wants to play.
I took a step away from him, and he hopped up in front again, and trotted away a little bit, tail up. Uh oh. He *really* wants to play, and we can't play this game anymore. I acted 100% uninterested, and reached through the fence for the poop fork. I pointed it at him, now the end of the fork tines were about 3ft from his nose. Mo arched his neck, tucked his nose, and took off a little happy trot again. He really wanted me to play the game.
Darting into his stall, I pushed him out of it from outside the stall, using the handle end of the poop fork (again, no physical contact, just the mental pressure of it). Mo took off out of his stall, and came back around to the gate. Then I saw it.
He had this puzzled look in his eyes, completely confused as to why I wouldn't play the game. Harley came up to his side of the water trough, near the gate, pinned his ears at Romeo, pointed them up and happy at me, then pinned his ears again at Mo. hmmm...
Romeo stood almost out of reach, at the gate, facing me, worried eyes. I reached out, scratched his nose. He took one step towards the gate, but wouldn't let me scratch more than his forehead through the gate. Harley settled down, and took a good drink of water, then let out a huge heavy sigh, licking & chewing & slobbering water everywhere.
If I read it correctly, Romeo really wanted to play, and Harley saw the danger. Harley told Mo in no way did he want Mo playing with Momma, and he didn't think it was funny. Interesting. They share a fenceline, but I think I saw signs of a herd heirarchy beyond what I thought existed. Harley was protecting me, or at least I think he was. Cute...
And Mo really wanted to play "the game". It's going to be hard to explain to him "we can't play that game anymore, Mister Mo..."