Besotted by Creatures who Reciprocate the Feeling

| October 8, 2022 | 0 Comments

I admit I am besotted by most animals, particularly furry or feathered.  Furry are my favorites because I love touching them.  I can relate most easily to mammals being one myself.  This past week was absolutely fabulous.  The trainer where I take lessons in dressage, a type of horse-back riding, went out of town.  I had a lesson on her day off, Monday, a lesson on my regular day Tuesday, and my Friday lesson on Sunday.  I was asked to take the horse I ride on a trail ride a couple of times. So I went with a neighborhood friend who rides at the same barn.  We fed several horses, moved some to other locations, cleaned and refilled their water buckets, sprayed for flies, and helped with ordinary barn chores.  On Thursday in August, I fell in love–with a horse.

My trainer has a lovely, large 17.2 hands high, warmblood gelding, Bardolino.  I walked over to him, and he proceeded to blow in my hair, on my neck, nibble with soft lips on my ears, lift up my hair, blow on me some more, until I was ready to swoon.  I was overcome by this tender, loving creature who weighs maybe 1200 to 1500 pounds.

Watching my tryst with this handsome horse was the little mare I ride.  She is half Norwegian Fjord and half quarter-horse.  Dolly is her name.  She is convinced she is the alpha mare of the barn herd.  She may be; she isn’t often turned out with another horse since she tends to be very bossy with other horses. On occasion, she fights with them as well.  The horse whose stall abuts hers, Mikie,  really has a grudge against her and has bitten her butt so hard that it took a month to heal.  Every human in the barn is her special friend, except for a few whom she will not allow near her, let alone ride her.  She has a different relationship with each.  She and I respect and trust that we will take care of  each other.  This is done with a sense of mischief and fun.  She’s the one who throws my thermos to the ground if I’ve “done her wrong.” 

Dolly was not happy with my allowing Bardolino to take liberties with me.  She apparently really disliked the fact that I encouraged it. 

When I arrived at the barn the following day,  Dolly was involved with one of the  teenaged girls who hang around the barn (and work their tails off since they are horse crazy).  Almost everyone at that  barn has ridden Dolly at some point.  Dolly has a special relationship with each person she likes (most of them). She usually runs to me when I arrive, but this day she ignored me and concentrated on the girl.  I needed to halter her, so I walked up to her and said, “I know you are jealous, and I do love you, but I love Bardalino differently from the way I love you.  You don’t feel the same about each person.  You love each one in a special way.”  I think she understood or felt the emotion of what I said.  She was very well-behaved and friendly in our casual and sometimes silly way.

Dolly is very aware of how I feel.  If I am absolutely exhausted after dismounting, she places her head softly against my back and gently pushes me to the cross ties where I unsaddle and groom her.  If I am feeling lazy, she refuses to “help” me; sometimes she sticks her nose in my armpit, gives it a little jerk as if to say, “Hey, lady!  You’re not that tired.  Walk!”

Dolly loves to eat, but she will leave her breakfast to say goodbye when I leave her stall.  She also runs to greet me when I arrive.  My cats are not nearly as openly demonstrative as Dolly, and one is a Ragdoll.  He has claustrophobia and stiffens when he’s picked up.  He’s in the limp-appearing Ragdoll pose, but his limbs are stiff as boards. 

My trainer has two goats, a mother and son.  The week my trainer was gone on vacation, the goats moped around, lying next to the chair where she gives lessons.  They were ecstatic when she returned.  Obviously, they missed her.

I cannot walk past a creature with fur without saying hello.  Fortunately, they seem to like me, too.  Feathers catch my attention, but I don’t want to keep birds as pets.  Ideally, they would come to me, perhaps sit on my shoulder, but not be dependent on me for sustenance.

One of my wishes is that the pair of local ravens will come closer so I can feed them sometimes.  I left them a glittery necklace once since ravens and crows like to collect shiny items. 

Apparently, it wasn’t the right style.  They ignored it.  When I try to imitate their call, one of them does correct my pronunciation.   I also talk to the ravens that live near the barn.  The only reaction I get from my cawing is Dolly’s.  She looks at me as if to say, “You are a crazy old woman!”  I guess I am.  Nevertheless, with the animals I consider friends, I am also a happy old woman.

Horses learn to take treats from those that they trust.

Category: Animals, Local News

About the Author ()

Barbara Strona is a native Californian who grew up in the Mid-West and Los Angeles. She and her architect husband, Carl, came to San Diego in 1968 and have lived in Mission Hills since early 1971. Barbara received a Bachelor of Arts from Scripps College with a major in English, and a minor in Art. She attended UCLA graduate school and received a General Secondary Credential. She taught English in Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, and at Point Loma High School. She has been a Realtor specializing in residential sales since 1984. Her passions include her job, reading, writing, foreign languages and foreign countries, animals (feathered or furry), theatre, and her family: husband, two adult children and two grandsons.