The New Horse (Volume 73, May-August, 2000)
(This entry was written three days after my second horse, Dewey, was delivered. I got him because my first horse, Rabbit, a yearling, had lived alone with us for almost eight months and really needed an equine companion.)
Tuesday, July 18, 2000
Boy, do I hate having two horses. Dewey is insane. He has the worst case of nose-shyness in all of horsedom. I'm so frustrated, trying to put sunscreen on his ugly pig-nose so it will feel better, I could just call the vet and have both horses put to sleep right now. I feel misled. I had no idea he was a head-tossing maniac.
And god forbid Rabbit should be led out first and disappear from view for two seconds! Dewey goes CRAZY.
I'm so unhappy. I just feel like crying. I just wanted an easy second horse. I was willing to overlook Dewey's blocky, ugly appearance for the sake of his gentle nature - and now I feel cheated, like I should never have paid $800 for such an embarrassingly ugly horse.
I can't stand that head-tossing! And foot-striking. God! What if he turns out to have the equivalent personality of Flower, the sad-sack victim cat, and I'm stuck for thirty years with a horse I dislike?
I know I'm impatient, I know I have to give him some time. It's just disappointing that he won't let me help him when I'm willing to lavish time and affection on him. All he cares about is Rabbit's whereabouts - even though Rabbit tries to mount him, prevents him from getting treats, bites him and runs him all around the pasture.
I'm so sick of every experience being so full of ups and downs. And now I've got to put all those stupid paintings back in my studio.
Sunday there were good moments. At times Dewey and Rabbit looked like two peas in a pod.
I walked them down to the creek. I knew Rabbit would follow me and Dewey followed him. Rabbit drank from the creek; Dewey drank from the creek. Rabbit crossed the creek; Dewey crossed the creek. It's so much easier letting a mentor horse teach a new horse something than starting from scratch.
Theresa called yesterday morning to see how things are going. I let her know there are a few problems. She told me that three or four months ago, Dewey (then Coop) was tied to the outside of the round pen when a mare broke loose and ran between him and the pen. She ran right through his rope, jerking his head badly. He could have a worse problem than sunburn around his nose - but who will ever be able to find out if no one can touch it?
Mostly I feel sorry for him. She hasn't tried to worm him since that incident. How will I be able to worm him if I can't get him to hold his head still?
I don't want a horse with gigantic inherited issues. I hope Theresa will be honorable and take him back if he has some big physical problem leading to an insurmountable behavioral problem. I've never discussed that with her, never had a guarantee. But I was glad she called to check on his progress. I told her I'd call her back in a few days.
Back to a good moment: Sunday evening at about 8:30 or 9:00.
The weather was stupendous; the bugs had gone away. I had felt increasingly sad all day about the potential loss of closeness I've shared with Rabbit. It felt like I was sending him off to school for the first time, where his interest would shift entirely to his friends and I'd be relegated to the back of his consciousness as a vaguely embarrassing relative. I felt that strongly - like this intruder, Dewey, was wrecking my relationship with Rabbit. I missed Rabbit so much.
When I went out to visit them at dusk I realized that Rabbit was feeling the same way about me.
He let me cradle his head in my arms, stroke his face and kiss him behind the ears for the longest time ever. In fact, he feel asleep with his head in my arms. I could have stayed like that forever.
I have never felt so close to him. (It's just so weird - suddenly he's my easy horse - how can that be?)
After our interlude, I sat down on the grass right across the fence from where both horses stood.
Rabbit dropped to the ground and started sleeping that way. Dewey seemed to fall asleep standing up. For the first time, his penis dropped, indicating he was finally relaxing. Caramel lay in the grass to my left; Elroy lay to my right. I spoke to the horses for awhile; then stopped so we could all revel in the silence.
That was a zen, mystical experience. I sat like that for about a half-hour. Ellis eventually came out, attracted by the stillness.
During that time I felt really glad to have brought Dewey here.
I have to keep telling myself, the point of a second horse is to make Rabbit happy. If the second horse turns out to be a real disaster he's still served his purpose if Rabbit is happy.
And I'd say Rabbit likes having an equine buddy. He doesn't need one, the way Dewey does, but I think he's enjoying having a grazing partner.
I adore Rabbit.
Wednesday, July 19, 2000
up, down, up, down...
Yesterday Dewey made his first affectionate gesture toward me - he looked me in the eye and briefly grabbed my jacket in his teeth....
...It's cloudy and unseasonably cool. I slept with Ellis for the first time since before my sickness/last insomnia bout. I slept really deeply and woke up in a groggy, slow state.
"Rise and Shine!" Ellis said.
"You can make me rise but you can't make me shine. I can rise and have a matte surface, that's the best I can do."
"Write that down," Ellis said.