The tattoo of hoofbeats pounded along the barn. A sharp, youthful whinny exploded from the small horse in the field as she pranced back and forth; her frantic pacing broken only by moments to listen–to find out if, indeed, she’s truly alone.
My neighbor, Katie, asked me to board her pony, Cadence, this weekend. Katie’s riding her other horse at a clinic, and she shipped her mare to Wisconsin this morning. Cadence would’ve been alone at Katie’s barn until Sunday night unless she stayed with me. The young filly’s herdbound to Katie’s other horse. Unfortunately that makes life difficult when there’s no choice but to separate the two for shows or riding clinics.
Cadence arrived at the farm this morning. Even before Katie officially unloaded her passenger, Cadence’s panicked screams echoed from within the metal trailer. She fought to remain with her buddy–but to no avail.
We covered basic rules, and Katie filled out a boarding contract. We discussed niceties and a variety of situations all the way to Veterinary calls. Before she departed, Katie spoke adamantly about not allowing other horses in with Cadence, as she worried about her pony kicking.
I locked the pony in a stall with hay for most of the morning, and then gave her time this afternoon in the RAMM pasture. Poor Cadence ran the fenceline for 30 minutes, calling for any horse within hearing range. The whites of her eyes bulged as she bugled, and her coat shone with sweat. Her throaty whinnies drove daggers into my heart.
I caught Honey and moved her into the pasture. Cadence’s demeanor changed instantly. She relaxed, grazed, and sniffed. I gave them 45 minutes of pasture time together–all directly supervised. I stayed within a 20 foot radius, ready to separate them in case of trouble.
Trouble never came.
I caught Honey to move her back into Suzie Q’s pasture (her regular digs) for the night, and as soon as Honey stepped out of the paddock, Cadence began calling. She screamed and squealed, devastated that her new friend left. Honey settled back in with Suzie Q, but called out for Cadence. A cacophony of little-pony-girl screams developed from both sides, since Honey also developed an attachment to the adorable bay filly. I moved Cadence into Phoenix’s stall, since she’s an indoor boarder overnight. This quieted both girls down. They’re contemporaries, so it makes sense that they love each other.
The girls sniff through their stalls. They nicker at each other and nod. Whatever confidences they share remain between them alone. These gentle, bashful little girls are having a slumber party over the weekend. Katie won’t have to worry about separating her horses for a few days. Cadence has a new best friend–and she no longer feels alone.