Mel, the first ever endurance blogger I read, posted a great article on her blog about her relationship with her two mares: are they partners or pets?. Please go read it as well as Liz’s response to it on her own blog. You can find Mel’s here and Liz’s here.
As I read both of their posts, I got to thinking about my own two horses as well as if I am happy about my relationships with them. Do I prefer one over the other? What would I want my next horse to be like?
Gem is straight forward. She is my partner through and through. At first emotionally and mentally shut down, after several years she eventually let me inside her inner circle. That didn’t mean she became all warm and cuddly. It translated into more trust, more willingness to work with me and a better can do attitude. Deep down though, Gem prefers to be a horse. One that eats grass, naps in the sunshine, drinks deeply from fresh cold water and gets to stretch her legs out and about from time to time. In her perfect world, she would have a 12 x 12 stall in a temperature controlled barn with a window looking out and about 10 feet of fluffy sawdust on the ground. She is a princess at heart.
When I go to get her in her field, she will flag her tail and gallop off then turn and watch me. It is her way to let me know that she doesn’t need me. When I walk to get her, she meets me half way and willingly drops her head to let me halter her. She seems to enjoy our time together, loves to go camping and gives 100% of her self at endurance races. Much like Mel’s Farley, we are both sick of each other by the end of an endurance weekend and do better with some time apart. Gem isn’t a horse who likes or needs to be worked more than 2 times a week.
She is 18 now and I highly doubt this relationship will ever change. She comes to me for performance and care and happily leaves me behind once the job is completed.
Pete is harder to define. I believe he would be a pet had his past life not been such total crap. He loves people and adores to work. You could ride him every single day and he would come out on the 8th day just as excited as the first. He gives his all all the time. But… he is scared to death of people as well. He keeps his distance from you and you can see him worried about getting hurt. Someone did a number on him and even after 7 years of love, care and kindness he still can’t let it go. It is a shame because he would be such an in your pocket type horse had his life been different.
So…I have one partner and one mostly pet, but which do I prefer? I’ve never had a pet type of horse as my primary partner, so I don’t know what it would be like. While I wish Gem was a little more reliant on me for companionship, our relationship works perfectly for me in this stage of my life. I can go work with her, enjoy the time spent and know that she does to, but then drive away and not have to worry that she is missing me, requires my attention for her well being or needs more frequency for her physical and mental health.
We both have our own lives which intersect regularly, but we are not really dependent on each other for our total well being and happiness. I like it like this and can be absent for periods of time without feeling guilty.
I can see where having a pet or a pet/partner mix would be nice if I could dedicate more of my time to my horse hobby. Perhaps once I am retired and Wyatt is all grown, I will be in a position to accept a pet type horse into my life. Time will tell.