Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bodi and How to Chill

Bodi is not the chillest of horses around human beings. It's not that he's afraid of them or wants to beat up on them or anything. He mostly seems to think that human beings are great and whenever they show up it means food or playtime. Hence the problem- I can not get him to chill.
Bodi, Prince of Not Chill in the kingdom of Playlandia

Today I decided I would create some chill time with Bodi. I showed up with nothing really in mind other than spending time in the pony paddock, standing. I walked in and Bodi immediately trotted over to see what I was up to. I was holding a water bottle! Play toy! So he tried to bite the water bottle. I did the pressing on his cheek to get him to turn his face away. That worked for about a second. Then it was my pockets. Did I have treats? What are these, keys? Are keys tasty? No Bodi. I pushed on his face again. And again. There was a lot of face poking. I'm sure he got pretty tired of me poking on his face, but at least I was consistent in NOT poking his face if he wasn't bothering me...

To be fair, most of what we do IS playtime.
I can see where he'd get the idea.

Eventually he started eating hay and just occasionally checking to make sure I was still going to push on his face if he tried to play with me. I told him yeah, that was still a thing. He tried smushing his body into my space and I poked him in the side until he moved. He tried eating my boots. He tried faceplanting my leg. He tried the water bottle again. Meanwhile I poked and pushed and stomped and waved my hands around every time he got in my space and then just went back to standing as soon as he got out of it.

Somewhere along the line I got this weird idea that maybe if I could convince him that I wanted to graze with him he'd figure out that I wasn't standing in his paddock because I wanted to play. After all, playing (or training) in the ring is really the only reason I go back there and get him normally. He might think that I was just taking a long time. So... I bent down and rummaged around in the hay with my hand and sighed really loud, like the horses do when they're done with nonsense and are ready to go back to eating. Bodi looked at me for a second, nudged me (I poked him back out of my space) and then started eating hay alongside me! He still got in my space a bit, but he was no longer grabby and playful. He was more trying to figure out if I had something tastier than he had and if I would sharesies.
"She's good at scritches.
Maybe she's good at finding tasty things to eat too?"

Upside down is an odd perspective to be in with a horse. Weirdly it was easier to bump him over when inverted. My elbows were more effective in shielding both my face and bottom half (at least from a miniature horse. I don't think I'd try this with a big horse). It was also easier to get him to react without me having to touch him. If I rotated my body toward him he swung his head away faster. I sort of wonder if horses communicate more often with each other in this chill, head-down position so they're better at reading it, or if they just feel more chill in general when grazing so they don't want to cause as many problems. Eventually he legit lost interest and wandered over to graze next to Pudge.

I don't know exactly what I accomplished with this other than learning more about how horses interact with each other while grazing. Bodi may or may not have learned any personal space lessons. I guess I'll see in future interactions. Thankfully no one was like "what the crap are you doing" while I was busy pretend-grazing with the ponies. Maybe I would've made something up like I lost something in the hay and was looking for it... haha. But now you ALL KNOW how I spent my afternoon. Judge all you like. I will continue my quest to learn more about horses, whether right side up or upside down!