Ben and Rosie are now in a separate field to Cassie and Minnie. Not too much of a hardship, one would think. But Ben has been breaking through some tape, which was not electrified and heading towards Cassie and Minnie. Interestingly, Rosie stayed in the field.
Ben has kicked Cassie, injuring her canon bone giving some lameness which requires the attention of a vet. Another kick is not something we can risk. I am looking after all four equines while Sandra is away and yesterday I sensed that Ben was depressed. After his bucket he turned his back to me and stood there, with his energy down. I had two eager helpers with me in my daughters, keen to feed chickens, dogs and cats as well as horses so I did not stay.
But today I made sure to go there on my own. I waited while Ben and Rosie ate from their buckets. It was a quiet evening with the low sky of this summer hanging over us.
They followed me down the field and I turned to Ben. I talked to him and asked him what our fights were about. He gently butted me on the head – as if he were saying: we just butted heads. “I know you are missing Cassie and Minnie”, I said. “Your kick has hurt Cassie’s leg.” Ben turned his head to my face and blew against my shoulder. He felt sad. Then he moved away towards the now electrified tape he had previously burst through and looked in the direction of Cassie and Minnie’s field.
I felt helpless watching Ben’s back. Ben has loved being part of the larger herd and has seemed proud of how he saw his role there. I turned around and Rosie had come up beside me. I spoke to Rosie. I asked her to help Ben, saying that Ben was sad. I told her that Ben still had lessons to learn in this human world. I told her that he was hurting in that most vulnerable of places, his pride. Rosie stayed very still and occasionally licked and chewed. It is so easy to anthropomorphize here but she felt with me, she felt wise, with all of her life’s lessons behind her and that somehow she could and would help Ben. We spoke for quite a while, falling silent together at times. She did not move.
I looked at Ben. He had turned away from the tape back towards us and stood with his head low as if he were listening too. There was a sense of real peace and then Ben started to yawn and yawn. Yawning over he moved to some bushes and rubbed himself all over, turning his body from side to side. This little session felt finished.
I went to Rosie to say good-bye and thank you. She licked my hand. I went up to Ben. He blew over my hair and nuzzled my forehead. As I left they moved away from that spot and started to graze.
They come back home in September. We all miss them here. This experience has convinced me that Ben needs a job to give him a sense of purpose and pride. More than our long rides together I think. My daughter is longing to ride him and I told Ben today that he could give her lessons, give her confidence in jumping. After all, I first fell for Ben through a grainy internet photo; in that photo a young teenager rode Ben as he launched himself over a jump. There was something of his balance and his honesty that came through that photo.