I am writing this as though writing a story, however all this did take place on one the days I was horse sitting, it puzzled and amused me, but I never thought to mention it or inquire about it, writing it off as nothing important, but now after watching the herd dynamics at Beekman I can't help but wonder, what was going on?
It was a hot summer day in June,and I was busy mucking Rose's stall out. Julie had left for four days and I was in charge of taking care of the horses. As I mucked Rose's stall, she came in with me and stood to the back, watching as I shoveled manure into a half full bucket. Beside me, nudging my leg, Rascal a mini donkey waited for me to scratch behind his ears. Pausing to wipe sweat from my brow, I reached down and began scratching Rascal, who, much to my amusement,put his head back, closed his eyes and appeared to smile at me. Behind the two of us Rose nickered,stepped forward and began rubbing my back with her head before draping it over my shoulder. The three of us stood there, enjoying the moment when suddenly the shadow of Joe fell across us. I looked up and my eyes met his wary and hostile gaze. His ears were pinned flat as he stared at me. Never breaking my gaze,Joe lowered his head, began a series of sorting and pawed at the ground. We still studied each other, neither one of us blinking or faltering in this stare off. I squared my shoulders, stood straighter and watched as he took a step forward. I refused to move back or forward, but merely stood and watched. Joe faltered then took two big steps to me, his ears were flat and he seemed nervous and tense. He prepared to move forward again when suddenly Rose moved between us, ears flattened,and blocked Joe from coming to me. Joe snorted and pushed at Rose but she wouldn't budge. Exasperated, Joe reached across Rose's back towards me. Rose whipped her head and bit Joe in the shoulder. He jumped back and flared his nostrils. Rose continued to move forward until she had backed Joe out of the stall, when she was satisfied with her actions Rose resumed her position behind me, head draped over my shoulder.
I resumed shoveling manure and got ready to carry the bucket out of the stall. Joe had returned and was body blocking my exit,refusing to move from my path. I had left the carrot stick outside of the stall, so I was in a small pickle. Joe took a step to me and I took two steps towards him. He was about to take another step forwards when suddenly he paused, pinned his ears and moved. Casting a glance behind me I saw Rose standing there, ears flat a warning in her eyes. Rascal trotted out ahead of me, then I followed with Rose on my heels. Trailing behind us was a very pitiful looking Joe.
When I had finished cleaning the stall I chuckled and went inside to cool off. But now that I am watching the horses at Beekman and experiencing these different personalities and herd hiearchy,I am wondering if there wasn't more going on here. Perhaps I too was in the middle of this cross communication and missed my cues. Maybe confronting Joe when came forward was wrong,
Now, tell me Oh horse experts,what exactly was Joe communicating and Rose too?