Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spencer's Coming and Goings

Spencer roaming around the field on an early spring day.

I was just sitting here at my computer looking for pictures to upload for Spencer’s blog. I came across some pictures that I took when he first came here, this time last year. I noticed that his body has changed a lot.

He had a very bold look to him to him when he came here. It’s been a year since we had him gelded, and well, his thick studdy neck is gone and his entire body seems to have relaxed.
Spencer the Stallion.

Spencer the Gelding.

He lost some weight over the winter, probably a bit too much. But feeding a draft horse has given me a better understanding of what it must be like to feed an elephant.

Grazing with my little buddy.

The weight is coming back on and I just can’t begin to describe how much his personality has changed.

I sometimes feel like I’m Sally Fields when she made that infamous speech as she accepted her award at the Oscars. “He likes me! He really, really likes me!”

When I look back on how Spencer behaved when he arrived. He was so distrusting and always trying to show us what his big ol’ body was capable of.

His ears would pin when we entered his space and his head would go up and he turn that giant head in a way that reminded me of a bull ready charge at me any minute. I sometimes expected him to start pawing and flames to shoot out of his nose any minute.

I know that I put too much pressure on him at times like this, but his eyes could get such a hard, steely look to them. I don’t see those eyes very often anymore.

For me now, his eyes are soft and questioning. His eyes only get hard when he sees someone he feels he can’t trust, which is nearly everyone else, but he’s getting better.

I sack him out with friends who stop by. For some reason, they look at me as if I’m nuts when I ask, “Do you want to go out and scratch Spencer’s butt!”

It’s taken a great deal of time, and grooming, but we’re getting there. I still think about how he was untouched for 2 years because no one could get near him. And yet, he’ll follow me all over the pasture and into the paddock for grain and scratches. He lowers his head so I can put the halter on him without stretching. He's careful where he places his big feet to avoid mine, thank goodness.

We are still battling the a terrible case a of lice that he arrived with. Just when I thought I had that taken care, I notice him scratching. Just last week, I lifted his thick mane and discovered there were nits hiding under it.

So as I was trying to get the powder in and around his forelock and he raised his head and bumped the can, white powder went everywhere. All over me and his whole head was covered. When he opened his big brown eyes through the white powder, I have no idea what he was thinking, but probably something like, “That was not cool.”

The biggest change in him is when we are standing close to each other, he will sometimes rest his head gently against my body.

The first time I felt him do that, it was so unexpected, I got all teary eyed. Even as think about him letting his guard so much to get that close to me…oh boy, it gets to me…as I type this! Gosh, I’m so sappy.

But that was a gesture that was so very out-of-character for Spencer. You know your friendly, trusting horses that come up and put their heads against you expecting you to scratch and pet them, it's not such a big deal really.

Then there are the spoiled horses who put their head against you and kind of nudge you to give them a treat. Or worse, the pushy horses, who head butt you to give up the!

But for this horse so leary of humans, it was as if he forgot himself for a moment. When I felt his head as he laid it so softly against my side, it startled me at first. It was such a gesture of trust and friendliness that I stiffened, and he felt that and his head quickly left me as if he’d felt he’d done something wrong.

He’s done it several times since. He’s finally let his guard down enough with this human to let me know that I’m okay in his world and I'm no longer startled by it, so he knows it's okay.

He’s not overbearing or pushy, he just is telling me something that he’s never told anyone before. I believe he’s saying, “I think I trust you now…I really, really trust you.” (Sniff...see!)

Oh, his feet…

...we work at getting him to pick up his feet as often as I have time and energy. He’s starting to get it. Clicking has helped some. But it’s going to take time. While he maintains them on his own as he has been since he was born. The more I work with him, the more I’m convinced that other than me, when we aced him just before he came to live here, he’s never had his feet touched.

A special treat - grazing on the playfield.

Well, that's about it for now. I hope to put up some pictures soon of his newly trimmed hooves, but don't hold your breath! It's likely going to take some good drugs, for him and for me:0)