Bryn loves mornings. She rises at about 6, stretches slowly and luxuriously and, after her morning scratch and a grooming session, I often let her decide where we’ll walk, weather permitting. (She references me regularly regarding street crossings, though, even though she’s ‘on line.’)
We may walk/trot four miles. She’ll lead, setting the pace, and I’ll trot to keep up. A favorite route is often along the great U-scoop of land that defines Grand Traverse Bay, and then through the tunnel under the Grand View Parkway into the neighborhoods near the semi-wild area around Oryana Health Food Co-op at Boardman Lake. Its delectable cooking aromas remind her that her own meal would be prepared as soon as we arrived home. No fool, I’ll remind her of this fact. She’ll cock her head and lick her lips, and off we trot, straight back to my kitchen.
By then, I’m always glad. I get quite a lot of exercise from these outings and am ready to roost.
Here’s the thing: I’m in much better physical shape. The improvement is obvious when I find myself able to lift Menesson’s heavy western saddle off the rack and onto the chest-high saddle rack in the crosstie area.
I’d struggled to bring it out of the tack room two months ago.
She loves to go with Joe by car to Sunset Park, with its fine picnic area and sandy beach, when I’m at the stable. She’d run like a crazy thing after Joe’s tossed ball, bring it back and drop it at his feet. Her enthusiasm always lasted for precisely two tosses. The third time was typically a different story. She’d dump the ball far away and absolutely wouldn’t retrieve it. In fact, she actually pretended not to know what Joe was talking about.
So, he’d have to get up from his bench and find it. It made him really grumpy.
Result? Joe, an excellent doggie trainer, popped her into the car and drove her right back home. He’d grown weary of hunting down the toy. If she refused to ‘find’ it, so be it! He could read at home.
Bryn was not pleased about leaving her cool park immediately.
So she thought, hard---
The next time they went she’d formed a training plan, probably not grasping that his training plan was to leave immediately if she wouldn’t play ball. (Joe likes to toss them.) On this day, he threw and she retrieved. He read his book awhile and then threw another- at her invitation. And another. And another! She brought them all straight back to him. This behavior certainly got his attention. So many home runs!
What was happening?
It went on for maybe twenty-five flings and fetches, until both parties were satisfied. Joe was impressed! He enjoyed seeing her exercise, and she bought lots of extra time to sniff around the area and chase gulls, and then keep Joe happy by running run fast and happily after every long toss she'd requested. Best of all, she hadn’t abandoned her ball far away- not even once.
Just who is training whom, hmmm?
Such delicious speculation!
One more really fun, stunning thing:
I was cleaning Menesson’s big stall the other day when he came over to me and gave my knuckles a lick or two.
--And then, he looked at my rake’s vaguely pointed red plastic tines, which I happened to be holding over the big poo-filled bucket-
--And then, after sniffing them carefully, he began to rub his muzzle and cheeks back and forth along their tips, at first very gently and tentatively, then with more confidence and vigor! Those big, dark eyes caught mine. Amazed, I realized what my job was--to steady that rake so he could indulge in a satisfying scratch that he controlled.
It wasn’t easy. Menesson is a powerful horse.
Ahhh-! Half-lidded, he tested different pressures and angles of approach. Scratch, scrrrratch scratch!
His obvious pleasure was my reward.
Maybe he gets a kick out of using familiar things in different ways, just for fun. (Remember when he’d flung a big mouthful of hay at me the other day? He has two fat rubber horse balls in there to fling around, but instead, he’d wisely chosen to hurl hay my way...and I’d cheerfully tossed some right back...)
Had Menesson actually pondered that familiar rake’s usefulness as a face-scratching muckraker?
Do you think??