If I could add a song to this post, I would probably choose ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight?’ from a certain loose Hamlet adaptation starring animated lions. It was the first song that sprung to mind when I thought about Roy and Mirana, two horses Of A Certain Age who both were overdue for companionship. While it’s true that no horse at SAFE is ever really alone (even with a double fence line between paddocks, the side yards between horses wouldn’t even be considered a micro-studio by Seattle’s standards), the bachelor pad lifestyle can get old. Unfortunately, there are often roadblocks that get in the way of allowing us to turn out every horse with a buddy.

For a horse like Roy, these roadblocks are numerous.

For starters, Roy is a very tender-footed guy. He has had some hoof events in the past that make his ability to handle anything but the softest of terrains quite ouchy for him. While we explore potential options for his sustained comfort, we have Roy in his own studio apartment of a paddock with soft, cushy sand as flooring. Roy also has bad teeth (if you can even call them that) that makes it risky for him to have access to hay. Roy eats multiple mash meals a day because of this, and a special diet like his means it’s a challenge for him to get turnout with friends.

Apart from his soft sand paddock, the only other footing where Roy is comfortable is on grass. We are able to turn him out this time of year with a grazing muzzle (to add to his list of special needs, Roy also has Cushing’s), and while he does enjoy the time out of his paddock, he would often longingly look towards his neighbors in their herds together.

And then there is Mirana. She had been living in a neighborhood alongside her other cohorts, but it was time for a little restructuring. Mirana’s herdmate, Meadow, had passed away, and Mirana was in need of some company. We moved her across the property, into an empty paddock that just happened to be next to Roy. It was a big change for Mirana, but from across a fence line, Roy did his best to make introductions to his new pretty neighbor. She was not hugely comforted by his presence at the time, but we had a plan.

The next morning, when we turned Roy out in his grass turnout, we put a halter on Mirana as well. It’s nice to make introductions on grass because it adds an element of distraction to an occasionally stressful situation. But we knew Roy had been out with friends in the past, same with Mirana, so we weren’t too concerned when we dropped their halters and let them to their own devices. And what gentle devices they were. There was hardly any reaction whatsoever upon nose sniffing, and the two immediately got to grazing side-by-side, cheek to cheek.

Since that day, the two get together every morning for their daily grass, and when they return to their respective paddocks, they seem comforted by each other, despite the slight separation. It warms our hearts to introduce horses, but especially those who so clearly are seeking companionship.