Recent observations regarding Tiva:
Her shoulders, in particular, are rather itchy this time of year, and she is not opposed to a little mutual grooming if you would be so inclined to scratch, yes, just there, above the elbow. A gentle mare, she rarely ever uses teeth, and those whose hides are a bit less thick much appreciate and prefer the ‘stiff upper lip’ technique to the ‘barber shop shark’ when it comes to being groomed on.
While she is a cautious creature still, greeting most unknown stimuli with a snort first, think later approach, when it comes to her grass time, she willingly throws herself into the hands of strangers. The bearer of The Halter between the hours of 10AM and 2PM is a revered figure, and one who is sought out with great fervor. No one climbs above Esme in the herd, but it is not uncommon for Tiva to be biding her time at the front of the line at the gate, her internal clock tick-tick-ticking closer to that coveted grass time.
If, however, you approach after business hours (AKA, when the act of the catch is more directly correlated to sweating in a round pen versus in the pasture), her hospitality is rather lacking.
Tiva’s stink eye is impressive, her entire head getting into it as she flattens her ears against her skull and extends her neck, her wrath affording her a level of aerodynamics usually only seen in sports cars. Perhaps dragons were fashioned after mares like Tiva, from whose nostrils you can practically see the steam billowing. However, unlike a dragon, she is all bark and no bite — she wears this nasty little face even as she is moved away by the more senior members of her herd. She may not be a lover, but she’s no fighter either, and the most I’ve ever seen her challenge is via a slow, not particularly aggressive ears pinned walk towards the horse in question.
If Tiva were a human in a corporate job, she likely sign her emails with “respectfully,” while flipping the recipient off through the screen.
Tiva is the queen of cat naps. On any given day, she goes down for a dirt-filled snooze at least three times, and I really do mean at least. In the sunshine, her coat shines like a new penny — until she rolls, that is, and then it’s more akin to a penny you find at the bottom of your bag: a little more dull, but not at all lacking in worth.
With each groundwork session, we creep incrementally closer to the day when Tiva can be saddled. When I say saddled, what I really mean is cinched up, because Tiva has technically worn a saddle now numerous times, walking little circles with it perched atop her back as I keep a careful hand on it to ensure it only comes off intentionally. While she still has an issue changing eyes, which will make turning her loose with a saddle on a bit more challenging, she has come a long, long way with having things in her off eye, or behind her, or beneath her. With each touch of the flag on her flank, each squeeze of the rope around her belly, each time something waves behind her as we go from left to right to left again, we work towards that first saddling being as low-drama as possible for this mare. This mare, who had gone the first ten or so years of her life without much trust in humans. This mare, who over the last year and a half has cracked herself open for us and allowed us to show her what it can be like to be cared for, to be loved, but most importantly, to find balance and confidence in herself.