The thing about me is, I am biased. The thing about Mav is, he is cute. Not cute like oh hey there is a cute Japanese toy, but cute like he does things that are endearing. For example, the day after he arrived he was turned out in the field for an hour while I did barn work. He both visited a cat and had a snooze. He continues to enjoy both these things daily.
I felt bad for him. His trip from Alberta took 5 days. He left home - the only home he had ever known- on the Tuesday on a trailer to Calgary (a 3 hour trailer ride).
He was supposed to meet the big van coming across the country and arrive here on Thursday. They were delayed. He finally got on the truck Saturday AM. Fortunately, he was fine and they did send me a picture on the Friday after I requested one, or more realistically, basically demanded proof he was ok.
Regardless of my anxiety, he looked happy and curious in his paddock in Calgary. For a horse that just had his world turned upside down, he looks pretty content. By the time he arrived at 9:30 PM on the Saturday, he had been on the trailer roughly 14 hours. He was lucky enough to score the box stall at the back of the trailer, but unlucky enough to be sharing the trailer with one that banged and screamed constantly. He unloaded on the road and walked cautiously into his paddock ready to face whatever adventure awaited.
This one is blurry, but it was getting dark, we are on a reasonably busy road and it may be the first time I smiled in 2 months so it is worth posting anyways.
The next morning I was there early as I did some barn work on Sunday, although let's be honest, I would have been there early regardless. I put him out in one of the fields while chores were done and before people started arriving for the day. He immediately went to sleep in the soft grass.
I have since learned that sleeping is one of his favourite things. I think it ranks above breakfast and dinner, although he is also very fond of those things. It does not rank above treats so he does have his priorities straight at least.
He naps. He naps the same way every day and at almost the same time. Naps are important to him and to be savored. You do not need to get up just because someone sees you napping. He is not insecure about this.
For example, this was the other day when I arrived at the barn. The wall was holding him up and he had the day off so I let him keep sleeping.
And this was a day more recently.
This was yesterday as I interrupted him at the end of his nap.
These next ones are completely different days. You can tell they are different as some are in different stalls, or his clothes change so I am not trying to pass off one nap for many. I am not the only one, the Excellent Ground Crew also have many pictures like these as apparently horses napping mean picture taking. I am not used to having a horse that naps like this. Sometimes when you find your horse on the ground it causes immediate anxiety - OMG is my horse colicky? is he ok? should I worry? but Mav, he just really enjoys his naps so any anxiety I had initially is completely gone and most people have stopped taking his picture and sending it to me.
Sometimes I join him, but of course, safety, I do not sleep too. Although I could sleep in these stalls without getting more dirty than usual, they are very clean!
Unfortunately for him, my riding schedule right now usually corresponds with the end of nap time. He often naps again in the afternoon, so do not feel sorry for him that he has to wake up and go to work.
So if napping is #1, then food #2, #3 is visiting cats. Well, so far really two cats in particular which also look similar except one is black and one is grey. I think maybe being ridden is actually #3, he is always happy to go to work, but cat visiting is close behind all these things.
The expectation of treats look. He did receive treats in both these cases, and basically every time I walk past him. He now knows when I go into the feed room across from his stall, to cut his apple, there will be a treat coming out of there. He is not pushy or rude about his food, he is patient and gentle about it. He may be just a bit spoiled but since he is so good about it, I am not concerned. I am also biased.
Back to the cats. Eddie was his first cat friend. Every day I would hand graze him, because we both enjoyed it and spending time with him would help us get to know each other. I spent many hours hand grazing him the first couple of months I had him (or he had me, it is hard to tell as I think we were both looking for each other, he just did not know it).
At Excellent New Barn, he has Mowgli. Who is often MIA until you start hand grazing a horse then he comes running and rubs against your legs demanding attention or climbing inside a fly mask.
I have dozens of these pictures. You get the point.
He always seems to find a cat. I have yet to find him napping with a cat. Maybe that is next.
The relationship between horse-people and their horse is hard to explain to the uninitiated. People who have dogs and cats can sometimes relate, but the relationship between species where one could squash you like a bug but instead allows us to train them to do things no "normal" horse would do is kind of amazing. I guess dogs are similar in that they could attack you, but yet choose to learn to fetch slippers, walk on narrow beams and help people by being their eyes.
People have come up to me and said how great it is that I started again with a new one after my loss. There was never any question of not doing that, only a question of how long it would take to find that one that spoke to me (and was not lame, over my budget, had a glaring issue etc.). In the end, it took almost no time at all. The universe has a way of aligning if you listen. I was not ready to hang up my tack, having horses is a huge part of who I am and certainly during Covid gave me a break from the day to day managing of an entire company's health and the anxiety over my own. Mav and I found each other at exactly the right time. I am also biased.