Pet vs. Partner
|January 18, 2017||Posted by Melinda under Equine Endurance|
MerryLegs is very much a pet. This is the sort of picture that you will get from Merrylegs.
The only reason it’s not just her nose in the picture is that there is a fence between you and her.
“In your pocket” has been her MO since day one. Here’s the pics and announcement from the breeder way back when she was a wee thing (with really really long legs).
It’s not that she is a bully and getting in your space (although sometimes she is in your space and has to be reminded there are BOUNDARIES), she truly just wants to hang out with you and maybe put her head in your arms and just hang out. She volunteers to be haltered and can’t wait to go to work every day because it means that she gets to be with you.
Remember the first fence photo at the beginning of this post? You will only get this picture from Farley if you have an actual bucket of mash in your actual arms at the time of taking a picture. Farley is more likely to be seen doing this.
Farley loves her job. Farley also loves having her own life and likes to maintain her work-life boundaries. She enjoys doing stuff with me especially if it’s a defined aspect of her job. She respects me and I respect her and we become friends as one does after a decade in a partnership. But she doesn’t hang out with me and it’s weird to hang out with her if there isn’t anything on the itinerary. She isn’t a pet and doesn’t want to be one.
Farley is a partner, MerryLegs is a pet.
Farley is your best friend who you couldn’t live without and is always there for you. Merrylegs is the person you marry. (Fortunately I found a person who is actually both to me and married him, but I digress. You get what I’m saying about the HEART horse and the really really really good partner horse right?)
When I turn Farley out she takes the gift of turn-out and trots away happily. When I turn ML out she turns around as if to say are you sure? If I run off will you still be here when I come back?
When I go to catch Farley and her paddock she looks at me coming, goes off into the corner, pees and then walks half way over and waits for me to meet her half way. When MerryLegs sees me coming her ears perk forward and she gallops from whatever corner she’s at and grabs the halter to put it on herself as fast as possible before I change my mind.
MerryLegs reminds me of Minx, who was also a pet. Minx was the reason I got into endurance. I loved her, I loved spending time with her and she wanted to be with me. Why wouldn’t I do a sport where I got to spend as much time as possible with her? Endurance was about doing the miles, but it was also about hanging out with her.
After Minx died I wasn’t ready for another pet, a talented partner is what I needed. Farley was perfect.
Farley is incredibly fun to do endurance on, she’s talented and suited for the sport. There’s a definite bond between us, but at the end of 100 miles we kind of hate each other a little bit and after a weekend together we need our space. Riding 100 miles on Farley is about riding THE HUNDRED. It’s not about spending 20 hours on her back or the weekend camping together. It works because I love hundreds a lot. But I’m sort of excited to do this sport on a horse that’s my pet again.
I’m not saying that a pet or a partner is better. I wouldn’t trade Farley for the world. She’s given me some of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received (and in return more than earned a permanent retirement home). Watching that horse do endurance from a front row seat on her back for almost a decade has been one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done. I trust Farley far more than is probably wise and she returns that trust. But….. you know that feeling that you get when you walk through the door and your dog is always happy to see you? That’s what MerryLegs is like and I’m ready for that again.
You made me smile this morning, Dr. Newton. In part because your remarks are touching, but also because I can identify – I, too, have a pet and a partner, and another who is both. But what are you doing posting at 6 am? When do you sleep?
Sleep is a priority and I get 8 to 9 hours a night! I figure if I’m going to do all this training and running I have to have good recovery. I’m usually in bed by nine and I get up sometime between five and 630. Today I woke up at 4:45 so I went ahead and got out of bed :-). Worked out well because I didn’t get my post written yesterday and scheduled to go up this morning like I usually do!
I was going to write you a novel comment, but I’m just going to write a blog post instead lol
lol I know exactly what you mean! I’ve done exactly the same thing
Gem is like Farley even down to her response to seeing me. She run off, pees then comes walking back, but I have to meet her half way. She enjoys her work but also enjoys her free time. Some day I’d like to have a Merry Legs. You are lucky to have both!
When you had written that post about gem and how she was shut down when you first got her, it actually also reminded me a lot of Farley. Farley wasn’t quite as bad but it took her several years before her personality started to open up. She got passed around a lot I think in a couple years before I got her.
I smiled, and internally cheered. I may derail off my updating-blog-to-current posts to write on this!
Have you read the book about 5 Element Horse Personality Typing written by a vet named Madeline Ward, DVM? It’s a great book to use when horse shopping and it also helps you do better with understanding your horses’ behavior, athletic potential and nutritional needs. It’s based on the Chinese medicine model. From your description, Farley is a pretty pure Metal type and ML is most likely Fire or Earth. Fire would be better than Earth for endurance.
I loved this post. My two are mixed: Gracie would be happy to just be a pet. But if she’s been ridden recently, the next time we go to the field to get her, she might run around and make us walk up to her (she does let herself be caught even when she does this; she just makes a point of reminding us that it is *her* choice to let us catch her..). If we’ve only been going out for feeding/grooming, she will often meet us at the gate. The type of ride she last had will also determine whether she meets you at the gate or not: this past summer, her and I had had a series of really wonderful rides. Carlos went to get her…and she ran from him. When I stepped into the field, she GALLOPED up to me and stuck her head in the halter!
Lily is more quiet. She loves attention and will meet me at the gate now most of the time (epic for the once herd-bound mare) but she is shyer and more quiet in her ways. She never stops being sweet, but she sulks and can become overreactive if she feels like she doesn’t have a job. (Aka during layups especially.) She doesn’t mind being a pet, but she would most certainly prefer to be a partner.
Mares sure are something. 😉
Love this post topic! I think there is a definite distinction, and while some horses can be both, most good horses are one or the other! I like the compare and contrast you did here 🙂
I also have one of each and have always longed for more connection with my old gal. She’s given me her trust which I try so hard not to break but she’ll never be my affectionate horse. 🙂
I’m weirded out a bit by ML’s (younger horse) need for affection. Shes’s like a golden retriever LOL. I’m used to the working relationship for so long that I sometimes squint my eyes at ML, wondering if she’s going to transform into something not-horse like magical fairy creature.
Great post, thanks!!! 🙂
Interesting reading the contributions of others. From those thoughts, it strikes me that the older horse that is acquired as a mature horse is more likely to be the partner horse, whilst the younger horse acquired as a developing horse is more likely to be the pet horse. However, I wonder about the dynamic of introversion/extroversion too, thinking of Saiph, Liz and Sara describing how they’ve drawn their horses’ personalities out as they’ve become more secure.
Conversely for me, my 25yo horse (acquired as 12yo) is more of a introverted pet and my 6yo horse (acquired as minimally handled 4yo) is more of an extroverted partner. My mare that I lost a 6yo (acquired as a 1yo) was also more of an extroverted partner (also a great friend). The horse I sold as an 9yo (acquired as 2yo) is more an extroverted pet.
I never thought about applying the labels of extroverted and introverted along with pet partner, but it makes a lot of sense. I was talking with another friend and it does seem that horses they get passed around a lot as youngsters end up just looking at the world differently then there pampered counterparts
Yes, perhaps they’ve had to learn an independence to be resilient through the changes they’ve experienced. They can form strong emotional attachments to their ‘herd’ (people and horses in their lives), and I wonder whether the experience of many homes in their early life generates more upheaval than than they’re biologically set up for in a wild herd environment??
Bugsy is definitely a pet. Like ML he always wants to know what I’m doing and if he can help. Not sure on Hazz yet, right now he’s acting more like a partner but he’s also still learning that actually people are okay. My mare was a partner, she tolerated my fussing and didn’t dislike being loved on but was also content to hang out on her own. Interesting concept.