So, the pigs.
Oscar and Mabel are the two resident piggies at our barn — Mabel is (I think) a pot belly and Oscar is her son, whose paternity I’m not sure. When we moved in last July, I had no idea we even had pigs. At that point, they were living in the middle barn which, until I started my ‘housekeeping’ services in there, I had no reason to venture into.
They lived in stalls for the winter as it was too cold and, well, wintry for them to be out and about, but come spring, and their doors were flung wide (individually, Oscar hasn’t been…gelded (?) and has inappropriate urges towards his mother) and they were free to roam and do piggy things. Which is absolutely the way it should be — I have serious issues with animals being confined — and why would I imagine that free-roaming pigs could strike such terror in the heart of a certain horse? After all, none of the other horses seemed to have a problem with the wanderings of the pigs.
There aren’t really words to describe his terror. Eyes popping, all a-tremble, frequent and copious pooping. Utter panic.
And that was just spotting them from a distance.
Imagine the trauma of one actually coming into the barn when a poor, defenseless horse was in the cross-ties?!?!?!?
Poor D had to deal with the first incident. And this after her just coming back from her winter away, hoping to settle into some happy Buzz-time.
Surely, I thought, he’ll get over it.
Well, he did.
But not without a great deal of stress and anguish.
Happily, the lovely T, our barn operator, was super supportive and helpful…very understanding of Mr. McSpookpants and offered to leave the piggies in on our riding days. But I just couldn’t bear that thought….the poor things deserve to have their fresh air and sunshine after a long winter indoors. No, the great chickenheart was going to have to suck it up and get over it.
So we did walk-throughs of the middle barn, so he could get used to the smell. I stood with him in the stall next door to Mabel while he trembled and blew his nose and goggled his eyes. We stood and grazed beside Oscar….from a careful distance.
Slowly, ever so slowly, he became less ridiculous in his reactions to them. Then, the moment of truth when Mabel was in the barn snurfling around, cleaning up grain-crumbs and Buzz stood quietly in the cross-ties, with a hind leg resting, just watching. I got some apple treats from his stash and he and Mabel “broke bread” together — a handful for you, then a handful for you — and that seemed to seal the deal.
Sweet blessed relief.
These are the moments when I seriously wonder whether eventing is really the right discipline for him. I mean, really. Aren’t eventers supposed to be stoic and lion-hearted? Aren’t they supposed to be completely unflappable and without qualm?
Then I remember that I’m not exactly the lion-heart I used to be, either.
And that it’s perfectly okay to be not-entirely-brave,every single step of the way.
And whether it’s pigs or open-ended barrels or jump standards in a corner, we’ll get there in the end, braver and stronger for the journey. 🙂