I’m barnsitting this week, and this time I brought Henry along to “camp” with me. A couple days after I wrap up this gig, I get on a plane to head to Europe, so I figured if I want to actually ride him at all before I leave, he needed to come with me. The property has a nice empty pasture in the front that has it’s own little barn, so I thought it would be perfect. Henry can go there and stay separated from the resident herd, and I can ride him in the evenings when I’m done with chores… easy peasy right?
Yeah no. Henry was great when we got there… he was chill, he met the other horses over the fence and seemed 100% disinterested. He sniffed noses with them, declared them to be idiots (as he does), and then walked away to go graze by himself, ignoring them completely. It was a relatively pleasant morning by Texas summer standards (like… only 90 degrees at 10am) so I left him out to graze for a few more hours before I brought everyone in for the afternoon. The herd of Trakehners went to their barn, and Henry went to his.
As soon as I brought him in he decided that he did, in fact, love the other horses, and that he was, in fact, going to die of loneliness over there in the front barn by himself. He never really got frantic or upset, he just… stopped eating. Wouldn’t touch his hay, just stood there looking like clearly I had brought him here specifically for psychological torture. Even though 5 minutes before that, he didn’t even like the other horses. Details. I did get him to eat a flake of alfalfa, to make sure he wasn’t legit dying, but otherwise he just moped around like a real sad sack of horse, staring out the window. I figured he’d get over it. But no, all afternoon he just stood there, hay completely untouched.
I rode him that evening, taking him out to the back pasture for a hack. He was great, and didn’t care about being alone even though we had to pass the other horses to get there. Totally normal and happy Henry. He ate his dinner, I turned him out, and I figured he’d have it figured out by the next day.
Yeah no. We just had a repeat of the first, except this time with screaming. As soon as everybody went in their respective stalls, he just stood there refusing to eat. He even left a few scraps of his breakfast in his tub, which… if you know Henry, that’s relatively apocalyptic. This horse lives and breathes for meal times and never leaves food behind anywhere. Again, he wasn’t spinning or frantic, he was just very clearly unhappy about being segregated and his hunger strike was really worrying me. It’s super hot, the last thing I need is for him to stop eating and drinking. There aren’t anymore open stalls in the other barn, so I couldn’t move him over there, and I figured I was definitely asking for trouble if I moved one of those horses over to where he was. They’re a pretty established herd, so I thought that would have just ended with 6 frantic horses. Henry spent all day fretting over his life, I spent all day fretting over Henry… it was great.
Finally by late afternoon I couldn’t take it anymore, so I threw a hail mary and opted to bring in reinforcements. Yep… I went and got Presto.
And I’m not joking y’all, within 60 freaking seconds of me backing that baby horse down the ramp, Henry was digging into his hay like he was starving. Clearly his hunger strike worked and I played right into his clever plan by bringing his brother to him. The whole time I was driving to get Presto and driving back I was like “This is so ridiculous. What an idiot. I’m literally driving an hour and a half round trip to go pick up a fucking emotional support animal for my horse because he’s sad. Ilovehorses, Ilovehorses, Ilovehorses, Ilovehorses…”
I have to give Presto major props here, too, because he was such a freaking good boy. I got to the barn, loaded him up alone, and he walked right into the trailer with a very happy “OH WOW THIS SEEMS REALLY FUN, WHERE WE GO?” attitude. He rode perfectly well with his face buried in his haynet, and backed very professionally off the trailer at the new place. He looked left, he looked right, and then rudely tried to drag me to the grass. I tossed him into the paddock in front of Henry’s stall, they tried to bite each other, and then Presto settled right down to grazing. The 2yo wins the good behavior gold star for the weekend. I can’t decide if I should be proud of that or embarrassed by it.
As soon as Presto showed up Henry went right back to his normal “I’m so cool I don’t like/need/want any friends” attitude. If Presto got anywhere near Henry’s stall he lunged at him. I don’t even have enough eyerolls in me for that horse. But I rode him again last night and he was good, and he cleaned up his dinner with gusto, and ate lots of hay. I turned them out in the big field at dusk and they ran off together bucking and farting like a couple of real morons.
The moral of this story is that Henry is a rotten animal. I can’t believe he made me go get him his little brother. His 16.1h 2yo emotional support horse. And I can’t believe I DID IT. Who’s the real idiot here?