Luc’s love is fickle and totally dependant on when the last time you fed him a treat was. But I’ve always felt I was a little more special to him than just the average carrot-wielding human. After all, I have known him since the day he was born. Even his owner often jokes he loves me more than her – which is completely not true by the way, but is still nice to hear.
It all stems from when Luc was a foal, and I was his playmate. He would chase me around the field in a one-sided game of tag. I don’t recommend it. While it may seem cute when they’re little, it ultimately results in a horse like Luc, who as loveable as he is, has absolutely zero concept of personal space. He thinks nothing of molesting everyone that comes within a 10 foot radius of him, patting them down to see if they’re packing. He’s not above stuffing his over-sized nose into tiny-sized pockets, shoving his head into intimate areas, or even trying to unzip your coat in his single minded search for edible delights.
He will lavish love on anyone who has ever fed him even the slightest morsel, which is pretty much every single person who has ever met him, because no one seems to be able to say no to his adorableness. But that love only lasts as long as the treats in your hand, and then it’s see ya, sayonara! There are two exceptions to that rule, his owner (my sister) and me.
While his affection for me has resulted in being slimed more times than I can count (he’s particularly fond of leaving green and brown streaks across my chest), it also has its advantages. Luc learned to walk and trot under saddle by following me. I would walk or run ahead of him while my sister gave the appropriate voice and leg cues, and he would follow along like a puppy. Instead of a carrot on a stick, it was me. I did draw the line at teaching him to canter that way. I despise running and tend to go upward instead of forward like a deranged rabbit, and I was pretty sure I would get trampled before I ever got even a step of canter out of Luc.
The other big advantage is the way he can melt your heart with a simple gesture, like meeting you at the gate, ruffling your hair with his hay breath, or nickering when you get off. That last one has always been my favourite. There is nothing like hearing your horse nickering for you to brighten any day.
Of course the nickers aren’t always guaranteed. When my sister first started him under saddle, Luc would nicker every single time she got off, but as she started to demand more of him, the nickers became more infrequent. My first five rides back, I got nickers when I got off, and truth be told, it was the highlight of my rides. I assumed that I would continue to bask in his noisy love until I started to demand more than just lazily working in circles. But my last ride he broke my fragile human heart. He didn’t nicker when I got off, and it’s certainly not because I actually made him work.
Now it could have something to do with the fact that it was just one of those blah days. He’d been working in the outside ring all week, but of course on my day to ride it was raining, so we were relegated to the indoor arena. I was feeling unmotivated and he was feeling mopey that he had to work inside. Couple that with the fact that there was a lot going on both in the barn and during our ride, and I didn’t exactly have the optimal conditions to earn a nicker.
Yes, I know it’s a little silly for a grown woman to be this upset over what’s really a non-issue. Luc was after all a very good boy during our ride, and that should be what’s most important. But I was still more than a little sad for the rest of the day and am secretly hoping that next week the nickers resume. Maybe if I start feeding him treats as soon as I get off I’ll have better luck. I have never been above bribery!