Last night, we took Lena and Forrest down to the arena. Mostly because I'd already worked Bar, but also because I erred on the side of NOT putting two Thoroughbreds together immediately. Other horses have always been a trigger for Bar, so I didn't want to freak out the new horse with big brown horse explosions.
As it turns out, I worried for naught--the boys did just fine. Better than fine, actually. Bar started in the round pen, working out cold-weather kinks. Forrest and Katie worked over obstacles while Steve observed what could have been incipient chaos.
Bar was calm and focused on his work, giving a balanced canter and varying is speed on command. Forrest was attentive to Katie, though still wouldn't cross poles on the ground one direction even though he'd cross them going the other direction.
Then we switched, and Bar worked over obstacles despite oddly syncopated rhythms coming from Forrest in the round pen. Normally, disturbances of that sort send Bar into at least a freeze while he figures things out, and usually a larger-than-necessary up-down-sideways maneuver.
It was like he knew he had to be the grown-up, the steady pony horse on the track, the calming influence. My horse? My crazy, bouncy, ginormous moving, brown horse? Yup, he said. That youngster needs me.
Forrest watched Bar go over the poles the "wrong" way, and then proceeded to navigate them with Katie. He had watched Lena yesterday, but hadn't copied her.
Somehow Bar was a different nut. Well, I know he's a different nut, but apparently Forrest thought he was an okay leader.
The camera we had wouldn't take pictures in the indoor arena--it's lit, but not enough anymore after the time change. Otherwise, you would see pictures of the Thoroughbred mind-meld. Bar and Forrest--forehead to forehead, passing unknown secrets to one another. Not really sure I want to know, but I do wish I had pictures.
After that, Forrest proceeded to very thoroughly--much to Bar's discomfort finally--sniff and snuffle the big, brown horse. Interestingly enough, Forrest went right to the bowed tendon. Then the girth and flank. The look on Bar's face was priceless--ears back towards Forrest, but not pinned, looking down at me as if to say, "What on earth is he doing??!!" Finally, he had enough and moved away, but never kicked or struck or even squealed.
Katie and I were both very proud of our horses, and came up with several theories about the interesting behavior. Has Forrest ever really been close to a lot of other horses? Any other geldings, or only mares? For that matter, had Bar before he came to live with us?
I did have to reassure Bar that I was still his human and wasn't dumping him for the new, flashy kid on the block. As cute as Forrest is, he is Katie's and she is his. And Bar is most definitely my partner in this horse journey.