Freedom is the poster child for separation anxiety. Looking back over my blog posts, I’ve written about this before . . . always with the thought that he is “getting over it.” And he does. Kind of. For awhile. But then the anxiety comes back. When I take Zelda out for a ride I can sometimes hear him in the distance, even though Curly is there with him. I know he doesn’t run the entire time I’m gone, but I wasn’t sure exactly what he did.
A few weeks ago, I got to observe the whole spectrum of behavior.
I had brought my trailer over to let Zelda stand on it. It’s good for her to get used the trailer and not think that every time we get on, we’re going to a hunt. That just gets her amped up.
On that particular morning, there had also been some fence damage — and some shuffling of pasture mates. It’s always disconcerting when you drive up and see three heads looking over a fence . . . when there should be only one! Thank goodness the herd gets along. Based on the scattering of poles (which resembled pick up sticks), Zelda was the culprit. Partially, it’s my fault because I didn’t realize that the electric fence charger had stopped working. Let me put it this way: Zelda was in for a big shock later in the day when I restrung the wire and replaced the unit.
However, while Zelda marinated on the trailer, I fixed the fencing. And watched Freedom.
True to form, he started with a full-blown anxiety response. He called to her. He ran around his pasture. He weaved. And then, he stopped. He came over to see what I was doing. He started to graze. He picked at his hay. I was impressed that he managed to calm himself and hope that it’s a skill he can continue to develop. It probably took about 15 minutes for him to go from a screaming maniac to a reasonably calm horse.
Of course, at 23, I’m not sure he can learn to many new tricks. But it did make me feel better about leaving him and less prone to sedate him. My biggest fear has always been that he will hurt himself when he’s frantic, but even at his worst, he wasn’t that bad.