Horsing around

This horse stepped out angrily at Elsa and she flew backwards at lightning speed.  She stayed behind her Dad for safety.  The owner explained that this one horse was a cranky guy. 

This past weekend we head out to see some possible wedding venues as my youngest daughter just got engaged on Christmas Eve.  My husband and I brought Elsa along, thinking that she would enjoy an outing with us and seeing some sights.  She'd already been out for a huge run with her Dad but we didn't want her sitting at home alone as we didn't know how long we'd be.  So into Dad's big black truck we headed South and then East.  When we arrived at Quail Haven Farm I wondered what Elsa was going to do about the horses.  She has only seen horses from afar and does not know what they are.  She typically howl barks at them until they are long out of sight.  Not knowing what they are of course she is scared of them.  So if the owner the facility was willing we would show her some, up close.

When we pulled up to the Farm, I got out first; introduced myself and asked if it was okay to let Elsa out.  She said "of course," and informed me that her own dogs were inside so Elsa was free to join us.  We had a little tour of the facilities before heading towards the barn.  Before we entered I stopped and asked again; fully explaining that Elsa would surely sound off, that much was a guarantee.  She told me that her horses were accustom to barking dogs and that it was fine.

I took a big breath, relaxed myself and head in.  Elsa sniffed like mad but seeing that had never actually met a horse in person before she didn't know what to look for.  Within minutes she spotted one and sounded the alarm.  She was barking furiously while backing up at the same time.  I never said a word until her bark changed from fearful alarm barking to just excited.  Then we waited a bit more and walked calmly out of the barn.

Dad moved over to some friendlier horses for a meet and greet.  Elsa did calm down and even relaxed enough to give a nice happy wag.   Although she kept one eye glued to the horse.  

She really was interested but scared at the same time.  I don't blame her, they are so big.  

We entered the barn again, this time Elsa was with her Dad so I could get some shots.  They stopped at a not so friendly horse stall first but it didn't take long before he showed his true colors.  He stomped towards barking Elsa with his ears pinned back.  Elsa flew back in fear (appropriately) and they moved onto to the other horses who were not phased by her barking.  At first she was just afraid and barking but quickly she became interested but scared to see the horses. Only moments later the barking was turning to much calmer "there are very big scary things here" barking and she was even wagging.  We did not leave the barn until Elsa had calmed enough to walk out in a relaxed manner.  Allowing her to bolt away out of the barn would have only fueled her fears.  Perhaps we'll get another chance for some horse socializing again sometime soon.  As horses are not a part of our regular life I'm not too too worried about it.

This was a great experience for Elsa.  Seeing how quickly she went from completely scared to very interested in such a short time; I have no doubt that she would get over her "horse thing" with only a couple more visits.  The owner was extremely nice to allow us to bring Elsa in to see the horses.  It was a very controlled situation and the horses were very use to barking dogs. 

Of course if Elsa did get over her "horse thing," I would still not allow her to roam free around them.  Many dogs are kicked in the head and an inexperienced one would have a higher risk of it.  Always better to be safe than sorry. 

Mental stimulation like this is exhausting for dogs.  Much more so than just a run in the park.  She'd also got to meet some dogs after the park and had a run with them (more on them in tomorrow's blog).  She was exhausted Saturday evening, of course she still had a bit of energy left for a few ball tosses before passing out. 

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