At first, I thought he was still mad at me. Mad about all the flexing, the heavy hands.
It started when I got to the stables. The ground of the paddock area where Cibolo runs (with a grouchy arabian and a lanky thoroughbred) was a horrid mucky mess thanks to the rain we've had for the last week. I walked out as usual and generally he'll either walk to me, or stand for me. This time he avoided me.
I was stunned. Not just because he was heading out like that, but the way he acted was so strange. It was "stand offish", exactly what they had told me about him.
Since it was a muddy mess I wasn't about to make him run like I normally would with a horse avoiding me in a field. I found he did let me direct him, so I waved him into the barn area.
Still he wouldn't let me even pet him. Talk about holding a grudge, I thought.
I got some feed, some cookies, bribing him a bit. He took them from the greatest distance possible, but his attitude was just terrible. After a while I even dropped the rope to make it clear I wasn't going to "catch him."
It was raining, so all I'd planned on doing was spending some time with him. But this threw me for a loop. I sat down for a bit and he kept a distance, not looking at me at all. Was this the standoffish horse they talked about? Was our last flex-a-thon that bad?
After a while in the barn aisle, I waved him into a stall since I wanted to keep him out of the muck. I stood outside his stall, wondering what had happened to my Bo, feeling a little sad. I looked down and I saw it. One of his shoes was coming off. (I took pictures, but I'm a little too tired to download. I'll get them up tomorrow)
"Cibolo! Your shoe! That's terrible," I said, walking into the stall.
Right then something weird happened. He didn't avoid me like he had been, but was just a little wary. He let me move around to his side actually touching him and check his hoof. The shoe had slid on the hoof but was firmly attached somehow. It's as if it was slipped back to the middle, like to the ball of the foot if he had a foot instead of a hoof, and his toes were completely shoe free.
When I stood back up I saw something else. A big fat scrape right at the round part of his jowl as if he had banged the mess out of it on something! Banged it hard.
"Oh no, Cibolo! What happened to you?" I said as I checked it.
Everything changed in the moment. I don't know how to explain it, but his energy and demeanor changed. He softened, trusted. He didn't avoid me. He met my gaze. He let me doctor him, rub him, check him over. He had a good size bite on a hip too, and I guess he'd knocked himself hard on the jaw during some nonsense in the paddock. It was a serious scrape and it must have hurt terribly. He asked for his favorite rub (circles on the jowl, which I did carefully), and rested his nose on my leg.
By the time I left, he was carefully putting his head over the stall door towards me, reaching towards me but careful not to bump his jaw. Just like always.
It was an incredible experience. I hadn't been aggressive, or angry, mostly just confused and a little irritated. But when I realized he was hurt, he changed his attitude.
I'm still a somewhat stunned by the whole thing...