Horsing around

A few months ago, we discovered a new park not too far from our house. It’s an old manor house that is falling into ruins. There are very few people there, lots of open space and a loop trail that’s exactly the right length for tiring out Spencer without him getting overtired. They keep horses and donkeys there, which provides us with a great opportunity for working on Spencer’s fears.

Even though they’re much smaller, he seems to be much more afraid of the donkeys then the horses. Probably because of this guy:

A donkey we met on a walkLast year when we were on vacation, we were hiking to a lake and passed in front of the field where this donkey was pastured. Donkeys are really social creatures, so being pastured all alone would have been pretty lonely for him. (There was a bull in the next field, but he wasn’t very chatty.) When the donkey saw us coming down the path, he got all excited and came walking quickly to say hi. The path we were on was raised relative to the field, so when he stuck his head over the fence, it was right at our feet. Spencer completely panicked. He started barking frantically, and I have never in my entire life heard a bark sound so much like an imploring cry. When I finally managed to get Spencer away from there, he was trembling from head to toe. (Greg went on to the lake while I calmed Spencer. Here’s one of the pictures he took.)

A beautiful lake on the Aubrac plateauAnyway, so the loop path goes right past the donkeys. Today, Spencer needed to back off a few times and gather his courage before we could scurry past them.

The horses were in the same paddock with the donkeys, but at the other end. A dirt road runs alongside the paddock, and just were the horses were feeding, there’s a little clearing on the opposite side of the road. To my surprise, Spencer didn’t just stop to look calmly at the horses; he sat down and asked for treats. He kept sneaking looks over his shoulder at the horses. Then he laid down voluntarily! Since he was so relaxed, I sent down next to him, and we hung out there. Just when I decided to take out my phone and film this incredible event, he decided it was time to leave and got up. So no video for you, but hopefully we’ll be able to that again soon.

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