The way I heard it told, when Sugar was imported from Holland she was given the name barn name “Sugar” because she was a big sweetie and because her registered name, Obottie, just doesn’t roll off the tongue.
Time after time she’s shown why she she deserved her name, and today was no exception. When I get to the barn and enter her stall she likes to say hello, sniff me up a bit, and lick me. “Kind of like the equine version of “Hello. How was your day? What have you been up to?” She doesn’t like to have her halter put on or her feet picked until we’ve gone through a proper hello. Today when I walked in we went through the normal routine and even after 5 minutes of her licking and me scratching her itchy bits she wasn’t ready to get started. She wanted to keep licking. She licked my hands, then my breeches, then she started licking my jacket and pulling my zipper up and down. I laughed and let her do what she wanted for about 10 minutes.
When I went to pick out her feet, she swiveled her head and blocked me, eyeing me sideways. I tried to approach from the other side, and her head swiveled around to block me from that side as well. She wasn’t being aggressive, she was just telling me she wasn’t ready to get down to business yet. Okeydokey, I thought, we can play some more. So I made a move to go back to her left side, and she blocked me, looking almost like a cutting horse with a cow. I moved to the right, and she blocked me again. No pinned ears, no hard eye, just a clear communication that she wanted to mess around. So I played my roll, trying to get around her and letting her block my attempts. I’d feint right and then juke left, and she’d swivel her big ol’ head to keep me at bay. I was laughing like a loon, having a blast just goofing around with her. We must have played like that for close to half an hour.
I was a little tense when I got to the barn, and I think Sug knew it. She’s done things like this before; once when Noah was upset over some things at school she kept him in her stall and licked him silly for about 20 minutes until he was helpless with giggles. Once she was satisfied that he was fine she went back to eating her hay.
We had a nice ride, and a few minutes before we finished I noticed that the children’s pony camp had come in to the viewing room and were pressed up against the window watching the riders. I waved at them, and when I left the ring I stopped and stuck my head into the viewing room and asked if anyone wanted to pet a very sweet horse. Quick as a wink 10 wee ones, probably none of them more than 6 years in age, lined up ready to pet the Sainted Mare.
It was one little girl’s birthday, so of course she was first in line. I showed her how to say hi to Sug, with her hand held out, palm up as if she were giving Sug a treat. I told her that Sug likes to give kisses, so to be prepared to feel a tickle wet tongue. The little girl stepped up and shyly he’d her hand up. Sug’s big head came down and she gently sniffed the little hand, the stuck her tongue out and licked. This elected giggles and ear-to-ear grin. She moved off so the next child could meet Sug, and one by one each little cherub stepped up and was greeted with a kiss. It was simply precious.
Any one of them could have walked under Sug’s belly, they were so small, and Sug must have looked enormous to them. None appeared scared though, and I imagine it was because of how gentle she was with them. When I moved the walk her away she pulled back and turned, putting her head down and making one last sweep of kisses down the lineup of little ones. They giggled, and some even pressed kisses on the velvet nose in front of them.
I was so very proud of her, and amazed all over again at how lucky I am to have such a wonderful creature. My big mare positively made those children’s day, and I’d wager instilled a lasting appreciation for horses in them as well.