Kaleb arrived in August. He is an Arab, bay gelding, and is 14 years old. He has a youthful energy, and is very social. He also has a strong Don Juan/lover sub-personality! He has a history of living at the bottom of the pecking order. So, we predicted he would calmly, and easily integrate into the herd. Not so! It is now mid-October, and Kaleb is still persisting in his negotiation of a place in the herd that is more multi-sided than the bottom spot!
He began by befriending Landor, who immediately connected with Kaleb. My guess is that they are very similar in personality. However, as soon as a mare was added to the mix, Kaleb rejected Landor. Landor was very hurt by this. I ended up adding a mare pasture mate to each field, which did result in mostly friendly socializing across the fence. Despite this, it was evident that the age difference between Kaleb and Landor means they have different needs. Kaleb would not be staying in the geriatric pasture.
Once Kaleb entered Vienna’s pasture, the dynamics became even more complex. Vienna was not in the herd for the first week, so Bandit did his best to lead the herd. Nevertheless, Kaleb did not back down. Bandit was quite exhausted by the time Vienna re-entered the herd. The first week or so, Kaleb hung out with Kara, standing a small distance from the rest of the herd. Sweetie Pie would join the pair once in a while. I wondered if the herd was splitting, and we would end up with two separate mini-herds.
The next big event was Vienna falling in love with Kaleb. I even found them making out behind a bush one day! She walked around with loving, dreamy eyes for some time. I wondered if she perhaps no longer wanted to lead the herd. Love is very distracting! Luckily, she is back to her usual self and holding the matriarch role as only she knows how – with utter competence.
Quite quickly, Kaleb experimented with pushing Chunky and Spicy around. He has never lived with miniatures before. Sometimes he was successful in moving one of them off of their hay. This dynamic continues. Bandit chased Kaleb at any opportunity, and still does a lot of chasing. However, just this last week, I actually witnessed the two boys hanging out quietly – not too close of course. I do hope one day they will be buddies. Kaleb’s gentleness is a good fit for Bandit’s high sensitivity. When in the arena working, Kaleb pushes Joey around. He is still learning that we do group work, as opposed to what he is used to – one on one work with a human.
Watching these dynamics creates some anxiety in me. The challenging thing with change is not knowing what the outcome will be. And, for many of us, we fear that there will be no place for us. As Kaleb’s negotiations continue, I am reminded that the anxiety is unnecessary. Kaleb is showing us that we all belong. It is not our ‘right to belong’ that is up for negotiation – our birth alone gives us a right to belong. He is demonstrating that we get to negotiate HOW we belong. I think we humans forget this. We have a lot of choice in how we are going to fill out our lives. There are a lot of ways to live.
Kaleb has decided he no longer wants the simplicity of being at the bottom of the pecking order. He wants to know what his life is like when he expresses more of the different dimensions of his personality. He wants to know what the outcome will be when he shows more of his personality on a daily basis. He wants to be an active member of a group, who sometimes follows and sometimes leads. I look forward to watching what role he, in the end, settles into. I look forward to seeing the full expression of Kaleb in whatever form he chooses.
How do you choose to belong within the relationships that make up your life?