My horse Ōhiʻa was an orphan. They grafted him onto his half-sister’s dam, but I contend that having to compete made him just the tiniest bit neurotic. He is a tail chewer – not his own tail, but any pasture mate has to keep their hind end away from his mouth to avoid a haircut. He is a weaver, but only if you are late with dinner (very bad habit, I know). He stands with his tongue sticking out of the side of his mouth, which is intensely goofy on a horse. And any time I give him attention, he tries to give me some back.
Horses will often scratch each other with their cheek bones or even their teeth. You’ll see a couple of horse standing nose to arse with their heads on each other’s backs. They are helping each other stay fly free – if my head is on your back – the flies can’t land on you, and your tail swishes the flies from my face (and vice versa).
Well, when Ōhiʻa decides one good back scratch deserves another, he just about bowls me over. He puts his head over my shoulder and attempts to scratch away. He really gets into to it, too, putting some of that weaving action into it. I figure he is expressing his affection for his human mom, so I brace myself and bear with it while vigorously scratching his neck and back.
Elvis is just as pushy, but he tends to just tilt his head up, press as close as he can through bars (I have learned my lesson with the ram and don’t go in anywhere without something between us), and half close his eyes to better concentrate on the chin scratches.
The ewes and wethers are a bit more reticent, but once they realize there is no wormer, syringe, or clippers in evidence, they press in for their chin scratches. They are so noisy. The only one not hollering away is the one currently getting his/her affection for the day.
Crazy Horse Gib needs sneaking up on. You need to walk in, not looking at him, pretending that you are working on something else. Then you can slowly reach your hand out to his neck and give him a quick pat. If he is in the right mood, and if you make a big enough fuss over Ōhiʻa, you will sometimes feel his nose make a quick poke at your back, which means if you are slow and measured in your movement, you can approach him and give him a good dose of affection. He is so nuts, he’ll forget tomorrow what you did today, but at least you did it. Poor horse.
Nani, the defective cat, will not cuddle (hence the defective label) but she will deign to let you pet her under the hanging laundry, but only if you have to stretch your arms to get her, and only if you then let her roll over and pretend disembowel you with her hind legs. I am sorry, Eldest Daughter, but your cat really, truly is defective.
The budgie gets his love in the form of me singing to him in the morning and making inane bird whistles at him. I wonder what I am saying, because he is sure intent on answering back.