For most of the time that I've owned him, whenever I've gone out to his paddock, Cisco has left whatever he's doing and come to meet me near the gate. I wasn't sure if this would continue after I started riding him, but it has.
Phantom makes me work for it. She doesn't walk away, and always seems happy to see me when I get out to her, but she's not leaving her pile of food or coming out of the shelter unless she thinks there's a possibility of receiving something yummy.
Until recently, that is.
Over the last few months she has been making an effort to come to me. Not all the time, but often. Usually talking to me as she approaches.
It's probably because she isn't getting ridden a whole lot and she usually comes in and gets fed and put back out.
It started this winter when she was in the paddock next to Cisco. Phantom would see me when I went out to catch him and vocally remind me of her presence. She would get brought in for her dinner when he got turned out again. So I think she figured out the routine and knew that when Cisco returned her dinnertime was imminent, and she started coming to me when I went out to get her.
Not always, of course. It still has to be her idea.
Now that they are living in the same paddock, whenever I go out to grab her, Cisco thinks I'm there to grab him. He'll meet me at the gate, follow me across to where Phantom is, then stay on my left side as I lead Phantom on the right back to the gate (which pisses her off because once the halter is on I belong to her and she doesn't like any other horses around me).
Over the last few weeks Phantom has been walking towards me when I call her. She's not putting in more effort than it requires, so eager beaver Cisco still has time to get to me before she does. I said to someone recently that I'm waiting for them to start racing each other to be the first to get to me.
On Wednesday night this week, Phantom was positioned mid-way along the fence line opposite the gate, and Cisco was in the far corner. My plan was to bring them in one at a time for the birthday treats because the gate is in an awkward position to bring two horses through. Whoever came first would get brought in first.
Phantom saw me and started walking. Slowly, but deliberately. Cisco stayed in the corner - very much not his habit. Odd, but whatever.
When Phantom was about halfway to the gate, Cisco picked his head up, and took off at a huge trot, passing Phantom (who didn't change her pace at all) and presented himself in front of me.
So I guess there is now a race to see who gets to come in first. I can't wait to see if Phantom decides to enter the competition!
(As I was walking out there I thought about videoing going out to get the horses just in case this happened. But no, it wasn't going to happen, it was totally hypothetical, so I didn't. Dammit!)