Monday, December 17, 2007

"I Know My Name, And It Is ARGUS"

Another night of cold rain, another night of worrying about the thin, nervous gray Thoroughbred.

Argus will now stand inside the stall to eat his grain. He will walk inside the stall to see what is going on in the barn. With four young children at Watermark Farm, there is almost always something exciting happening. He is getting used to the joyful shrieks of kids and the comings and goings of nine other horses.

He put his head and neck inside the stall last night, out of the rain. Progress.

But the rest of him is cold, wet and bedraggled-looking this morning, and I try not to feel sorry for him. He is eager for the now-familiar circling of the blue rubber curry that he likes so much.

He is also eager for his morning grain.

But I am frustrated. After 10 days, it is getting harder to approach Argus in the pen, not easier. Then, I remember the three PMU mares (who were only half tame) that I fostered in 2005. They were friendly the first week, and hated me the next.

And then I remember the feral Belgian draft gelding who came to live here. Same thing. Friendly during that first "I-am-in-shock-what-the-hell-happened-to-me" week.
Week Two: Angry.

And then I remember our short-lived stint as human foster parents (we fell in love with and adopted our only two foster children). Week One: The Honeymoon. Week Two: We Hate You And Wish You Were Dead.

I adopt my little old lady stance this morning, inching closer and closer. Argus reaches for my hat with his muzzle and breathes softly down my neck with his warm breath. He sighs deeply, then moves away.

We try it again. He moves away, trotting past me quickly.

A third try. I speak softly. This time Argus stands quietly, waiting. I reach his side and gently work my fingers across his chest (his favorite scratching spot) to his shoulders and neck, then up to his mane, where I work my way down to his withers for a "friendship" rub. He takes another deep breath, and closes his eyes for a moment.

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Argus is funny. He is afraid of swishy-sounding jackets and corduroy pants. He is not afraid of wheelbarrows or manure rakes, or even the sound of velcro. He does not like it when I wear a baseball hat ---- he prefers the black wool watch cap.

Argus is terrified of horse blankets being put on or near him, but will stand licking the salt off the one laying over his paddock fence ("densensitization") for hours while I am watching in secret from the house.
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Nobody liked the name Argus when Argus arrived. "Argus!?!" they would say, as if something bitter had crossed their tongue. I did not like it either. But try as I might, I could not bring myself to give him a different name. We tried similar names: Seamus, Marcus, August.

Nothing.

He did not know his name, so what harm could come from re-naming him? Can you believe that? After 16 years of being Argus, Argus did not know he had his very own name.

I call him by his name all day long. In the barn, from the house, from the back of the horse I am riding in the arena next to his pen. "Argies!!" I call out when I drive up, and "Hello, Argus!" as I clean stalls. His eyes brighten. He knows his name. It took him just one week to learn that he has a name, and his name is Argus.

3 comments:

horsesandhounds said...

I like the name Argus. It sounds like a strong name. Argus is of Greek origin, and its meaning is vigilant guardian. Look it up, it's in Greek Mythology.

horsesandhounds said...
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horsesandhounds said...

I'm slowly reading your whole blog today, looks like someone already gave you the meaning. BTW, Argies as a barn name is cute!