Karen Pryor And Tonka

By Terry Golson

Today, Karen Pryor and I went on our annual autumnal outing to apple orchards. We buy this and that, what catches our fancy. This year both of us couldn’t resist the five varieties of plums grown at Westward Orchards, nor the delicata squash, still with dirt on them, from Carlson Orchards. There was also tomato and cranberry salsa for me, and strawberry jam for Karen.

The farmstands that I picked to go to where right near where I keep Tonka. Of course we stopped in to say hello.

I recently wrote about how aloof Tonka is, and how even if he likes you, he can be subtle in how he expresses that.

It was raining, so Karen stayed in the cozy tack room while I got my horse from his paddock. I led him into the barn and put him in cross-ties. He was his usual low-key self.

And then Karen walked down the aisle towards him. He arched his neck, which was unusual in itself, and then he did something he rarely does – Tonka leaned forward into the ties to get closer to Karen. Tonka clearly said, This person is fascinating!

Karen didn’t feed him, or even pet him, and yet Tonka was immediately smitten. Tonka has only met Karen a couple of times, only a few minutes in total, so he doesn’t have a relationship with her. What was he responding to?

Karen’s body language. Which was subtle. But when she approaches an animal, she’s all there, attentive, and asking questions. Hello. Can I approach? Now? What do you have to say for yourself?

If you don’t know to look for it, you wouldn’t see it.

But the animals do.

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