Romy, thx for the thread links. I just got started reading the discussions under control, and I'm thrilled to find people having heartfelt (and intelligent!) wonderings and conversations about this.
Thank you everyone! I'm also excited to hear about the Paddock Paradise book- I will be ordering it. I read Natural Hoofcare a decade ago, and found his discussion of natural horsekeeping (and in particular the one ranch in Colorado) inspiring then.
Yes, Bella is a character and a half. I don't know if anyone else sees it, but to me in those pictures there's (as well as her natural curiosity and intelligence) a tightness about her. She's 7 in those, and 11 now. I'll take more pics soon, and I hope she looks different. Yesterday I hung out with her doing not much for a while- the only thing I "did" was the slow arm windmill thing- which she seemed to appreciate, and helped me be aware of how often I make unintentionally and unnecessarily aggressive movements. I also did some energy work and light massage on places that presented. At one point she bent down and gently, and very specifically, licked my earlobe. It was like the most tender kiss. I just about cried. Then later we played with the ball a little for the first time. She ignored it mostly, but did toss it back and forth with me a couple of times, and then made a face like she thought I might be mildly retarded.
We also did a little walking together- I did have a halter on her b/c it felt right at the time, but I focused on always keeping the rope loose, and using my body language for direction. She was happy to follow me for a while, then I think I bored her after awhile (I'm learning!) and her focus shifted to what she really wants to do, which is go for a walk down the road (off the property), which I don't feel safe doing right now. So we ended that, but on the way in I mimicked her steps a little, and found that she was really insecure w/ that. She intimidates the heck out of a lot of people, but I think it's bravado, or aggression out of desperation- insecurity and lack of a good leader. Anyway, overall a good first session I think! We had some fun, and some connection, and I learned a couple of things.