When it is time to SEPARATE an older horse from its herd. Sad but inevitable. Today was 25 year-old Gwen’s day.






I knew it was coming.  I sensed that her bravado was waning…

You see, Gwen was born here and I’ve known her every moment of her life.  She’s Mama Tess’ first foal.  This year, she will be 25.

Baby Gwendolyn.

GWEN

All of Gwen’s life, she’s been a very athletic, smart, smooth to ride… bully.  Her Mother was lead mare (the kind who only had to turn an ear and the entire herd would stand at attention) and I think being the spoiled baby of the lead mare, has its disadvantages.  For Gwen, there were no consequences for her in the herd (MT would not allow her girl to be reprimanded) so Gwen became a bully.  Heavy handed and aggressive.  She got her way.  Gwen didn’t lift a leg to show a kick warning, she just kicked.  She was that kind of a mare.  Fearless and feared by all.

Last winter, I noticed that Wrigley had moved up and was eating first, instead of Gwen.  This was duly noted because Wrigley is Gwen’s much younger brother, and he has feared her (and revered her) all of his life.  So for Wrigley to leap the line in front of Gwen, that was saying something.

However, there weren’t any fouls committed.  Gwen was in good weight, and often times I’d see them sharing a feeder.  For now, all was good.

During her show years… A fierce competitor but very tough to manage (like her Dam, Mama Tess).

THE HERD

Gwen could live with anyone here (except Annie), and she did.  To be honest, Gwen never had a friend she really liked.  Sure, she’d hang in herds and graze, but no one was her buddy.  I believe this is because she was a ‘dummy foal’.  I think she is autistic.  I think this because she is very, very smart (scary smart), yet she has no friends and never shows affection.  My theory is that being a dummy foal effects them for life.  Not in a physical way, but in an emotional/mental way – like autism effects humans.

Anyway… Gwen has lived with the ponies and Norma.  She’s lived with Finn and BG.  She’s lived with the Stang Gang (Sam, Rojo and Remi), she’s lived with her mother Mama Tess and she’s lived with Wrigley.   She probably liked Bodhi the best… maybe.  She even lived with Annie for a very short time.

But no matter who was her pasturemate, Gwen was always the tough one.  She made the rules.

It took years for her to settle and mature, but when she was around 12, we started riding together and she was so smooth, fearless and smart, I had a great partner.

YESTERDAY

Yesterday, I thought I noticed a limp on her left hind.  I wasn’t sure.

So I kept watching her… and it was real.  She had a swollen hock.  I’m sure Finn, BG or Wrig kicked her.

It bears weight, just swollen.  So, I told her to come to the gate alone (she is amazingly bright), which she did, and I removed her from the group.  I watched as she grazed and ate some green grass.  It hurt, but not too much to keep her from moving around the grass.

We walked to the solo pen (Dalton’s pen) – she knew exactly what I was doing; she practically took herself there on her own.  And to be honest, I think she was relieved.  She got a bucket full of goodies (and bute) and a full feeder of nice hay – with no competition.

This morning, I gave her another medicine laden bucket of goodies plus her hay.  She was moving around better, hardly noticeable.  I gave her another bucket tonight and the swelling was gone.

This is my fav photo of Gwen. It is at the Grass Valley house. I would let her free graze and she always fleeced the apple tree.

DODGED A BULLET… an older horse in a younger herd can be a liability.

We dodged a bullet.  She and I both know it.   All it takes is one kick in the right place, and an older horse goes downhill fast.  I feel lucky that we made it through this round unscathed.

The good news is that I remember all that she was and all that she is.  Gwen knows she doesn’t have to lose face in front of me.  It’s all good.  I have her back.  So, she doesn’t have that despair and sadness that some older horses feel when they are forced to leave the herd.

For now, Gwen will heal quietly while I figure out if there is anyone safe for her to buddy up with now.  She’s next to Dodger and Norma (the oldsters), so that’s good.  On the other side is Missy Miss (not a good choice), Mo (maybe) and Dalton.  I might try Dalton once I know Gwen is healed.

But, if not, being next to all of these horses is probably all she wants.  Gwen was never a real people person – however you say that for horses.  She was never really a horse equine?  Doesn’t make sense.  Basically, she was never a horse who needed other horses to feel good.

So, it’s time for Gwen to move away from the herd, and become one of the oldsters.  And that ‘s just fine.  The oldsters get better food and more attention anyway!

I asked her to get herself to a gate, alone, so I could remove her. She is a good weight, has very little grey hair and eats like, well, a horse… Her teeth are good and she has her Sire’s feet, thank goodness! I think Gwen will be solid for a long time…

 



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