OK, so I’m kinda eating crow today – many of you gently told me how I could have been much more successful yesterday when introducing Rojo to my mares. (If you missed my debacle, click here)
I must admit that your comments, emails, FB missives and forwards were right on point. I could have done it in a much smarter way.
So, without further ado, here is what I coulda done, shoulda done and woulda done, if I had been a thinking person yesterday.
Clearly, introducing horses on a wet, miserable, muddy day in a pasture full of hills and slippery slopes was a very bad idea. One of my biggest fears, as I was slipperysliding to the barn to breakup the fight, was that one of them was going to pull something apart or fracture a leg on the unpredictable ground.
So, I shoulda not done that.
Another huge mistake was introducing him to the two top mares EVEN THOUGH they had been nose to nose (over the fence) for over a month. I now know that nose to nose is not the same as body to body and they weren’t introduced like I thought they were. From what I could tell, putting Rojo in with them was a mistake on several levels:
1) That was THEIR pasture and he was intruding.
2) I should have introduced him to ONE so that he could have made a friend or understood his rank without having a little henchmare sitting in the wings, ready to step in at any time – which she did.
3) If I had introduced him to Tess alone and first, she would have carved the way for all the other horses to accept him.
I coulda done that part way better…
Mostly, I should have thought the entire episode through a bit better. Especially giving Sam and Tess the reward of eating green grass after they kicked the crap out of Rojo. Of course, I didn’t mean it to be a reward; I just couldn’t think of a better way to separate them fast enough. My bad. I’m sure Tess is very pleased with herself right now…
Today, after I ate my hearty breakfast of humble pie, I went to the barn and created a different plan with a little more forethought…
My first observations was that Rojo seemed OK in his new pasture but he was showing signs of his WATCHING obsession in this new field as well. He needed a friend.
So, upon careful consideration, I chose Remi.
Pros: She is big, can take care of herself, is calm and generally not too mean. She likes most horses and is fairly giving.
Cons: She is big, she has a mean rear strike, kept Bodhi the draft horse in line (which is good and bad) AND, I had Rojo in Remi’s pasture while she was cooling her heels in the mare pasture.
My plan was to put several flakes of choice hay spread around with Rojo. Remi was already anxious to get out of the mare pasture (she doesn’t like them) so I told her that she was going to be sprung any minute. She was happy.
I surveyed the flake placement and felt we were OK for two horses to move around each other peacefully while eating hay and not fighting over any particular stack.
Feeling confident but a bit shaky after yesterday, I haltered Remi (she couldn’t put her face into the halter fast enough). I proceeded to walk her over to her pasture which now contained the interloper, Rojo. *As an aside, they lived across the fence from each other for 3 months – even though that didn’t help at all yesterday, it couldn’t hurt.
I tried not to show any emotion as I let Remi back into her pasture.
She looked at Rojo and went to a pile of food laying where she likes to eat.
Rojo, like the young punk or savant that he might be, immediately left his pile to go to hers. AHHHHHHHGH. I was holding my breath.
Why couldn’t he just let it be?
Anyway, he went to her pile. Remi gave him the “are you kidding me?” look. She lifted her big head and swung it at him.
GET BACK AND EAT YOUR OWN DARN PILE, MISTER.
He didn’t. (I was still holding my breath.)
Remi swung her big head at him again, a bit more violently this time and pinned her ears and stomped her rear leg.
Rojo ever so slightly leaned away from her.
She swung her big ol’ noggin at him for the last time before she was going to let him have it – and he took a step away.
YAYYYYYYYYY! Good girl, Remi!
And so they ate leaning away from each other, but not fighting.
The start of a golden friendship…
IS IT ODD?
Is it odd that the only two branded Mustangs here are now living together?
And, is it odd that I feel horrible that Remi is sitting in the shelter as it rains while Rojo is standing in the rain? There is plenty of room for him in the shelter and she cannot get at him if he goes in there (there is a divider), but he doesn’t know anything about man-made shelters. He has never used one.
I figure that if Remi learned, so will Rojo – eventually. I just have to be calm about it.
I did put food in there…
UPDATE ON HARLEY
Harley is feeling really great, gaining weight and has had his feet trimmed!
Unfortunately, they found a odd spot on his bad eye. The vet is trying a new antibiotic to see if it clears things up. If not, they will test for cancer again. I will keep you posted.
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
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