(TO READ PREVIOUS RED HORSE DIARIES, CLICK HERE. TO FOLLOW ON FB, CLICK HERE.)
RED HORSE DIARY #6:
“IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME…”
It all started out so innocently…
You see, I felt I needed to move Rojo out of his pasture for several reasons… First, the rain was coming and there isn’t a shelter in his paddock. There are a ton of tress, but no man-made shelter. .
Secondly, he was becoming obsessed. Rojo would not let go of his paranoia that something was going to get him from the wide open spaces beyond his area.
Actually, I couldn’t blame him. He lived out in the wilds of Nevada until recently. So, he did have to look out for bad things all the time… But, I swear to you, he was over the top with this. It got so bad that he wouldn’t even come to the fence for dinner. I had to deliver it to him at his sentinel post up by the top of his command.
Thursday was the clincher. I put Norma in with him to ease his perceived duties and perhaps make him more comfortable. Instead, he ignored her and carried on with his WATCHING obsession. To make matter worse, when I did deliver his dinner at his watching spot, he kinda jumped and acted spooky.
Me: OK. That’s it. I’m moving you. Besides, the rain is coming and you have no shelter.
Rojo: What is ‘shelter’?
Me: Something that makes me feel better when it rains on you. Come with me.
Rojo: Where are we going?
Me: To the barn.
Rojo: GOODY! I love the barn! Food everywhere!
Me: Yup. And you’ll be in there until I can think of a better idea…
FAST FORWARD TWO DAYS…
So, I had Rojo in the barn. He had one stall to wander into as well as the entire aisle to move about. He was happy.
Tess and Sam (the wild one) were just outside the barn in the huge pasture that attaches to the barn. So, both Sam and Tess could rub noses with Rojo and get to know each other before I released them all together. Seemed like a fail-safe plan.
I thought this grouping would be good since Tess is the Boss. No one challenges her. I concluded that for sure Rojo would be smart about Boss mares since he came from a herd run by mares, right? You’d think? And I wasn’t worried about Sam because she had shared a fence with Rojo for a month now and there had been no issue.
OK… so this morning, after 2 days of solid rain and solid Rojo, the barn was a mess. I wanted Rojo out of there. It was time to set him free with Tess and Sam.
The sun was shining a bit. The mares were both eating down in the pasture. Perfect. A gentle union between the two mares and little Rojo.
I had one concern and that was the wet ground… It was slippery so I made sure to move Rojo below the slickest parts and then gave him a flake of hay.
IT ALL SEEMED JUST FINE
Here is a photo journal of my stellar idea to put Rojo in with Tess and Sam…
SO, I WENT INSIDE THE HOUSE…
(of course, I didn’t have a camera during this part…)
All of a sudden, I heard horses shrieking like I’ve never heard before.
I practically killed the cat as I raced to the front door, tripping over him and grabbing my shoes in one ungraceful move. I was out the door and running/sliding towards the barn just as Hubby was emerging from the garage.
“Something bad is happening”, he said observantly.
As I ran to comprehend the scene, I screamed at them so loudly that my voice is hoarse as I write this. Tess was in a full-on showdown with Rojo. Both of them were in the GUNFIGHTER position, too close to each other and too close to the fence. I had visions of my 22 year-old dowager mare slipping and breaking her hip or something equally as horrible.
“OYYYY, STOP NOW, NOOO. NOOOOOOOOO. DON’T YOU DARE! NOOOOOOOO”, I shrieked back at them as I tripped and belly slid into the fence.
Tess is an obedient girl and she knew that I was acting very strangely and that I was very, very angry with her. She knew it was time to be a good girl and walk away – which she did.
But what floored me was that as she passed Sam, who was watching several yards away, it was as if Tess whispered in her ear, “Tag Team, your turn – go get that little soandso!”
In a flash, Sam was on Rojo, kicking and screaming like a banshee! They were so close, their kicks weren’t really going anywhere but they were rapid fire. I wasn’t sure who was kicking who or who insulted who or the pecking order or whatever was the issue and I didn’t care. It just had to stop before one of these previously wild horses was going to fight to the finish of all of us.
I finally got myself up and very violently pointed my finger right at Sam. Sam looked at me and stopped just long enough for Rojo to get into a better retaliation position.
NOOOOOOOOOOO. STOP IT RIGHT NOW! S-T-O-P RIGHT NOW! DON’T YOU DARE MOVE OR I WILL PUMMEL YOU BOTH MYSELF!!
Sam froze in her footsteps.
Rojo looked at me puzzled.
I herded Sam away via the power of my Ninja pointed finger and insane glare. I pointed and yelled and pointed and moved so that she moved along with me inside the fenceline. Our little herding dance got her to the back of the barn. But, like a doofus, Rojo followed her. So, now I had the Rock’em Sock’em Mustangs at the back of the barn.
Oy. I opened the barn gate. I figured Sam would run through and out into the courtyard since she has done this many times when I let them out to eat green grass. Rojo wouldn’t have ever done this before and I just hoped he wouldn’t follow her.
I called to Sam and showed her the open gate. Ohhhhh. The decision was so difficult for her… Should she kick the crap out of Rojo or eat green grass? Sam puffed up to twice her size and glared at Rojo with superbly pinned ears. Then, she made her decision and ran full speed right at me. I opened the gate wide and let her through, shutting it quickly behind her.
Rojo looked at me confused.
I was devastated. Now who would I put in with Rojo? The mares were my best idea so far.
Finally I decided to put the poor ponies and Norma back into the small paddock at the end of the ranch. I put Rojo in Remi’s pasture.
Everyone else will go back where they were.
Is there a moral to this story? Maybe… and that is – Even if you think it will be fine, don’t introduce horses on a very wet day…
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Sometimes we want to get stuff accomplished on our time schedule. You were ready but they were not? They’ll work it out, Rojo needs to figure out where he belongs in this herd. There is a saying about if you have all day it will take a minute, if you have a minute it will take all day?
Okay, first I laughed out loud at your dialog for the horses. Then I have to say that I was impressed that Sam backed down from you. She’s the “untouchable” one so I figured that she wasn’t exactly obedient. Or was it that the sight of your crazed eyes and shrieking voice made her think lightening could be shot from that finger you were pointing? lol I’m glad they are all well.
Yes, you are correct! They had been over the fence line for over a month… Then I moved Rojo into the barn which is nose to nose, basically. They just needed to find the pecking order but I was silly to let them do it on wet, muddy, slippery ground. This morning I have him with Remi and they seem to have hit it off! Yippee!
Oh No Casey, they were making excellent contact! My biggest fear was the slippery slope they were fighting upon and the fact that I didn’t want another vet bill or one of my horses in traction because they slipped the wrong way and wrenched something… I’m not nervous about letting them duke it out, I just didn’t want to have them mud wrestling. Bad idea when horsey adrenalin makes them think the ground will hold.
I have 10 horses that already worked it all out – they can all be together except Rojo. I’m with you on the premise, believe me.
Good luck as I know these things take time…be patient…maybe let them see each other over the fence line? Can you do that where they can greet each other that way before turning them loose together?
gawd Dawn, you’ve gotta let them work it out! Chances of serious damage are so slim. Really. Lots of yelling and kicking, but no one landed a hit? See? And mares always win ….. Let them work it out! It can be scary when they start screeching and thundering around, and with geldings there’s lots of sword fighting and rearing, but ….. they know what they’re doing. Pecking order MUST be established… I deal with it all the time here, and so far (knocking wood frantically) no one has ever been badly injured. Bite marks usually…..that’s it.
Poor Rojo. :-( He probably wanted to be friends but had to defend himself. I wonder if it was Sam that didn’t like him but got Tess to initiate things since she was boss lady?
Don’t despair – this exact thing happened when my Billy http://www.hoofprints.com/billy.html came to live with us. My other two horses, previously too lazy to exert themselves beyond a fast walk to get to taller grass, became fiery steeds in attack mode. Even after weeks of being in adjacent paddocks with only a fence between them, when turned out with Billy, they’d foresake their precious grass in favor of beating him up. He was totally downtrodden to begin with, so it really made them look like a**hole bullies, and I was considering putting dog shock collars on both of them to teach them a lesson in manners with guests.
However, I was derailed from that fantasy by the fact that my previously “bright ideas” have a way of turning out differently than planned – imagining my electified bullies needing years of psycho-therapy to recover, and/or running throug the fence after experience the “shock” of Billy’s newfound super powers.
In the end they finally started leaving him alone, and now the herd is fairly harmonious. But it took months, and it went in fits and starts. Somedays all they did was badger him, other days not at all. If it got too bad I’d separate them, otherwise they worked it out on their own.
Our latest new book “I’m Listening With A Broken Ear” has as it’s central theme a family’s failed efforts to integrate a new rescue dog into their household. There’s an excerpt here about it that made me think of your situation – like you, the author thought it would be fine to put her two dogs together after a short introduction – turns out it was not. http://www.hoofprints.com/animallovers.html
Good luck with your herd!