Archive for June, 2010

Two steps forward, one step back

amywink June 18th, 2010

The horses scared me this morning. When I arrived, I couldn’t see Blessing anywhere. Will was standing in the corner, looking as if he was watching something off in the next pasture and I couldn’t see Blessing.

Oh no….

Then, I saw Blessing…..a mound on the ground in the corner.

OH NO!!

Then, as I am getting in the gate as fast as I can, she raises her head and looks over. Will looks over. Two blazes in the shade.

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And I started breathing again. Whew.

And she stood up. Double Whew.

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And really, it’s a good sign of a growing bond, Will watching over his herd partner while she sleeps.

Except, of course, later, when he thought I was giving Blessing too much attention, and maybe a treat:

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Where’s the love, Brother?

Blessing took it in stride and just moved off from Mr. Crabbypants, and went to visit the dogs.

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Slow and steady….

Getting the Hang of Things

amywink June 17th, 2010

My plan continues apace and both horses are getting the hang of things. Today Blessing knew how things were supposed to go, including grazing along the fence with Will.

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I do this as we walk to the standing tree and start out grooming sessions. After Will gets all spiffy (and relaxed), it’s Blessing’s turn and today she knew it, trotting over to the gate when I came with her halter. She had watched as I groomed Will and I told her that Will could pick up all of his feet–and darn it, if she didn’t do better today picking up her feet! Maybe there’s something to this sibling rivalry! :)

She has learned to stand stead at the tree very well too, though she’s not quite as good as her brother:

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After our grooming, she goes back in her pasture, and I walk Will back down to his pasture make sure he’s had enough attention before playing with Blessing. He’s stayed closer today too, with no over-the-fence antics.

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Blessing seems to be enjoying our time together quite a bit, especially the camera:img_6213.jpgimg_6216.jpg

Today, I also work a nice floppy hat and she really liked nibbling the rim–no photos of that because she was just too close. But at least she wasn’t scared by it, just curious. She is enjoying out time in the pasture together and she does follow me around, particularly if I move off to see Will. But she’s independent enough to comfortably walk away and graze–until I do something interesting!img_6217.jpg

Spending time with her, I remember my time with Will when we were bonding, almost 6 years ago. She’s much calmer, but equally curious. Her brother is an emotional horse (as his recent temper tantrums illustrate) and so far, I’m waiting to see whether that’s true of her as well. So far, she’s steady and curious and happy.

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And relaxing in her new home.

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Learning to Be Together

amywink June 16th, 2010

So by Day 4, Wednesday, Will has settled in nicely to the morning pattern and is a VERY good boy. Quiet, steady, and sleeping while being groomed. I made sure to spend a lot of good, quiet time with him before bringing Blessing into the mix. She was excited to get into a routine as well and after I finished with Will, she had her chance at the tree and a nice grooming session.

This is as far away as I felt comfortable moving, since she’s just learning the tree but it is both of them there together:

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Currently, the morning routine involves getting Will from the pasture, giving him some attention and a nice grooming, then bringing Blessing out for her grooming. She goes back to her pasture first after some hand grazing time, then Will gets some hand grazing time, and back to his pasture. Then I hang out a while with Blessing. So far, so good.

After we finished, she was eager for me to come play with her:

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Yesterday Will moved off quickly, but he hung around today, even moving closer to the fence once I’d gone in with Blessing:

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He seems to be adjusting well and getting more comfortable–less huffy–about my spending time with her. She is quite the curious girl and finds the camera fascinating. This makes it slightly difficult to get a good photo since she keeps moving closer once I get ready to take a shot:

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But she is learning to pose briefly:

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I did manage to get two separate shots that almost look like carbon copies.

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So far, everything continues to go smoothly in the new plan. And Blessing is learning to enjoy cookies.

I hope to keep this up for the next two weeks, and then we’ll move forward from there. Slow and steady wins the race.

Tough Love

amywink June 16th, 2010

Sunday, after we drove, we separated Will from Popeye and Windy. His episodes on Saturday necessitated quick and specific action. After doing a bit of research, and considering Will’s issues and personality, I determined to use his current desperation to be with other horses to our advantage in creating a bond with Blessing. We removed the current objects of his affections, Popeye and Windy, to the back pasture, out of sight and hearing, and left him in his own pasture.

Alone.

His pasture is next to Blessing’s so she is now the only horse he can see. If he wants to be in a herd, she’s it.

Naturally, he became hysterical. Calling, bucking, snorting, racing along the fenceline as Lisa walked Windy and Popeye (who could not care less) to the other pasture. He put on quite the show–except he was kind of tired from Saturday and we’d just had a long drive, so after the first fit, he mostly he ended up doing little bunny bucks, tossing his head a lot, and calling.

Blessing watched him, clearly thinking “what is wrong with that horse?” Since he’d made himself clear about coming close on Saturday, she stayed far away. Which, of course, became a problem for him since he wanted to be with someone. Should have thought about that sooner, buddy, before you chased her so hard!

And we left them that way. Will alone, Blessing next door. And I didn’t visit for 24 hours.

By Tuesday morning, Will was a reformed horse. He was very glad to see me on and came right up to the gate when he saw my car coming down the road. He stood for his haltering, made no effort to balk or resist, sniffed Blessing pleasantly over the fence, and made his way to the standing tree, where he had a nice calm grooming session with me. Then I brought Blessing out–she had followed along the fenceline and had stood watching me groom him–and she got to learn to stand at the tree.

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Note Will’s sleeping while Blessing sneezes all over the place.

I also managed to get a photo of her “kitty milk chin” in the process.

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She did very well in her grooming session and went back into her pasture happily. I made sure everyone got a alfalfa cube before we finished our “together time”. And we had a nice nose touching over the fence (and winter blanket that is still drying). The early morning light makes the backlight a problem here:

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We had a little butt-biting, kicking, half-hearted rearing incident that I broke up with a harsh word. Both horses seemed to take me very seriously and moved off. Guess making Will be all alone has quite the impression and Blessing is not interested in seeing what happens if she challenges me. Smart girl!

Then it was just time in the pasture with each of them.

Will looked stunning in the morning light:

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And did his best to create a postcard image in the pasture:

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He seems to be surviving the Tough Love and also remembering he can be an independent horse.

Blessing decided to see if she could redecorate her newly brushed mane and tail with a good roll.

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Ah, mission accomplished:

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Trouble in Paradise, Part 2

amywink June 14th, 2010

So, once we arrived home from our long day at Agarita, we decided to introduce the rest of the herd to Blessing. She’d been with Popeye for a week, in a pasture alongside Will and Windy. Everyone was very tired so it was very peaceful–at first. Blessing was very excited to see her brother up close. I can’t help thinking she knows they look alike!

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All looked very peaceful.

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But Will was lying, and he eventually had it and started off after Blessing, in a very aggressive and determined effort to make sure she knew she was at the Complete Bottom of The Herd Order:

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He chased her hard and eventually forced her into the far corner of the pasture. I went in and retrieved him and Lisa retrieved Blessing.

Will spent the rest of the evening in Time Out, standing on the tree first, then in the stall overnight, separate from the herd. And Blessing went out with Popeye and Windy for an uneventful evening out.

I did not sleep well that night and I spent a lot of time determining a plan of action to deal with this turn of events. Even though I knew this was a natural process and part of herd dynamics that’s often unsettling to the humans involved, I also wanted to manage the relationship between Blessing and Will and see what we could do to ease the introductions so neither horse would be injured.

At this point, I could easily see Will developing a determined animosity toward Blessing, making our eventual pair plans more complicated. He can be (and has been) a jerk to other horses in the past. So, how to mitigate his worst jerk-itude, use his current herd-bound issues to our advantage, and create at least, an indifference between he and his sister, at most, a good bond that would make create an effective partnership

So, time for tough love. Stay tuned.

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