Sept. 2004 -- The horses come home
September 29, 2004
My little blue horse arrived tonight. He was excited, but not spooky. Very curious. We put him in his stall, but he was so interested in the paddock, that we let him explore. He had been around electric wire before, but not electric tape. He got the connection quick (literally!) when he touched it with his nose.
Jay and I chatted with Sue, his former owner for a bit while he settled. Sort of. After Sue left, I fully intended to put him back in his stall, but he really didn't want to go there -- even for dinner! Yes, I could have put his halter on and required him to go in his stall, but I decided it wouldn't do him any harm to let him settle at his own pace. Horses can get very claustrophobic, so I decided that in this first night in his new home, he might relax more quickly if he didn't feel confined.
I put his dinner in his stall, but when he showed no signs of going in to get it, I took his hay out and left it in the paddock for him. I checked on him several times. He stayed near the back of the paddock -- away from the fence that bit him, and the barn that could potentially "capture" him.
September 30, 2004
Poor Blue is so scared. Sweet boy.
This morning I haltered him (with little fuss, though he's more on edge now than he was last night), and took him into the stall to eat his breakfast. He ate hungrily, but didn't stop moving and looking out. He *really* didn't want to be in there. He's listening, listening, listening, trying to identify all the new sounds. I expect he's hoping for horse sounds too.
After I picked out the paddock, I let him out of his stall, and put the remainder of his hay and his water bucket in the middle of the paddock. I didn't plan to baby him for long, but I could be solicitous until the girls got here in the afternoon.
Later in the morning, I went out and took some photos...
Around lunch I grabbed an empty water bottle and some grain and went to visit Blue for his very first clicker lesson! I'm so excited -- it's my first time clicking a horse. I held out the bottle, and when he touched it with his nose, I clicked (with my mouth), and then gave him a tiny bit of grain. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
He did fabulously, especially since we were standing in the middle of the paddock, and he was still super-sensitive to every sound in the environment. We got lots of reps on both sides, and a few higher and lower ones. I may use this to teach "head down." Dunno yet.
He wasn't pushy. (What a lovely boy.) Initially my plan was to feed sort of near his chest, so he would have to take a step back to get his treat. He really wasn't in my space, though, so many of the treats were at arm's length just to feed to his mouth. Twice he nosed into my pockets. Nothing aggressive... just a little curious. Both times I distracted him with the bottle and got him to target, which got him the treat he wanted.
During this session he seemed to relax a bt and become a little more confident. And that was just one session! Wow. He followed me around the paddock and much closer to the barn, and when I put out a little hay near the barn, he was perfectly happy to go eat it.
The girls arrived in the middle of the afternoon. Blue was thrilled. After they were unloaded, Rachel and I let them into the paddock. Initially, I put Blue in the grass part of the paddock to give Guinevere and Quincy a chance to look around, but we quickly decided to let them meet and greet.
This was really the first meeting for all three horses. Guinevere and Quincy had lived in separate areas at Rachel's barn. So in theory they were coming in on equal footing. Queen Quincy let it be known from the beginning that once a ruler, always a ruler. Fortunately, Blue and Guinevere were happy enough to go along with that.
Guinevere settled in with no fuss. She wasn't bothered by Quincy's posturing and was only mildly irritated by Blue's fawning. When we gave them all access to the grass (for half an hour), she dug right in to the feast.
After Rachel left, I brought everyone back into the mudless part of the paddock. Guinevere was feeling good. It was fun to watch her buck and canter around the paddock. She was also happy to come up to the gate to lip some grain out of my hand.
In a way I feel sorry for Quincy. She's so food obsessed that she doesn't really make friends -- they would get too close to her food. That seems really lonely. I'm going to work on teaching her some tolerance. Maybe she'll even make a friend.
I left them to get acquainted for a while, but went out to get some pictures before I lost my light.
List and Site Owner: Melissa Alexander, mca @ clickersolutions.com