Saturday, December 27, 2008

Introduction - Part 4 (Meet the Herd)

Before I go any further, I should introduce you to the herd at Traci's. I don't have pictures of Windsor "The Old Man"...he's too scary looking to take pictures of. He's a 30+ year old Quarter Horse that is so gray he looks like an Appaloosa. He has almost no teeth. He's a literal bag of bones. And he HATES Olliver. Olliver gets to stay inside at night. Old Man doesn't. Enough said.

Here are Traci's horses...

From left to right, Taggart (Tubby), Dancer (Mama), and Shadow.
Taggart (Tubby) is my bestest buddy. He's the horse I spent the summer riding. He smart, a little lazy, but overall a good guy. He's a 12 year old POA gelding that out grew his POA status. He's just under 15 hands.

Dancer is a QH/Paint cross. I think she's around 9 years old. She's got a white spot on her belly that you can't really see unless you are underneath her. Which Traci can attest to, is not a good place to be. She's the only mare on the place.
Shadow is a coming 2 year old. He's Dancer's baby. We were hoping that he and Olliver would be grand friends...note the usage of the term "were."

This is Winchester (Olliver is grazing behind him). The last horse in the herd. He's a 16 year old QH gelding. I use the term gelding loosely. He's a little under 15 hands (he looks smaller in the picture because I'm standing uphill). Traci is holding him. Mik is up on his back. Taking her first ride!!

I love Winchester. I've always had a special place in my heart for studly geldings. The poor man was a breeding stud for the first half of his life. Then he was gelded. And Traci bought him. And somewhere in his brain, his neurons were burned into the studly pattern and there they remain. He doesn't get along with Tubby. Ah heck, he doesn't get along with most of the horses. We were most worried about him and his reaction to Olliver. Honestly, we were afraid of what he would do to Olliver.

We gave everyone a day to get to know each other over the fence. Olliver inside. The herd outside. It seemed okay. Tubby was very curious about him. He stood at the fence, ears perked, breathing in Olliver's smell the whole time. Dancer was being a little snotty - but she's a mare, she can't help it. Shadow laid his ears back at Olliver. Every time he looked at him. Shadow lays his ears back at everything though. Shadow is a teenager. We're trying not to hold it against him.

Traci took some treats and led everyone down to the opposite end of the corral. I let Olliver out of his "house." All hell broke loose. Dancer wheeled around and took off full speed, teeth bared, screaming after Ollie. She seriously wanted to kill him. Seriously. OMG. I've been a horse owner for all of 24 hours and my horse is going to be killed. Ollie took off running. Jumped over a hay tub (beautifully, may I add) - and I jumped in between the raging mare and my baby. Luckily Dancer still had half of her brain working. Traci opened the pasture gate and I chased Dancer out...she was followed by Tubby, Shadow and the Old Man. We closed the gate. Uh Oh. Where's Winchester?

We just knew Winchester was going to be the problem. He was sneaky. I knew he purposely stayed back just so he could be alone with Olliver so he could be the one to kill him. I whirled around. There was Olliver and Winchester. Nuzzling. Olliver doing his cute little mouthing thing. Submissive. Winchester eating it up. Dancer walked up the fence line to get as close as she could....ears pinned...teeth bared. Winchester swung around so that he was between Dancer and Olliver. Defensive posture. O....M......G......!!!!

Olliver got happy. Running, bucking...prancing. Did I tell you he has the cutest prance? And the most gorgeous trot?? Moves like a dream??? Okay, okay. I love my horse.

Traci was really nervous about leaving Winchester with Ollie. There is always the chance that he could change his mind about Olliver and kill him. We haltered Winchester. Led him into the pasture. Haltered Shadow. Brought him in with Olliver. Opened the side gate to the small paddock behind the shed. Major trouble. Shadow's pissed. He's separated from his herd. Shut in with the interloper. Olliver wants to play. So Shadow kicks. Nips. Olliver isn't too phased though. He kicks back. We decide to let them work it out.

I spent the day watching. Olliver spends much of the day at the fence with Winchester. When I go down to the fences, Shadow won't let Olliver anywhere near me. Attention hog.

The first part of the week is nerve-wrecking. By Wednesday night, Olliver won't even try to approach me - because when he does, Shadow attacks. We have to catch Shadow just so Olliver feels safe enough to come into his "house" for the night. On Thursday, I tell Traci I can't take it anymore. Olliver is stressed. He kicked at me Wednesday night. It isn't fair to him to keep having to put up with Shadow's abuse. We've got to do something different.

Since I don't work on Fridays, I asked Traci if we could leave Winchester with Olliver in the morning and turn Shadow out. She agreed to give it a trial run since I could be there in case Winchester changed his mind about liking Ollie. When I got Traci's Friday morning, Ollie and Win had been alone together for a couple of hours. Olliver was relaxed. He was able to
greet me at the gate without being punished by his pasture-mate. There was finally peace...

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