Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's the Baby's Turn to Lose her Herd

Today was Gabbrielle's first day to be left behind when the other horses went to pasture. I figured she wouldn't handle it well, and I was right. As soon as I untied her, she took off at a gallop around the barn whinnying all the way. As she approached the 5-foot tall chain-link fence, I could see that she intended to jump it. I yelled, "WHOA!" and she slammed on her brakes, coming to a sliding stop and slamming her chest right into the fence. She looked at me with an annoyed expression as if to say, "You broke my concentration," and then took off on another lap to get up enough speed to jump the fence. Again I yelled, "WHOA!"

This scenario repeated itself several times until she gave up and just galloped or trotted along the fence line whinnying to her herd.

I offered her a flake of hay, but she wouldn't touch it.

Lostine was pacing the fence line back at the pasture.

Once she settled down, Bombay took over the job of worrying about Gabbrielle.

I climbed up onto the fence to try to reassure Gabbrielle that she was safe without her herd. She trotted up to me and lined her back up parallel to me and the fence, as if urging me to get on and ride. I told her I didn't think either of us was ready for bareback.

She calmed down as I stroked her mane, so I climbed off the fence and pulled up a chair to keep her company. I didn't want to leave until she started eating and stopped trying to jump the fence.

I finally got my wish.

As soon as I walked away to check on the horses in the pasture, Gabbrielle returned to frantically running up and down the fence line.

However, she did eventually settle into eating without me sitting beside her, and so did Bombay and Lostine.

12 comments:

RiverBend Farm said...

I think I'm in love with Gabbrielle...she is absolutely beautiful and looks like she is so personable. I'm going to have to learn to keep my camera with me when I go out back.

AareneX said...

I had to do a very similar trick when I had a horse in camp and his buddies left...I got tired of "comforting" him (because he wasn't comforted) and finally pulled up a bucket and a paperback and a bottle of water, turned my back to him, and read my book.

He never saw me looking at him (I was sneeeeeeeeeeaky) but he finally decided that I was good enough "herd". And hey: food! Food is comforting, right?

His buddies came back to camp, and he was fast asleep.... >g< Wish I could've gotten a picture!

Kate said...

That separation stuff is hard - and hard to watch. You've set it up so all the horses can be safe while they work through it. It sounds like they've already begun to figure out that nothing terrible will happen - they won't die - if they're separated.

fernvalley01 said...

They are like babies aren't they , if they can't have thier buddies they want Mamma!

Sydney said...

crazy horsies! I am dealing with a yearling that needs some herd separation. So far we have made 45 minutes in the round pen alone before she calmed down. I am gonna line drive her in the fall if all goes well.

Paint Girl said...

I sure hope they get it all figured out! Can they see each other while they are separated? I am glad Gabbrielle didn't jump the fence! And I am glad she settled down to eat some hay. That is a good sign.
When my sis and I go riding, Fritzy just whinnies the whole time we are gone, now if Brandy was left alone, she'd run and freak out the whole time we aren't here. She definately has some severe separation anxiety.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

What an adventure! I bet all your neighbors were staring out their windows at the excitement. hehe!

Your trio is looking gorgeous and Gabbrielle especially has really grown up so much. I think it's cute that she sidled up beside you offering you her back. :)

~Lisa

Flying Lily said...

This is so worthwhile. They will adjust, and you will have a more manageable group of horses. it sounds like you are being very careful and doing it right!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

The horses can see each other if the horse in the paddock goes to the northern corner. I put the hay in a location where they can't see each other. Eventually, I am going to start putting one horse in the pasture and two in the paddock. That will be especially challenging since the pasture is right next to a busy road with all kinds of noises and activity. Since the horses spend the majority of their time in the paddock, it's easier for a single horse to adjust to being in a familiar location where they are normally safe. I'm doing this in baby steps, and it is all very well thought out. It does seem to be working.

Last summer the horses got so used to me taking Bombay over to my neighbor's place every other day for a ride, that they just stopped paying attention. They knew he'd come back. My neighbor shows her horses and ships them off for training on a regular basis, plus she always keeps them in separate pens throughout the year, so they couldn't care less if a horse leaves the property. I'd like to get my horses to that point.

Lulu said...

Progress!!!!

Callie said...

LOL, Funny creatures aren't they. I hope Kola will react that way when I turn Misty out to the pasture without her. I know she won't jump though, she's far too fat and maybe she'll lose some weight, LOL!

manker said...

our whister's the same way.. goes into instant worry mode when her herd departs... nothing like ye 'ol flake of hay to get their attention :)

well done
gp