Friday, June 24, 2011

A Visit With My G

I visited Gabbrielle for the second time since I dropped her off at the trainer's place.  This time there wasn't a two-legged soul around... just a lot of grazing horses.  I felt disappointed, because the trainer had told me she would call to let me know how Gabbrielle did under saddle, and I never heard from her.

I went to Gabbrielle's pasture and noticed that she was no longer buddied up with her bay gelding, but was standing way off away from the rest of the herd and her hip was covered in mud.  I made kissing noises and patted my chest to ask her to come to me.  When she's at home that technique never fails, but on this day at the trainer's place Gabbrielle wouldn't budge.  Instead, a big black quarter horse mare came up to me.  I petted her a while until she got bored and went away.

Eventually, all the horses lost interest in me when they realized I didn't have any treats.  There were a couple of rubber grain buckets on the ground by my feet and some of the horses sniffed them to see if I put anything in them.  Once the horses moved off away from me, Gabbrielle cut a wide berth around them and then walked right up to me and gave me a kiss.  I hugged and petted her, and then noticed that someone had taken a chunk out of her flank.  It wasn't bleeding, but the fur was gone and it was oozing clear serum.

Then I looked down and saw that she had a cut just above her hoof.  It was pretty obvious that the herd had shunned her.  That's why she wouldn't approach me while the other horses were nearby.  Her bay gelding "friend" had turned on her too.  While I was petting her, he walked up and bit her on the rump, chasing her off.  I got angry and slapped him on chest to get him to back away from her.  He settled down after that and I was able to pet both of them at the same time.  I told him he's got to be nice to her and protect her, and he picked up a rubber grain bucket with his teeth and stuck it under Gabbrielle's nose as if trying to either feed her or ask her to ask me to put something in it.  Ha ha.

Then the black mare returned and she was obviously the Alpha of the herd, because she pinned her ears and moved all the horses further away from me.  She started to charge Gabbrielle, so I hollered, "HEY!" and slapped her on the rump.  She veered away in the other direction and I said, "You be nice.  Don't hurt my girl."

I looked around for someone who worked at the place to talk to them about this new herd dynamic, but couldn't find anyone.  Maybe they don't work on Fridays or maybe they were away at a show or maybe everyone was sick.  Who knows?  I'll have to start checking on Gabbrielle more often now that I know there is a problem.  I know that being bullied is all a part of being a horse in a herd, but it still breaks my heart.  I also know I probably shouldn't be slapping other people's horses, but I had to protect Gabbrielle.  The poor girl seemed so forlorn.


achieve1dream said...

Poor Gabrielle!! If she's being bullied they need to take her out of the herd. The occasional bite or kick is no big deal, but being completely shunned and standing away from the herd doesn't seem right. Sorry she is hurt. I'm sure it will heal up quickly. Let us know when you hear from the trainer. That seems really bizarre.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Don't you feel just like a mom visiting her kids at school? Be strong, she'll be okay.

Vaquerogirl said...

I don't know the situation, but two things come to mind~ one- if your mare is in training and she is in pasture- how many days is she being worked? It's my own preference not to let horses in training be in a pasture situation- it's too easy for the 'trainee' to be injured- and thus not be able to be trained. And also it is a lot easier for the trainer not to work the horse- using the ; oh, that horse has enough exercise being 'out' all day reasoning.
Also, if your mare is the lowest on the totem- is she really getting enough to eat? You may want to 'drop in' around feeding time to see how the feeding is actually being acheived. Sometimes the horses look fat enough at first, but the decline is swift and not so easy to reverse.
Third- No one around in a training barn? How many horses are there for training?
And forth- girl you went out into a pasture of horses you didn't know? You could have been kicked!
Anyway- food for thought!

Breathe said...

That's awful. I know it happens, but it's still awful.

Whenever I enter a herd I establish myself as dominant right away, and don't allow any bullying when I'm around. I wouldnt care if you slapped my horses on the butt. If they got that close to you and displayed that behavior, I think it's what you SHOULD do.

Cheryl Ann said...

Oh, gosh...that would break my heart, too! Poor baby! Please keep us posted, okay?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I wasn't actually in the pasture. I was on the other side of the fence, but all the fence consists of is two tape lines stretched among stakes in the ground and the fence is two to two and a half feet tall at the most. I'm surprised the horses don't just jump the fence and take off. Fortunately, they do have taller fencing around the entire property so they can't get out into the street. Anyway, I know I still could have been kicked, so I was always watching their body language.

lytha said...

i would say not to slap a strange horse on the butt because sometimes it triggers a kick reflex even in submissive horses. i have learned this from experience, *agh*.

but you say there was a fence, whew!

i would even hesitate to slap my own steady old horse on the butt if i wasn't positive his eyes were on me.

i was in the same situation as you this week and i was stupid enough to bring carrots in my pockets so the horses were crowding me and i didn't know them. very bad, i won't do that again.

Sydney_bitless said...

It sounds like Gab needed a bit of her dynamics. She probably got a bit too cocky and the other older horses had enough. Happened to my 3 year old. She would shove other older horses here at home around because she grew up with them. When it came down to new horses they sure laid the boots to her. Eventually after a few bites and scrapes (gotta let a horse be a horse) she figured out to MOVE when the boss mare or other older horses came by.

Sydney_bitless said...

And also in the wild from what I have studied a horse being shunned is because of inappropriate behavior. A boss mare will chase a younger horse out of the herd when they are being bossy or too rambunctious. Eventually they are let back in over time if they can behave.

Linda said...

It's very hard to watch those herd dynamics, but I'm like you, if there's a human around, there shouldn't be any of that stuff going on. G. should know she's safe when you're in the area. I do the same for Beautiful. I know after I leave she's on her own, but while I'm there, they better not bully her--it's like they're bullying me, too, if they succeed. And a slap on the butt isn't going to hurt them. ;)

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Oh, I think you know horses well enough to not have put yourself in a bad position being amongst strange horses (which you said you weren't, so no biggie)...and I highly doubt anyone would question you slapping a naughty horse. No real horse person would think twice about that.

As for poor G...I feel your pain. Horses can be very brutal to each other (which is one of the reason's I laugh at people who get offended if a horse has to be slapped hard with an open hand...Really? An open palm slap, even with force is NOTHING compared to what one horse can do to another with one snap of the teeth). In a sense, G having to learn how to deal with herd dynamics can be a benefit. Youngsters do learn to pay attention to body language and learn how to judge situations.

On the other hand...You are paying for your horse to be trained, not to be beat up. I wouldn't be very happy about that. Hopefully she gets doctored and possibly moved back into a little safer environment.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

BEC - I had the same thought (secretly) about it being good for her on some level. Gabbrielle mercilessly chases Bombay around at home and kicks out at him during feeding time. The only horse that has ever corrected her is her own mother and Lostine, and they both did it with a look. So, before this Gabbrielle didn't know what it was like to be on the receiving end of her own punishment.