02 May 2011

Stableing ... boarding

Personally and ideally, I'd like to have Traveler in my backyard. The backyard option is not available now, so I went searching for different options before making a decision. I really wanted a place where I could do the work myself. Cleaning and mucking his pen/stall, feeding, turning him out. Everything that goes with having him in a backyard situation.

Each time I have moved Traveler to a new home .... I worry ... will he get along with the other horses and they with him? Will he be aggressive? Will he have to be moved away from his new stablemates and be stalled alone? Will he turn aggressive with other horses in the turn out area or pasture? How long will he stand and 'call' to his old stablemates? Will his 'calling' (whini-ing) be distruptive to the facility manager or private homeowner?

My 'big' guy has an alpha personality and as such lets the other horses know he's there. I've watched while he's been chased (or done the chasing around a pasture, ears flattened, teeth nipping at flanks or noses to the ground in a 'snaking manner'. I know y'all think I'm crazy for watching this kind of behavior, but it's part of the process. It's all about the herding instinct they are born with. There is a pecking order in the herd and each horse knows where it belongs in the order. Generally, the horses figure it out between themselves with little or no harm done to each other. They are alert and attentive when a new horse enters their domain. They do adapt to their new surroundings in a short time.

I do not advocate aggressive behavior. No one wants a vet bill. If you watch closely horses will greet each other nose to nose, have a good sniff, snort and maybe (??) strike at the ground with a squeal before backing away and standing still. I do not recommend turning a 'fresh' newcomer into a pasture situation with other horses that have been together a while until you can stand at the fence and watch how they will behave together and be ready to react if something untold occurs.

The last few years, Traveler has been with and older horses. He likes to romp, kick up his heels and race too and fro through the pasture after being penned. Over the years, he's had numerous bite marks across his neck and rump, too. Superficial cuts and abraisions healed quickly with minimal care rarely necessitating a vet call. The cut cleaned and watched for infection, the hair grows back in a few weeks.

On Saturday morning, we walked the short distance (about 1/3 of a mile) to his new home. My friend had pulled her horses from the pasture so I turned Trav out to let him get their scents. I watched a short time while he cruised around and sniffed all the fresh dung. He lifted his head nose curled in a 'stallion' way (since my friend also has a filly that pastures with her other horses).

I would learn later in the day, he did some 'calling' for his old stablemates, but he wasn't annoying. I witnessed his proud flight in the pasture late in the day as I was returning. My friend had her filly hooked up to a carriage for an evening event and was just leaving her yard. His head was up, tail flying out behind as he dashed hither and yon. The filly (who's name is Floosie, by the way) seemed nonpulsed to bother with him. He seems to be adjusting to his new surroundings well.  We'll see how things go and keep y'all posted.