Friday, May 29, 2009

Calming down

Griffin is really starting to calm down. He is still nervous, but he doesn't retreat to the barn near as often when I come down to beside his panels. He'll stand from the far side and watch me. He's not snorting anymore unless I startle him (appear from inside the barn). I've been picking grass and leaving it in his pen. Generally he stands and waits for me to leave before he comes forward to eat it.

Today though, I decided it was time to see how brave he can be, so after I dumped a huge pile of grass in beside his panel, I didn't leave. I stayed and crouched down and continued to pick grass right alongside his pen. I turned my back to him and just kept peaking back. He slowly crept up and started eating grass right beside me!

So, I continued to dump piles in as I made my way around his grassy bank (I needed to shorten some of the grass as it was starting to choke out some flowers I had planted there). He kept following me to each new pile. This is my favorite picture of him.

The key though was that I couldn't stand and face him. If I did that, he would move back and stand in front of the barn. Although, he doesn't have a suspicious look on his face! He still looks rather relaxed.

I'm starting to lose my fear and sense of intimidation associated with this horse. I don't think he is mean or aggressive at all. I think he is very scared and very uncertain and doesn't really know what to do. His answer when he was crowded at the BLM corrals was to fight back in the chutes. That doesn't make him a mean horse. That makes him a horse that has a huge trust deficit and it will take a long time to bank enough time and positive interactions to build that trust.

I have high hopes for him. I really think he's going to come around.

Today we let the horses out to graze in their new pasture for 45 minutes. As I expected, they didn't get very far from the gate. There's just so much grass!

Cody only got this far from the gate because I thought I'd lead her around the fenceline again to make sure they knew where it was, but Chico and Catlow only followed her a little and when we went into the woods, they ran back to the gate to continue grazing the tender stuff. Cody was pretty miffed that they didn't follow her. She is the lead mare afterall.

I took Catlow for a ride after this. This time I actually used a saddle. We rode around the property first, then off. She was nervous in places, but overall, she did pretty good. She's getting more comfortable with this area. In this picture, Chico and Cody watch me saddle Catlow up and are snoozing on their full bellies of green grass. Don't they look contented? I'm sure Catlow wished I would leave her be too.

I am dying to actually get in the mare's pen and do some work with her (no, she still doesn't have a name yet - I'm just not happy with any of them). She is so curious. She watches me constantly when I am in the pasture messing with the other horses and walking around her pen. I have basically been entering her pen once a day when I get hay for her and Griffin. Everytime I go to leave, I'll approach and retreat with her until she looks at me and sniffs my hand. Today, she actually bumped my hand with her whiskers - that's the closest she's gotten yet! I really want to work with the bamboo pole with her because I think she'll settle down really quickly with it, but I'm still waiting because she is still draining pus from her jaw. She's definitely perkier and I'm really happy to see that. I think she felt pretty awful the first couple days here. I pick green grass for her too. Her and Griffin also get some pelleted feed and a dash of oats for a supplement and they have started to clean it all up. I have a vitamin supplement too, but if I put that in there (even if I only put in 1/4 as much as recommended) they won't touch their grain.

Then I finish up each day dumping bleach water down the panels where I climbed over and on the ground where I stand and wipe my feet in it, then I dunk my hands in it too. So far the tame horses are not showing any swollen lymph nodes or runny noses. Griffin is still coughing and he drains snot from his nose, but no swollen glands that I can see and no lymph drainage.


arlene said...

It looks so green and lush there. I don't think Griffin is an aggressive horse either.

Kara said...

Yep, Wisconsin is green and lush and one of the things I missed most living in ID when it was the dead of summer and everything had turned brown. Here, grass will stay green until the first frost if it is cut or grazed on. But it's also a challenge to keep horses from getting too fat. And they aren't particularily designed for the lush stuff...but it sure is cheaper to make hay here...we can get 2-3 cuttings off a field without irrigation. Even so, I do miss the west already. Northern Idaho will always have a special place in my heart.

Pony Girl said...

Good news all around, Kara! Those pictures of Griffin eating the grass you picked him were definitely a good sign of comfort. I hope the other horses don't get the strangles! And my horse is going nuts for the green grass right now. He doesn't have much in his pasture, so I hand graze him. He's spoiled but I can't resist supplementing him and cutting back on his hay a bit. He gets a bit weighty in the spring, LOL!