Saturday, May 23, 2009

What have I gotten myself into?

Well, we had a little mishap today. We are dealing with a very very fearful boy. He has decided that the barn is his safe place and he retreats here every time I come around the outside of his pen (I don't go inside his pen because he can't handle it). Well, then I needed to go in to feed him, so I was standing in the barn and he was snorting at me from the far corner of the pen. I was walking around in the barn and tossing hay flakes out to him. He's not afraid of the hay flakes flying through the air, but if I move to fast or toward him, he becomes extremely panicked. I was standing in the doorway by the edge and he decided to make a run for it, INTO the barn and straight into the panel. I ducked out of the barn and into the pen as soon as I saw he was making a move for it. The panel bent, but held him in.

He's fine, just a little scrape on his nose. I climbed out of the pen while he was still in the barn, then came around to try to make sure that he saw me in the barn after the whole thing was over. I didn't want him to think that his panicky flight made me go away. In this picture, he is still snorty, but as long as I stand very still, he'll come forward to investigate the hay...but he does NOT like that I'm there. At all. I have to admit that I am very intimidated by this horse, but I think now I see that he is absolutely scared to death. The problem is, how can I work with him at all if I can hardly stand on the outside of his pen without him running off and retreating for the barn? We are putting in a garden on the hill behind him, so he'll get to see us doing things around him. He's not afraid of THINGS, just people. He was intensely interested when we came out with the rototiller, but after a few minutes he was ignoring us again and eating hay. People are the bad guys.

I guess we'll just give him time working outside the pen right now...and if he doesn't settle down any more, I'm going to need some serious help with him. I don't think I'm experienced enough to deal with this kind of a fearful that can potentially get aggressive to defend himself because he feels so threatened.

In an extreme contrast is the little girl. She'll roll, eat oats with me standing on the outside of the pen and a few feet away. And today, I saw her sleeping. She saw me come closer, but didn't care. She was tired. I also heard her cough a few times today. It was really phlegmy when she inhaled between coughs. I hope it's just a passing thing due to stress, because it would really suck to try to treat her for pneumonia. I only heard her cough about 4-5 times in a row, and that was just one time. But she is sweet and has grown on me already in just a day.

I SO wish she was a little bigger. If she doesn't grow, she'll either be my pack pony, or maybe I can have her trained to pull a cart (not by me since I have no experience with that). Or she just might actually have that fabulous of a disposition that she could be a kids horse. She's really not very spooky. I can walk around in her pen and she just calmly moves to the far side. I can stand in the middle and sometimes she'll stop and look at me and think about coming closer, but she doesn't yet. Today I cleaned out the shed right next to her pen to make room for my saddles. I was banging, putting in nails for hangers, throwing stuff around and appearing out of no where, and she just watched without jumping. The only times she jumped was when she was facing away eating and I SUDDENLY appeared from around the corner. Other than that, I think the shed cleaning was a really good lesson for her. I did ALOT of moving around and working, throwing strange things on the ground outside her pen, and she accepted it and wasn't afraid. I think that being in the front pen gives her the benefit of seeing me interact with the "tame" horses. Chico and Cody always come up to the fence when they see me in the shed (they are thinking treats), so she'll come forward and stand at the fence with them, but so far, she's been too chicken to sniff the treat in an outstretched hand.


Pony Girl said...

Which side of the panel were you on when the fearful boy charged into it? I mean was it the panel separating the two Mustangs from inside the barn, or did you close off the barn from him while you were in there? Just curious. He does sound like a challenge. I would just spend as much time on the outside as you can, until he settles in a bit more and you can get a good read on his behavior and body language.
The little mare sounds really sweet and calm, and I bet you'll be touching her before too long!

Kara said...

That is the panel that separates him from the mare. We are going to put something a little stronger there, and probably we need to raise that one a little higher if that's the one he's going to be testing. I was in his pen with him, but I was standing on the edge of the doorway of the barn (I was actually touching the door frame). But it was too much for him and he thought he could escape and run through the barn (safe place) to be nearer the other horses. He wasn't charging me at was into the barn, so as he came, I hightailed it out of the doorway and into his pen. He stood stunned in front of the panel for a few seconds while I peaked to make sure he didn't actually make it all the way through or was stuck, then I climbed out from the outside, went around, and came back in the barn from the mare's side. He snorted and ran back out of the barn, then I finished giving him his hay.

Andrea said...

Poor guy! What a scary thing. Hopefully he'll calm down with all the human activity around him. He's probably still stressed from being shipped and all that.

Your girl sounds really sweet. I hope she's not very sick. Tonka was a little sick when he came home with me and he got over it on his own.