On Sunday after Thanksgiving, we turned Pumpkin (pony mule) and her friend Sassy (paint/appaloosa) out with my horses. Pumpkin was originally adopted to be a guard animal to protect calves from coyotes and wolves. She started out not being protective at all but progressed to being too protective. She was with the first calf heifers and started stealing the new calves from their young mommas. She managed to break the bond between one pair and Todd spent a whole week trying to get the cow to accept her calf back. He had to pen them up and actually chase the cow into a chute and maneuver the calf to his mom to allow the calf to suckle several times a day. The cow eventually rebonded with her calf. Needless to say, Todd is not too pleased with the mule. He tried putting her with the bull but she kicks him in the head and steals the grain he needs to keep his energy up to breed cows. Todd is tired of maneuvering around the two, so they'll spend the winter with mine. Next spring we'll return Pumpkin to the rescue (they made me signn a paper saying she'd go back to them if we didn't want her anymore). Sassy is for sale. Todd's nephew is no longer interested in his horse (he got a motorcycle last summer) so I'll probably take the initiative to get her sold. She is a 5-year old grade mare who has only been trail ridden by a teenage girl before she sold her to Todd's nephew last summer.
We kept the two in the mustang pen overnight to let the horses get used to eachother through the panels. Then we turned them out. I blocked 4 of my herd out in the big pasture and left Cody (boss mare) in to meet the newcomers and put them in their place (this has always worked very well before). Pumpkin is a little animal with big attitude. She thinks she can bully anyone into getting her way. She's really good with people, but a bully around cows and now we'll see how she is with horses. Sassy is just a follower. She was never socialized with other horses. She was kept alone from weanling stage through this summer as a 5 year old. Pumkin is her first equine friend and she follows her everywhere.
My horses realize something is up. Cody is on this side of the fence and Kachina is on the other side of the fence.
As Pumpkin and Sassy head out where the other horses are, the herd of 4 scatters and Cody really wants to scatter with them. She runs out into the other pasture along the fenceline to stay close to them and get away from the newcomers.
Cody really wanted to be with the other horses. I think the mule's fearless attitude, combined with the fact that there were two of them and only one of her left her feeling very vulnerable.
Ghost watches the goings-on from a safe place.
And there goes Pumpkin, exploring her new place, with Sassy hot on her heals...I wasn't worried about Sassy ganging up on Cody, she's a big chicken with other horses.
Cody watches, horrified as they get closer.
Seriously, the mule is fearless. If she wants to go somewhere, she goes and expects everyone to get out of her way...like bowling pins reacting to a bowling ball! Cody is freaked.
Here, you can see Cody has joined the others. She ended up running up into the woods, then made a decision and went through the fence to be with her buddies. Meanwhile, Pumpkin and Sassy head out to explore other parts of the pasture. Don't worry, Cody is fine. The two strands of hotwire snapped easily as she went through...normally she has great respect for the fence.
As they go out of sight, Kachina can't stand not being able to gawk at them, so she goes trotting with a purpose, through the gate (which I now opened) to check them out more. But she doesn't go near them, she comes around so that she can stare at her buddies.
Cody and Chico look for the newbies...doesn't Cody look freaked out?
Griffin and Catlow look for the newbies and hope that Kachina doesn't fall prey to the evil mule.
Then Pumpkin decides to head out into the big pasture where all the other horses are...I don't think she went to meet them, rather to explore her new territory. She didn't pay much attention to them. Sassy, hot on her heels...
Kachina watches with fascination...she's still separated from the others by a fence, but now she's safe from the mule and new horse.
At this point, there are now two distractions for my horses. Griffin and Cody are staring at the mule and horse, while Catlow and Chico are staring at the turkeys who have discovered the pasture and are foraging up near the house.
Cody, with Chico's help, confronts the mule and tries to run her off.
They succeed. I noticed that as time went on, the two geldings were the ones running the newbies away from the herd, while the mares stayed together and stayed out of it. Normally, my mares put the newbies in their place...but they've never faced a mule before.
Sassy must also have some arab in her; that tail stayed curled over her back anytime she got near the other horses.
Fearless Pumpkin leads Sassy to check out the turkeys.
Kachina can't decide who is scarier...the turkeys or the new horses.
The geldings stand guard.
The mares stand back.
The herd decides to take action.
I wanted them to all meet in the big pasture because there is no place for anyone to get caught and ganged up on. It's just big open space. The only danger here then is someone gets up to much speed and can't stop when they encounter a fence...thankfully that didn't happen here. My fences are very well marked so that the mustangs could see it well when I first turned them out.
Pumpkin and Sassy take flight.
My horses (minus Kachina who hasn't managed to get up the courage to come through the gate to meet them because it means walking toward the turkeys eventhough they are far far away) stand and watch the newbies. I think their colors are beautiful in the fall sun with the dead grass as a backdrop.
They seemed to be doing well, so I left them to get to know eachother better. Later, I watched them from the house. Pumpkin was grazing in the middle of the pasture, fairly close to the herd, while Sassy was standing in the far corner near the house watching them...everytime she got anywhere near the herd, Griffin would jump in and run her off...really run her off. He was running her full speed up the fenceline. Funny that Pumpkin was allowed to grazed closer to them. They did chase her off, but halfheartedly and they seemed to mostly ignore her. I wonder if Sassy is outcast because of her spots...Griffin is from a herd where all the horses are solid colored...no white.
Monday morning all 7 critters are upright, although they are segregating themselves. The pasture is big enough so this works out just fine.
This morning they are getting along even better, though Sassy is still an outcast...I think that's a combination of Griffin chasing her off and Sassy not knowing how to defend herself.
I think I'll have to go back in my pic files and post some about when Sassy first met Pumpkin...very entertaining!