June 7, 2017

Peace in the Pasture

It took a week, and some good advice (thank you Alanna), but today we finally have a happy peaceful herd.

After last Tuesday's scary attempted introduction of Pixel to Gentry, I had to go back to the drawing board when it comes to herd introductions. Honestly, I've never had to take a gradual approach before. I just put the horses out in the pasture, with food options, and let them do their thing. However, Pixel is tiny compared to the big boys (who are not really that big). I was pretty sure Gentry was going to do some massive damage to Pixel that day if we didn't intervene. Intervene we did, but then what was I to do?

I immediately put Pixel back into his paddock. However, I needed a shared fence-line for them to safely get acquainted. The dilemma therein, is that we don't have multiple paddocks; this isn't a boarding facility. So I scratched my head a bit and drank a beer. After a bit of thought and a second beer, it came to me. During the day, I could turn the big boys out into the pasture and put pixel in the dry lot. That would give them some fence time, and also establish Pixel's presence in the dry lot (I purposefully left his manure piles laying about). The dry-lot is where Gentry lost his friggin' mind on that fateful Tuesday.

We did this for about four days, mostly because I was out of town for two of those days. Thank you AJ for being on top of crazy helicopter horse mom duty for me while I was away! The boys were all well behaved at the fence-line, when they were there that is. Gentry and Daiquiri spent most of their time grazing the top of the pasture and ignoring Pixel's presence.


Once I was back in town, the next step was to hand graze Gentry on a lead line in the front paddock with Pixel. After a minute or two I remembered to breath. Shortly after that I was feeling comfortable that Gentry was not going to eat Pixel, and I let him off with his halter still on. No fireworks, so I put Pixel's grazing muzzle on him and let them graze for a while. In quick order, they seemed to be bonding and enjoying each other's company again. We were made some good progress and ended the day on that good note, aside from the fact that I was out of beer. I gave Hubs the stink eye. Apparently no one (me) went grocery shopping while we were out of town.

The next day, I decided to let Daq meet Pixel in the paddock. Again, I kept him on a lead for a time, until I felt comfortable letting him go. They completely ignored each other the entire time. In hindsight, perhaps I should have introduced Daq to him first. The whole time we were doing this, Gentry was in the pasture and completely freaked out that he was separated from the other two, and more specifically Pixel. He spent the entire time obsessively stalking them and trotting the fence-line.

Note, terribly concerned Gentry in the distant pasture.

Mad man trotting the fence line. Must have Mini-Me!
During the same two days that we were doing the paddock grazing introductions, I decided to section off a portion of the dry-lot as a paddock for Pixel. At this point Pixel was familiar with the dry lot, and all the horses had some time together one on one. My only concern was the fact that the fence that would be separating the horses was hot-wire rope and Gallagher pigtail stakes. Had Rose been part of this equation it would have been a no-go. Enter my seven year old hot-wire PTSD. However, Gentry and Daq are very respectful of hot-wire, and Pixel has shown to be as well, so I decided to put on my big girl pants and risk it. The gamble paid off and all was well. I kept Pixel in this dry lot paddock set up the past two days.

One dry-lot becomes two.
Side note: check out my partially painted barn. Red is up, now I need to do the white trim!
Finally, I let them all out together for morning turnout today. There were some minor shenanigans, and all was well. After an hour I put Pixel's grazing muzzle on him, and they all enjoyed turnout for the day. I was also happy to see that Pixel happily came in at the end of the day to be put away in the dry lot with the big boys. All three of them even shared a cup of oats out of one rubber tub!

Two peas in a pod!

Peace and relief! Oh, and I finally went grocery shopping today, so I've been celebrating with a glass of Chardonnay.



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