Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Horse Antics - getting hoarse

One of the primary bonuses of buying horse property is that, well, we get to live with our horses. This means we get to witness so much more of their personality. Being with them one hour or so a day really gives you only a glimpse into their lives. And it turns out their lives are way more complicated than I'd ever imagined. I know, this is one of the things people told me. I just had no way to prepare until I got to witness it personally.

Jordan and Shoni immediately became fast friends. They sorta had to, since they were the only two around, but it went beyond that. (See She's mine, ALL MINE). While their pasture behavior has settled in nicely - the two often separate by as much as 30 yards now when they are grazing and there is no more of this silly herding Shoni away from the other gelding (whom we've learned is named Booger!) - their bond is also becoming much stronger. When there is only one of us to bring the horses in, generally it is Jordan who comes in first. By the time he makes it to his stall and realizes that Shoni isn't 3 steps behind, however, he gets all agitated and starts whinnying at the top of his lungs, which within the barn can be ear-piercingly loud. Shoni of course replies in kind from the pasture. He will run in and out of his stall until Shoni arrives - ignoring his feed. Actually he'll run in and grab one mouthfull and run out to chew it while supervising her being brought in, with some whinnies thrown in for good measure. Even after she is in, he'll continue to grab a mouthfull and go back outside so he can eat it while sticking his head over the panel into her run so that he can keep an eye on her eating in her stall.

We've been talking for awhile now that we probably need to separate the two, but we didn't have the heart while they were their only companions. But now the situation has come to a head. Tuesday I arrived home about 8:00 - the sun was nearly down and dark was only 20 minutes or so away. I was quite surprised to see Jordan and Shoni both running like mad around the pasture. Huum - someone was playing games with not wanting to come in. Usually their games consist of calmly walking away, not running, so I knew something was up.

I changed clothes as quickly as I could and headed down. I met up with Dave just as he was coming out of the pasture - having given up trying to get them. Ginger aparently had tried to get Shoni out of pasture and Jordan had not been pleased, resulting in Jordan interfering at the gate and Shoni running off and ripping the leadrope off of her halter. There was a pretty major lightning storm headed our way, so I wasn't fond of the idea of leaving them out. I decided to give it a shot.

I got half way across the pasture and realized Jordan was running right at me. He stopped just in front of me - covered in mosquitos. Just after the sun goes down they really become unbelieveable. I mean, we have a lot to begin with, but it really is unbearable for that half hour. And Jordan, being a typical sensitive-skinned Thoroughbred, was absolutely beside himself. "Save me Mom!" was coming from him in waves. It was a struggle, but he and I made it back to the barn without him either tearing my arm off or bashing his head into mine as he thrashed at seemingly every bite. I immediatly sprayed him with fly spray and his relief was palpable.

Until - he realized Shoni wasn't in her stall!

We decided that after bringing her in to get a dousing of fly spray that we'd leave her out in pasture for the night (lightning storm had moved off), and then prepare a stall on the other side of the aisle, further away from Jordan.

Jordan spent the entire night screaming for Shoni. He's actually on the side of the barn away from the house, so I thought he'd stopped until I awoke at 2 am and could hear him in the relative silence of the night. And 3 am, and 4:30. I just hope the neighbors weren't quite as attuned to his verbal expressions as I was!

The plan was for Dave to bring Shoni in in the morning and let Jordan out. Ah, but this was assuming he could catch her. He couldn't. Ginger and I got home about the same time Wednesday evening and she went out to get Shoni so that we could turn the new boys out to pasture for a few introductory hours (because their health paperwork FINALLY arrived in the mail!). Only, Ginger couldn't catch Shoni either.

So we took the boys out to pasture on lead to walk the fence line, and was hopeful she'd be enticed to come close. Nope. Finally we gave up. Jordan, meanwhile, kept a very close eye on us the whole time from his pen. I could just feel the tension from him that other horses were out in pasture with his Shoni! But I did notice the whinnying frequency had died down considerably. I figured out why when I was in the barn and he did attempt to belt one out - the poor thing was hoarse!

We needed to build a panel fence inside the pasture to block off a small section to use as a welcome pen. Ginger and I had about 5 sections standing up - two panels each - when Dave joined us to help connect them all. Well, Shoni did something that was totally unexpected. As soon as the fence started taking shape, she was very concerned with making sure she was on the inside - the small side - of the fence! She kept sneaking through gaps between the sections, then wandering out again. When there was only one gap left she snuck through at the last minute. Voila - you want to catch Shoni? Build a fence around her.

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