Monday, February 7, 2011

songbirds are singing like they know the score

Today was as perfect as a day could be for me and my sweet horses.  Yesterday was horrid and I was feeling very low, but it all went right today! Here is a photo (cell phone) I took this morning on Pie as we made our way out and around the tennis court.  The birds were singing almost like it was spring!

Yesterday I groomed and grazed each horse, ending with Pie.  Our Sovereign is a smart horse who likes to play tricks when I graze Pie.  I have posted before about his silly antics.  Usually, Pie is good about ignoring Sovereign, but now Sovey has a helper in Foggy.  While I was grazing Pie in the front lawn near the road, Sovey started racing around and whinnying like he was upset.  Foggy thought this was a serious situation and he started racing around too.  This time, Pie believed that there was real danger and stopped grazing and started snorting with his tail high in the air.  Next, he raised his head way up in the air and his heart was beating visibly through his chest.  This is Pie's "pre-freak-out stance" - he is going to blow, you just don't know how it's going to go.  The other two were racing around, screaming in separate pastures.  Pie started rearing and walking on his hind feet toward the barn.  As he got close to Foggy's pasture, Pie became uncontrollable.  He curved his neck tight and round and he kept pawing and snorting at Foggy.  I was hanging on to the lead, but I did not feel confident with his front feet flailing out at me.   I somehow managed to get him back into another pasture.

All of our introductions involving Pie and Foggy so far have elicited a strange "studish" response from Pie which was starting to worry me.  Pie is not a stallion, but I have a history of nutty experiences with stallions that I will have to relay some other time, and I was not thrilled to see Pie acting this way.  As I removed Pie's halter, I was shaken and annoyed.  Since November, my mom has been worried that if we brought Foggy home, he would hurt our boys.  Now that he is here with us, it is apparent that the concern should be quite the other way round.   Working with and around Foggy is like working around a little lamb.  He is tiny and not at all intimidating.  So yesterday afternoon,  as I removed Pie's halter, I have to admit, I was disgusted with his (Pie's) behaviour.  My perception was that he was a big bully, acting all stallion-y and aggressive trying to assert his pecking order in the herd.  I felt that this was normal and part of nature, but I was still sort of mad.  I shut the gate and my mother, who had witnessed the entire circus incident said, "Poor Pie, he is so scared." 

Talk about a light bulb moment for me.  I couldn't see it.  I hadn't seen it, but she was exactly right.  Pie was scared.  And, it hit me all at once, he wasn't just scared about them racing around.  Pie was scared of Foggy!  Pie has been acting weird since Foggy got here because he is afraid of this new horse.  Pie is big and blustery, and I assumed he was acting aggressively so that Foggy understands "who is boss around here."  That is what is so weird about Pie.  He is big and he does tend to throw his weight around about some things, but Sovey makes all the decisions about where they move and graze in the pastures.   Their roles of leadership are blurred, and I knew instantly that Pie hasn't been trying to dominate, he has been frightened. 

I stood at the gate and stared at Pie and all my stupid "stallion" worry just fell away.  I went back into the pasture with him and started brushing him and got him to calm down.  Next, I brought him outside and grazed him quietly.   Then, we retraced our steps back to the barn and forebay and he was perfect no matter what Sovey did to distract him. 

This morning, I got Pie out and  tacked him up.  Sovereign tried his tricks again, but Pie wasn't listening so Sovey stopped.  We rode all around through the frozen snow.  There were bright orange flagmen working on the road, but Pie was not phased.  He was the perfect angel.

After our ride, I introduced Foggy to a new pasture.  I arranged our gates so Foggy shared a gate for the first time with Pie and Sovey.  I did not leave the horses unattended with the shared gate setup because they could put a foot through, but I did allow them some time to get to know each other while I did pasture cleanup.  Pie was wonderful with Foggy.  They all groomed and the brothers made a "Pie sandwich" and everyone was grooming everyone else.  It was adorable and gives a hint that it might all work out in spite of my erroneous worries!


  1. That sounds like such a scary incident yesterday. I hope I would have hung on, but I wonder... You did so well to settle it as you did and figure our Pie's fear. Glad he's gotten over it so quickly and you had a good ride today.
    We introduced Rogo to Dan and Savanah individually before putting the three of them together and it all worked fine. Good luck with it all. You've made a very good start.

  2. That is a great post. Thank you for thoughtful reading before going off to bed. (My horse books are ordered but until then I have NOTHING new & horsey to read!) I really appreciate your honesty about the experience and what fear can do to our them! :-) So a good lesson for us all that gets re-learned daily...

  3. Boys! Sheesh. I can just see Pie sticking out his tongue at Sovey on today's ride.

  4. That Pie being studdy incident does sound scary - for both of you. Great job resolving it. Glad your mom was there to give you the benefit of her mom wisdom :) I bet the boys will end up being the best of friends.

    Isn't it amazing how different things can look when we change our minds ;) Great post!

  5. Excellent post, offering deep insight captured in the moment. This is what makes horse blogs so invaluable to me. Good for your mom to see it and say it, and I can absolutely get how you needed an outside voice to guide you, given what you were dealing with in the moment. Thank you very much for posting this.

  6. Oh my gosh - I somehow missed the news about Foggy coming home! I have to say, as soon as I saw his name I hoped it was the same horse you were so excited about back in November! What a lovely thing to read, what a grand homecoming for your new boy. :)

  7. Isn't if funny how sometimes someone is there to say just the right thing at just the right time and make all the difference?

  8. Foggy..tiny? lol! Maybe in nature, but not in size, none of your boys are tiny!
    I think it takes time and I'm sure the meeting through the gate, blowing noses helped out too! Glad your Mom was able to tilt the light a little differently too....i love those moments!

  9. A Pie Sandwhich!!!! Now that is adorable!
    Dk Rye toasts with a wonderful Dark filler! All Pure TB ingredients -of course.

    I laughed when your mom suggested that..but yea, when my old PBO brought her new Quarab pony into the mix last Wa mare was just fit to be tied..I could barely handle her...even when we were not close to his field..she was distracted and fearful.

    Isn't it amazing too...your change of demeanor, helped Pie's! They feed off our emotions..since they trust us to be the LEAD, when they are with us.
    Loved that all is smoothing out...once they got to to get on with the meeting, and you facilitated them being calm. Very releived!

    Nice that the birds are clearing the way for springtime huh. The Robins are back in our area, that is a very welcome sign!

  10. Don't you love it when a mom steps in and conveys her mom wisdom? I probably would have felt the same way you did before the mom enlightenment! Kind of mad and disgruntled. Maybe you were scared too though and needed some compassion, just like Pie. What a world of difference a little understanding makes. I have learned a lot from this post. I think it can even be applied to one my rabbits who I am always finding to be super cranky and hard to love.

  11. Juliette, This is so interesting - Pie's behavior and your mother's wonderful insight that changed the perspective of how Pie was feeling. And your actions to groom him as well. And then having such a good ride the next day. It is so helpful to open our minds to a different perspective on our horses sometimes.
    When Buckshot was first introduced to his current pasturemate, he became very studly also, snaking his neck out and trying to corner Lucky. I was stunned, having never seen anything like it, from my older school horse! But after just a few days at most, they were fine together and have been since. In the early days, it is hard to know what is going on. You handled it so well. Loved the mutual grooming that the three horses eventually did!


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