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!