Sunday, April 3, 2011

Horses on the Hill

First, Hudson, leave her with my husband, then Starlight and Stormkite, then Dee and DeCato.   Will Stormkite be OK? Will everybody load?  Will the hay arrive?  Just how muddy is it between the run-in and the pasture?  First, Hudson, leave her with my husband…

This is the litany that has been rolling around my brain for the last few days as I planned the moving of our five horses from their old home in Bentley Creek to their new home on the hill.  

It took three trips with the horse trailer (I’m sure a real horsewoman would have packed all five of them in the stock trailer and done it in one).  The first trip, with my precious Huds, was the most nerve-wracking, and I don’t think the butterflies really started settling until I unloaded the next pair, Starlight and Stormkite.  By the time Dee and DeCato climbed aboard, I could drive the rig without my hands clenching the steering wheel as if rigor mortis had set in.

Except for Hudson, everybody climbed right on board the trailer like she had done it a million times.  In Hudson’s case (she’s the one I take to activities where she actually has to WORK), it took a couple of attempts, alternating with some groundwork, before she decided the trailer was easier than my backing her rapidly all over the lawn). 

Here I'm comforting Hudson before the first trip.

DeCato hasn’t been on a trailer since I brought her home a few years ago.  Before that, she was trailered all the way across the country by the BLM to Cornell University, then to her former home before I brought her home.  I wasn’t sure what she would do.  But, by the time it was this opinionated little red mustang’s turn, she jumped right on as if she was saying, “You ain’t leaving ME here all alone!  I don’t care where we’re going!  You are taking me!”

I purposely brought Stormkite with Starlight, as I was introducing him to the herd for the first time.  In Bentley Creek, he enjoyed their company for the past year with a fence between them.  I decided that, since this place is new to all of them, it was a good opportunity to bring him in on somewhat equal terms.  And I trailered him with his neighbor because they are fond of each other, and she is second to Hudson in the herd, so I thought she would give him some safety.

Stormkite, Hudson and Starlight were doing fine together, but when Dee, his full sister, arrived, it all changed as she decided he was not allowed be next to any horse in the herd, and if he was, she chased him off violently.  Things are settling down, but I do feel bad for him.  I’ll keep my eye on things.  

Here's they are, trying to sort things out.  That's Stormkite on the far right, the anxious looking one.  

They are in a sacrifice pasture right now, a piece of the pasture they can trash as we suffer the freeze-and-thaw and the spring rains.  It’s connected to a run in, which they hate going to because there is a marsh in between it and the pasture (to be fixed). 

Here's Hudson leading the way to the run in, through the swamp.  I hate that swamp.  It must go.

What bothers me is seeing the change from five, comfortable and confident horses to a wild-eyed group who are now dealing with the stress of herd dynamics 24-hours.  I know I can’t judge their behavior based on this first 24 hours in a new place, but I’m already planning a new arrangement. 

One thing for sure, owning horses provides one with a constant source of anxiety, challenge and labor.  But they do it in such a way that you can’t wait to go back for more.

1 comment: