I posted about the new gelding I'm upgrading - I got him on Sunday. I technically have him on trial but he'll be sent to Shipshewana auction if I don't want him, so I'm under pressure to make this work for us.
He hasn't had much of a job for the last 5 years, and so he was very, very attached to his companion, a mare. He's about 12, is trained and sound, but needs basic vet and farrier since he' hasn't had it in a while.
The first day I put him in a stall while my 4 mares were outside but within view (and the 2 other geldings were on the other side of the barn wall). He was quite nervous at first but settled down and was easy to handle in his stall and I chopped off the burr-encrusted tail and handled his feet to see how he was. All good and he seemed like a love bug. Let him out in the grass arena later in the day and he ran and rolled and settled down after about 10 minutes of antics.
Day 2 I put him in the arena in the AM before work, thinking he needs to start getting used to the grass....he ran for 20 minutes, I brought him in a dripping mess, hosed him off and put him away until later. Tried again after work...same thing. I attempted to lunge him but he wanted to just rip around. I got him to walk a half cirlce so I stopped. We worked on bathing later and he really tried hard not to be scared of the water.
Day 3 Put him in the arena for an hour but he didn't scream or lather - just trotted, paced and generally kept busy - then worked on rinsing again and he was much better. I was feeling super hopeful on this day!
Day 4 Same, but even a bit better...did some eating instead of being a busy body. I had to stall the other horses because of the un-storm . He had a gelding next to him - that put him into a little tizzy at first but in the morning all seemed calm. There was a mare across from him and he seemed very upset when I took her out. I let the other gelding touch noses with him as I was putting him out and it was uneventful.
Day 5 - I decided to allow him into the pasture adjoining the mares. HUGE mistake. One mare in particular (who was across from him in the barn overnight) decided she wanted to be his buddy and stuck with him along the fence most of the time. She'd come and go though and when she would wander off he would start running the fence. After a couple of hours I decided to bring him up to start working on something else but he went ballistic - we were walking down hill and I was afraid to lose my footing (he was dragging me) so I let him go with the lead on and it terrified him. He was in the pasture, galloping the fence line and actually rolled once when he tripped on the lead . I went to the barn to get gloves and a shank so I could get him back safely - he was terrified but I walked right up to him, stamping his hind legs (probably at the lead), striking/pawing the air once, and trembling as I tried to lead him to a gate away from where the mares were. I had to get my daughter to move the mares so I didn't have to lead him down that hill that direction.
I put him back in his stall after trying to clean him up but he was a nervous wreck.
That was last night - this morning he was much better in his stall.....but I was up half the night worrying about what I've got myself in to. Am I going to have a gelding that needs to be seperated, where will I put him, will he be secure enough to take away, ever? How would I ever work him through this safely and will it be in enough time - I'm leaving the country at the end of the month and my husband will be home with the horses and this is not something he can deal with. Though the old owner has only had him and his BFF mare briefly (they were a 2 for 1 deal but she never had any intentions of keeping him), but she did ride him 3 times in a round pen and said he was good. She's a barrel racer and had him in a combo and said the bit was probably too much for him as he shook his head but he was otherwise compliant and did walk and trot nicely for her.
Sorry this is so long - my husband has been out of town all week as well, so I think I'm just leaning on you guys to talk this out. Ultimately, how long should I give him to get through this before I admit defeat? I do NOT want a gelding that needs to be seperated by 2 fields for the rest of his life - my geldings do perfectly fine next to the mares. He's a nice horse and deserves a chance but I'm worried I'm not in the right place in my life right now, which means he ends up at auction . I just need your thougts....I would like to use him on the trails (old - old owner said he is a great trail horse) - I'm honestly not going to put myself at risk right now - my brother is dying from cancer, I have to get to Abu Dhabi, and see him in one piece!). He's got lovely movement and I was excited that perhaps I have my archery horse too....
I might get flamed for this, but why doesn't he have a buddy yet? Or was I reading something wrong. I know that a lot of people kind of think that mares should go out with mares, but if he's found an over the fence buddy, can you put them out together to hang? Horses are herd animals.
When I first brought my OTTB home, she had to go out by herself because she had hind shoes. She was a MESS. Wouldn't stop running, screaming, bucking, and was so naughty. During one of her fits, she managed to pop her hind shoes off, so I said the heck with it and threw her out with my mare. Problem solved.
I'd also suggest a round of ulcer meds, just to be on the safe side, but I'm no vet.
Finally, have a glass of wine and relax! He'll settle in. If you are nervous watching him and dealing with him, he's going to have a hard time with any of his anxieties and that'll show in his behavior. A lot of things have changed in his little world!
Good question! The only reason he isn't out with the other geldings is I thought it would give him a better chance to bond with and look to me. And my boys are dry-lotted (one is a laminitic prone pony and the other is a fat Haflinger). I could probably work something out with the Hafliner though, with limited and timed turnout.
I just hadn't thought about that *blush*....thank you! I'll give it a shot this evening.
Oregon, sitting on my couch looking out the window at a mountain
Of course he's insecure and anxious - his world has just changed and he doesn't know who you are, how you will handle him, what his job will be. He knows that horses are his friends so he'd better align with them for safety and security.
I don't think there are enough details here to really have an idea of what happened. When you turned him out in the arena, where was everyone else? Why was he stalled and others weren't? What is your farm situation like? Do you have stalls with runs or just stalls and pastures? Do you have a dry-lot area for horses transitioning to grass? How big are your pastures? Do you have small paddocks? There is so much to know and consider about helping this horse fit in.
Look at it from his perspective. He was in one place for 5 years with his best friend. Now he is not with her anymore (I presume) and he is in a new place and wants to make new friends so he feels safe and secure. Because he doesn't know you, his feeling of safety will come from the other horses.
Everything you do with him should be to set him up for success and for feeling safe and secure. Instead of turning him out to run around in the arena, do ground work with him so he will focus on you and learn that you are his handler and he is safe and secure with you. Multiple ground work sessions throughout the day every day will help him see you as someone that he can feel confident and secure with.
I wouldn't plan on getting on this horse and riding around without first setting yourself up for success so that he knows and trusts you. It would be one thing if he came from a situation where he was already a riding horse and knew the drill. But since he sat untouched for 5 years, you can't just bring him home and change his world in every which way and assume that he'll easily go along. That is setting both of you up for failure.
I looked at your pictures and he looks really cute! It also looks like you have a lot of property and your pastures are really big (by my standards!). Can you make smaller pastures or paddock areas where you can turn him out to start? Rotate different horses in and out of a neighboring paddock so that he gets used to horses coming and going. Do ground work in the paddock with him so get gets used to you and used to being handled and having a job.
There's so much to write, sorry if I'm blathering on. In any event, I think it will take time and patience and you may not be riding for a little while because he needs to settle on the ground first before you should consider swinging a leg over.
I think that PocketPony said it better than I could have. His bond with you will come from setting guidelines, learning new things, etc. I don't think that a human will ever be able to bond with a horse the same way that they bond with other horses. It's just not the natural way of things. But it's okay! It'll happen!
Right now, my #1 objective would be to make him feel safe, and to do that he needs an equine buddy. All that other stuff will come with time.
Let us know how it goes! Agree with the muzzle bit as well, that's an easy, simple solution.
Every horse is different and we have to use good common sense on how we handle them, but if something is not working, try other, as you have been doing.
Maybe now is a good time to try to see if he will settle with others, or not.
I just got a gelding that would have those same problems, so rather than letting him get acquainted for several days across more and more fences, knowing that if I turn him into the larger pen to keep just visiting across, he looks like he would then just run the fence, so I jumped this a day and turned him out with company and he is a different horse, for now at least, no more fretting and being nervous.
We will see if this then becomes more of a buddy sour issue, but I don't think it will be more than the occasional nickering when alone.
Keep giving it a good try, but keep everyone safe and hope it works, if not, well, it didn't.
A lot of great reminders. When I've seperated horses before - they had already been here, already knew me and were familiar with how we do things here, so it always worked after a day or two. I didn't take in to consideration that his life has been turned upside down!
I stalled him immediatly because I knew that was what he was used to and I wanted to be sure he wouldn't go through fences in the pastures. The arena is fenced within an interior, so I started there just in case - other horses were just barely in sight to him there. That probably made things worse.
All of my horses are outside 24/7 with the exception of bad weather. I want him to be too!
No plans on riding him at all until he's settled. I'm not that brave (even though he was ridden a couple of times in a round pen at his last home just last week). I also want my husband to be home.
Okay - I feel refreshed with these gentle reminders. Again, I was just feeling like I'd made a mistake and probably wasn't thinking clearly. Once my husband gets home tonight, I should probably feel more confident again .
I'll keep you posted on how it goes with Chance, the Haflinger.
He really wants to do the right thing and wants to please. He responds well to praise - I think he'll be a great boy when I can get this sorted out. I just spoke to a friend on the phone and she laughed when I told her I got another gelding....she reminded me that I've gone through this several other times (with FFI fosters) and it always gets me worked up - and how there was time when I swore I'd never bring another gelding on the property.
It took about two days for the pony to get settled in at my trainer's and over a week for the old guy, who has Cushing's and high cortisol levels (stress hormones). The pony settled in fine with both groups we put him with but the old guy had more problems, he got picked on, he was "lost". He finally settled in with a Shetland that he could boss around - just enough.
Give each of your experiments about three days, don't do something different every day. Routine is key.
I bought a two year old gelding that had been handled alot since birth and been to alot of shows as a weanling. When I bought him and brought him home I was worried that I made a mistake. He was so anxious and worried and became herd bound very quickly. It took about three months for him to totally settle down and now he is very kind, mellow and a completely not herd bound horse. Just give him some time to settle in with you and your herd.
RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
RIP San Lena Peppy
May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010
Well, I love you guys I was making this so much more complicated than it is. I came home and immediately put him out with Chance and it's gone really smooth! Chance is a bossy butt but Radio wants nothing to do with the kicking or games so Chance decided after 5 minutes its no fun and gave up, then rolled. Then Radio rolled. Then the pony rolled in the paddock next door. I'm keeping them on the dry paddock for now since I have no muzzle to fit Chance, so I went ahead and put the pony and his sidekick the goat, in with them and they are as calm as can be. I tossed out some hay and they're even eating together. The mares are lining the fence trying to get his attention and he's following what Chance is doing, which is nothing but eating.
I really feel stupid but, man am I glad I asked. Oh and then it occurred to me that I have another fenced pen right next to the paddock that I can start ground work with him - where the boys will be right there - I'll skip the arena for now. It's not level but it will work just fine. I seriously need to think outside of the box!
He will be fine, big upheaval. Glad he is out with buddies now, he needs to be comfortable for him to be safe for riding at all. I think he will be just fine but I think he will be a long term project, so be aware of that in reference to your trial.
Yes, magicteetango, it occurred to me this morning that this is a long term project - I made a mistake separating him and I think that is a set back that I could have avoided. I have said over and over - NO MORE PROJECTS - because that's all I end up with (aside from my Arab).....but here I am again, perhaps with another project horse. He's happy as a clam with the geldings and the goat but I had to coax him to get a halter on him this morning. He may be sore from the somersault experience . I have to remind myself that Chance and I had a terrible set back too, but we worked through it. His involved his first ride outside of the arena, and a goose....lol.