This Saturday a new horse was introduced in our herd - Raphael. A 15 years old chesnut gelding, Dutch Warmblood, a beautiful mover and a wonderful personality. He had been stalled all his life, since he used to be a stud for a long time, and he had had little contact with other horses, so the introduction to the life in a 24/7 pasture boarded herd was planned to be very gradual, with overnight stalling.
So yesterday the owner decided to let Raphael with some of our horse-friendliest horses in a seperate paddock, one at a time, to start making his first relationships. Including my gelding, Snickers, who is usually extremely friendly and playful with other horses, though being quite dominant. Everything went well with the two other geldings and a mare Raphael was introduced to, and then Snickers was let in the paddock. At first, he acted fine, they just sniffed each other, trotted along and showed off.
But then Raphael decided that he wanted to come to me (I was in the corner of the paddock, to observe the situation and help out if anything went wrong), and came straight ahead to sniff my hand. Well, it turned out that Snickers is even more stud-like than I had thought (this behaviour sometimes shows, when he shows off to other horses when I'm around and such). He squealed and charged at Raphael, chomped in his neck and dragged him along the paddock, not letting go, stomping with front legs, until Raphael showed submission. O_o Luckily, Raphael was not injured, only his self-respect, but Snickers continued to surprised me, stomping the ground, arching his neck and trotting in a passage-like manner along the fence, as Raphael was taken out of the paddock to be stalled.
Strange, that a horse that has been gelded at age 1, can still be this "studdy" and act like he was protecting a mare.
Later in that day Raphael's owner let him to graze in a separate section of the pastures, where other horses would not chase him, and went away. Then, one moment he was there, quite calm, and the other - gone, with three sections of the electric fence totally destroyed. Without a sound. And right into the forest. I saddled up Snickers in a flash, another girl did the same with her gelding, we grabbed some ropes and went searching for Raphael, scanning the area, roads and the forest for good couple of hours, until our horses could go no further. But all the way they acted as perfect as if they knew, how serious the situation is. No spooking, no protesting, just going as fast as asked - anywhere, anyhow, stopping and turning instantly. But no luck with finding Raphael - nobody had seen him, there were no hoofprints on the ground, nothing. Went back, changed horses, went again, other people scanned the main roads with cars - still nothing.
And the worst part - there are many swamps in the area. Large and dangerous enough to take a horse. And it became dark, making the search impossible. So we quit for the night and other riders started out before dawn with their horses, to search the borders of the swamps and check for any signs of Raphael being there.
And we received good news about an hour ago - Raphael entered the yard of a farm some 15 kilometers from our barn. He had wandered through forests, by the swamp and over a large and busy highway, moving towards the direction of his previous home. Poor horse, I can't imagine, how scared he was. But our prayers were answered and I am just so overwhelmed with emotions, that I had to share. :)
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