Cascade is here! Time for introductions.
I am so excited because Cascade is finally here with me in Virginia. I've been waiting for her a long time, so it is a relief that she is here.
However, now I have to help integrate her into a herd of established horses, and things should get rather interesting.
Cascade was with a herd of gentled mustangs who could be really fast and rough with their social corrections. She's a very laid back horse, but with the move, she's stressed out and "adrift" in that she doesn't know who is in charge yet, though she's been responding very well so far to me.
Right now she's in a field by herself where she can see her new herd across the driveway in the other field.
Here are the players in her new herd.
Liberty is the herd leader. He is constantly on edge and hyper-aware. I've been doing some exercises with him to get him to join up with me so he can relax a little, but he's a horse that is probably not going to be giving up his position any time soon.
Junior is another recent addition. He's spent the last month working things out with Liberty, who has been running him around the pastures. He's a high energy horse, but he's responded well to Liberty's bossing, and now the two have settled down. He is not the least dominant in the group, and he's the horse that seems the most interested in Cascade and has interacted with her through the fence and over a stall door.
Liffy is the only other mare and is attached at the hip to Liberty. She usually doesn't stir up much trouble in the herd, but I have a feeling she knows how to take care of business, she just chooses to stay close to the leader. Food wise, she's the lowest on the totem pole.
And Diamond Joe who is a golden retriever in a horse's body. He's sweet and wants to be buddy buddy with everything, but he's not assertive at all.
While I wasn't at the barn, some of the others tried to introduce Diamond Joe to Cascade by putting him in the same pasture as her, but she was defensive of a little bit of hay and kicked him.
I think A: I need to give Cascade a little more time to settle down.
B: Given her mustang roots, introduce her to someone who can actually put her in her place so she can settle down and follow another horse instead of feeling so insecure.
and C: get the vet wrap ready.
Just make any intergration a very slow and easy process. Maybe in future have two large piles of hay with a lot of distance between and equidistant from the water trough
I think you are overthinking it a bit. Give her a week or two to sniff noses across the fence. Then put her in with a middle of the herd type that she can buddy up with for a few days. the goal with the buddy is not to beat her up, nor have the buddy be a horse she will beat up, so something on her level. middle of the herd is usually a good bet. Then kick them out.
there will likely be a few bumps and scrapes while they get settled down.
Well, it looks like we have a winner in Liffey. The girls hung out together all day today. Tomorrow I'm going to add Junior and we'll see what happens. Oh, and Cascade bonded with a little mini that wandered over from the farm across the way. It was really cute.
Adding a new horse to a herd always upsets the dynamics for a while. It's one of those things that just has to happen so things can settle down. The other horses may be fine on a one on one but return them to the herd and it's a different matter. Liberty is doing his job, keeping the others safe. His is a tough job. All the others have it easy, they just have to keep an eye on him. No amount of riding or groundwork will change his sense of responsibility when with the herd.
I hear you Saddlebag, but he's that high strung, even when he is out riding with people and it makes him super spooky. I've been working with him to try to get him more steady under saddle, not to take his job away.
In other news, Cascade decided to fall in love with a little mini pony from across the street who likes to wander over. Now they are inseparable, and the little pony is trying to defend "his girl" from any interlopers. It is both hysterical and adorable.
Today, she was able to integrate with the entire group without any drama, which was fantastic. She should pick up the "barn routine" quick and things will really settle down now.
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