Wednesday I packed up myself, the mare and The Boy and we headed West for P1's summer camp. P2 loaded like a gem, hauled like a gem and unloaded... like a gem.
She did look a bit out of place with her glossy summer coat and giant padded halter, but so did P1 way back when she stepped of the trailer there too..
The herd was grazing quietly and seemed not that impressed by a new mare snorting around the property. After pulling her wraps I decided to put Prairie in the stallion pen which would give her a shared fence line with the herd, but an extra-high shared fence line just in case anyone thought trying to jump it would be clever...
I know I've mentioned it before, but watching "the herd" interact is so different than watching stalled horses or even turnout buddies interact. It's amazing how complex, effective and interesting 'the herd' is when you sit down and watch. At first my plan was to throw Prairie out into the stallion pen, then quickly clean out my trailer and pack up Pia's goodies before Cowboy Man showed back up from his afternoon trail ride. My plan of efficiency was thwarted when I realized that even through Prairie was separated from the herd, she was still within smelling distance and that meant there were lots of "greetings" and other interesting things to watch.
|"why are they so dirty?"|
That is, until a big group of their horses decided that something really interesting was going on and the fence line suddenly got rather crowded. Only then did the lead mare and her adult daughter bother going over to investigate. They chased off the rest of the herd, sniffed Prairie, then went back to grazing. While they themselves weren't too impressed with the mare, they didn't really want her socializing with the group until she had been scoped out.
|Meeting Aspen - a middle of the pack, fancy KWPN before Rose chased the group away.|
|wondering where her new friends went ...|
|Pia lurking from a safe distance. (she wasn't impressed)|
So we started with the basics. Letting P2 run amok, but controlling her treat bucket and ultimately, controlling the "space" at one end of the arena. Cowboy Man was impressed with how quickly she figured out the game and was also impressed that she seemed to have very good social skills. That is to say that she wants to be a horse and meet other horses, not stand sullenly with no interest in a herd. Sometimes this is something we scold our horses for, but their desire to connect and socialize is ultimately what makes them dynamic partners who trust us and work with us rather than just submitting to us.
(it's why P had to learn how to be in the herd before she could learn how to be in relation with a human again..)
I totally failed to get any pictures or video of this. I guess I was busy listening? rare for me...
After playing in the ring, we got to play with Obama the Llama (who went unnoticed until it (I say it because it is the CREEPIEST llama ever, gender is definitely neutral) staggered to its feet sending P2 into outer space).
I was shocked that when I asked Prairie to approach the llama the issue wasn't getting her close, it was preventing her from running right up to it. Her instinct to "go forward" to scary things is also good. It gives us something to shape and work with right away. It also suggests that ultimately she's a pretty confident horse. Poor llama had to be patient with our "training opportunity" I grabbed a quick clip. P2 wanted to take him home with her. I told her no. He smells bad.
Then I got the big mare all settled into a stall and run where she got to meet Pia for the first time. Pia looks awesome. She's starting to muscle up again, she's quiet and calm (although still mischievous) and loves, loves, LOVES her boyfriend. She did break away for a moment to sniff Prairie and make friends. Little did either of them know - the next day they would become BFF's forever.
|Pia was not initially impressed with the larger, goofier mare.|