With winter just around the corner I’ve been figuring out which paddocks the horses will be in. Currently Spring Song goes up the driveway, past the arena and into the largest paddock on the farm. She is with two other mares. The distance from her stall to her paddock is about 100 metres. In the winter I spend about 30 minutes on icy days preparing safe footing from the lower barn to the arena (80 metres apart). Throwing in another 20ish metres is not on my “to do list”. So, where will the sweetie go?
I’d like for Spring Song to have a paddock buddy. She is at a stage in her life where she can have unlimited access to grass. There are a total of six horses in the lower barn. The only other horse in there with this grass privilege is Blue, an 18-year-old Thoroughbred. Kye gets no grass. Pax has limited access, perhaps five hours daily. Zelador and Zeloso are in the small grassless paddock attached to the lower barn for half the day, then onto a paddock with very little grass the other half of the day.
The grass-mate for Spring Song is obviously Blue, BUT he will most likely become very possessive of her.
I talked with Bill about Spring Song. He said, “How about putting her with Kye?” I discussed the paddocks/horses with Dominique and she said, “How about Kye?” Hmmm…I could try that on the days that leading her to the faraway paddock is too dicey! I’ll give Spring Song as many hours as possible in a larger paddock resplendent with grass (albeit covered with snow during the winter), then put her and Kye in the small paddock attached to the lower barn for a few hours. Meanwhile I’m rotating the boys and Pax.
All of the above discussions occurred Wednesday afternoon and always in the presence of the horses.
Wednesday night I was doing night feed. I always open Spring Song’s stall door, go in, add hay, put her feed in the tub and top off her water bucket. I’m able to do this leaving her stall door open as I go in and out. Well, Wednesday I entered with the water bucket and Spring Song exited! She went straight across the aisle to Kye. He has a gate at his door which allows him to look out into the aisle. Spring Song and Kye were politely saying, “Hello”. No squeals, no striking with the front legs, just plain “Hi, how are you? Have you heard the latest paddock turnout plan? Looks like we’ll be spending some time together.”
I fetched Spring Song’s halter and led her back to her stall.
Friday afternoon I had some good horsewomen with me, Christi McQuaker and Kristy House. At 3:00 we brought Spring Song to the small paddock attached to the lower barn. Kye was at the far end, munching on hay (probably 30 feet from the gate). I had placed five separate piles of hay in the area. Christi, Kristy and I looked at Kye. We looked at Spring Song. We decided to put Spring Song into the paddock. The filly walked to the closest hay and started eating. Kye remained at his hay. Spring Song raised her head a few inches, looking in Kye’s direction. Kye looked at her, then went back to his hay. After a minute or two Spring Song walked about five feet in a semi-circle moving in the general direction of Kye. The 24-year-old remained at his hay. Spring Song went back to hers.
Christi, Kristy and I removed ourselves, but kept within ear shot. Not a sound came from the small paddock. A few minutes later we casually walked past the paddock. Kye and Spring Song were closer, eating. When I fetched them at the end of the day (three hours later) the two were at peace, happy and so relaxed together.
Wow! Wouldn’t it be GREAT if all horses reacted the way these two did when they’re turned out together!