Monday 26 May 2014

Mixing 2 herds of horses

Last week, my horses left Severie - their quiet mountain retreat where they have been for about 9 years. The last time most of them had travelled was 9 years ago, moving to Severie.

They have moved to a busy riding school - beautiful location again, with wonderful turn out, but totally different environment in many ways - full of people, horses, lots going on.

On Friday, the journey began. We walked them together about 3/4 mile from Severie, to a spot that a horse lorry could actually get to. Despite not having travelled for years, 4 of them walked straight on to the lorry - leaders were calm, they were still together as a herd, and so were not worried. Tigger loaded hesitantly, then promptly decided it was a bad idea and came back off the lorry. Then loaded again... sadly, we were too busy with the horses to take any video.

They spent their first night together in a small paddock, fairly exhausted I think, but seeming calm.

All good so far... next move, to introduce them to their 10 new field mates and their new field. I've introduced single horses to a group before, but never an established herd so was interested to see how it would go. As three of the horses (Benson, Flynn and Paddy) are 24, 25, and nearly 30, and maybe less up to a lot of excitement, we decided to introduce the 2 younger ones (aged 9 and 14) first. I videoed all of the first few minutes of both introductions, and have only cut out bits where I got distracted and filmed my boots or a bit of mud instead! Quite long, but didn't want to skip bits for those really watching the sequence.

Far too much interesting stuff in here to comment on it all. A couple of points:

* the lack of huge drama! The existing Drumbrae herd, although young, are well socialised and calm. There was ample space for the horses to interact or avoid each other, and no competition for limited resources. There was friendly investigation, some chasing/foreleg strikes and so on, but all very civilised.
* When Tigger and Elvis went into the field, they spent their time meeting their new field mates and didn't investigate the field. When the older 3 horses joined them, they paid little attention to the other horses, and moved around the field instead. The older 3 came in about 3/4 hour after the first two; Tigger already seemed sufficiently settled that he didn't join them in much of their exploration.

They have now been at Drumbrae for 3 days, and not a scratch or mark on any of them - could not have gone better!