I thought Harley would be the problem child when I introduced Dulce to the herd. He was with Chaco; he was furious when I first introduced Chaco. This time around Chaco is the challenge. Or should I say pest? He never leaves him alone constantly nibbling on his hindquarters and legs, which causes Dulce to kick or buck…..ugh. I have two friends that lost horses because of introducing horses too quickly. Both times their horses ended up with broken legs and had to be put down.
So, part of the problem is me. Whoever says horses don’t get jealous, tell them to stuff it. Horses do. When Shandoka was alive, Chaco and Harley were never allowed to be around us when I was loving on him. He’d have none of that even though he absolutely loved them both. Now Chaco is acting the same way. Once I was loving on Dulce through the fence when Chaco charged him from out of nowhere, stuck his head over the fence and bit him. Chaco looked at me as if to say, “I’m protecting you.”
I’m working hard on mellowing out this behavior to prevent it from escalating. How? The crazy way. I get in the middle of them, and I move Chaco off letting him know that I won’t stand for it. How do I move him off? I hold up my hands and shake them towards his shoulders or face to get him to move away from that pressure never touching or hitting him. Believe it or not this has helped, and now Dulce is standing up for himself when it happens. It’s as if him seeing me do it gave him the courage to do it also. Chaco is a full hand taller than him, and he seems so huge next to Dulce at times.
What does Dulce do when Chaco can be too much? He hides behind me! How am I resolving that? Letting him fend for himself as much as possible, but also letting him have some alone time to relieve the stress of it…..or let him hide behind me every now and then.
The best way to get horses together in my opinion is to walk them together and to pony them together. I believe that when two horses start working together it changes how they approach one another. They become working buddies, and their dialogue changes somehow. It also teaches them that I’m the leader, so it takes some of the stress away from them both. When you show them how to work together, it carries over into turnout time.
The next best thing is to turn them out on pasture. They’re so busy eating grass that they don’t pay as much time focusing on each other. I have my pasture split up into three sections, so in the beginning I would put Chaco in one section with Dulce and Harley go in another. This way they could graze together with a barrier to prevent any horse racing or fighting. After they were on the pasture for an hour or two, I’d open the gate that separated them, and it usually went really well. The main thing for Dulce is to have a safe place to go if it all overwhelms him. I make sure he can come down to the dry paddock area if he needs a small break before he heads back up.
Did I mention that Dulce is completely barefoot now? The spot on his left front hoof has hardened after enough sole developed over it, and the quarter crack cracked off one morning. I was leaving the boots off for 12 hours a day, and then out them on for turnout time. During Kentucky Derby Day, it finally came off. No soreness, no bleeding, and he is walking perfectly. I turned Dulce out on the dry paddock one morning, and he went on a bucking and running spree a couple of days after this. The boot on that right hoof…well, look for yourself below. He is totally sound on both hooves as you can see in the video below.
The hardest part is when I bring them down to the dry paddock. Chaco has cornered him a few times trying to get Dulce to play with him. That’s the main thing in all of this; Chaco loves to play. When I first brought him here, he was scared to death when Shandoka and Harley would play. He’d hide in a corner and watch the two of them gallop all over the place. Shandoka slowly drew him out. He’d let Chaco play with him at a level that he felt safe with. Usually, they’d stand in a corner, and they’d play nip each other around the nose. I remember the morning that Chaco fully took part in the morning play gallops with Harley and Shandoka. He came running up to me with nostrils flared, his head high, and so happy before he took off with them again. I think Chaco is trying to do the same with Dulce except he constantly nips at his legs and hips. He wants him to run and play with him even though it comes off as somewhat annoying to Dulce.
How are all my attempts working? Here are some pics. I’m so happy for all of them, and I may call Chaco and Dulce, Frick and Frack; the three of them the Three Amigos.
I wrote this blog a few days ago. The other day, Dulce was taking a long nap. When he decided to get up, Chaco wouldn’t let him by grabbing hold of his fly sheet. I went out calling to Chaco who immediately let go. Dulce got up, and hid behind me while Chaco looked at me as if saying, “What did I do?”