Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life With a Young Horse Named Shadow

Shadow, before I bought him, and had his hooves trimmed He is fitter and has much more of a mane today.


           Shadow is a two year old miniature black stallion who originated in Central Virginia.  His original owner became ill and could not keep him and so he was auctioned at a local livestock auction.  He was purchased along with other horses that day, by a mother and daughter who simply love horses and who committed to his rescue and to finding him a new home. They got to know him and wormed him before advertising him along with other individual horses.  I bought two of their horses, Shadow being the youngest of those. Initially, the veterinarian at the auction certified Shadow as a gelding, probably based on what he was told by the seller.

                Shadow and another small horse joined my other horses in the middle of last year.   Shadow is the youngest horse I have.  I took a couple of weeks to get to know him before having an equine vet examine him, and having his dental work (also known as tooth floating) done.   Then, I had the farrier come to work on his hooves.  I named him Shadow not just because he is true black like a shadow, but because he walks very near the other horses and appears to shadow them.

                 Of all my horses, Shadow is the instigator. He constantly teases, picks on, or annoys the older horses, and then runs off.  I have read that horses often create turmoil in an attempt to move up in terms of position within the herd.  As the smallest and the youngest, he is most certainly the bottom of the totem pole. He is not content to remain there.  The eldest horse, who is also the largest here, has been fairly tolerant of Shadow, the young whipper-snapper, but has had enough.   In order to calm the young upstart, the older larger horse grabs Shadow's halter with his teeth and in effect, times him out for 10 minutes at a time, or so. The older horse holds hyperactive Shadow in place until Shadow seems calm enough to be let go. Shadow takes the correction and remains still while having his halter held and sometimes even twisted, but this is never really effective for very long.  An hour or so later he is often back to annoying yet another horse.    The older horse does this several times a day now.   Our entire herd seems to accept and understand that Shadow is young, and that this excessive horse play is part of that. I am actually very lucky as occasionally a large horse will kick a smaller trouble-maker. Someone with whom we are acquainted had one of her horses fracture the jaw of another in just this way.

                Meanwhile, of the four or five equine vets who work for the group we use, the farrier, and a professional horsewoman who have been here in the last six months have all commented on Shadow. .  "Those are stallion behaviors" they have all noted.  " I bought him as a gelding", I kept saying.    I think however, that Shadow was either only partially gelded, or perhaps never gelded at all !   This would account for the bossiness and attempted periodic complete herd takeover !  The next time an equine vet is here, this will need to be a talking point.

               This morning I went out to take care of the horses, and I found that as a result of all the timing out by the oldest horse, that Shadow was missing his halter.   The halter lay in a muddy region of the pasture and is sadly cut beyond repair.   I bought a number of halters of different sizes when Jeffers Equine had a sale, and so I looked through my supplies for one that would fit him.   Of all the halters I bought on sale, none of them were as small as Shadow.  Eventually, I took the smallest one I had, that was marked as a small, and placed it on him.  I had to make a new hole for the buckle.  It still was larger than it should be, and so I decided I would probably need to buy even a smaller one.

                An hour later, the little stallion had  slipped his halter which lay, once again, in the only small muddy section of the pasture.  I also noted that by repeatedly pushing his stall door Shadow has damaged the latch to his stall.  This will need to be repaired.

                 Meanwhile, horses of this type are said not to be fully mature until about age seven.  I ordered a new halter online today.  Until it comes I can't turn him out on grasses beyond the pasture.