Mustangs, Part IV


My mustangs have been home now for a month and five days. They seem to like it here, they’ve never acted crazy, never tested the fence; farm noises don’t bother them, although the first couple times they heard an engine start up, they’d stop to listen . . . now they’d don’t even flick an ear.

Both have finished the first round of de-worming. I used pellets instead of paste, for obvious reasons, and also for obvious reasons it necessitated getting them used to grain. That part they have down pat!

Unfortunately, we’ve had some nasty weather: ice and subzero temps, thankfully not at the same time. And rain. Good grief. More coming tonight, and the pasture is only starting to dry out from the last monsoon.

Cody is still wary of me. When I open the cross-fence gate, she’ll come close, then bolt through. But I’m happy to report that she’s got that down to a fast walk this week! She, like Cav, has discovered that buckets hold good things, and when she sees one she starts a single-minded walk towards me, ears up.

She will not, however, eat while I hold the bucket. I have to set it down and move, oh, three feet away now. It used to be a good ten feet, so there’s progress. And she doesn’t move away from me while I’m out in the pasture, unless, of course, I cross that mysterious three-foot line. But she’ll answer my whistle!

Chestnut, our visiting horse, is presenting a bit of a problem. I’m not sure if she’ll be staying. Oh, she’s helped “teach” Cody and Cav that I’m not a threat, and they see her getting scratches and treats. I do believe that helped. The problem, though, is that Chestnut is territorial when it comes to food—hers or anyone else’s—as well as attention. It’s difficult to feed and to work with the mustangs.

And Chestnut is around seven years old, not worked with much, is rude and pushy, and never been saddled. She tends to nip on occasion, looking for treats, and tosses her head quite a lot. Not sure I’m up for getting rid of bad habits before starting on good ones. I might be too old for this. And too breakable . . .

That said, she is entertaining. Today, while I had the ATV in the pasture, she checked out the milk crate strapped on the back. Tried to eat my gloves. Slobbered on the seat. Then she simply took off the seat. I turned around to see it hanging from her mouth . . .

So we’ll see how it goes . . .

Cav is coming along nicely. Poor thing was so pitiful in the ice storm, but he’s finally dry and fluffy again. I’ve been able to run my hands and a cloth all the way from his face to his rump, and down his left foreleg. Most of the time, he’s distracted by the bucket, but not always. He responds pretty well to pressure to move him a step sideways or to back up a bit, not completely docile, but as you’d expect and want a mustang to behave—with just a touch of attitude that says, “Okay, I’ll do this, but only because I want to at this moment.” He will learn, though, that he’ll want what I want . . . eventually.

He likes to be scratched under his jaw, and he tolerates my rubbing his ears and playing with his forelock. And now that he’s wormed and getting plenty of food, he likes to run and buck when he’s in the south section—often with Aunt Chestnut!

Today he was introduced briefly to a lead rope—I held it and let him smell it and play with it. Had it in his mouth a few times, but since it wasn’t food, he wasn’t too impressed. I rubbed it on his nose a bit and let it dangle and move a little. He was also interested in the curry comb, and I was able to brush him just a little, until I hit a ticklish spot. Apparently he has several of those!

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Mustangs Part III


I just set up the game camera in the pasture—I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but other things kept pushing it out of my mind. Unfortunately, the best shot I have are us cleaning up the pasture and Cav from a distance, and an extreme close-up of me while I was setting up the darn thing!

But I do have some other pics:

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Had a lovely day yesterday, too: 64 degrees and sun in the afternoon, but with a crap ton of wind! Up to 35 mph! Part of the fence were blowing, as well as the greenhouse, but everything held. I let the horses into the south section, which has grass, while I cleaned up the other one and the barn and trough.

Wow. Can’t skip days, that’s for sure, although in my defense, everything was covered with snow this past Saturday.

They had a great time, and of course THAT’S when I should have had the camera set up! Chestnut and Cav were racing around and Cav gave a few little bucks. Too cute! He was really feeling those oats . . .

I’ve been hand feeding Cav, holding the bucket for him during the first half of breakfast or dinner. We’ve progressed from his fuzzy little forelock all the way down his face, his cheek, and just yesterday, his neck and mane. I can’t really say he “loves” it yet, but he rarely startles anymore.

I’ve been working on his right side, simply because that’s how he arrives at the bucket. Last night, I moved to the left.

Well, it seems that scary things are on the left side! Even things that are becoming normal on the right. Just another problem for which to find a solution!

Cody, on the other hand, is still wary. She answers my whistle when I come outside in the morning, and she now stands facing the house instead of giving me a butt view. Little things . . .

Yesterday, when I was feeding Cav, she could see her bucket about ten feet behind me. She rested her head on Cav’s rear and watched, then finally circled around to her own bucket. ‘Bout time—when he’s done with his, he generally aims for hers, and he’s gotten a nibble or two on his ear for trying, too!

Here’s the biggest difference in personality/trust: I opened the gate just a little this morning, so Chestnut wouldn’t come through. Cav came right on in and started grazing. Cody stopped short and looked at me, ears up, waiting. I opened it a bit more and moved back as far as I could, about an arm’s length so I could hold the gate, and she trotted on through. Silly horse.

This morning, we started de-worming. I finally got an answer from the vet on dosage that made sense—no more of this “10 mg per kg of weight” nonsense. That part I could figure, but how to measure it out was beyond me. Sigh. Anyhow, we’ll do this for five days, then wait two weeks and repeat it. It’s pellets that go in their food; I can’t really tell a difference between that and their feed. Hopefully, they can’t either!

I’m increasing their grain, too, a little at a time each day. Cav is halfway to his full ration, but Cody is a bit behind. Slow and easy is much better than overfeeding, especially for horses who’ve never had grain before. Having a third arm would help! That way I could put her bucket down and hold Cav’s AND keep him from wandering away to the unattended bucket . . .

They’re both spending half a day or so in the south section of the pasture, alone most of the time. Chestnut gets her turn too, but she’s much less bitchy when she’s been separated from them for a couple hours. The grass and the ground there is better, but of course, it’s closer to the gate and the road. And with this wind lately, well, we’re doing a little fence maintenance, just in case!