As time goes by, I learn more about these two rescues, Millie and Will. For example, they are very close to each other– it’s one of the reasons I suspected they were siblings, or at least from the same farm originally. They play together, groom together, and just move together. It’s not like they exclude the other horses. It’s more like they just naturally believe they are a team.
Soxy has done a great job of making friends with them so far; she fell in love with Millie right away, and just naturally accepted Will as part of the package, once she learned that the only way to be around Millie was to take Will too.
Baby, on the other hand, has been struggling. She has been wanting a pecking order, and she wants one that does not put her at the bottom. It’s a fair goal, given how laid back everyone else is about positions and rules and such. However, a couple of weeks ago, she told Will to get out of the way, and it didn’t work out so well. It turns out the
smallest, lightest horse in the bunch doesn’t mind getting into a kicking fight if that’s what it takes to stay at the hay feeder. So it ended in a bit of a draw, but over time it became clear that Baby was under Will. Oddly enough, she was over Millie, and she began to make Millie’s life a little bit miserable. She would walk across the paddock just to make Millie move away. She would wait outside just to make Millie scramble to get around her as they came in or out of the barn.
Millie learned to circle back and hide behind Will when there was a problem. One dirty look from Will, and Baby would give up for a while.
Enter my daily ritual of picking my son up from school, driving home, and then walking to the fence to offer some handfuls of grass to the horses. I went up to the fence, and Millie and Will saw me first. They walked right up, followed shortly by Soxy. I had managed to give each one mouthful of grass before Baby came up, peeled Millie away from the rest, and chased her down the fence line. I opened my mouth to scold Baby, but I never got a peep out.
Will had turned, taken about two or three running strides, and slammed right into Baby’s side, almost knocking her over! He didn’t bite her, he didn’t kick her. He literally just body slammed her sideways. Within seconds, Millie had circled around past Baby, who was still stunned and very unhappy, and definitely no longer considering chasing Millie. Will lined up next to Millie at the fence, and Soxy evidently read the situation correctly, because she stood there with a very pleasant expression on her face that said, “We are ALL friends here. No fighting,” A la Shakira.
I had three noses within two feet, all parked patiently to receive their grass shares. Baby, unfortunately, was left out– she stood in the far corner, pouting and mad.
In all my time of owning horses, I’ve seen horses get into fights. I’ve seen a dominant horse ‘settle’ a dispute if the problem came near them. I’ve never yet seen a gelding turn, leave a source of treats, and go ‘take care of things’ with a good old fashioned side swipe when the fight wasn’t even going toward him. I swear he was saying, “You leave my Millie alone!” Has anyone else ever discovered a mediator in a herd?