On Wednesday, at long last, I brought Rondo to my barn. As you can imagine that has made me very busy over the last couple of days, so today is the first chance I've had to post about it.
I was very apprehensive about becoming a two-horse owner. I wasn't worried about the money (since I went out and got a job in addition to my freelancing to cover it) as much as I was about the time involved — and the potential for it to change my relationship with Panama. He is the jealous sort, and I'm afraid once he realizes that I spend time with another horse other than him, he won't be as quick to greet me when I arrive.
Plus, another baby is a big undertaking. Do I really want to have to raise another so soon? Panama has just in the last couple of years started showing signs of finally being all grown up (and is still a jackass from time to time). Am I setting myself up for another 4 years of dealing with baby behavior?
Now that Rondo is here, however, I feel very differently. One, he is quite possibly the cutest baby ever, and it's hard not to be happy when I'm with him. Two, he has (so far) handled the move with amazing aplomb for a 2 1/2-year-old.
The story begins with a windy morning and not one, but two
, games of "catch me if you can." When I arrived at my in-laws' house to await my trainer and the trailer, my mother-in-law had just fed Rondo and the other horses, but she'd left him in the barn (she's keeping them in overnight now). He was anxious about that, plus he wanted his breakfast, so first he resisted haltering. I opted to let him out to eat and await my trainer, since he was working himself up about still being in the barn (because of the change in routine and being alone), but then of course he played "catch me if you can" all over again when I went to snap the lead onto his halter.
As usual, though, once caught he was as docile as ever. He followed me down to the gate, out of the pasture for the first time since he'd moved there, and to the trailer, where I handed him over to my trainer. Considering it was his second-ever time loading (and the first time he'd just followed his mom on), and also considering he was following a complete stranger onto a big rattling metal box, he did superb — he put two feet on three times in a row, and then just walked right on. No big deal. For me, who has only ever had experiences with Panama (who was traumatized as a yearling and has never trusted trailers since), that just blew me away.
He handled the long (over an hour) drive well, too — he whinnied for his friends a lot at first, but he didn't kick, fuss, or get restless. At every stoplight I could see his breath coming out the windows as he smelled the air in this or that new place.
He was pretty revved up about not knowing where he was at first, and when we turned him out in the outdoor arena, he ran around and whinnied quite a lot. It was the first I've had a really good look at his trot, and it's a lovely extended trot — bet that's going to be a bit different to ride than Panama's quick little pony trot!
(Panama, by the way, watched all of this — me and my trainer unloading a new horse, turning him out, and messing with him — with great interest. He stood at the fence with his ears at attention the entire
time. No joke.)
He played a bit of "catch me if you can" again when we went to move him into his corral, but as anxious as he was, I didn't blame him for that. No major problems with catching since — he still has yet to learn to stand still while being haltered (or to put his head down — and good grief is he tall!), but at least he isn't running from me anymore. A corral with no grazing to distract him probably helps.
Yesterday after my riding lesson (and gosh that was hard to focus on, with a new pony in the pasture!), I took Rondo for his first walk around the barn. I already knew he was settling in remarkably fast — he'd already made friends with the geldings in his corral, no fussing or fighting necessary (though the mare let him know right away that she was alpha, which he was fine with — he got out of the way and has steered clear of her ever since). But our first walk blew my mind — again!
Some of you have been reading my blog for long enough to know that Panama had a hard time adjusting to all the "scary" things at our current barn — and he'd been to plenty of barns in the past. He had a hard time learning to walk through the narrow doors into the cross ties and down the aisles in the indoor barn, and of course he was pretty much a nervous wreck in the indoor arena for the first several months.
Rondo, on the other hand, did all of this on his very first walk around the property — and his second day at the barn. He went in and out of the cross ties, only balking once, and getting over it almost immediately. He stood in the cross ties briefly (a huge accomplishment because he'd never experienced cross ties before, let alone in a very confined, concrete environment). He walked into the indoor barn, once again hesitating once, but this time for an even briefer period. He stood in the aisle with me while I chatted briefly to another boarder, then moved into the cross ties there when I asked so that she and her horse could pass. And he walked around the indoor arena, checking out everything, alert but never once showing fear. He was more curious than anything, I think.
He was particularly interested in the mirrors, which he had never seen before. He spent several minutes checking this one out.
It shows the extreme difference between Rondo and Panama, and I am more certain than ever now that they are going to be polar opposites. They are both very smart, but where Panama has more of a tendency to react by getting upset or scared, Rondo is calm and curious. He has an extraordinarily mellow, sweet temperament. Not to say that Panama isn't sweet — he is — but he is also oh-so-very Arab, whereas Rondo's part-draft breeding has obviously made him very quiet and accepting.
I hadn't thought I was going to be able to introduce Rondo to as many new things as I did yesterday, let alone so quickly, but I decided he had been a champ and took him back to his corral. His new buddy, Dechali, immediately came over and demanded Rondo's attention.
I apologize for all the iPhone pictures — I am going out there tomorrow afternoon, and am planning on bringing my camera for some better quality shots!
Labels: horse behavior