We left Alberta Sunday morning, somewhere around 5am (4am our time), and it didn't take too long to get the baby loaded. Unfortunately, she was not handled much as it is not the breeders way of doing things, and as such, she can be very difficult to catch. I got it done tho, and although she took some encouragement and a little bum rope to pop into the trailer, she appeared none worse for wear, just confused.
It was one of those situations I kinda sat back and sighed - getting the horse into the trailer needed to be done and while we did it as kindly and quietly as possible, I felt bad for this weanling, who had been through quite a lot within the last three weeks of her life (being weaned, leaving her weanling friends, first trailer ride, and now a second trailer ride). It is a lot for a baby, and we did our best to make the trip as low stress as possible.
We removed the divider in the trailer and left her loose for a good 80% of the journey - she ate well and drank at one of our many rest stops. We made sure to stop a few times, just to give her a break from bracing and tensing around the corners, as that in itself uses a lot of energy and muscle memory. She did good though, and we unloaded her midway and allowed her to walk around, drink, eat, and check out her surroundings. While I wrangled dogs, a friend who had traveled with us handled the baby and actually managed to get her to load on her own, which was really nice to see.
|A break in the travels for a walk-about and some pets.|
The baby unloaded well, although was a bit nervous about backing out (the divider was reinstalled closer to home, as I picked up a friend of a friend's horse from Trainer K) but I just gently reminded her she was a brave baby that could do this.
It took a bit of wrangling to get her all settled in her pen, as we had to pass directly through Annie and Spud's pens to get there. I opted to halter Annie and hold her and Spud off to the side as Jamie led the baby through and into her new little paddock. Reason being, I had no idea how everyone was going to react and we wanted to integrate them slowly and methodically - as well as having the baby in a smaller pen since she is not very friendly at the moment.
|Just before she popped into the trailer.|
Everything went well though, and I could tell immediately that all would be fast friends, as I watched Annie and Spud sniff noses with the baby over the fence. We monitored them for the next 30-40 minutes just to make sure everything was buttoned up, tossed the baby some hay and filled up her water and made the remaining 10 minute drive home.
We mulled over the names I had picked out months ago, and waffled between two of them. I had an idea as to which I wanted to use, but without knowing her true personality, it was hard to really give her an identity when I felt I didn't really know her.
|Starting to get a bit inquisitive. Ignore how soggy and|
wet everything is... we live in a perpetual rain-forest.
We actually didn't officially name her until Tuesday evening, and settled on the very first name I had chosen back in May when she was born - Maizey.
I had smartly taken Monday off of work, and used that as an opportunity to muck around the barn a bit, gauging how everyone had fared overnight. I noticed some slide marks on Annie and Spud's side of the fence - from trotting about in the absolutely mucky and saturated ground no doubt (it has been raining 10-15mm on average for the last 2 weeks and I am so over it).
Annie seemed to be a little too interested in what Maizey was doing, and part of me worried a bit she'd become a bit too possessive. My nervousness grew as I worked Maizey in her little paddock and Annie trotted around the outside perimeter nervously nickering whenever I started to lead her away.
Thankfully tho, after a few days, everyone has started to settle into themselves and Maizey has become a bit of "old news". It'll still be a while before she is turned out with Annie and Spud, as her lack of handling as a fresh foal has left some gaping holes that require filling before I even think about integrating her into a herd. Some days have gone good - like on Tuesday wherein it took less than 3 minutes to catch her.... and some days are bad - like on Wednesday when it took 30 minutes. It was kind of funny to watch in a way, as Annie had a bit of a coniption on Monday when I was working Maizey (pacing the fence, standing and shaking her head at me) and then on Wednesday, as Maizey took off loping away from me for the 5th time, Annie peeked her head out of the undercover shelter at the two of us in the pouring rain, kinda smirked and turned back to her hay as Maizey called for her. "Sorry kid, can't you see it's raining?"
|"Annie kisses are gross!" - Maizey, probably.|
Despite the catching woes, she seems to have a very level head on her shoulders (much like her half-siblings) and it'll just take time to bring that out. Once caught, although she can be a bit uncertain about what is going on, she takes it all in stride. She's very handleable and feels malleable - so much that even my non-horsey Dad handled her when we went for a stroll around the street with Annie.
Right now, we're just working on playing catch up - doing all the boring things that a horse needs to learn. Catching is just one component of learning, and we've been doing variations of a few exercises just to get her used to being around people and that we aren't always going to "bug". Having two horses on the opposite side of the fence we are curious and in-your-pocket is helpful so that Maizey can see how they interact with me.
It was much easier to work her at Alaina's, simply because she was in a round pen but I no longer have that luxury at my barn. We work with what we have tho, and I've been ensuring she still stands to face me instead of turning her butt and ignoring (and eventually walking or trotting off). She does gravitate towards my other horses tho, which makes it helpful and once she gets integrated with the herd I feel she'll blossom even more, as Spud is one of the most friendliest creatures in the world and tends to bring out the inquisitive side in everyone.
It's a new journey, for sure. And I am excited to finally have brought home a piece of a dream I started several years ago. While I am predominantly an English rider, I have no real showing aspirations with Maizey like I do with Annie (although hey, maybe that'll change). Her main job when she becomes a reliable riding horse is to tote The Boyfriend around and give us the ability to ride together, attend poker rides, and have fun with our horses. I'm looking forward to sharing my passion and interest in horses, and I think a comfortable and reliable Paint is just what we needed.
|Both soaked after 30 minutes of trying to catch her.|
Aside from future plans, we're breaking things down piece by piece and working to shape her into a confident, quiet, and reliable horse that anyone can ride. I'm excited for the challenge and look forward to learning more about young horses and how to adequately develop them and work with them. I certainly don't claim to know everything there is, so we're working through things bit by bit and I'm doing a lot of research, reading, and ordering of books and videos to make sure all my bases are covered (bc just like Annie, I am #anxiousallthetime).
All of that being said, so far I'm pretty pleased with her. It'll just take some time to build up some trust, confidence, and respect. A large part of me is hoping that Maizey is quick to draw herself to me, as the first snowfall of the season is inching its way ever close, and I'd like to have her into the herd at that point as our massive snowfalls make a majority of the pasture they are in unused.
|Annie was such an awesome "leader" for Maizey on her first|
short little trip out of the barn. Very calm, quiet, and confident.
Maizey got to check out some garbage cans, signs, etc and
took it all in stride!
As I go through this journey with Maizey, rest assured we have awesome Trainer K to help us out along the way, and I have plenty of time scheduled in for her to just be a horse and grow (in fact, she'll be turned out to pasture next year with a half-sister for a good 4-5 months). It takes a village, and I am looking forward to bringing up baby and seeing her grow and change!
As a sidenote - does anyone have any tips, tricks, or personal stories to share in regards to difficult to catch weanlings or weanlings that were not handled much since birth?