Today was an eventful day for Stella as this morning the vet came out to the farm to insert a little chip into her neck. This is done so that she will always be traced back to us in case of theft. Apparently she took it very well and barely moved as the vet used a large needle to inject the tiny chip. She is also on the way to having her very first passport which is now required by law. This involves the vet filling in a silhouette with all her markings, distinguishing characteristics, her name, our name and her chip number. She will get a little laminated booklet(I think) in a week or two.
Today was also the day that she moved to the field she will be in for at least the next few months. We found a really nice field about 4 miles away from our house with plenty of mixed grazing. To the non horse person that means that the grazing is not the lush pasture that cows like, but much coarser. Horses wouldn't do well on lush pasture and so they get the more interesting fields, with flowers, weeds and shrubs all over the place.
Here is the Stella posse on the way up to her new lodgings. As we have no horse trailer Jim generously said that he would drive her here in his. His son came along for the ride and also to say goodbye to Stella. They have looked after her well for the last 7 weeks and she has put on a nice bit of weight as a result of eating their grass. So thanks to them.
She got in and out of the trailer with no fuss and we gave her some rolled barley and seaweed meal as a treat. In order to get to the field we had to go through another one with a bull in it so the farmer who owns the land used the bucket of food trick to lure him and his harem to one side of the field while we scurried up the other. Stella must have been picking up on the excitement and she gave a little trot towards her destination. By now she is very happy for us to lead her on the rope and no persuasion is necessary.
We brought her into the field and let her off the rope. She immediately started grazing and then when she noticed that there were three young geldings (castrated males) in the field she gave a quick whinny of introduction. They all approached each other quite excitedly and the four of them converged practically touching noses, all at the same time. Being quite a tense moment they were all a bit jumpy, but Stella quickly seemed to be the one calling the shots. In the above photo they are neatly arranged into ages as follows....Stella is three, the next one is two and the last two are one year olds.
The next while consisted of the three gelding following Stella around as she consistently showed them her backside and flicking her tail if they got too close. The geldings seemed to be very interested in Stella but were not aggressive towards her at all. It will probably take a while for them to establish who is the boss for certain. This is always done in any group of horses and involves lots of threatening gestures until all parties are clear on what's happening. Sometimes horses may resort to all out violence if the gestures are not enough to make the point. They may kick and bite each other but this didn't seem to be happening here...phew.
Once the social order is established things will pretty much remain the same with possibly the odd threatening gesture from the dominant horse just to remind other horses that he or she is still very much in control. Tail flicking, biting and the odd pretend kick are all threatening gestures that are understood by all.
The three boys watching the three boys watching Stella.
The field is 8 acres and is split into three areas so that the horses graze one area until it has almost run out. Then they are moved to another area and repeat the same process. Overall we are very happy with Stella's new home. Tomorrow we will find out if she's happy with it. As she will be a lot closer now we will be able to cycle up to her at least once a day so we will get plenty of exercise and fresh air while we continue to get to know Stella.
Thanks again to all the people who have made very generous donations to the Stella Fund. The pressure was taken off us so that we were able to find a good field for her. We will be paying €30 a week in rent but we think it is worth it as she has lots to eat, will hopefully make friends with the geldings and the field is well tucked so we should have peace of mind that she will be safe there. Thanks also to the people who have offered us their advice and expertise. This is much needed too.
Stella has calmed down a lot in the last few weeks and in general seems quite relaxed around people now. She still has a long way to go but I think she is off to a good start.