Friday, December 13, 2013

Critter Update - Horses vs Alpacas

Update on the alpacas - my first attempt to integrate them with the horses was stunning. Mind you, they weren't harmed! In fact, they didn't appear to be excessively frightened, it was the horses who got emotional.

The old black gelding followed me in to the pen, sniffed around a bit, no big deal. He stuck by me and got lots of 'good boy' scratches. The young mare watched him, snorting, but morecurious than anything. The alpacas wandered out of the pen, towards the big round bale.

The old mare went nuts. I've never seen her move in such a controlled, furious fashion. She was so collected I could hear her knees crack as she flexed them all the way to her chin. She was floating (in mud) towards them giving a rolling snort that sounded more like a growling tiger than a horse.

I shooed her away. She gave me the 'stink eye.' I followed the alpacas around, to intervene if things got out of hand. I got in front of her a few times and shouted NO!

After several minutes of snorting, blowing, hoof stamping and assorted tantrums, I thought it was over. The alpacas went to the high ground to look around. The horses swept between me and the alpacas at a trot. The alpacas cantered away, ahead of the horses by about 3 horse lengths.

This is where I got my mind blown - the old mare let the alpacas run in front of her, switched to their left side, kept behind them and PUT THEM BACK IN TO THE ROUND PEN. Then swept around the pen, back to the bale of hay, in another of these knee snapping displays.

It was a perfect example of a horse with a lot of 'cow sense' in one respect. However, I watched the whole thing. She came up than hill with a PLAN. She put that plan into action - and put the alpacas 'back where they belong!'

The other two horses were with her, but at a respectful distance behind her.

I have always known that horses 'display' their strength and power with slow-motion, graceful movements that include high-stepping gaits, arched necks, flying mane, upright tails and lots of snorting.

The old mare seems too kicked back and lazy for such displays, except when she and I play a bit of 'tag' on warm spring days.

I got the feeling she was outraged at the intrusion and wanted the alpacas to know who was in charge and to literally 'put them in their place.' Until now, she's acted as if she was terrified of the alpacas. I know better, now.

I love that old mare! She's such a character! I base all my fictional horses on her.

Now, on the alpaca side - it was Tonka (Grumpy) who set her off. He barged over to 'her' bale of hay, and actually pinned his ears at her, first. He was very arrogant, not at all tentative as he approached her. Which he did, several times.

Once he was so close that she swatted him with her tail.

There wasn't any trouble getting the alpacas into the barn that night, they didn't act fearful. I opened the door and they took their sweet time going in. I checked them as well as I could for any sign of contact between them. There was dirt on Tonka's shoulder when she hit him with her tail. (It trails on the ground, so it gets muddy.)

Tonight I put the horses in first, before I let the alpacas free. They didn't hesitate walking passed the old mare, but - in an ironic twist - it was her who snorted at TONKA as he checked her out.

I feel as if I have been given an education in equine behavior. I'm not sure if I want to repeat this experience for several months. LOL

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