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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Tis The Season

The weather is cooperating but little else is in the integration of Whitty into the mares' world here at Thirteen Moons.
He seems very attached to the lead mare Jet and so I thought that turning them out together without the other three might be the way to begin. She's famous for putting pushy geldings in their place but in a very fair more nor less than is required.
She's been heavy in season for a few days now and I hoped she was lessening on that front since she'd seemed less interested in Whitty in the barn.
He went out first into the safety of the round pen.
Jet came out soon after.
She marched over near the round pen and appeared quiet enough so I opened the gate and allowed Whitty to exit into the hog fuel pen.
I didn't have my camera yet but stayed to witness the interaction.
They moved around the ring together, Jet leading the way, in a relatively calm manner.
I left to get my camera and returned to see Jet trying to pin Whitty in a corner....not to hurt him....but rather to breed her....and she was very very insistent.
When he would not, could not comply she became more aggressive and started to run....hard...
The next few photos demonstrate Jet's 'cutting' Whitty along the rail in an attempt to get him to stop long enough to notice she is in heat.

Jet's level of frustration is rising as is Whitty's 'fear' ... note his ears are back while hers are forward indicating she is not mad at his being there in her world...

This photo and the next show that Jet is trying to pin Whitty in the angled off corner. I make the decision to close Jet in the round pen since I can see this is escalating to a point where someone is either going to go over a fence or through it.

Whitty makes a break for it...

Poor Jet can't quite figure out why he isn't interested....after all in her world (and his) he is a stallion with the volume turned down ... in our world he is a gelding, a neutered male horse, and therefore should have no tendencies or abilities to perform the functions of a stallion. Their hard wired instinctual behavior will override anything we humans do to alter their world.

Jet has given up, for now, so it is a good time to catch her and give this new boy a break!

Whitty is much more 'outgoing' and playful now that Jet can't chase him and they take a few turns around..

With Jet safely ensconced inside the round ring I introduce Venus to Whitty.
Unbeknownst to me...she too has come into season! She is approximately 21 months old now and her heat isn't a particularly strong one, but evident nonetheless. So far I am batting zero.
My hope is that at least one of these mares will teach Whitty about reasonable boundaries and 'herd manners'. His horse and human manners are impeccable! However I sense he has not had much time out in a natural environment having been a top level show horse most of his life.

Venus squats and pees inviting Whitty closer. Even though this is not what I was hoping for it is a good visual for me to see how far Whitty's testosterone levels will take him. For all intents and purposes he displays textbook stallion behavior and approaches the situation gently.
Whitty walks past Venus...
He stops a 'safe' distance away

Two mares 'in season', poor Whitty doesn't stand a chance.

Whitty walks the perimeter staying with the mares yet safe enough from relentless Jet.
Some playful running to catch up to Jet who had cut across the pen

Another try at being a stallion for Whitty
Venus is receptive, but Whitty is unable to do much more then sniff. Fingers crossed on my part that the status remains as such.
Instead, Venus returns to attempting to assist Whitty's energy flow. Now that the energy is amped up due to playing and running the restrictions are much more noticeable.
His left hind leg is the first area she works on to 'open' the taps so to speak in order for the energy to have a place to flow to ground.

As a mare would do for her foal in a similar state of imbalance Venus rubs her chin back and forth several times across Whitty's back from wither to hip...balancing heart, solar plexus and gonad / sacral...

Lots of switching back and forth and although this can still be seen as a prelude to an attempt to breed it is more than that. It is an attempt to bring total balance...reciprocated.

In the photo above Venus is grounding heart energy

Jet in the 'background' watches intently. Her drive to get in foal is very strong. At 21 yrs. you would think that the need would dwindle. The last few years while the fillies were prepubescent she was content to mother them and her heat cycles were much calmer. She and Luc had come to terms and to an agreement that he was not able to breed her. Their introduction process several years ago was very similar to this one.
Since Whitty came to this farm 'out of balance', with 'bone cysts' that restrict the flow to ground and since these two mares in particular are strong in season the energy around gonad is amplified. 
If we were to judge these horses today without understanding why they are behaving this way, and hold on to that judgement, the chances of them ever being integrated into a natural setting would be slim at best. Whitty would be deemed to be too studdy. Jet as she had been in the past would be deemed to be too aggressive with other horses and so individual turnout was all she had ever had access to.

Balance is beginning to be seen...
Rushes of imbalance


 Another rush of 'gonad' and Whitty returns to 'stud' behavior. At this point I decide to bring the two older fillies into the ring. Venus is too receptive to Whitty's overtures to assist in his education around social boundaries. 
 Sirius is turned loose in the ring and she immediately rushed between Venus and Whitty herding Venus to the other end of the pen in no uncertain terms reminiscent of an older sister dragging her younger sister away from the bad boy in the school yard. As soon as Venus was a safe distance away Sirius charged back to Whitty and just as a cutting horse would turn back a cow she pushed him to the round pen and held him there until he turned neither right nor left....and she turned calmly and walked away.
 Whitty remained in this position during the time it took me to go back to the barn for Trinity and turn her in with the others.
 Sirius takes up her command post. She is taking on the role of the Medicine Horse in the herd. She will keep Whitty at the edge of the energy bubble surrounding her family. If he attempts to break through the perimeter she will cut him back out to the edge of the circle, creating a definable radius. This is the origin of round penning....original peoples witnessed the horses holding newcomers and unbalanced being to the edge of the bubble of their biology until the process of entrainment was well enough on its way to allow the Medicine Mare to work on the body of the new horse.

 Whitty is getting too close to Venus for Sirius' liking...she is far left slightly out of the picture.
 Sirius makes her move calmly but with confidence toward Whitty's right hip to drive him away. She'll use 'just enough' pressure and not an ounce more.

 Whitty has decided to take a different tack. He's trying to avoid confrontation with Sirius but still would like to get closer to receptive Venus.
 Whitty tracks wide to our left and cuts back in toward Venus.

 Venus is attracted to me sitting on the mounting block...I've changed shape and size but changing position and she feels she needs to make sure I'm not a threat to the herd.
 Whitty has also noticed my changed position and is letting Venus check out the situation. Smart horse! He'll let Venus be 'wolf bait'
 Our pair of eagles are overhead witnessing...

 Sirius collects Whitty again and moves him back to the round pen.
 She has 'turned it off' and makes a move to return to her sisters.
 Whitty's head has turned to the inside and he has committed to a turn to the inside.
 Sirius deems more pressure is required to teach him about clear boundaries.
 When Whitty sped up and doubled back toward Venus Trinity joined Sirius blocking his path, cutting him back.

Sirius stands her ground firmly 'protecting' little sister Venus who is standing to my left outside the photo. Whitty waits by the gate to be led into his stall.
As Whitty entrains to the energy of the herd and as the mares move through their season things will settle down. He will be allowed into their bubble and he will be very helpful to them through their next cycles.