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Ranger's Journey: Day 4

And today this happened. What??? There isn't a scratch on anyone out there! Maybe a UFO crash landed in the corral, who knows? But something was up although it was all calm when I peeked out the window at dawn. Tony and I replaced the panel - we will just have a slightly smaller round pen in the summer.

Ranger had a good day and a bad day yesterday. It started out great with more herd introductions but went way downhill with the farrier experience.

First of all, having lots of new girlfriends, all of whom are in heat, has made Ranger think he hit the jackpot by moving here. Even though that really excites him (REALLY excites him!!!), he has been very well behaved for me and catching him is no problem. But he is still a baby and it's taking him time to trust his new environment and all the new people. This is Day 4 of Living at the Diamondfly, and I give him tons of credit for taking literally dozens of new experiences and processing them pretty fast.

I explained all this to my farrier and his assistant while Ranger was tied to the hitch rail. He has been very good tied up other than a little pawing when other horses move in and out of the corral. But that's what we do here, move around a lot and have a ton of activity, so he needs to get used to it all. It seemed like everyone understood that, but as my farrier was holding up a front foot to trim it, the assistant walked right up in front of Ranger and tossed his shoeing stand down right in front of him. It clattered loudly, it was something Ranger had never seen, at least not here, and the assistant isn't very adept at running his own energy fields (he is young and learning). Well poor Ranger came unglued over all of that and the day started slipping away. One broken halter, one snapped leadrope clip, and no progress in self-energy management from the assistant ended up with the task barely getting completed. The farrier is much better at noticing horses and anticipating - the assistant needs to take some of our classes on awareness and thinking like a horse. Poor Ranger. However, he stayed OK with me - still able to catch him fine - and after some squealing over the fence with Skippy before dinner, I made the decision to just let him out with the herd to have everybody get over themselves before somebody jumped a fence. That was the right call - it took about 10 minutes of everyone sharing their loud opinions and pretending to be "Mr. Steroids 2020" for it all to settle down and "get back to grazing."

This morning was very peaceful, with Ranger surrounded by the Cheerleading Squad. I'll share some videos of Ranger and the mares. It's pretty interesting to watch the body language in the clips. I could literally spend all day observing how they are together in the herd. They have hundreds of small, almost imperceptible cues they give out - ears, head position, haunches, tails, vocalizing, speed and direction - there is a giant conversation going on everywhere, even with the ones in what seems to be the background. For them it's all "now" whether for us it's foreground or background. They are all paying attention to everything going on in the herd, no matter what distance they have from each other. Ranger's very favorite is Sami, the chestnut mare with the flax mane. Leia, the dapple gray is his #2, and Freya, bay mare, is kind of in and out of "most favored wife" status.

If we all watched and paid attention to just how horses move each other we could learn much more of how to interact with them with nothing but our bodies - no tack, no whips, no drama, just simple, clear cues. That's why most of my work with Ranger has been and will continue to be at liberty - that's the relationship I want to build and he thoroughly understands that body language communication I'm sure I will always learn more from him than he does from me!

Ranger led his girls to the "watering hole" (trough) and very carefully positioned himself in a sentinel fashion in order to protect them while they drank. Bless his little mustang heart - he is 100% dedicated to what he thinks is his job.

Only after Ranger and the girls drank was Whicker (black horse) allowed to come to the watering hole. However, he still wasn't permitted to join up with them, nor were the girls allowed to go to him - he had to drink alone. All of this is just fine with the herd. These are the rules they survive by in the wild, and also in captivity in a free-roaming herd. Whicker doesn't have hurt feelings. Nor is he physically hurt (by possibly being bitten or kicked for not reading the signs) - he just keeps the peace, takes care of his needs and pays attention to the new hierarchy in the herd. This may all change substantially when the mares are no longer in heat. We'll see how that evolves.

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