This past week we moved some horses around- we took Hershey up to Natalie, one of our fosters, who has been caring for Cindy Lou and Noelle for the past six months- and brought Cindy Lou down to Hanaeleh. This is temporary- our hope is that we will find Cindy Lou a lovely new home and we will be able to bring Hershey back to Hanaeleh. In the meantime, however, Hershey is going to learn how to pull a cart, which will help build up his back and keep him exercised and fit. He has done some of the basics of ground driving at Hanaeleh, but at the foster home he will be able to be hitched up with another horse, which will help give him some confidence and will help him learn faster. When he comes back to Hanaeleh he should be able to pull the cart by himself!
The trip up to the foster home was easy; Hershey loaded into the trailer without an issue and we were off. The traffic was light and we made it up to L.A. in a little under two hours (in a trailer we can’t go above 55 mph). I unloaded Hershey and took him to his new stall- he seemed relatively content, although a little confused. Cindy Lou was out with Noelle in the arena, and Hershey seemed very interested in the ladies, although they weren’t altogether interested in him. He also enjoyed talking over the stall with Natalie’s gelding.
Later that afternoon, however, Hershey realized that he was alone in the stall, and no one was next to him, and he began to get upset. He began pacing back and forth in the stall, wanting to get to his new horsie friends. He was so upset that he wouldn’t eat, so the next day, Natalie put him in the arena with Noelle, and he settled right down and began eating. Noelle isn’t infatuated with him, but she tolerated him, and being with him helped her deal with the loss of Cindy Lou. The following day Natalie put all three horses together in the arena, and they all got along without any issues, so Hershey has two new friends. She also moved Hershey so he is in the middle between Noelle and her gelding, so he is surrounded by horsie friends on all sides. He seems happy now, and when he is completely settled in he will start some light work. Until then, he just has to hang out with his new friends.
Cindy Lou has been doing well in her new foster home, which was why we thought she would be ready to come to Hanaeleh and hopefully find a new home. We don’t know a lot about Cindy Lou’s past. She was a horse at a dude ranch that went bankrupt, and the horses were left to their own devices for a long time. When the new manager came to the ranch, Cindy Lou had been turned out with her son, but for the most part hadn’t been handled by people for over six years. She had separation anxiety whenever she was taken away from her son, and it was very difficult to take her any distance from the other horses. Natalie has been working with her, and Cindy Lou has been ridden (with another horse buddy by her side) around the neighborhood and on trail a few times a week, so we decided that she was ready to be adopted out.
She had some issues leaving the facility, and although Natalie has worked on this, Cindy Lou was still hesitant to walk away from the ranch by herself to get into the trailer. Thankfully she loaded without an issue, although once she realized she was going to be alone, she started calling for her friends and kicked my trailer a few times. She settled down once we got on the road, however, although it took almost three hours for us to get back to Hanaeleh because we ran into traffic from a few accidents on the freeway. Thankfully she seemed relatively quiet for the majority of the trip.
I didn’t have anyone to help me unload Cindy Lou, and she was agitated when we finally stopped at Hanaeleh. I unclipped her from the trailer and clipped a lead rope on her. Then I maneuvered outside of the trailer and opened the divider. I was thankful I was outside, as she flung herself around as if she were going to leap out of the trailer, but stopped right at the edge, and then gave a little hop and gently jumped down. I think she would have been fine and would have backed out without any issues if I had been at her head, but I couldn’t open the divider and stay at her head since I was by myself. As it was, there was very little drama.
Once I got Cindy Lou to Hanaeleh, of course, all of the horses wanted to see her and say hi. She seemed to be a bit overwhelmed, however, so we just walked straight up to the top of the hill. I put her up in Hershey’s stall, and Gypsy who was next door very clearly told her that she was in charge. Cindy Lou didn’t seem to have any issues with that; she immediately put her head over the stall and decided she was in love with Rio (who is also a paint). Rio played it cool, but definitely seemed interested.
The only issue with Cindy Lou being in immediate love with Rio was that she wouldn’t eat her dinner. Gypsy was down at the bottom of the stall as well, I believe telling Cindy Lou to have some dignity. I gave Gypsy a few pellets, and she abandoned Cindy Lou to come up and eat. Realizing her new friend and mentor was up eating, she left Rio to his own devices and began eating as well.
The next day, we worked Cindy Lou a little in the round pen, and she was very responsive. We also worked with her with the fly spray bottle- she came to the foster home with a violent reaction to the fly spray, and it took weeks before Natalie was able to spray her. We started with desensitizing her some more with the fly spray bottle, and after about 10 minutes we were able to spray her without her flinching or being scared. She was not just scared of being sprayed, but was obviously afraid of the bottle, so we believe that she was probably hit with a fly spray bottle in the past. We will continue to work with her with the fly spray so she is comfortable with it.
We tied her up to the tie rail- she was somewhat nervous and wanted to turn around to see everything that was going on. The following day we tied her to the cross ties, where she was quiet and stood without an issue, but I think that’s more because no other horses were walking around. I gave her a bath and she was quiet and calm the entire time. We will continue to practice with her so she doesn’t have any problems with being tied at different places.
Cindy Lou has come a long way in the past six months, and we hope that we will be able to find her a good home where she will continue to gain confidence. She will need an intermediate handler, and even though we will continue to work with her, it’s highly unlikely she will be completely comfortable with going off-property by herself- she will probably always need a buddy when she goes out on trail. In a few weeks when we have more information we will officially put her up on our adoption page and look to find her a new home.