Bravo arrived yesterday. He's a black Tennessee Walker gelding who's in for trail ride training.
I started Bravo's first session by gathering Ziggy out of the pasture, saddling him up and then leaving him tied in the barn - I just had a feeling...
Halter in hand, I went back out to the pasture on foot and attempted to make a connection with Bravo.
He wanted nothing to do with me.
Bravo is the nervous sort. His spatial bubble is very large and he did not allow me to get within 30 feet of him. When he moved, I moved along with him, at an angle slightly behind his ribcage. I wasn't in any big hurry. I figured if he allowed me to get close enough that we could touch nose to hand, I'd be happy with that.
It took many minutes, but finally Bravo waited just long enough to touch my outstretched hand. Then he took off like a shot.
No big deal.
I walked back to the barn and brought Ziggy and my flag out. I mounted and we quietly walked about the pasture, gently pushing Bravo around - first in large circles to the right, then some circles to the left. I never had to use the flag; Ziggy's straightforward, business like energy was plenty to get Bravo moving.
It didn't take long, with Ziggy as my legs, to help Bravo understand that if he allowed us to get close, he could rest from his circles. Pretty soon, we were standing together. Bravo used the quiet time to catch his breath. He stared at us, blinking and licking, his expression one of concern. When he realized that we didn't want anything more than to be close, he started to relax. I watched his nervousness dissolve and I rode away.
I formulated a plan as I unsaddled the Zigster. Bravo needed a friend and I intended to be that friend. The herd was not allowing him in - they were defending the hay and the water tank. They were tag teaming Bravo, so he had to keep moving. In a few hours time, I knew he'd be exhausted and looking for some companionship. I could help him with that.
As the afternoon wore on and long after the rest of the herd was willing to allow Bravo to join them, Yoshi was relentless in his desire to keep him out. He repeatedly chased Bravo across the entire pasture. His bad manners showing how little he understands about herd behaviors. Interestingly, during the chases, Yoshi gaped his mouth open, braced his teeth against Bravo's rump, but never bit down on him. In his defense, Bravo did a fine job of protecting himself. I noticed that he's quite accurate with his hind hooves. All in all, Yoshi got the worst of it.
When feeding time rolled around, I started my "friend" routine. All the horses came for their buckets and that gave Bravo some time at the hay. While the rest of the herd filled their bellies, I walked Bravo's bucket out to him. He wouldn't allow me to get close, so I left the bucket and backed ten feet away. Bravo tentatively came over to inspect the contents and reached in to eat. I stayed where I was, chatting with Jute and rubbing her belly. When Bravo curiously turned his attention to us, I walked right up and gave him a scratch. He got a bit frightened, but stood his ground. Jute reached for him and she and Bravo touched noses. I stayed close, scratching and rubbing, until Bravo finished his feed. When the other horses came over to have their buckets removed, Bravo calmly moved away.
That was a nice finish to the day.