Okay, these darn ponies are turning feral on me! They are obviously getting more than enough to eat, because they aren't really interested in coming for their bucket feed. Most of last week, it was okay, because I had them in the yard to do other things, then fed before turning them back out. However, if I have tried to call them in, they just aren't bothered. For a number of years, they have responded pretty well to being called, but now .... And I do want them to have their supplements. Sigh!
This evening I left it a bit late. It was dusk when I called them. So I walked out to where they were. The first thing I learned was that they have stopped eating their hay now. So I guess Iona and I can shelve the task of carrying hay nets for awhile!
It was getting a bit stormy - wind, some lightning in the distance, and also getting dark. I had my carrot stick with me, and they usually follow me easily and I don't even use the stick. However, they needed quite a bit of encouragement tonight. Nagging is probably what I actually did. I began to realise, as we walked along the track that there are quite a few areas that they consider spooky. That sort of surprised me. But I think it explains a vague feeling I've had that they seem to sort of get "stuck" in certain places. There aren't many trees, but the few we passed were like squeezes for them. (The track is about 25' wide. so not that much of a squeeze, I would have thought.) There are also old irrigation ditches, some now full of weeds and brush, and Iona was giving these sidelong looks, too. So we would go along, and they would start hanging back, so I would let them think about it, go ahead and try to draw them or drive them a little with the stick, then they would squirt forward past whatever, and be okay for a bit. Then we would do it all again. I wasn't dealing with their thresholds as well as I would have liked to. I just wanted to get out of the wind and be finished. I will try going for more walks with them, though, and see what we can work out. Of course, it's really up to them to play approach and retreat with whatever they are worried about, and I'm sure they will feel more confident soon. Everything about this place must look like the planet Mars to them after Scotland!
Bruce likes to walk in front when the three of us go along the track. Occasionally he decides to canter off ahead and Iona goes with him. That's usually when he decides he's thirsty, as we are generally headed in the direction of the water. This evening, when he would go ahead, Iona would keep turning back and waiting for me. I'm not sure whether she was making sure I was okay or needing me to boost her confidence, but it was nice!
Tomorrow, I am going to shut them out of their grazing cell for the day. I hope it will encourage them to move more and use the track, and I suspect that they could be eating a bit less than they are. Although their weight is about right I still don't want them stuffing themselves. It will be interesting to see what they think about that. I'll let you know!