Things were soon so quiet that I decided to just put the rest of the herd in with them, too. I had expected to wait a few days to do that, but the horses seemed to be telling me differently. That went fine, too, so after a couple more hours I just herded everybody out onto the track. At that point the new horses did lose a bit of confidence and thought it might be a racetrack! They did a very impressive 3/4 mile sprint, then came back. However, except for breaking the playground gate, trying to go back in, they settled down pretty quickly.
By this time the afternoon had worn on, and I decided that if I wanted to leave them out with the herd for the night, then Cash and JB probably needed a bit or a tour. I wanted to ride Iona, anyway, so I saddled her up and headed out. Cash and JB decided to overtake us, and the rest of the herd came, too. We went at a very steady pace, with Bruce eventually bringing up the rear. I think he wanted to keep track of everybody.
Iona was a real star and led most of the way, with "The Browns" occasionally forging ahead, then falling behind us again. We went so slowly that I realised that we wouldn't make it all the way around before dark, so Iona and I opened the grazing cell gate and got everybody in. She was very patient, going in and out of the gate several times to show Cash and JB where the gate is. She really surprised me by next offering to leave the herd and take me back to the yard. Of course after I untacked her and put her back on the track she had an "Oh, my god! How do I get back to my buddies?" moment. But I managed to get her going in the right direction and she calmly headed back out to them.
And Cash and JB drink last.
The drinking order led me to believe that Cash and JB were still at the bottom of the heap. This was the first day I would feed them all together and I'm glad I paid attention. When I came out with the feed I gave the Fells theirs and Hunter and Dakota hung back in a very obvious way, so I went ahead and fed The Browns. That worked great, and that's the way it has remained.
I'm pretty proud of this picture. Six horses eating together harmoniously on the first attempt!
On Thursday I had a really nice ride on Bruce. I think all the passenger lessons when I'm bringing the herd in have had a good effect on his morale and on our relationship. (In fact, he seems a little miffed if I don't ride him in in the mornings now.) I rode him all the way around the track, checking fences and just generally having fun. The herd followed us some of the time. I'm pretty sure he thought we were going to the grazing cell, and that probably helped his motivation. We even had some little canters without an arguement. When we got to the grazing gate I though I would see if I could ride him past, and it was pretty easy, so we just kept going. Then there was a combine working just on the other side of the fence, and he was great about that, too. I felt really happy all evening, thinking of what a nice ride we had. It's been a long time coming.