When we brought Honey and Bae home, we kept them separate from Mairsiedotes because we were not sure how well they would get along, and Mairsiedotes, being only a year old, is much smaller than the older horses. So we alternated which horses stayed in the corral and which stayed in the pasture. This allowed them to interact through the fence without the risk of fighting. After a while we saw the horses would prefer to stand by each other by the fence in the hot summer sun than stand in the shade away from each other, so we put them together and watched them all move to the shade.
Thepecking order was established, of course, with Honey as top mare, Mairsiedotes as second, and Bae on the bottom. Things were all right though, until we stopped letting them into the pasture due to rain and mud. We kept the horses in the corral because the corral has a base of hog fuel and fir shavings to keep their feet out of the mud. And we want to keep them out of the small pasture to keep the small pasture from becoming a mud pit. Unfortunately, the small corral was not big enough for the three of them to abide peaceably together and Mairsiedotes was getting the brunt of Honey’s nips and kicks.
Knowing this problem cannot continue, Cheryl and I finished Mairsiedotes stall today so she could rest without fear tonight.
Cheryl said Mairsiedotes laid down (in her stall) for the first time since the pasture became off limits. Then when she was done resting, she stood up and went near the other horses who were both standing near her stall wall. They wanted to be near each other, and could interact over the short wall, but Mairsiedotes could feel safe from Honey’s picking on her.
Well, the experiment of building the barn backwards didn’t work. I always knew the stalls should open up into the corral or pasture, but I thought we could make it work having the stalls open up into the barn center and through that into the corral.
The barn center had a closed off hay room on one side, and to get to the hay when feeding time arrived, one had to negotiate between three large animals; hungry and letting you know about it.
1,200 pound animals up in your grill as you struggle to get yourself and your armfuls of hay out of the hay room, shut the sliding hay room door so none of them help themselves to the contents of the room, and get past them as they each tear away at your scratchy bundle, often dumping the disheveled mess on the ground before you can get to an appropriate place with the shedding flakes, is not a feat for the faint of heart. Even worse when the horses decide to have it out amongst themselves and you jump back into the hay room to escape the kicks and nips that follow intense squeals as the horses vie for position in the food line.
So finally I faced the fact that a backwards barn just wouldn’t do. Funny how a person (me) can try to reinvent the wheel (meaning barn plan) when it has already been done to such perfection for hundreds of years, only to realize their (my) folly and have to fix it.
After facing the hard facts, I called in some help. My niece Rachel was available and I was so glad. She is a hard and resourceful worker and I knew I could get a lot done with her help. With the next three days appearing to be good weather in the forecast, we got busy flipping the horse stalls with the rest of the barn!
After one day we are well on our way to accomplishing the gutting and rearranging of the inner essentials of a working barn. We now have a door that opens to a barn area where we can store hay and tack as well as have some room to bring the horses through the breezeway. Tomorrow we will create new stalls where the old hay room and breezeway was. The stalls will have gates into the rest of the barn area, and doors out to the corral. This is going to make feeding the horses a breeze. Timid souls can feed the lovely beasts without worry of harm or injury. All will be well in the barnyard.