Sunday, February 3, 2008

Argus Learns About Herd Dynamics

On Friday, Argus had his first "group turnout" experience. It was full of surprises.

Ridge, who has previously liked and tolerated Argus (and has been his #1 turnout buddy), decided that he would protect Odie The Mule from the intruder, Argus. Ridge can be very bossy with Argus, which is good. He is teaching him The Rules.

Odie, who loves everyone equally and just wants to have fun, was 100% focused on important things like rolling and playing and sniffing. He and Argus have been turned out together in the arena many times. Argus likes Odie because he is playful and not too bossy.

Argus was confused. Why was his friend keeping him away from the mule? Weren't they impressed by his lucky bloody shoulder??

What followed was a safe and positive lesson in herd behavior, taught by Professor Ridge.

Experiences like this help prepare Argus for springtime, when he will join the geldings for turnout in the pasture. Although he is 16 years old, it is believed that he has never experienced living in a group. Despite this, he has surprisingly good social skills and reads the body language of other horses well.

Here, while first turned out, Argus reads Ridge's body language, which clearly says:
"Stay away! This is MY mule!" He is keeping himself between Argus and Odie,
much the way a stallion (or a gelding) would protect a mare.
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Argus studies the situation for a while. Odie, as ususual, is rolling,
oblivious to the drama unfolding.
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Argus decides to approach. Ridge communicates clearly with teeth flashing: STAY AWAY.
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Argus experiments, running rather playfully toward Ridge. He seems to be trying to figure out how to join this group. I was impressed by how the three horses worked this all out.
I was not worried about any of them getting hurt,
although I stood with halters ready just in case.
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Argus gets too close again. Odie rolls. He is clearly frightened and on high alert... ;)
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Ridge continues to keep himself between Odie and Argus,
although Argus keeps trying to move closer.
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Finally, an agreement of sorts is reached. Ridge moves to the other side of Odie, allowing Argus to be near him. He does this off and on for the rest of the time they are turned out together, each time allowing Argus to move closer to Odie.
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Anonymous said...

That is too funny! Horses!! Argus, poor guy, I guess will need more lessons in equine manners before he is turned loose in "polite horse society." I'm glad he has a great teacher to help out with these new life lessons.

You were smart to go slow with Argus. He is thriving.

Please give Argus a pat AND a kiss for me on his pretty nose!

take care,

Do you know where Grover Beach, CA is? My sister lives there and if I can come to see her before Argus leaves for his permenant home I would really like to come see him in person.

Emmi said...

Oh how great pics! I'm al addicted to this blog, and enjoy reading about Argus and his friends.

Best wishes from
Emmi, Finland

Gina said...

I love how Odis is SO agitated he's rolling. Haha. He's such a cutie.

How many horses do you have?

Anonymous said...

Hi there from Sydney Australia. I love reading your story.. what an amazing transformation that has taken place already!

Congrats to you on all that you have given Argus.. life


Argus' foster mom said...

Grover Beach is approximately 5 hours' drive to the south of us (our farm is 1.5 hours north of San Francisco).

Hope that helps.

We own 6 horses, 1 mule and a pony. All but a couple are rescues...

APVal said...

I love when you add pictures! Just wanted to say that.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this for this horse. It's an amazing story to read and one I've been lurking around reading for some time now. :) It's so wonderful to hear about the strides Argus is making... the biggest kudos in the world to you!!

Kyryah said...

I have to say that this is the saddest and yet most uplifting story that I have ever read. I will continue to follow Argus' story. What an amazing example of the true heart that beats within a horse. His strength is very inspiring, as is your love and dedication to him. Thank you for caring so much!

Take care and bless you all,

jami said...

I am learning so much from this post. Sorry if this is a repeat question but I was wondering how will you be able to let him go to another home once he's rehabbed? Are you going to keep him? I can tell that you are really attached to him. Good luck to you and Argus.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, Argus' bloody shoulder makes him more than just loving, it makes him the most adoring, loyal and probably the most special animal you'll ever meet.
I have a mare with a bloody shoulder, and although her life has been very different, her personality is the same.
He is lucky to have finally found someone who understands just how special he is.
Do you have any idea on how his friend is doing?

Anonymous said...

What a marvelous story, thank you for sharing it, and thank you for taking such good care of Argus.