|She's about 31" tall at the withers.|
So, here is Daria! She is a 16 year old American Miniature Horse mare. She was a broodmare for a friend of a friend, and is done having babies. Her new task is to keep Red company. We brought her home Sunday night. We had hoped to make it home before dark, but that didn't quite happen. She is black, so the horses didn't immediately notice her when I unloaded her out of the trailer. I brought her over to the outside of the wooden fence and put a little hay down for her to eat. The boys acted all silly and Arabian, prancing and snorting. Daria was unimpressed and chose to munch a little hay instead of worry about them.
|Rhio wondering what the heck she is!|
|Meeting Rhio for the first time.|
I don't have a place to keep her separate from them, but allow them to get acquainted, so I really had no choice but to just put her in the pasture with them after a short time. This is one of those instances where you should do what I say, and not what I do!! It is always much, much safer for everyone involved to let a new horse meet the herd gradually over a few days, across a fence for example. However, I know that my boys are fairly well "socialized" and usually take to new horses pretty well. They have never lived with a mini before, but they have lived with mini donkeys without incident. So, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Another good reason for a separate area for a new horse is to prevent spreading disease to your herd. This is a definite disadvantage in my case, because Daria has lice. While lice are not uncommon in minis in the late winter, due to the fact that lice love the warmth underneath the thick, dense winter coat, they are contagious. How am I dealing with this? First, before putting her in the pasture, I treated her with a permethrin spot-on (made for repelling ticks and flies). Lice are insects and can be killed by regular insecticides (i.e. fly spray), but you have to get it down to the skin. There is also a powder formula, which you brush into the coat. I couldn't find any of the lice powder enroute home from picking her up, but what I could find was the spot-on. So, that's what I went with. The very best solution is to remove the thick hair (body clip), shampoo with a permethrin shampoo, and then treat. But, it is March. I cannot remove her warm hair nor give her a bath in March! Lice are very itchy to the horse, and poor Daria has scratched out big patches of hair on her neck, the backs of her hind legs, and her face. I believe that she has "chewing" type lice, which eat dander. This makes any type of internal medication given to the horse useless. In an attempt to prevent Red and Rhio from getting lice, I put the spot-on treatment on them as well, and will continue the spot-on treatment on everybody every 2 weeks. Additionally, every other day I've been grooming Daria really, really thoroughly (which she loves) and putting fly spray into her mane and tail, down at the roots. Today, I couldn't see any active lice. However, they have most definitely laid eggs, which are glued to the base of the hairs and hatch in 10-14 days. So you can see, this isn't going to be a quick fix!
|Big patches where she's missing hair from rubbing it out.|
Other things I'm doing to reduce the chance of spreading lice, since I can't keep her separate: when I groom her, I use only her own dedicated grooming tools, and they are washed and disinfected after each use. I do not handle Red and Rhio at all while I'm grooming her, or until after I've changed my clothes. My outwear goes directly into the washer on hot, then the dryer. I don't let her hair fall to the ground, but bag it up and remove it to the garbage immediately. Luckily, only horses (donkeys & mules too) can get this lice - so I don't have to worry about the people or the dogs getting them. However, I could potentially carry lice from Daria to the boys, so I'm trying to be ultra-careful to reduce the chance I'll accidentally give some lice a free ride.
Otherwise, she seems to be settling in just fine and getting used to the routine. Rhio postured at her pretty intensely for the first hour or so, making sure she knew he was herd boss. Since then, he's been just fine with her and the two are often hanging out in fairly close proximity. Red, however, chases, bites, and kicks at her - but only when I am putting out hay. Once they've settled down to eat, he is fine. They all move about the pasture together, and can often be seen dozing under the pine trees. It is only the third day she's been here, so I am optimistic that we will soon have a happy, content Herd of Three.
And, I can't wait for that first really nice day, so they can all get therapeutic baths.