Thursday was a get to know you day. I was out at the barn all day and made it a point to spend time with the new guy any time he needed feeding or watering. I always start them out with hay as well as hay cubes with whole oats. Mustangs usually will not eat grain directly because it is not something they find out in the wild, so you have to wean them onto it so that they can develop a taste for it. With as jumpy as the new guy was I did not feel comfortable to even be in the pen with him. I brought a stool to outside of the pen and hand fed him hay through the bars of the enclosure. He would take the hay and lay his ears flat back as he stepped away to chew it. This went on for awhile. It was like any time he would get a whiff of my hand he would back his ears as if to say "you stink like human!" That evening during the evening feeding session, a friend of mine was out to the barn. She is learning the art of animal communication through mental images. I have had her talk to mustangs that I have had in the past with great success. She sat with me as I was feeding the new guy hay and asked me if I have named him. Up to this point I had thought about Cole from his color, although it was fitting it was not sticking with me. My friend Hannah was quiet for a minute then turned to me and said, "I think he wants to be named after a bird." Two seconds later we turned to each other and said "raven" at the same time! That was that. We had a name and are quiet sure it is the name he wanted!
Friday we did more of the same, but this time I ventured into the pen with Raven. I set my stool inside and quietly hand fed him. He was still pretty jumpy at this point and can not handle any quick movements. By the end of the day i could sit, feed him hay and drag a string across his head, a big step in desensitizing him for getting a halter on. I also had time to look more into his history. He is five years old and had only been in captivity since April of this year! Up until that point he was on the range as a studd (unfixed male) possibly with a family band of his own. He is gelded (fixed) now, but I can tell every instinct that has kept him alive up to this point is very against what I am trying to accomplish.
Saturday: Stoked about my progress from the day before I was anxious to get back working with Raven. His pen is located on the outskirts of the feed pen where we feed all thirty of the resident horses at Whispering Hills Farm. I got to the barn about the time feeding started . I prepared his meal of hay, soaked hay cubes, and his Equine Natural Choice herb combination. I had put him on a starting combination of immune support to alleviate the travel stress, blood detox, and herbs to support the mental stress of every thing that has happened to him. I got myself staged for my feeding session; put the stool in the pen, put the feed cubes out side the pen with the water bucket and had my hay in hand. I entered the pen, sat on the stool and started to hand feed raven his hay. I get about five handfuls in when all of the sudden Raven grabs a bite of hay, lays his ears back, swings his head to an equine by standard on the out side of his pen, and charges the pen wall. I tossed the hay straight up in the air and lept to me feet. I was out of that pen faster then you could say s**t! ( I know because I said it!) Of course as soon as I made my move out of the pen ravens focus went from the horses threatening his feed to running away from me! He immediately threw himself against the pen wall on the other side. Both of took a deep breath and looked at each other, adrenaline running high. That experience was definitely a step backwards in our journey but it happens. I abandoned feeding in the pen the rest of the day and resorted back to feeding the through the panels in the afternoon. It was disappointing to take a step back after making such great progress the night before, but it is not my time frame that matters but his. Raven, just like every mustang before him, will tell me how fast I can progress with him. As long as I respect that, when they are ready they have always given me everything they've got, and raven will be know different.