Monday, November 28, 2011

28th November, 2011 The Story of Old MacDonald

This little piggy

Met a horse called Sparkle

Who whispered in his ear

 Today a small but kindly gang of us went down to Longdown Activity Centre where we were fortunate to be allowed to run a small experiment. Amanda brought two of her horses - Hugs a laid back Icelandic pony and Sparkle a four year old Crabbet Arabian destined for the world of endurance. Sparkle has not met pigs before. I brought the round pen with me and made it into a large square opposite the paddock where Longdown turns out its pigs. Ably assisted by Julie and Hannah, and most essentially Jodie from the farm, we introduced Hugs and Sparkle to various farm animals starting off with a little piglet.

A running foot - reserving the right to leave if things get too hairy.
 The idea is to work without drama. Easy to think with a confident, curious horse like Sparkle that she isn't in the least bit worried but she had the occasional running foot (also see the picture of the ducks) and liked to stay close to Hugs. Once she was relaxed we let out approximately 40 pigs into the paddock opposite and allowed the horses to observe them.
The farm's own Shire horse looked on.

The pigs were very lively and came out in quite a rush,

This one was particularly beautiful

Hugs and Sparkle watch the pigs cavaroting.
The horses stayed close to the top part of the pen, closest to the pigs, and watched them closely. They would take mouthfuls of hay and then watch again. Sparkle licked and chewed from time to time and huffed down her nose - but getting no reaction from Hugs she grew more and more relaxed. So we decided to take them even closer with Hugs in the lead. We would stop from time to time but moved on again so that Sparkle could lose any energy that built up. We always walked between the horses and the pigs no matter which direction we were going in.

Hugs particularly liked the orange ones

Sparkle liked them all
Then we went and got some goats for them to look at before going on an excursion to look at the ducks, alpacas and some more pigs.

I think I need a goat in my life

Two Hugs for this goat

The ducks weren't too sure of the horses either...

...but the alpaca wanted a close up view.

Just before the end we took Sparkle back to see the pigs where she walked up and down completely relaxed.
The pigs are actually on the left hand side of this picture.