A few weeks ago, Presto’s turnout situation changed.
He’s been living with the mini donkeys since he got here last April, mostly because he was an ungelded colt at a boarding barn and it was the only turnout where he could be effectively isolated away from any mares. He never did seem to realize that he was a colt, but still… not taking any chances with that.
Dobby’s turnout buddy left right around the same time Presto was fully healed up from being gelded, so we figured we’d try putting those two together. Dobby is just coming 4, so he’s still young enough to play with Presto a bit, but old enough to put him in his place when necessary too. Presto is extremely submissive to other horses, and Dobby is pretty laid-back, so I hoped they might be a good match.
While Presto seemed much more enthusiastic about Dobby’s presence than Dobby did about Presto, they got along just fine. Dobby wasn’t shy about nipping Presto when he got too annoying, but there was no drama at all. Over the past few weeks I think Presto has kind of grown on Dobby a bit… a first Dobby seemed to think of him as mostly a pest (I mean, he’s not wrong) but I caught them playing Bitey Face a few times. Still, Dobby continued to act like he was a little too good for Presto, and seemed relatively indifferent about his presence. I thought that was great, because it meant you could take each of them out by themselves, leaving the other behind, and neither of them really cared. My biggest concern with all of this was Presto getting herdbound, so I was super happy that Dobby didn’t love him enough to care where he went.
They’ve coexisted really well for a few weeks now. Presto has a couple little chunks missing out of him, but I have no doubt that he deserved them. He’s still very submissive and bottom of the pecking order, but he’s gotten a bit braver and more social and started to test his limits a little bit more.
Last week Bobby brought Cannavaro over to our barn for a couple months of groundwork training. The best turnout option for him seemed to be the pasture with Presto and Dobby, so we decided to try it out as a trio.
First we put Dobby and Cannavaro out together, since we figured they would be the two most likely to have issues. They weren’t immediate best friends, but seemed to have no objections.
Then we put Presto in.
Remember all that indifference Dobby showed towards Presto before? Yeah well, now it turns out that he decided Presto is actually HIS. But Cannavaro thought he might want to stake his claim too. And poor dumb oblivious Presto was just going back and forth between them like “OH MY GOD I GOT ANUDDER BESS FRENN DIS IS THE BESS DAY OF MY LIIIIIFEEEE”. Not a clue that the other two were having a power struggle about which of them got to claim him.
Eventually they seemed to settle on joint custody. Cannavaro and Dobby would maintain a respectable distance from each other, and Presto would take turns grazing next to each of them. I still don’t think that either Cannavaro or Dobby really like him all that much, they just don’t want the other one to have him.
Presto, of course, remains dumb as a box of rocks about these complex herd dynamics. All he knows is that he went from two mini donkeys to two Cool Kids. He’s like the little scrawny freshman nerd that’s been drafted into the group of senior football players and he is having the time of his life.
The arrangement is only a few days old but things seem to be settled and content now. Hopefully Presto will get to play with them a bit and continue to get a little braver in his social interactions. These two guys are definitely much nicer to him than Henry has ever been.