November 5 was the day Commander came to live with Ben at Alprilla Farm. A 19-year-old Morgan gelding, he was a "free to good home" adoption.
We introduced them with halters and lead ropes on at first, Rick -- Commander's then-owner -- holding Commander and me holding Ben. Commander did the squeal-strike a couple of times, which didn't seem to faze Ben at all; but mostly both horses were much more interested in the hay piles scattered liberally around the paddock. So after a bit we took their halters off and left them to their own devices.
Left to their own devices, they ate hay. Commander puttered about a bit, sampled what grass there was, and decided the hay was better. Ben ate hay. They migrated from pile to pile, and when one happened to pass near the other, there was mutual surveying before both went back to the important business of eating hay.
They didn't seem tense, just curious. Both boys are mid to late teens and both have been around the block a few times.
Sometimes they got quite close, and seemed quite relaxed about the whole thing. Curious, but relaxed.
They actually did eat from the same hay pile once or twice, though mostly they stuck to separate tables.
Rick and his girlfriend Carol stayed for quite a while, making sure all would be well and enjoying the sight of their good old buddy settling into his new life. Finally, Rick said goodbye.
When the truck and trailer pulled out to the road and drove away, Commander galloped to the corner of the paddock nearest to the road and neighed, then watched till the rig was out of sight.
Then he returned to eating hay.
So how well did the two boys get along as the day progressed? Observe Ben thoughtfully, experimentally come up behind Commander and thoughtfully, experimentally chomp down on Commander's tailhead:
Can you believe it? Ben, what are you thinking?!? Here, let's zoom in for a closeup of this madness:
So what happened?!?
Commander flicked his ears back as I yelled at Ben.
Commander, never letting go of his mouthful of hay, walked away.
Meanwhile, the white boys were watching this with undisguised fascination. Whenever Commander went near the fence Counterpoint (a/k/a Herd King) especially was eager to sniff noses, never forgetting to be as studly as possible. Cholla hung back a bit, as befits his lower social status, but wanted to get acquainted too.
Have you noticed that every picture of Commander so far, he's got hay hanging out of his mouth?
"Wonder what they're saying about me?"
In fact, the toughest part for Commander of this whole introduction thing turned out to be trying to get a drink of water -- Counterpoint seized the opportunity to get some nose-to-nose contact, kept blocking poor Commander's access to the water, till finally I climbed into the white boys' side and distracted Counterpoint long enough for the new guy to get his drink.
Eventually Ben and Commander went into the run-in.
We'd wondered whether there'd be competition, dog-in-the-mangering, conflict.
Nope. Other than Commander moving away if Ben moved toward him, they hung out and ate peaceably.
So life goes on at Alprilla Farm, with one happily settled in newcomer, who knows the value of a good mouthful of hay.