On Adopting Jet
Linda Perry Turner, Ph.D., D.V.M.
Cassie lost her mother, a 25-year-old gray Arab named Q.T., in the spring of ’08 due to a strangulated intestine. Q.T. was Cassie’s best and only friend in our 1-acre pasture where Cassie was born on Easter, 1989. We all did some grieving but eventually my husband, Dan, and I began the search for a pasture mate for our lonely mare. Due to rising hay prices, I was leaning towards a pony or mini-horse (Cassie’s a small, 14 hand quarter horse cross) but the Bitterroot grapevine failed to turn up a suitable substitute for her missing mother. Finally, we looked at a 16-year-old gelding that turned out to be too large and much too dominant for our little girl and a 28-year-old mare with the opposite problem, being too submissive for our half-Arab with attitude.
On February 10th this year, I attended Dr. Corey’s presentation on “The Unwanted Horse” sponsored by Shawn Gleason, D.V.M.. After the talk, I chatted with Kim Dornan and Theresa Manzella about our continuing search and I learned about Jet. Dan and I met Jet the following weekend at Eva Melody’s place, where Jet was being fostered, fattened, and vet-checked. We found her to be a gentle 23-year-old ex-barrel racer paint mare that hadn’t been able to compete for the limited food resources available to her former herd. But she hadn’t lost her spirit and was responding well to Eva’s care and good nutrition. She seemed perfect.
A week later, Eva, her friend Beth, and their generous neighbor, Jane, trailered Jet to our house. Eva led Jet into a corral within the pasture while I held Cassie, who was obviously excited at the prospect of a new companion. We’d already bought some of the same hay that Jet had been eating at Eva’s place plus the ingredients for a special mash recommended by Dr. Gleason. A new halter and feed bucket completed our preparations for Jet’s adoption. The first meeting of the two mares stimulated some snorting and posturing over the corral fence but they soon settled down to grazing from the hay buckets we’d made available to each of them. Within an hour they were nose-to-nose over the fence getting to know each other and urinating constantly with excitement. Within two hours they were taking turns sticking their necks between the rails for a closer look and smell and then Cassie began nuzzling and licking Jet’s neck. If one moved to a different area of the corral, the other followed. Introductions were going well.
I haltered Jet and led her out of the corral to show her the pasture, the barn, and her new fence line. Dan walked Cassie beside us to add some control to this new situation. All went well until we led them to the feed trough filled with hay at each end. After a little shifting around, Jet kicked out at Cassie and Cassie kicked back-nothing serious but an indication that Jet was feeling threatened over food. So we separated them for a few more hours and let them out to roam the pasture together only after they’d been hayed and grained one more time. It’s been just over six hours since Jet arrived and they’re a team already. Cassie has a friend. Jet has a new home. Thanks, everyone!