Maisie's vet visit yesterday went very well - she's completely sound and had no heat or sensitivity to hoof testers. The vet and I agree that her problem was probably a combination of increased sensitivity due to the lush grass combined with her somewhat vulnerable hoof structure - very thin soles and her way of going - and our poor, hard arena footing and very hard trails. She's cleared for turnout, and we're tailing down her bute. She'll be going into the small dry lot paddock in the afternoons with hay (Charisma will need to come inside, as the paddock is very small and she also can't have that much hay, which is unfortunate). The footing in there is very hard and rough - our clay soil turns into this awful corrugated rock-hard footing - so I hope to minimize her running around by keeping Dawn nearby and hay in the feeder. I had walked her last night and again this morning on the grass, and she was very good - clearly happy to be out but also controllable. If she stays sound once weaned from the bute, we're good to go for our move to the new barn and resumed work.
* * * * * *The conversation on the last post leads me to the conclusion that there's no clearcut answer to the horse/herd/human combination - it probably comes down to the personality of each horse, and the specifics of the the horse/herd situation and horse/human interactions. Very interesting stuff, nonetheless - read the comments if you haven't as there are many good thoughts and observations there.
A comment Funder made on the last post got me thinking more about some related things, and ties into some of the struggles I've been having in my mind and feelings about moving some of my horses to a barn where they will spend many hours inside, with only limited turnout on dry lot and not in herds. I feel somewhat bad about this, since some valuable things will be lost as well as some valuable things gained.
Domestic horses (including mustangs that are adopted) exist in relation to people, and the purposes people have for them, even if they also have their relationships with other horses or participation in a herd. Ultimately, almost nothing we do with horses is natural - in terms of their confinement (even if only to a pasture, not to mention a barn), their feeding, their healthcare, their forced association with humans, and everything we do with them across all horse disciplines. Domestic horses have been bred for different body types, temperaments and skills for the purposes of humans (sometime, unfortunately, without regard to their health and welfare). Even the mustangs are derived over however many generations from domestic horse stock.
And whatever training methods we use, and whatever they're called, there's nothing "natural" about them. Asking a horse to interact with or even bond with a human is highly unnatural. There are training methods that are more or less coercive, but ultimately we're always asking our horses to do things that aren't things they would probably choose to do, or even consider doing, without our request/demand. Some "natural" training methods purport to draw on and use horse herd dynamics in the horse/human interaction - I don't buy into a lot of this stuff - see my post "Are We Herd Members?" - but even if it were true that doesn't make it natural for a horse to interact with a human in these ways. However rough or gentle we are with the horse - and some "natural" methods, especially those that involve aggressive driving of horses around round pens, can be pretty darn coercive - nothing we do is natural.
So where does that leave us? To my mind, it leaves us with a lot of choices. However artificial it is, we can still interact with the horse to achieve all sorts of interesting and fun goals, but to my mind the interaction needs to consider the needs and thoughts of both parties - the horse should be a participant in a dialog with us, with asks and responses on both sides, and the horse should be listened to and respected as a feeling, thinking, being. Ultimately the human needs to direct and provide leadership, but the horse, in order to be an engaged and willing participant, has to have a voice in the relationship. None of it's natural, but in the end maybe that really doesn't matter - that comes with the territory.