Date of Birth: 01/01/1991
Gotcha Day: 28/02/2015
Breed: Belgian Warmblood
Opaline’s way of life is one that is all too common. She was cared for by her owners but she would be confined inside her stall in a horse club for roughly 23 hours a day. This is not done out of spite for the horse, on the contrary, most horse owners want the very best for their four-legged partner, but the reality is that they are more like prisoners who are only allowed out for a fraction of the day.
The owner was going to university abroad and was looking for someone to take care of her horse for she could no longer do so due to her changing circumstances. Since Opaline was already an older lady, not many people were interested in taking her on. We believe age is just a number, so it was decided she would be staying us.
In the first few weeks after Opaline’s arrival at the sanctuary, she would only stay in the corner of the field, next to the fences, as if in a horse stall. We believe she didn’t know what to do with all her newfound freedom and abundance of space, seemingly afraid of venturing out and being free. So we had to move her food and water to that corner or she wouldn’t have eaten at all.
She was alone in a field adjacent to the main one where the rest of our equine family was, in order to acclimatise herself with her new environment. It is never recommended to put a new horse in the same space as the existing herd. Both parties need to be given the time and opportunity to acquaint themselves with one another, to test the waters. The beginnings weren’t promising, she would bite any horse who would come too close. Her owners had warned us she was quite antisocial.
We noticed Charly, our dwarf shetland, seemed very interested in this tall, beautiful mare and we soon allowed only him to go into her field. Two days later Opaline was no longer standing in the corner, she had finally started grazing in the field, alongside Charly. A few days later, we opened the gate to the main field where all the other horses were and not only was she no longer biting the others, she got along with them. So much so that she is now the leading mare of the herd.
During the morning feeding, Opaline must be the first to enter her stall to eat otherwise chaos ensues.
On Charly’s watch, nobody puts Opaline in the corner. Not even herself. The small pony and the tall horse are still the best of friends and are seen walking side by side. Charly is also the only one Opaline allows in the same stall as her.
Horses need to be able to trot, gallop and canter freely and are not designed to be confined in a square box for the majority of the day. If you have horses, make sure to give them plenty of time outdoors. If at all possible, give them the opportunity to go in and out as they please.