Colt, Meet Water Buffalo

water buffalo and colt

How do you coax a yearling colt to not be afraid of water buffalo?

Let them have dinner together!

mare and foal

Oh, how she loves him. Here’s my mare, Neela, with Quill the day he was born.

I came up with the idea out of necessity. I’ve been taking Quill for walks every evening in order to spend a few minutes of training time with him away from his doting dam, Neela, who has finally stopped whinnying in protest when I lead him away.


Here’s Quill a few short months later…

In order for those two overly-joined-at-the-hip horses to be out of eyesight of each other (the colt is physically weaned, just not emotionally), I’m following the advice of Sus Kellogg of Free Horse Farm, who told me she takes her young horses on walks off property to get them used to being away from their dam.

So I’ve started leading Quill past the water buffalo paddock and around the corner of the barn to the front of the house where he and Neela can’t see each other, and I’ll have his evening feed waiting as a reward. My plan is to gradually increase the distance. Yet every time we would walk past the water buffalo, inevitably Lil Bit, the cow, would raise her head to get a good whiff of the colt and blow through her big nostrils, causing Quill to startle.

colt and mare

…and at only one year, Quill is now nearly as tall as his dam.

I’d walk him in circles in both directions so he could look at Lil Bit and Betty from each eye, but he never seemed to relax. And this is a colt who’s pretty confident, who handled the move like an old hand, and is used to everything from dogs to cats to kids.

Finally one evening I took his feed dish and set it on the other side of the fence from the water buffalo as they languidly ate their evening hay. Temptation! With a growth rate to match that of a baby dinosaur, that colt loves his feed. He’s also a ponderously slow eater, so much so that I often drop his lead rope and do something else nearby while he chews in slow motion and apparently contemplates life.

Would the colt be willing to eat near the snorty, horned beasts he regarded with such suspicion?

water buffalo and colt

Each evening I move the colt’s feed dish a little closer to the water buffalo’s fence. On this evening, he gave them one quick look…

colt and water buffalo

…before having a leisurely dinner.

You betcha. He glanced at his dining companions and then calmly began to chew.

For the past three evenings, Quill has had dinner with Lil Bit and Betty, and they all seem to enjoy the arrangement. Now that he’s over his trepidation of the water buffalo, I will once again increase the distance on our walks.

Now to convince Neela…

3 thoughts on “Colt, Meet Water Buffalo

  1. Amy, you really have a gift for writing! I just found your new blog when I was checking out your vrbo listing for a friend. If you or Matt, told me about it, I must have forgotten. Love the pictures and love the writing! Great to catch up on all your adventures. Plan to visit with Lisa in October!
    Love, Connie

  2. Amy and Matt, this is terrific! What a wonderful life – I love seeing how and what you are doing!
    Bob Spillman

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