About a week ago I noticed that Oliver wasn't really eating. So I decided to separate him during the day, to give him lots of time on his own to eat, and then put him in with Sky and Zorro at night. I don't like the idea of him being in the end section of the track alone at nigh, with the coyotes roaming around.
This has been working well. He has started eating again and has access to all the hay pellets and loose hay he can eat all day. I have noticed that he is starting to finish his pellets faster and faster. Before he would just wander away from them and not go back.
I know this is putting human emotion into him, but I truly feel he was/is depressed. They live in the moment and his mama is just not showing up. Sky is being mean to him and Zorro is a bit indifferent to him. There isn't the comfort of a mama pony nor is there someone his size and age to play with him. I can totally understand.
So, I have been spending many hours every day, sitting out in the pen with him. I sit and read or watch him. He eats and will often lay down and sleep deeply. The other day he was sleeping so hard, breathing deeply, running in his sleep and nickering and nickering. Then he whinnied quite loudly (still sleeping) and Sky and Zorro whinnied back and woke him up! It was so adorable. I was trying to sit quietly so I didn't disturb him, while also giggling at him. He is such an sweet baby.
Today he learned a bit about gun fire. My hubby shot his hand gun for about 45 minutes or so and was standing right beside Oliver's pen. I did go get Zorro and put him in with Oliver and I brought in some hay pellets for them both to snack on while the shooting started. I stayed in the pen with them at first. Though there was a little jump at the first pop of the gun, they both settle right in to eating the pellets. And as the shooting went on Oliver laid down and took a nap. I'm so happy that he had a nice, "quiet" introduction to shooting. I do carry a hand gun when I go in the mountains so having them be okay with shooting guns is very important to me!
So far everything people think about Shetland ponies is being proven wrong by Oliver. No silliness, no spookiness, no over reacting, just calm and quiet!