Joint Custody

A few weeks ago, Presto’s turnout situation changed.


He’s been living with the mini donkeys since he got here last April, mostly because he was an ungelded colt at a boarding barn and it was the only turnout where he could be effectively isolated away from any mares. He never did seem to realize that he was a colt, but still… not taking any chances with that.

Dobby’s turnout buddy left right around the same time Presto was fully healed up from being gelded, so we figured we’d try putting those two together. Dobby is just coming 4, so he’s still young enough to play with Presto a bit, but old enough to put him in his place when necessary too. Presto is extremely submissive to other horses, and Dobby is pretty laid-back, so I hoped they might be a good match.

Dis Dobby, he is my BESS FRENN

While Presto seemed much more enthusiastic about Dobby’s presence than Dobby did about Presto, they got along just fine. Dobby wasn’t shy about nipping Presto when he got too annoying, but there was no drama at all. Over the past few weeks I think Presto has kind of grown on Dobby a bit… a first Dobby seemed to think of him as mostly a pest (I mean, he’s not wrong) but I caught them playing Bitey Face a few times. Still, Dobby continued to act like he was a little too good for Presto, and seemed relatively indifferent about his presence. I thought that was great, because it meant you could take each of them out by themselves, leaving the other behind, and neither of them really cared. My biggest concern with all of this was Presto getting herdbound, so I was super happy that Dobby didn’t love him enough to care where he went.

Don’t worry, his personality has changed zero percent

They’ve coexisted really well for a few weeks now. Presto has a couple little chunks missing out of him, but I have no doubt that he deserved them. He’s still very submissive and bottom of the pecking order, but he’s gotten a bit braver and more social and started to test his limits a little bit more.

Last week Bobby brought Cannavaro over to our barn for a couple months of groundwork training. The best turnout option for him seemed to be the pasture with Presto and Dobby, so we decided to try it out as a trio.


First we put Dobby and Cannavaro out together, since we figured they would be the two most likely to have issues. They weren’t immediate best friends, but seemed to have no objections.

Then we put Presto in.

Remember all that indifference Dobby showed towards Presto before? Yeah well, now it turns out that he decided Presto is actually HIS. But Cannavaro thought he might want to stake his claim too. And poor dumb oblivious Presto was just going back and forth between them like “OH MY GOD I GOT ANUDDER BESS FRENN DIS IS THE BESS DAY OF MY LIIIIIFEEEE”. Not a clue that the other two were having a power struggle about which of them got to claim him.

Presto having the time of his life, Cannavaro laughing at Dobby, and Dobby just wanting everyone to please stop galloping because hims is tired.

Eventually they seemed to settle on joint custody. Cannavaro and Dobby would maintain a respectable distance from each other, and Presto would take turns grazing next to each of them. I still don’t think that either Cannavaro or Dobby really like him all that much, they just don’t want the other one to have him.

I mean, he has no regard for personal space

Presto, of course, remains dumb as a box of rocks about these complex herd dynamics. All he knows is that he went from two mini donkeys to two Cool Kids. He’s like the little scrawny freshman nerd that’s been drafted into the group of senior football players and he is having the time of his life.

The arrangement is only a few days old but things seem to be settled and content now. Hopefully Presto will get to play with them a bit and continue to get a little braver in his social interactions. These two guys are definitely much nicer to him than Henry has ever been.

16 thoughts on “Joint Custody

  1. That photo series of Dobby and Presto is hilarious!! Presto makes the best faces, full stop.
    I bet he is super happy to have new, “grown up” friends now.


  2. That’s the herd dynamic whenever I put someone in with Joey and Paige at first. Her momma instincts are still there…then she realizes that protecting him isn’t worth her energy after a while once he starts running full steam towards whoever she’s trying to keep him away from.


  3. I just love this for multiple reasons. For one thing, I was hoping for a Bobby/Cannavaro update in the near future (yo, Bobby – write a post! Does he have a barn name? How’s the partnership coming along? Etc., etc.). Plus I never get tired of Presto’s faces or your funny captions! Plus it’s amazing that he looks more like a Real Horse (TM) every day and less like an overgrown baby!

    As far as Dobby, just like a man (if you can call geldings men) to only want something when he can’t have it, LOL.


  4. Presto sounds so much like my little TB –
    my guy lives in a big field with about 10 other (much more mature) horses, and he just does not understand why no one wants to be his friend. He’s very silly and playful, and regularly gets nipped (deservedly, probably). But he’s so, so sweet and I sort of hope he stays this dopey-ish and babyish forever!


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