What a soggy start to 2016, and now we’ve woken up to a dusting of snow!
I hope you haven’t been too affected by the weather; we are lucky to have to got away with just a lot of very muddy fields so far. I have just submitted some plans for an indoor arena so, fingers crossed, riding in the rain and snow will soon be a thing of the past!
Apart from the weather, the year has got off to an exciting start with a yard full of really smart horses, all of whom could be serious competition prospects.
Among these is a talented young gelding who I rode a few times last year for his owner, who had bought him just backed as a showjumping prospect (pictured top and below right).
When I start working with a horse, it is important to try and understand their nature; horses are like humans with different personalities, which can affect how you approach their training.
This big, rawboned chap is an example of a smart, but nervous horse that is very reactive. With horses like this, it is tempting to reach the conclusion that they have been mistreated or that something has happened to them to make them like this but, as is the case with this horse, it is more likely that it is just their nature. The situation can be exacerbated if the horse hasn’t learnt to trust and respect humans as a foal or young horse.
This type of horse will find it difficult to trust anything new and is very hard to train in the beginning, as the tension that they carry makes it hard for the training process to “stick”. In fact, it can start to feel like ground hog day and although it is tempting to crack on with their training, I have learnt the hard way that with horses like this, it really is a question of time, patience and perseverance! Although it can be frustrating at times, these horses are really rewarding to work with, as they tend to turn into responsive, respectful horses that can really flourish in purposeful, or competition environments.
There are some similarities with this gelding’s nature, who I’m now riding out and about, and the rescue horses from Happy Ending Rescue Centre that I have been working with over the past couple of years.
Some of these have been completely unhandled as five- and six-year-olds when I got them and they really did test me. Having spent their whole lives with no human contact and a naturally suspicious disposition, it took over three months for these horses to trust me and be confident while ridden.
In comparison, the little seven-month-old colt, Batman, that I mentioned in my last blog and who is from the same herd, has been quick to get over his initial nerves to accept and trust me. He is becoming quite a feature of the yard and has a wonderful character.
Recently there have been some horrific pictures and reports of horses just like Batman and his relatives being dumped and left for dead in north Kent, so it makes me very happy to be able to give members of this herd a second chance.
As Christmas disappears into the distant past, I thought you may like this photo of Star, our superstar pony, who played the part of a donkey and carried “Mary” all the way to the alter during Goudhurst Village’s Christmas Eve nativity service! My kids are very lucky to have learnt to ride on this one in a million pony and we’re devastated that she is to be retired due to arthritis at the grand old age of 28. She is going to be very hard to replace!