Thursday, December 23, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Had to add this bit. Went outside after writing this post, to feed out hay. Sonny and Fern have been moved into the 'Fatty' paddock with the Shetland and Milo the pony, so they don't founder with all this new grass. Sonny is in heaven, playing boy games, with the two geldings all day. Anyway fed out hay in two piles, one for Fern and Sonny, one pile for the other two.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I lost by best filly yesterday. My only two year old, and little Hope's sister, broke her leg. I love all my horses, but there are some that have more of a place in your heart than others. This filly, Viva (Vivacious) was one of them. For us we don't breed big numbers of horses. Usually one every two years or so, so each one is precious. This year is unusual in the fact that we had three mares due to foal. Viva, when she was born, was a stunner. We were just blown away by her good looks, and athleticism, she was the first truly talented and special horse that we had bred. Never have i looked forward to riding a horse more. As she was a competitive riders dream, talented, brains, and super sharp and quick to teach.
At 6.30am yesterday i heard a horse neigh, i was having a rare sleep in, and even commented to the boyfriend that " it was weird to hear a horse nay in the morning like that". By 7am i dragged myself out of bed, as it niggled at me, that neighing in the morning. Looking out the front room window, there was Viva grazing by herself in the paddock in front of the house. This set alarm bells instantly. As the horses always graze together in a herd you never see one off by itself. I looked closer, started swearing, and throwing on socks and a jacket. when you have been around enough horses for a long time, you know that sometimes you just don't want to go and look because you don't want the bad news. this was how i felt. As i left the house, i heard the boyfriend start swearing from inside, and i knew whatever he'd seen was bad.
My lovely little filly, was standing grazing, almost peacefully. Except that a good few inches of bone in her forearm was jutting out through the skin at her knee. From the knee down her leg was just hanging out at an odd angle..And that was it, horses do not survive these kind of injuries. Anything to do with horses bones and their legs is pretty much without a cure. It was the end of the road for the horse, as well as all my hopes and dreams for her, and i knew it, the second i saw her. Your heart just drops.
But like anything with horses and farming, there is no alternative but to get on and deal with it. You have to do what needs to be done, for the good of the animal. Because when you choose to own them, you have to accept that their will be tragedies, no matter how hard, your the one in charge of getting things done, when its needed.
The Vet got their an hour later, luckily my lovely boyfriend was their to help and got all the other horses out of the paddock, the dogs and geese locked up, so i could spend the last hour with my girl. To be honest it is sometimes easier, when an injury is this horrific. There is no alternative, no cure. You have just the option of giving the horse and end to the suffering. Little Viva, was so good the hole time, just standing there quietly, but by the time the vet arrived, she was defiantly going into shock. you know the vet desperately wants to help, but even had i been next to the best veterinary hospital in the world, the result wouldn't have changed. Two injections later, Viva lay down, and peacefully went to sleep, for good. At least for her the whole ordeal was over, and for me, although heartbroken, i had survived the worst, and it was a relief to know that the horse wasn't suffering anymore.
There is no time on the farm to sit and cry. The other horses that are still alive, need feeding, and attention, there is stables to clean, and a million other jobs to get done. There was a digger and burial to arrange, and although i was heart broken, i managed to keep busy enough, with the help of a friend, that i wasn't completely overwhelmed by grief. Life goes on, it just suck for a little while at times.
There is always a silver lining, the vet knows Fern and was happy to see little Hope to. This is the great thing about small communities and rural vets. They always know all your animals and what going on, and most seem genuinely interested. She asked after my wild horses, and so i took her to see Fern and Sonny. I had to laugh she definitely agrees with me, that not so little Sonny, is the fattest foal she has ever seen. Although she politely described him as "solid" and "you can be pretty sure his legs wont break so easily" then asked if Fern did in fact have Sonny's twin inside, still waiting to be born. With all the tragedy, i still managed a laugh, Wild horses therefore are definitely good for the soul.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I'm sitting perched on a window sill, trying to get internet reception, watching two very different foals, as they experience the first real rain of their young lives. We have had the driest spring ever recorded; our area is officially a drought zone. But today the rain finally came, and down it pours. I swear everything is greening up before my eyes. The weather has also given me the chance to sit/ perch and write something down that I have been thinking about for a while now….
How much of our future is determined by our experiences in the past?? How much of our ability to succeed, our skills in overcoming challenges is determined in our DNA?? How much of our personality is genetic, how much is our upbringing?? How much is nature how much is nurture?? The old nature vs. nurture debate.
In the paddock are two very different foals. Physically they are different, but even more striking, is the way they emotionally react to new experiences. There is Sonny the wild foal, his father would have been the fittest wild horse in the area, and his mother survived in good enough condition to carry a foal to term. Sonny bloodlines are selected by Mother Nature, the fittest and strongest reproduce, while the others struggle to survive. Then there is Hope, who comes from the best racehorse and warm blood sport horse bloodlines I could find. Her mother carries the genetics for speed, lightness of build and hot blooded temperament her pedigree can be traced back many generations and her lines go directly to some of the best racehorses in the world. Her dad's lineage can be traced to, but his to the best jumping and sport horse bloodlines of Europe. The Father himself jumped at Olympics and world cup level many times. The warm bloods are bred for athleticism, power and their slightly calmer attitude. There is no natural selection little Hope's breeding she is created by human selection… But both Hope and Sonny though, have had exactly the same handling, same daily routine and pretty similar life experiences. So are they the same in their behavior, despite their differences in breeding? I think not. There are so many differences between the two, both physically and mentally in their attitude.
Now how much is affected by their mother's behavior vs. the actual genetics they inherited would be hard to say, but I think the two kind of go hand in hand. But it is interesting to see the difference in maternal behavior and how it affects the offspring.
Sonny is the fattest foal I have ever laid eyes on. A compact and well proportioned boy, with good strong legs, and well muscled. He looks like he could power himself up and down a mountainside easily. Fern is also the fattest broodmare, and produces the most milk of any horse I've ever seen. All of this is on the absolute minimum of grass. But this is exactly how nature designed her. If you think of a horse in the wild, there would be times of very little or no food at all, like in winter. So therefore when food is readily available, their body goes into overdrive turning grass into fat, ensuring they have enough stored up to survive the lean times. The horses that were the most efficient at turning the grass available into body fat, in the wild, would be the ones to survive, therefore more likely to carry a foal to term the full 11 months gestation period... Therefore their genes would not be passed on to the next generation. On the same principle these mares would go on to produce the most milk for their offspring, giving them the best start in life, and the best chance at maturing into bigger stronger horses, than the ones not so efficient at food conversion.
Hope is like a little ballerina, she's is incredibly leggy a lean, a small body with delicate head and neck. She is athletic and graceful, and springs across the ground with every step like a little dancer. She does however lack the look of raw power that Sonny possesses. Her long legs and small body can be attributed to the fact that her mother is a racehorse, built for maximum speed and light weight. Racehorses are known for the fact that once finished racing they can be incredibly hard to get to a good weight. It's harder to keep them fat as they have a smaller body mass, higher metabolism and are prone to being slightly overactive in the paddock. Hope's mother gets three feeds a day, just to keep her from becoming skinny, and to make sure little Hope gets enough milk to grow big and strong. Fern gets literally a handful of feed, just to ensure she gets enough vitamins and minerals .While Fern uses the minimum amount of effort in her daily routine. Hope's mother spends a good deal of her day wandering and pacing aimlessly. She produces far less milk than the wild horse as well. Sonny spent his first week, sleeping flat out on the ground, or eating. It was rare to see Hope lying down, even her feeding was less frequent and less amounts consumed, and she spent her time wandering after her mother. I'm quite sure that little Hope chances of survival in the wild would be far less than Sonny's.
Both Foals are lovely and sweet, friendly, and love to be scratched. Sonny though if not enjoying attention will quietly move away, while Hope usually bounds in the air, bucks, or kicks when you haven't scratched the right spot (something she is getting constantly corrected for). Hope is flighty, whirling and leaping when something frightens her, although she does this in the most elegant and graceful way, it beautiful to watch. Sonny is bolder, more willing to wait to see if something really is scary before he flees. His days are filled with three activities, playing, sleeping or eating. He takes s his job of helping Fern eat her hard feed each day, very seriously. He runs and jumps and whirls and kicks, bucks, rears and tackles his mother in plat, but this is always followed by a nap in the sun. Little Hope doesn't play quite as hard as Sonny, but does spend her days trotting back and forth across the paddock after mum; it is still rare to catch her sleeping for any length of time.
This brings me back to watching them both in the rain. Sonny was excited for the first few minutes bucking and playing, but is now backing to drinking milk. Fern never stopped eating an ignored all of her sons antics. Hope is still prancing back and forth, in a little foal tantrum. She is trying to shelter under her mother's neck and belly, shivering and nipping her in frustration.
So while I think nurture plays a huge part in what a horse will become. By taking away natural selection, man has created horses that are amazing athletes, but has moved away from attributes that help a horse survive easily and naturally. As well as their ability to cope with challenges, and also lost some of their physical sturdiness.
I love both babies equally, but I do find it fascinating to compare the two. You can learn so much just from watching.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
So here's a quick update before i go.
Fern and Sonny are now in with the other broodmare and her filly foal, Hope. Was to cute to watch when they were introduced. Sonny has learnt to buck, and this is what he does constantly. he bucked and twisted and jumped, performing every aerial manoeuvre he could, with as much force and speed as he could be mustered. Around he went going as far from Fern as the paddock would allow, circling little Hope and her mother. It looked identical to a kid showing off on the playground, pulling out the biggest flashiest trick he knew. Hope, only watched shyly from her mothers side, every so often braving a few metres distance, before whirling like a ballerina and cantering back to the safety of mum. She is getting braver, I'm sure soon she will get enough courage to join Sonny in his playful exuberance around the paddock. She is like a fine willow limbed, dancer to Sonny's raw power and spirit.
Matai, the wild stallion, has become the most mellowed lovable boy. I cannot avoid his doe eyed looks, as he waits by his gate to come to the stable each night. Unfortunately his paddock mate Milo is injured at present, so hes stuck on his own all day. The one bonus of this is that, suddenly he cant get enough human contact. Being probably for the first time in his life alone, as horses are herd animals, he obviously feels slightly lost without companions. He does in fact have the Angus calves in his paddock (until tomorrow), and spends most of his days standing over them as they sit chewing cud in the sun. Think as soon as this, last show of the spring season is over, i will have to break him in. The temptation to sit on him is getting to strong, and i think he needs something to do as he is very obviously board at the moment.
Oh and Fern is getting obese, time for a diet again, as now she is in with the other mare where there is more grass. I swear to god she barely even lifts her head she is so busy vacuuming up grass, hay and anything else that may be edible. Wild horse survival skills coming through, making the most in times of plenty so she can build up fat for the lean winters. Except that hopefully, she will never again find herself wintering in the mountain ranges and snow for the rest of her life.
Anyway hopefully soon i will get to sit down and organise my thought enough to write what i want.....
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Opps i put this post up last night, and its a good lesson in why you shouldnt be writing things late at night without proof reading! i made a mistake. it is the New Zealand Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare trust Inc (http://wildhorses.org.nz/) not the preservation society like i said in the first paragraph, that put out the magazine with my article. Sorry about that. its is also the welfare trust that i adopted my two wonderful wildhorses through. They are a great group of people, and have been very helpful and supportive in all my dealings with them. I know they really care about and look out for all the horses that place in adoption, and are a great group of hard working people.I have never had anything to do with the preservation society. My mistake, was just a bit of a typo! But please let me know if i ever do anything like that again. i love getting any feedback!
So a few weeks ago, i got asked to write an article about my wild horses, for The Kaimanawa Wild Horse Welfare Trust (not the preservation society as i had written before) They publish a quarterly newsletter/magazine, so i was asked to write something up for the December edition. Secretly i was absolutely thrilled to be asked, as it means i must be doing something right, Anyway i just got my magazine in th post last week, and was very excited to open it and read my first ever published article, plus all the other great stories about other peoples experiences with their own wild horses. Some awsome stories about how much people truly love theses horses and what they will do to save them.For those of you who don't get the newsletter (you should) i thought id put a copy of my article up, you can tell me what you think. published article is as follows in blue.....
As I sit here writing this, I realize it has been just over six months to the day since my Kaimanawas arrived. Time seems to have flown by, but looking back I realize that there has been a huge change, both mentally, and physically for the horses, a great learning curve of experiences, for both myself and them... It's been a fast few months, but a long and incredible journey. It would be hard to sum up all the highs and lows, the milestones and achievements. It is also hard to describe to people just how awesome these horses are. For me, it's been a truly fantastic experience to be able to work with horses that are just that. Horses. Not interfered with by people, with no human taught behaviors, or experiences good or bad. Training and working with them for me is like giving an artist a huge blank canvas rather than something that's been already painted on. There have been a few key moments that exemplify these wonderful creatures and how far they have come.
On the 7th of June at around 11am two bedraggled, hairy and tired looking horses, stepped down the ramp of a cattle truck and into my stock yards. A tiny looking clothes rack, bay colt, and a bigger and pregnant, solid, grey mare. They wandered around the small pen, slightly wide eyed but calm. No tearing around, snorting, or panicking. No drama. They were soon tucked in and eating hay. They had the appearance of small, but tough and calm, lost orphans. As soon as I had a halter on them, and they could respond to pressure on the lead rope, that was it, they were caught and followed me to their new homes. Up the driveway, past the neighbors peacocks, pack of dogs, and through a creek. On the two separate trips they both just followed me. The mare, eating at every opportunity, along the way. The colt, sticking with me like a lost lamb. So, within a few days, they were both in new homes again. The colt, Matai, was in with my geldings, stabled at night and in the paddock during the day. The mare, Fern, being pregnant , got her own paddock. The thing that struck me, as soon as I laid eyes on them, was their calm sensibility, and easy to train intelligence. This attitude has shone through and never changed in the six months I've had them.
In training, I have noticed, although they are both calm, stoic, little horses they have very different personalities. The colt sensitive and timid, but quite extroverted and reacts quickly to learning new things. From the get go, he was happy interacting with people, even if a little nervous to start with, always trying to please. The mare was super introverted. She was never naughty, but for months gave the bare minimum response, staying in her own little shell. Never wanting to interact, but more, tolerating people around her. She would be very un-reactive, it was hard to get any response from her, but she would think things through and once she learned a new lesson, never had to be reminded. I feel she has travelled the furthest on her journey into domestication. Now being the most affectionate horse on the property, that calls out to you every time, loves people, and can be handled by anyone. She has had trips to town in the trailer. She had an unfortunate fence incident where she slipped going down a hill, falling into a fence. She lay totally still, while we climbed all over her to free her from some entangled wires only suffering one cut on her upper front leg. She had subsequent vet visits, where she stood quiet and calm through injections and prodding from the vet. She really blossomed into a lovely kind horse.
In fact, the moment that has really stuck with me, over the last six months, happened one week ago, with the arrival of my third Kaimanawa. Fern gave birth. I have always played around with breeding horses, but never once have I actually made it there in time for the birth. Always getting there, five minutes to late. Not this time. Fern and I had gotten very close over the last few months, she neighed every time she saw me, was always waiting at the gate, and, in the last two weeks of pregnancy, had morphed into a big affectionate, cuddly, teddy bear. So it was easy to check on her through the night when I thought she was going to deliver. At three in the morning, when I had almost given up hope of her foaling before daylight, I went to check on her one more time. She walked toward me in the night. With a big whoosh, her waters broke. Five minutes later she lay down a few meters from me, and delivered a big healthy colt. So, now, Sonny makes three little Kaimanawa's. Fern has been the best mother possible, and I feel so privileged that she felt comfortable enough, to give birth right at my feet.
Having worked in top dressage stables, both in New Zealand, and Europe, I know how important it is to have horses that are trainable, and actually want to work for people. The Kaimanawa's lovely nature, shine through in this aspect. I have never worked with horses that are quite so easy to teach. But, the other gift they give is the thrill people get, being able to interact with an animal that was born wild. The children I give weekly lessons to go back to school telling stories of being able to pat 'the wild stallion'. My mother enjoys being able to just catch and groom Fern in her spare time. Friends and family, especially the otherwise non-horsey, always comment on the fact that the horses they saw as so wild to start with, can now be treated like normal domestic horses and interact with and accept any human who wishes to meet them.
In the next few months, Matai, the colt, will soon be broken in to ride. Fern gets a bit of time to be a mother before she too will be broken in. Little Sonny, gets to enjoy his mother's company, and hopefully soon will have some new friends to play with. For anyone interested I have a blog that documents all the progress, adventures and milestones that go with training these awesome wild horses. www.wildhorseproject.blogspot.com
Saturday, December 4, 2010
he is known for his ability to get on any horse and get the best out of it no matter what.
incidentally the Dressage trainer that i worked for straight out of high school, trained Mark, before his Olympic win, and has himself produced many,many horses to Grand Prix. The thing that struck me most with my two lessons was that this guy was a great horseman. he understood horses and understood how to train them. i have never taken so much away from a lesson. It was amazing.
Do you know what i have found though, good horsemanship is the same no matter what discipline you choose. Mark Todd, the dressage trainer, a couple of cowboys whom i greatly respect, they all have the same philosophy, in the end want the same results. They just apply it to different aspects of the horse sport. Horses have to be soft, responsive. the rider has to be focused, kind and consistent.
Secondly there is no magic button. The difference between those who get to the top and those who don't. Is that one group puts the hundreds of hours and consistency, accuracy and understanding into producing a horse, the other group doesn't. Every rider i have met that can keep training horse after horse to the top level, no matter what sport, has the same principles.the horse has to be
- responsive to the aids( as in react as soon as you ask)
- adjustable/supple (as in speed, direction, length of stride etc)
- the horse has to do this work happily
this takes hundreds of hours in the saddle.No matter how talented, how big a piece of metal you stick in their mouth, your bank balance, or what saddle you use, is going to replace the training you put into your horse.
There is so much you cant control with horses. But the rider, no matter how untalented/ talented the horse (whether it was born free on the ranges or in the best European stable), no matter how Little natural ability it may have for its chosen discipline, can control how well the horse understands what being asked, how responsive it is and how soft and happy it is in it s work. The great horsemen prove this again and again, they improve with training any horse they sit on. no matter what the horse was like to start with. This Inspires Me. Unfortunately i am too broke at the moment, to have afforded a private lesson, but going in a group one i watched Mark Todd get 5 very different horses and riders improving and going a lot better than when they started. This is the mark of a true horseman i think.
could go on and on but...i think i get a bit off topic
One little thing annoyed me though. someone asked me how my wild horses were going. i said great and went into detail about how happy i was with them, that i thought they'd both be able to jump etc etc. Then one girl piped up that she had had been to look at buying one from a different muster, except when they went to look at it, it jumped a 7ft fence to get away from them, and that therefore wild horses were all crazy......grrr grinds my gears. sure if you chase a horse that has been wild around a paddock, and nobody's bothered to handle or train, it going to jump the fence. I would too. it probably thinks you a monster coming to get horse steak for dinner....
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Although not quite as cool as a wild horse,she is still gorgeous and an absolute treasure. But we already had a good idea of what she would look, because we knew who both parents were. Where as Sonny, we knew what Fern looked like, but the father could be any ones guess.
photos will come. I unfortunately had to travel to the big city, the day after the little foals birth, so didn't have time to update my blog or put pictures up. But will be home soon with my camera to give a better update. I need new photos of Matai too, as he is looking like a full grown, big, beautiful boy at the moment.
P.S it was almost exactly a month to the day that Sonny was born. Hopefully the new baby and mother,will be ready to put in with Sonny and Fern with the next week or two. Sonny can have a new friend and stop annoying his poor mother.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
He has always been amazing for me to handle, but is still reserved around other people. eyeing them suspiciously, and it takes time before he relaxes enough to be touched or handled by a stranger. he's Not totally convinced that humans he doesn't recognise, are safe, and not going to jump him at any minute. until today, this morning, my non-horsey boyfriend, walked right up and started patting him. Matai, didn't mind at all. Excellant.
just as a little test, and also to get him accustomed to other people handling him. i sent the boyfriend to catch him and bring him to the stable for the night. No problems, the lovely boyfriend, caught, lead and put him in his stable, with out any dramas. he just walked along behind, like and old school pony. Best thing about this is that it gives the average person, such a sense of honor, a very special feeling. Just to be able to interact and handle a animal that has once been wild.
By tomorrow morning, Sonny should have a new friend to play with. Finally another mare on the farm is ready to give birth. So another long night ahead, checking on her through night until shes give birth. This mare though is not from the wild, shes just an ex racehorse. This will be her second foal, her last one is a stunner, so we are all pretty excited. Fingers crossed everything goes okay.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I am at that stage in my life, where trying to earn money, tops the list of priorities. Not because i want to be super rich, simply because I chose a very expensive lifestyle/career/ sport. Horses require a lot of money to keep them going and compete them. So when people offer me jobs i usually jump and accept, any little bit more money, that i can scrape in, fantastic. I am definitely not in the position to be picky. This is how i ended up agreeing to ride and train, a warm blood/Arabian cross horse for a lady who was giving up riding and wanted to sell him.
To cut a long story short, i definitely wasn't told the complete story, when i agreed to take on the ride. Usually i am happy to take on young or problem horses, horses with bad behaviour, or ones that just don't have much experience. What i do not take on, and try to avoid are horses that have been broken in badly, or had to be rebroke to ride. This always spells trouble to me. Because the horse has usually gotten away with and learned some pretty rotten behaviour. As it turns out with this horse. It had been broken in slowly (in other words the lady breaking him in was terrified of him, and never pushed the horse like she should have, He's intimidated her into getting away with everything), turned out afterwords, the riding was never continued, then the horse was leased out to a young girl for a month (just finding out now that he was out of control with her). The horses owner was giving up riding, and i think scared of the horse. When i rode him the first time, i had never sat on such a unhelpful, stubborn, arrogant and unfortunately intelligent horse. You couldn't get him to go forward from the leg, in fact you couldn't get very much reaction out of him at all. Unless it was to put his ears flat back, and kick out or threaten to rear. Excellent.......Anyway, not one to give up, i continued with the horse for a couple weeks, and he was getting better, still the most unwilling horse i ever worked with. I'd fixed his biting, his kicking and gotten him going forward to the leg. he still just didn't want anything to do with working with you, and had an attitude that screamed '"I don want to and you ain't gonna make me!!"
Finally yesterday, i thought id take him out for a ride around the paddock where hes kept, instead of sticking to the arena. Thinking this would be relaxing and fun for both of us. Judgement fail! I know better than to ride difficult horses at the end of the day, but it was 5 o'clock in the afternoon before i got there, your always tired and not as mentally alert as you need to be. I should have realised the horse was in a worse mood than usual, it took me 20minutes just to get the bridle on the damn thing. For whatever reason i continued on my plan to go for a nice ride. More judgment failure. As soon as i got to the paddock, the horse was more excited. But i worked him a bit, then got on his back. i Hadn't been riding more than a minute before he decided he didn't want to go the way i said. So I gave him a kick in the ribs to tell him to go forward, and he exploded......
He reared up, came back down and took off in a fit of bucking. I can stay on a good buck, i know this. But man, this horse let loose, he put a rodeo horse to shame. He twisted and leaped, and twisted and leaped. At first i tried to pull one rain to try and get his head up, this didn't work so i just hung on. To be fair i stayed on a good few bucks before he sent me flying. Boy did i fly, it seemed to propel me higher in the air, than ever before. When you go up, you must come down. So down i came onto his back feet, that were kicking in the air. Taking a good kick to both legs, before hitting the ground. the horse then did, what no horse i have ever had, has done. he had stopped bucking as soon as i was in the air, but when i landed on the ground he kicked out twice more with both his back legs. Luckily i had landed in a kind crouched position and had the presence of mind, to start getting out of the way as soon as i touched earth, so the kicks missed my head, by a couple of inches. Instead, i do have a couple of fantastic bruises on my leg, and a bit of a limp to show for myself . The bastard horse then ran off and it took me another 20minutes, to catch the damn thing. huge judgement fail on my part, even getting on that horse's back. But thankfully i only have bruising it could have been much worse.
The other judgement fail had happened earlier in the day. Had just done some work with Matai. I was on a real high buzz, because i was so pleased with the work he'd just done. So i thought id give him a quick rinse with the hose, before letting him out in the paddock. I found what looked like a nice long hose, coiled up in some long grass, next to where Matai was tied. So I went to give a great tug, to free the hose. To my surprise, the hose was only about 3 feet long. So this time i went flying backwards of my own accord, straight into the side of the horse. Then landed on my rump, directly under his feet. This is where i though "o sh$t!!, I'm about to get trampled". but instead of Matai going crazy and trampling me in panic, he sucked in his breath, tensed for a second, seeming to weigh up his options. Then looked around at me and let out a huge sigh as if to say "why is this crazy person sitting between my legs, what does she want now??". he jsut stood there not movnign while i crawled back to my feet. I love my wild horses, they try so hard to please, and are sensible and kind. They are unspoilt and there is no meanness in them. unlike bastard, spoilt rotten physco horse mentioned above....
God bless the good horses!! they make it all worth your while, so you can forget the bad ones....
Just a added note- The horse that bucked me off, would never have been bad to begin with, but through inconsistent and a series of bad handling. Basically he has in the very literal sense been spoiled rotten. If you break in horses you have to know what your doing, and you have to do the job right. Otherwise like me, people get hurt trying to salvage the monster someone else created...
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
As soon as daylight hours increase my work load seems to increase ten fold. Not only do i have my own horses to work, but people want me to ride, train and show their horses as well. Suddenly everyone wants lessons again. usually from 2.30-7pm I'm teaching as well as taking pony club rallies. Mondays and Fridays, mean either packing or unpacking the truck for the weekend. Saturday and Sundays are very often early morning and long days traveling to, and competing at, horse shows. But like i said i love it, and competition keeps me on my game, i wouldn't give it up for the world. I just struggle to find the time to do anything non horsey related, like update my blog, check emails,do paperwork, or do anything that doesn't involve actually making money or riding my own horses, as well as work around the farm...
But today I actually have an hour or two free today, having for once, no horse shows. So here is an update on all the wild horses.
Matai, continues to grow and fill out. no longer looking like a shaggy scarecrow he once was. he is a handsome muscular little man now, with a gleam in his coat to rival a top show horse. He has also come to the stage, where girls are pretty interesting to him. He is an angel to handle still, and never so much as looks, at a girl horse while I'm on the other end of the lead rope. but in the paddock he races up and down the fence calling 'the ladies' as they walk into the barn each day. unfortunately for him, they are not interested at all, ignoring his flirtation and calls. as soon as they are out of sight he gives up and goes back to eating. his groundwork is very established, he can be lunged, handled, has progressed to doing some more advanced jumping exercises, and basically will try his best to do anything asked. i think it is time, for him to move on to the next stage of his training.The plan being, to break him in to ride,during the next few weeks, as he looks strong and ready to be ridden.
Fern, like i mentioned in the last blog, is very fat and healthy. she is still her lovely self, calls to you, when she sees your on your way to visit her. she's still happy being handled, and loves being scratched every day, but unfortunately doesn't get more work than that, as i don't have the time, and she is also busy being a great mother to little Sonny. so i think she will just have a quiet few months, until little Sonny is old enough to be weaned and then i will continue with her training.
Sonny, is gorgeous. Is a bit of a fatty, at the moment, but also seems to be growing taller and stockier by the day. He has the sweetest face, and is genuinely, i think, a kind, happy soul. He seems to spend most of his days sprawled out flat, sleeping in the sun. But gallops and plays, speeding around the paddock and exploring new things, every morning and night. he loves being itched all over, and shyly stands and sniffs at you while being scratched. I must get photos up on this blog, as he has already changed so much since those first few pictures were taken.
Friday, November 19, 2010
in the end i settled for writing about a few key experiences and mentioning the positive attributes, they have compared to other equines. i wrote about Fern foaling, how she lay down next to me. I talked about the calm stoic attitudes, that make them so easy to work with. Their trainabiltly, and intelligence. What i didn't mention enough, and to me probably one of the main advantages. They are cheap to feed!!!. They live off the bare minimum of food and are very easy keepers. This is honestly in my books one of their biggest assets.
Horses are expensive creatures to maintain. having taken on ex race horses and a few skinny neglect cases, as well as having competition horses that require a lot of feeding. i can tell you, horses that tend to swing towards the chubby side, are a god send at times. i worked out once that it cost me over $2000 dollars and two years before i got one racehorse back to normal weight and even then she was such a nervous horse that it would only take a couple days before she lost it all again. Wild horses, no such issues.
When they arrived, they were skinny. No only that they were worm ridden, looked lacking in some vitamins and minerals. Generally looked shabby and thin. but only six months on and they are fat, glossy, healthy and calm animals. Unlike racehorses i havnt had to regimentally pump and coax feed into them. they haven't gone on to become super excitable or hot now that they are in good condition either. Although i haven't calculated it, i don't think i would have spent anywhere near 1/2 what it would have taken me to get a race horse looking good, with the two wild ponies together.
in fact Fern, started to look to good (think big fatty), someone even joked, that she might have a second foal still in her belly. So for the first time ever, i had to put a mare and foal, in a diet paddock. she has grass, but no the long lush stuff that is usually reserved for my mares and foals. She gets just enough feed to mix her vitamins in, and 1 flake of hay a day. Sonny the foal, is also the fattest foal i have ever seen. Due to his mother, producing enough milk, to feed a whole herd of baby horses. she must be the most efficient horse i ever seen at turning grass into milk.
Sonny is adorable he is the sweetest, chubbiest little boy i ever seen (iobviously putting all that milk to good use). he has the kindest looking eyes and an expression that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. he is so big now ,very compact,with a cresty little neck, I'm thinking he will definitely outgrow his mother, when hes fully mature.
I have another mare due any day now. I'm hoping that she will be half as good at feeding her baby, and keeping weight on as Fern. I wish i had more horses that needed diets, rather than constant feeding.So although i love everything about my wild horses, it is definitely the low maintenance, and cheapness to run, that my wallet is enjoying the most.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Im exaggerating slightly, but hey, Matai was quite proud of himself, and didn't realise, that we were never, actually in danger.
So Matai and Milo, have been grazing a fenced off section of the driveway, that has nice long knee deep grass, to keep them content. Unfortunately it is a long way up a steep hill to lug water buckets to them. So instead i lead them to water in the morning and again at night before they go back to the stables. The water is located down a little race, in the orchid. there is no other horses paddocked nearby, so i generally just let the fence down, and the two bay ponies. happily follow me to the water and when they've had enough they take themselves to the barn while i meander along in front of them. They know the routine, and usually i don't even bother catching them, allowing them to walk along free.
last night as i was walking along with them to the water, relaxed and day dreaming, Matai (the wild stallion) suddenly let out a huge snort. stopped dead in his track, head up hole body tense. Thinking he must have caught a whiff of a mare or something on the wind, i clicked and waved an arm to tell him to carry on his way.Suddenly looking every inch the wild stallion, muscles tight and seeming to hold him self a foot taller. He shot forward a couple metres. Snorting he swung his head around, like he was trying to catch the smell of some foreign scent. Then came back towards me and the other pony who were watching his odd behaviour. still holding himself tensely and snorting, he dropped his head, ears back and shook his head at me and the pony. Looking every bit the aggressive herd leader, not my scrawny wee colt anymore.
At this point, knowing something was definitely up, with my horse, and not quite shore where this behaviour was about to lead. All i could think was "Sh#t!!!" if i get hurt by this horse every body in the horse community would be relishing the chance to shake their head and say "I told you so", especially, some of my more narrow minded competitors . So back Matai came towards us, ears back, neck down low, head tossing from side to side. His body language clearly saying "back out of my way NOW" The pony retreated a step, but wasn't too phased. I stood my ground, and just waved my arms to shoo him away. He didn't charge us, but turned, back they way he'd just come. still snorting, still un happy. Tensely an looking away from me down the track, he criss crossed the path a few times in front of me, snake necked,swinging his head from side to side, glancing back at us to make sure we were not disobeying him, and coming down the track.
Slightly at a loss as to what i should do, as Matai up until this moment, was the most submissive, well behaved horse on the property. i just stood there dumb stuck, knowing something was definitely upsetting him, but not sure what, as the other horse was clearly un bothered. Suddenly Matai charged away from us. Ears pinned flat back against his neck, neck low to the ground, muscles bulging,every inch of him looked ready to fight something. he hadn't gone but a few metres, before he veered left into a patch of long grass, and from a gallop, lashed out violently with his front legs, striking the ground. with what could be a horse version, of baring his teeth, he looked like a wolf diving in for the kill.
All at once, there was the screaming, hissing sound of a very angry/frightened animal. Matai seemed to lift himself up tall for and instant, puffing himself up, struck the ground again. From in amongst the striking hooves and long grass, out ran a brown weasel type animal (must have been a stoat or ferret I'm not sure which). It ran for it life across the path and disappeared into the bush on the other side. Matai whirled almost to follow, but is was gone. He stood there snorting head up in the air for a little while. then walked to back, looking triumphant,shaking his head and sniffing occasionally, for any sign of the enemy returning. when he got back to where me and the pony stood, with I'm sure an equally shocked expression on our faces..Battle over, in what I'm now beginning to realise is typical 'wild horse' fashion, he started eating grass. We had been saved and his job as protector was over.
I'm still a bit shocked over the whole thing, i went a over and inspected the grass later, and found a half eaten dead bunny exactly where Matai had been attacking the ferret thing. when we got back to the barn, i also, haltered Matai, and did some handling with him. Just to make sure he didnt really think he could behave like the dominant wild stallion, i was still boss. But he was an angel again. It did go as a reminder though, that no matter how wonderful he is, you cant take it for granted that he is a stallion. But thank god he is...you never know that ferret could have killed me and the pony, without his wonderful self to protect us.......Maybe...
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
A picture taken a few days after, notice the haematoma/ bruising on underside of her chest, from where she was wedged against fence post
Now. Only a tiny scar.
Sometimes natures is the best healer. This looked bad. but healed well, and needed very little care/interference from me. Although i did check it and spray with iodine twice a day. Fern is a tough cookie. It also goes to show that time and mother nature's natural selection process ensures that only animals that are tough and strong survive. I'm sure if one of my Thoroughbred did this the result may have been quite different.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
P.s photos are in wrong sequence. they should start at the bottom, but you get the idea.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
She is acting very unusual though, hopefully this means a foal soon? She was off hiding,in the very far corner of the paddock, where all the mares seem to foal. Very restless, and instead of being the super cuddly ,affectionate mare she normally is, she wanted nothing to do with me.
I'm hoping for a baby soon, so i don't check her through the night, only for a foal to be born at eight in the morning after i spend a night with no sleep......
will check her again at midnight and 2am
This does however mean a very long night ahead for me. As i always check the mares through the night, as soon as i know the birth is very close.
I will hopefully keep updating my blog through the night.
P.S Photos are from today. they do no justice, Fern is ten times more massive looking in the flesh.