Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Never missing an oppurtunity to eat...

When something things go wrong on the farm. It seems to all go wrong all day long. I woke up this morning to find that two of the domestic horses had broken a fence and were happily munching grass along the stream bank, with a big long stand of wire that had been completely pulled off the fence posts, trainling the whole diameter of the paddock behind them. After that nothing went quite right all day. Except for my two wild angels. Who were both just exceptional all day. Another step forward by both of them. you can nnow pick up and handle their feet.

So when i finally had the domestic herd sorted out and on the right side of the fence again. It was time to handle the boy and get him out in the paddock for the day. Neither wild horse is left with a halter on in the stable or paddock. I find that they wait in same corner of their pen where they feel safe, for you to catch them each day. but today the boy came marching up to the door when i opened it and stood their quietly to be caught. Progress. Everyday i usally go over everything they've already learned. Can they move around you, away from you, back up, come towards you, can you rub them all over? before proceeding with anything new, you always go over exercises their comfortable with, just to reinforce their confidence and reactions . After runing through all this it was time to go about teaching the boy to pick his feet up.

No matter what your training a horse to do, the method is the same. You ask them to do something, as soon as they give you even the slightest response in the right direction, immediately you stop asking for a moment. So it is with picking up their feet. First i ran a rope down their leg. with the rope i asked him to lift his foot. As soon as he lifted it i released the pressure on rope instantly. Then just kept repeating until i could lift and hold his foot with my hand. No problemo! Just a little patience and rewarding step by small step.

Being concerned about the grey's sore foot, i decided i needed to first be able to see the foot through the mud. So i took her for a walk to the stream. Thinking standing in the stream and letting the flowing water clean it would be far easier than trying to wash it with a hose. It was, these little ponys truly dont getr upset over anything. Especially in the greys case they also never miss an oppurtunity to eat. She jus walked in and calmy stood in the water and started eating the grass along the banks. After 15 minutes i took her out and started the same procees of picking her feet up. She surprised me learning even faster than the boy what i wanted. She is defiantely the more suspicious one and in other things has taken a bit longer to become comfortable with handling etc. But just goes to show you can never predict just how they will react to things.

Her feet though are not in fantastic shape, better than when she arrived though, as some of cracked bits have flaked off on her toes. But still bad. The sore foot has very twisted growth. A big chunk has just come off the toe, i suspect this is why she is limping. because she is now putting pressure on the sensitive part of her foot. But will have to try and have better look tomorrow. She does seem better than yesterday though.
So after a day that started with the fence breaking, and continued with water pipes getting broken, domestic horses behaving like idiots and general farm chaos. The day ended just as chaotically as it began. Every night i open the gate to Milo and the Bays paddock. Every night Milo just trots freely down to the barn and into his stable, while i catch the bay. My old Arab just grazes freely and usually follows Milo to the stable. Not tonight. Milo left the paddock like a bat out of hell. Met up with the old Arab, they then both proceeded up and down the driveway and orchard, galloping, bucking and gen rally having a hell of a time. I was expecting the wild bay to join in, galloping and being silly, not letting me catch him. To my surprise, he watched the other 2 horses for a minute. Then walked up to me and just stood there waiting to be caught.Never a second did he even look like he wanted to join the other two idiots...Priceless. Moments like these make it all worth it. When it seems like everything is going wrong, a little bay stallion lets you know, you must be doing something right...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Home sweet home from my two days in the city. Its always nice to get away for a little while, because you come back refreshed and itching to press on with training horses. Apparently both wild ones were well behaved while i was away. but eyed the stranger giving them hay a bit suspiciously as it was very out of their routine. But both wild ones were happy to see me it seemed. With bay boy at the gate waiting to be brought in to the stable. The grey who is a lot more suspicious in nature was also, happy it seemed to be caught. But oh no...grey has a limp. i don't know if it is the wet weather causing soreness, or if her feet that have always been in terrible shape are causing her grief finally? What ever it is, it doesn't look to severe, will have to wait till tomorrow when i can wash and take a close look at the problem.

i got home just in time to teach my afternoon riding lessons. So having caught grey girl,in record time, i decided to bring her to the barn for the afternoon. It was her turn to watch the comings and goings inside the stables. Like i said in my last blog. As long as you show them there nothing to be afraid of, they don't learn that they should be fearful. So it was with the girl, i left her loose in her stable and allowed her just to watch the kids running around the place and the lesson ponies coming and going. She stood right back in the corner of her stall, but ears pricked watching the whole thing. No big deal. I didn't act scared the other horses were happy and relaxed. Grey girl accepted that this situation wasn't dangerous. by the end of the day she had her head hanging over the stable door, children running almost right under, or into her nose at times.

I let the lesson kids be kids, they run, jump make loud noises, and the horses just learn that this is no big deal. Rather than try and teach the kids to be quiet and calm. the wild horses just learn that this activity is just as ordinary as anything else in life. Although the kids are forbade from actually approaching the horses or feeding them tit-bits at the end like they do with the lesson ponys. Grey, allowed her time to watch and assess the situation took her time but was definitely perfectly calm with it all in the end. You just got to let them take the time it takes.

Bay boy was desperate to get to his stable after riding lessons had finished. Waiting for me at gate as soon as he saw i was coming to get him. How quickly they come to enjoy there 'creature comforts'. Shelter, warmth and food they don't have to forage for. He seems to love it and grows physically as well getting more and more calm and confident every day. While i was in the city, i happened to read a article about article about teaching a horse tricks.....maybe this will be what i do with the boy until he old enough to actually be ridden? who home and i feel inspired to try new things and keep up training these little wild things.

Monday, June 28, 2010

So as i sit here writing this from my boyfriends house in the city. I wonder how my little wild things are doing? It is going to be like a little test to see how they do without human contact for a few days. Will they revert back now that they're feeling better? The worm flow as definitely stopped. The grey girl is an eating machine and seems to have almost doubled the size of her belly since worming (on nothing but hay i might add), it may be time to start watching her weight. They boy to is looking better, no more pot belly, and definitely looking much more full of life.

It a 3 hour drive to the city, so i had plenty of time to think on the drive down. A few people i have talked to over the past days, have asked me about the worming of the horses. Asking if i had to twitch them? did it take a man to hold them while i administered the medicine? were they scared of me after? No, no and no. Horses are pretty simple creatures, i think really they only become fearful of what humans (usually inadvertently) teach them to be afraid of. The wild ones had never been wormed before, they didn't know what a tube of worm medicine was, or to be afraid of it, having had no prior experience. They're not afraid of it now. It is how humans as their trainers react that teaches a horse what it should be afraid of.

So to worm them i just got the tube, and first just rubbed it over their body and face. When they were happy with the bright green tube touching them. i put the tube in there mouth and took it out a gain as soon as they accepted it. did this a couple of times and then as just squirted the medicine down there throats. No problem, no reaction at all accept to swallow the paste in their mouth. then went back to rubbing the green tube all over there face. So that there last experience with it wasn't associated with getting fowl tasting paste in their mouth. If i had just walked up shoved a tube full of foul tasting paste down there throats and left again then yes, next time they probably wouldn't have fond memories of the worming experience for next time.

I had a Friend who wanted to worm her weanling. So the first thing she did was put a twitch on it. A twitch if you don't know is usually a loop of string attached to a stick. The string is then twisted around the horses upper lip. Its painful with idea that the horse will stand still as to stop the twitch from inflicting more pain. she did this every time she wormed her horse until after about 6 months she couldn't get near it when she was holding the tube of worming paste. All the horse had remembered was that when that tube of worm er was around, his lip got twisted in a painful way. So in his mind he wouldn't let anyone with that tell tale little tube near him because he associated it with pain . So he reared,kicked, ran or did anything he could to get away from the person come to worm him. The sad thing was is that she would never had these trouble if she just taken the time to make it a good experience in the first place. Even sadder the girl couldn't work out why her horse had such an aversion to being wormed....

I have a about a million examples of people doing things like this....If you just take the time to teach them things are'nt scary then horse wont ever find them frightening.....its only ever what we teach them

Friday, June 25, 2010

getting down and dirty

How romantic it sounds taming wild horses. Even just working with horses. when i tell people what i do for job the response is usually 'Wow that sounds like so much fun' or 'id love to be able to do that' . Most of the time it is great, i love what i do, every day I'm excited about getting out of bed to go to work . But when people (myself included) think of working with horses. You picture hours on horseback riding just you and your horse.You don't usually picture the day to day dirty jobs that working with horses involves. But that is reality. Especially today it was getting down to all the dirty jobs. literally the shittiest jobs.

So the 2 wild ponies were both drenched in the last two days. Which they both handled with ease. In fact they seemed to like the worm medicine far more than any of the horse feed presented to them! Now came the fun job of checking to see just what worms came out.

I've herd that the wild horses carry a very high worm load. You know the ads for sponsoring a starving child in Africa? they show those skeletal looking children with the same bloated, pot bellied look as these two ponies have. But seeing the evidence in front of you is a very different thing than hearing about it. For the 24 hours since worming i have been doing the highly glamorous job of prodding each poo produced to see what worms were in it.

Answer...Hundreds and hundreds of dead worms....i was stunned... i knew there would be worms....but not in this quantity. All different types too. And there still coming poo after poo filled with dead, disgusting parasites. But both horses are already starting to lose that big pot bellied look so that's a bonus. i think my next month they will be much healthier and fatter looking animals.

And this afternoon after prodding what felt like the hundredth horse poo with a stick...i thought...maybe i have been on the farm to long, Ive been starring at piles of shit all day. so tonight i chucked a dress and my high heels on and went out to dinner. sometimes you gotta make sure you haven't lost the plot completely......i am normal... promise

Thursday, June 24, 2010

how far we have come

It always happens like this, you work and work for something, at what seems like snails pace. you feel like progress is almost invisible and the destination or goal is so far away, you almost forget about it. It's only when you look back at where you started from, that you realise how far you've come and the progress you've made. Well that's what i have always found with riding, and well life in genral actually.

I know when i was working in a dressage barn learning myself , and trying to train my horse as well. It seemed like i was always at the same level all the time. You were always pushing for that next little step forward in your training, always trying to be better. I would always feel like i was never actually any closer to the end goal. Then one day my mother came to watch, for the first time in about 6 months. She couldn't believe how far id come. she Was stunned at the level my horse and i were now at. It was only then that i realized id come a hell of a long way in a short time. That id improved meteorically.The work i had struggled with 6 months ago, i now sailed through and now what i was working on was miles more advanced. I think that day to day improvements are sometimes so subtle, you take them for granted. You never notice really how far you've come until you look back.

So with the wild horses it is the same. Day to day there is improvement. You realise your making progress. But is only as i sit and write this that i realise how far my two wild ponies and i have come. three weeks ago they were wild, skinny and untouchable. 3 hours ago i was relaxing and leaning against the grey as she grazed down the driveway. I can now pat her all over, legs and head included. She can be lunged (go in a circle for the non-horsey people), she knows all the ground manners and each morning shes waiting at the gate to be caught. Shes even be drenched for worms. funnily enough she didn't mind that, horse feed though still doesn't even register interest.

The bay boy, is the absolute picture of sweetness these days. Like the girl he can be patted all over, he knows all his ground manners and like her has been drenched for worms and also still wont touch horse feed. The boy though seems to have fully embraced domestic bliss. If I'm ever there in the paddock, filling troughs etc, there he is a step behind me watcthing everything. when i let him loose in the morning he follows me down the fence until he hits the end of the paddock. The funniest as well as the sweetest of all, today was watching him investigating the electric fencing unit. Until the inevitable happened and he got a shock, at which stage he came back to me at full speed and stood at my side snorting at the thing that had shocked him. From then on he was stuck to me like glue until i left the paddock.

So really even though progress from day to day is very small steps, overall my two wild ponies have come a long way. I cant actually believe that it was less than a month ago that they arrived and you couldn't get near them. Sometimes you just have to look back to realise how far you've come...I cant wait to be looking back from even further down the track to see how much more we have progressed...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Ok short post, i keep writing essays... Both wild ones are going great. They get freindlier by the day.

The boy was in stables yesterday while all the lesson kids came for horse riding. He just stood calmly in the corner and watched everything that went on. Seemingly fascinated by everything he saw. They both continue to amaze me with their ability to quietly take in everything goin on around them.

The girl, gets more interactive everyday. You can now pat her all over. More and more she chooses to come to me instead of me to her. Every night i spend 10 minutes grazing her on the driveway so she gets a bit of extra grass. Photos on last post are from yesterdays grazing.

Soon hopefully i can pick up there feet and brush all take time though...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

wild vs domestic

The two little scraggly things that came off the cattle truck a few weeks ago are changing...But as they change i hope they keep a lot of what their wild days shaped them to be. Domestic vs wild....there is definately advantage to both. When i compare my two groups of horses at home, i think it is a shame you cant have it both ways.

The ones from the wild are probably the most efficient animals Ive ever seen at turning grass into fat.. Everyday they're bigger. On not much food either. It a rainy wet winter, and all the grass has long since turned to mud, or ceased growing due to cold. The paddocks are more so they can stretch their legs than for feed purposes. Yet when I'm pumping hard feed,baylage and anything else i can find into my competition horses and broodmares. The wild ones are gaining weight on scraggly grass and hay. Although they do eat baylage (slightly fermented hay) now, neither one touches horse feed. I'm not complaining though, bonus is that they re turning out to be even cheaper to feed than expected.

Where my big broodmares carrying babies with the best bloodlines i could find, fuss, paw and make putting weight on them difficult. the wild ones just eat and eat and eat. Everyday i watch the domestic herd galloping round the paddock ripping up any grass that might have grown. I've never ever seen the wild ones do any thing but walk around the paddock. While the domestic horses find every excuse in their path to spook and be silly. The wild ones never do, they'll stand and watch if something catches their eye. But they dont run in circles senselessly.
Being from the wild, where food was scarce. Theses to little horses have known hunger, real hunger. They have probably had to travel distances looking for food and water. where the worst my horses have known is missing a meal of hard feed. The wild ones because they have had to survive, don't waste energy moving around for no reason. Food and energy is conserved for times when things is scarce. Everything is eaten (except horse feed) Ive watched them eat twigs, dead leaves, bark as well as the grass. This survival attitude is to be admired.
The domestic horses, not all of them, but especially the ones that have come from the race track, do not have this survival attitude. Racehorses especially are known for being crazy. but they are amazing athletes they have been bred for speed and to be lightweight and lean in order to run, brains have been left out of the mix. They have had the best nutrition and feeding as they grow. So they grow into big strong and beautiful, athletic creatures. Usually though they've never been in a herd situation, never had to compete for food and never had to figure out anything for themselves. So food is not cherished, they run and spook before they try to figure things out. They re in a way helpless compared to the independent wild horses.
Interestingly i once took on 4 Thoroughbred's strait from the track, who were skinny, nervous and pretty stupid creatures at the time. Luckily for me i have land and huge paddocks with streams and other natural obstacles running through them, so my normal horses run as a big herd. Theses 4 horses were the fussiest eaters you couldn't get them to touch anything. When i eventually let them run with the herd, suddenly they had to compete for food (hay in winter) they had to figure out how to get around stream logs etc. They went from skinny and neurotic to calm and eating in a couple of weeks on less food than they'd ever been on before.
I love my domestic horses, the ones Ive bred myself i think have the best of both worlds. They get all the benefits of being raised in captivity, good food, so they grow to there full potential, there feet worked on. handling from people. but Still have the mental stimulation of being in a herd and paddocks where they have to figure out challenges for themselves. the difference between my horses and horses from the racetrack is easy to tell. the wild ones i love the sensibility, the sturdiness, foraging and their sure footedness that allows them to travel over all terrain. But they also will never grow to the size they could have been in captivity if they'dnever known the lean wild times. It will be interesting to see what the greys baby will turn out like...wild blood raised with the best of domestic life...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

all the small things

Baby cant walk before you crawl. Those very first few steps you take are wobbly and its only every 1 or 2 at a time. So it is with horses, especially when training wild horses. you have to take the very smallest steps and take them 1 at a time. If you ask to much you scare them and they lose that fragile trust. You go to slowly and they become disinterested, or just start to ignore you all together.

Luckily i seem to being going OK (at the moment). Yesterday morning i had a break through with the grey girl and today step by small step we continued making progress. The girl i catch everyday and tie her under a tree near the barn. Where she gets a hay net to eat all day, as well as watching the comings and goings of all the other horses.

usally each morning it takes a few minutes to get her relaxed enough with me, to catch her again. Although each day it's been taking a little bit less time. Baby steps. yesterday though i went into the paddock and was just doing some maintenance, fixing bits of fence and checking water troughs. The Grey just started following a few metres behind, around the paddock. This is the first time shes chosen to interact with me, usually i have to go to her. I had my back to her and just kept wandering around the paddock. She just following. until finally she was right behind me. I could feel her sniffing up and down the back of my jacket, just checking me out.

After a while when i could tell she was comfortable and wasn't checking me out anymore. i slowly turned around and there she was not a foot away, just watching me. From their it was easy to catch her ....

Baby steps, you have to let them get used to one thing at a time. First they have to get used to you at the end of the rope (8ft). That is the very first little step. Both of the horses were happy with that by the time i brought them home. then it is the next few trembling steps to teach them to move away, come towards you, back up and respond to pressure on the rope. Its never as easy as 'now you got a rope on it you can just mach right up to them'. But they are getting there. Funny thing is that once you can teach them how to move away from you, what your body language means, that is when they start wanting to come to you.

today another little baby step of progress. I'm getting that little bit closer. Grey has always been less interested in me, as well as a lot more cautious. although i can catch her until the last few days i still couldn't get to close, unless she came to me.

Today though i can rub her head and down her neck. But its tiny steps of progress that get you there. Every time i put my hand near her head she would move away and move away never really wanting to check it out or let it near her. so i just kept it near her. the moment she stopped moving away and accepted my hand near her, i dropped my hand. I repeated this process until she wouldn't move away. This way she learned it was no big deal, the hand near her didn't cause any harm, and as soon as she accepted it the hand left. Same process until i could touch her face. then neck. it is these time baby steps that you have to take that will turn her into a good happy horse. From the tiny step of letting my hand near she became comfortable enough to let me actually touch her neck and face.

Baby steps are the key, i never would have gotten to touch the grey at all. If id just walked straight up and tried to touch her, she would probably think i was a predator trying to kill her. It is those tiny baby steps that send you on the way to cant walk before you can crawl.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Speaking the language

How much easier is communication when you speak the language? If you've ever travelled to non-English speaking countries you know how important knowing the local dialect is, if you want to get anywhere or anything. But not just the spoken language, how about body language, gestures eye contact everything can change between cultures.

But what about between species? Everything changes again, but to some extent most of us can kind of understand the very basics. Think of a dog you can tell when hes happy, sad, hungry or aggressive. Dogs though, share a lot of similarities with ourselves. They are hunters, to some extent foragers, they work in packs, and they form very strong emotional bonds to whoever is in their pack (human or dog). Also like us they are usually apex predators at the top of the food chain. But what about horses? They are prey animals. They are in herds, but there is no herd effort to locate food like with dogs hunting. They re evolved to b ready to run from threats always be aware of the slightest change in their environment. If whatever is scary to them is within range they kick bite then get out the area They are not at the top of the food chain. They are so so different from us. Can we as apex predators, at the very top of the food chain ever relate to another species that is prey? How many people who own, love or work with horses even try? How many 'horse people' even understand or try? Yet we want these animal to do our every request, even carry us on their backs and hand their complete control over to us.

As long as your willing to try and learn to communicate in a language they know, horses can be the best pupils. They are easy to train. As long as your aware of what your training them to do. Their are some fabulous horse trainers in this world who can get horses to do amazing things. But both horse and people have to learn to speak the same language first.

So after our little quarrel over who was top horse so to speak, my little bay boy has been an
angel. The very next morning, getting him out of his stable he was nothing but submissive in his body language. Now with that little hurdle out of the way he's progressing in leaps and bounds. This is where it starts to get exciting. Ten days ago he was as wild as they come. Now we are starting to talk the same language. He's not domesticate yet but he's well on the way. You can run your hand all over him. He will move anyway you ask and his eyes never leave you. Were both starting to speak the same language, but neither of ever say a word.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

the fight

You cant fight nature. nothing man does can control the weather. you cant stop natural disasters and it would seem you definitely can not plug an oil leak at the bottom of the ocean. males are genetically pre-disposed to be males, but at least young full blooded males horse can be taught some form of manners.

So had a bit of plan B failure on Monday. The original plan was to have the bay boy in a paddock with my domestic boys. But because i didn't have two paddocks with wild horse proof fencing,and i was going to be away for the day. Thought that putting him in with the grey girl would be OK. I'd seen her boss him around in the stockyards. So thought he wouldn't get to cocky with her around.How wrong a person can be.

So yesterday morning i turned the boy loose in the paddock. The grey watching from the hill. i watched them for a while and whenever the boy got to close to the grey, or she didn't like what he was doing. He got a kick pretty fast. The boy was just behaving like any horse, nothing stallionish, so i went off to run errands, and do all the jobs around the farm that id been neglecting every since the wild ones got here.

How wrong you can be..So didnt get home til well after dark that night. i thought that I'd just leave the horses as they were. trying to bring the bay back to the barn in the dark didn't seem like a good idea. So he was left in the paddock with the girl. Plus i have heard of people putting young stallions in with already pregnant mare so that the mares knock some manners into them.

Yesterday morning when i went to catch the bay, i realised the error of my judgement. I've noticed over the last few days that the boy getting fatter and less hungry has been getting much bolder, while the mare less desperate for food is starting to exercise i bit more caution. As i walked over to the horses they both looked up, the girl just watching as normal. But the boy came marching over. As a horse person you become aware of a horse body language. He wasn't just coming to investigate he was coming over like he was going to threaten me..

Interesting, overnight the testosterone had kicked in.Gone was the church mouse timid little thing, now he was behaving like any male his age.. Think of young teenage boys where the get that swagger, get little bit cocky try to look like their real confident. A big show because they don't really know what to do yet. This was the impression i got from the boy as he came towards me. So he was marching up all cocky, which is fine but the moment he put his ears back in aggression instead of stepping back i waved my arms and yelled at him. And because it was all show, more of a test to see what he could get away with. he ran off as soon as i called his bluff.

So my next plan of attack, because i didn't really want to get into a battle with him, plus the paddock wasn't really the place to teach him some respect. I called in the reinforcements. In the form of milo the pony. Milo is a stout boy a bit bigger than the wild pony's. He's leader of the domestic boys, and had already shown little bay some authority in the stables. So he went into the paddock.

Horses are very good about personal space if there the dominant horse other horses just don't bother them. Little bay would definitely not have been anywhere near the top of the pecking order in the wild.Milo quickly sorted him out whenever little bay tryed to act like the protector of the grey and challenge Milo, He got kicked. Whenever he tried to chase Milo off the best grass, he got kicked. When ever he got in Milo's personal space, he got kicked. When ever he exhibited any behaviour that wasn't submissive, he was quickly set straight. But as long as his behaviour was in line he was left alone. Horses are simple, if their in each others space the less dominant gets told to move, but if their behaving they're not hasseled. black or white.

Anyway after a few hours with Milo, little bay was behaving himself again. So this time i went back into the paddock, this time carrying a little stick, just in case. This time though, he wasn't aggressive at all, having being stripped of his title of man of the paddock by Milo, he felt no need to threaten me. So catching him again was easy.

Soon as i had him again i decided it was definitely time to establish some ground rules. If you know what your doing horses are the easiest animals in the world to train ( but that's another blog). In no time at all he knew not just to follow when i pulled on the lead rope. But how to back up , how to turn his hind quarters away from me, how to going around me. All the little things that show him that I'm boss, so that he gets out of my way, not me out of his. This is all horses need they just want to know who's boss.

Next morning as i got him out of the stable he was back to his old sweet self and his big brown eyes followed me everywhere. Moral of story, boys will be boys and from now on little wild bay colts will have to behave with manners, and will not be allowed anywhere near girl horses.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I cant believe how much my wild ponys have changed in under a week! I thought id take a photo of them each month as a record 4 how much they grow. starting with these 2 pics.

When they first came off the truck they were so thin! But they grey it seems puts on weight right before you eyes. She looks almost chubby now, this is after just 3 day on grass. She just eats, with her, there's no exploring the paddock or checking things out. just a concentrated effort to get as much food into her belly as possible.

The boy has defiantly gained weight too, just not as much as the girl. he is the one off exploring and looking around at everything.
whats interesting though is what they choose to eat. In the wild horse paddock the grass my horses usually disdain is grazed right down, and the rich rye, clover etc is virtually untouched. I still cant get them to touch horse feed, sweet baylage is gobbled up by the other horse doesn't even interest them. my special fiber fresh feed, which is alfalfa and rye grass fermented slightly with molasses isn't even nibbled at when put in the boys stable at night. Yet the weediest most unpalatable looking hay will be devoured in minutes. As i went to clean they boys stable this more there was not a single straw left behind.
One other thing the greys feet are terrible, split and cracked all the way to the top of the hoof in places. Her back right hoof is growing completely twisted, not the leg just the hoof itself. Yet she is completely unfazed. I don't know if her feet just don't bother her. Or is it that wild animal instinct to not show weakness, so as not to be singled out by predators? Even though they would never have come across predators in the wild it is an instinct present in all prey animals. One way or another it will be good to soon hopefully have her comfortable with her feet being handled so that those hooves of hers can be tidied up, then hopefully at least they'll look better.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

all in a moment

Everything withs horses is timing, a second to late reacting or a moment to fast and it all changes. Having good timing or good reactions, knowing exactly when to release pressure on a rope or step away from a horse makes all the difference in what they learn and how they react.

It was the brown boys turn to come home today. He was amazing all things considered. But a different horse from the grey girl. Where i think her pregnancy drives her to be searching for food constantly to grow the baby. The boy being young is still very curious and likes to check things out, rather than put his head down to eat. He's already becoming more friendly, sniffing anyone hands when you reach through the stock yards. He learns fast already this morning he had figured out to follow the lead rope to relieve the pulling on his face when asked to move forward..

Again when we first opened the stock yard gate he just stood there, scared to leave the yard where he felt safe and step into the unknown. Unlike the girl though he was busy looking around checking everything out. Even once he had taken those brave first steps he continued to analyse everything, dropping his head and licking his lips ( a horses way of showing hes thinking things through) and taking everything in.

The stockyards are set up within a small paddock raceway. So once we had him out of the yards we practiced leading him within this space. It was all going well until going past a drain he got a fright and galloped forward. In that moment everything changed, i suddenly had a loose wild horse. But to my surprise as soon as he got away from whatever spooked him, he calmed and walked quietly to the corner of a paddock.
This is where you just got to stay calm. Slowly i just walked closer. He watched but stayed still. When i was near enough i stretched out a hand to him, and he watched and slowly stretched forward to sniff. Just as he was about to step forward i stepped away. He came forward and i continued to draw back until i had a completely wild horse following me through his own will. Even when he got a second fright he continued to look at me and follow. Then just like that i could reach down and pick up the rope again....
After that little incident the journey home was easy. He just followed me, no trying to escape, past the peacocks, chickens and dogs, he followed. Always watching just taking everything in.
Now he's safely home and in a stable. That to was no drama, after all to him going into a stable was no scarier or alien than any other things he has seen in the last few days. They boy unlike the grey girl will be stabled with my domestic boys to help show him the way in his new life. During the day he'll be out in my newly constructed wild horse paddock, and their to the domestic boys will be company and hopefully also keep him in line and stop him from becoming to cocky or stallion like in behaviour.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Kodak momments

Why is it that you never get the Kodak moments?Always the camera isn't there, or the pictures taken to late, to soon, no ones there to witness let alone photograph. Whatever the reason it seems to me that you never quite catch the exact moment you always get the after shots with none of the magic that you wish you could capture.......

When i envision wild horses or more specifically a wild stallion, a trembling, skinny and very lonely looking bay pony is not what i had in mind. But that's what i have, and don't get me wrong he is no push over or tame, but he looks at you with these big innocent eyes and all i can think of is a timid little church mouse .

Now the grey girls home it was the bay boy's turn to be caught and haltered. Again these pony's surprise me with how accepting they are. They don't panic and as soon as they figure out that they re not in physical danger they just seem to accept whatever happening and continue eating.. used the same method to catch the boys as i did with the girl. Just getting him used to the rope across his body then slipping it over his problem, no panicking as he felt the rope around his neck he just kept eating hay.

Even when i pulled on the rope to get him a bit closer no big deal he leaned on the rope 4 a bit figured out he couldn't escape and stepped closer.......So i left him for an hour to get used to being tied and came back with a halter.....same process got him used to that and then just slipped it over his head and tied it amazes me that they dont seem to mind you fiddling with knots behind their ears and just stand there. once the halter was on i tied it to a post and slipped the rope around his neck off....I now had a haltered relaxed wild pony...

But it wouldn't be horse training if you didn't have those moments where you think 'sh!t what the f%!k just happened' I knew it had been to easy, just as i was about to turn my back to go grab some more hay he pulled back felt the new pressure from the halter reared lost his footing (luckily he was tied up so couldn't go over backwards) and fell flat on his side in the mud with a huge splash, mud flying everywhere.....and lay there.. This is where i think 'o f%!k hes broken something! Ive killed my wild pony!'......i should have known he was made of tougher stuff despite his skinny fragile appearance. After lying there for a few seconds he hoped up stepped closer to the fence so there was no pressure from the rope and continued eating. nothing seems to upset theses ponies...

And now for the Kodak moment...after i had set him up with a hay net i returned with a water bucket...he must have been pretty thirsty, because he leaned over before id even tied it up rested his head against my hands, had a drink then just continued to lean his head against my hands ( i know he knew my hands were there because i could feel his eye lashes brushing my fingers). Just when i was thinking this was pretty cool, he looked up sniffed, then raised his head all the way to mine... Noses touching he just sniffed and breathed on my face as if to say 'hey I'm wild pony....and your really not that scary after all' . He just stood there for the longest time just breathing on my face then snuffeld along my neck and then went back to his hay....

Awesome! so so awesome this wild animal without any prompting, came and said hello and choose to interact with felt so special to experience this.

Where is the damn camera when you need it!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Home sweet home

Humans are very complex creatures.......wild horses are however far simpler creatures....have food and you wont have problems...well this is how it for my two it would seem anyway..

The grey girl is now happily eating grass in my paddock at home. I doubt whether shes lifted her head up from the paddock now even hours later, so happy was she she to be eating green stuff. This is probably the first real grass of her entire life. Having come from tussock and shrub covered plateau to stock yards and now finally a paddock with real grass.

Today i led her home from the stockyards (about 1km). No problems even though she had to pass through peacocks, chickens, a pack of 6 little yapping dogs which all rushed out at her from the neighbors, one of which bit me on the leg i might add, and a creek crossing. Which if you know horses is quite an acheivement even for one used to people.Nothing phased her. In fact the hardes part was getting her to take the first step out of the stockyards where she felt safe, into this strange new world. After that she never worried.although i let her take her time along the way, even coming across my 8 horses tied at the barn didn't worry her. as long as there was grass she was happy Just sticking her head down to eat any chance she got. finally loose in the paddock all she did was eat..

Although the whole experience was very quiet and settled the adrenalin rush for me was huge! In four days i have taken a completely wild horse caught her haltered her and had her following me happily and calmly. This a wild animal! Was just amazing to watch her accept everything..Saying this shes not tame yet, i can lead and get her to go where i want, but i still cant get to near her. Soon though and I'm sure she will accept me in her space..

A big thanks to Charlotte who came and helped me today and led my old arab home for the grey to follow. Having a someone else who also has great horsemanship and advice was invaluable help.

Its the boy's turn tomorrow..for me this just gets more exciting every day....

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1 down 1 to go

Success got a halter and rope on the little grey mare today...step 1 is complete.

Have been feeding them 3 times a day just going in and out of the pen getting them used to me. Letting them eat out of my hands so they associate me with food. Generally getting them used to having me around. This morning as they ate their hay i tryd just rubbing the brown boy on the bum...he didn't seem to mind to much flicking his ears back and forth in suspicion but then just carried on eating.

Have been worried about the conditions of the yards and keeping the horses in there for much longer. The yard itself is pretty small, being winter its also muddy. Not good for the horses health as its bad for their hooves to be constantly submerged in mud. So because of this i decided to crack on and see if i can get halters on these little guys so i can handle them and get them into better conditions....

So at lunch i went down to the yards. First things first, i needed to separate them. There was no way i wanted to deal with two horses in such a confined space. As this would probably lead to me being kicked to pieces.....definitely to be avoided. The yard narrows into a little box at one end so the idea was to separate them so i had room to work with one horse at the larger end while the other was locked away at the other. So after i separated them i just pushed a few of my jumping pole through and tied them in place. this took a couple of goes as the grey mare was super quick to duck under the pole when i didn't get them in soon enough. Was actually amazing to see how quickly she could get down and under a gap you would think far to low for her height!

Next i hoped down into the pen with the boy waited for him to settle. slowly i just started rubbing him with the stick i was carrying. Starting with his bum then along his back and finally up to his head until he was relaxed. Every time he accepted the stick touching him i would take it away for a few seconds, let him relax and think about it for a few seconds then go back to rubbing him. This seemed to work as pretty soon he was sniffing me and licking his lips, chewing and lowering his head ( a sign the horse is thinking things through and not just frozen in fear). Next step i just worked my way closer until he was happy with me near him, then started the process again of rubbing him all over this time with my hand. Once i got to his shoulder this seemed to be all he could handle so i backed off again and decided to leave him for the day.

So on to plan B, decided that the mare in the smaller pen would be an easier task to catch as she had less room to move around. But there was no way i was getting down in the pen with her as she was definitely one that would try in kick me to shreds (fair enough she is wild and has no reason to think I'm not some predator come to eat her). So with her i got a rope and just put it over her back until she was happy with that...then slipped it over her head. As fast as i could i secured the other end to a post and......zilch......she just stood there eyeballing me then licked her lips and relaxed...Huh....where was the rearing fighting and trying to escape????

So i tugged on the rope and she turned her head..i let go the rope and let her think...pulled on it again and got her to take a step and left her again. She seemed to take it all in her stride. So i tied the rope tight enough she couldn't rear over backwards or hurt herself and left her to get used to the rope with a bag full of hay for an hour. When i came back i started rubbing her neck then around her ears again taking my hand away each time she relaxed. finally she accepted my hand on her face so i slipped a halter on her and....nothing she pulled back a few steps til she hit the end of the rope..paused and came back to eating hay....Easiest job 'I've ever had putting a halter on a horse for the first time...

So far so good....tomorrow i will do the process all over again with the brown boy. Hopefully the grey will be quiet enough that i can get a halter on again and bring her home to a paddock so she can work on gaining weight and feeding that baby growing inside her.

Lastly hopefully this will be one of the only essay length blogs that i write...short and sweet from now on...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

wild horses ....what wild horses??

I love my wild ponys.....After checking them like a million times yesterday to make sure they had hay, water and that they were settled in there yard. I left them for the night with my old Arabian horse babysitting from over the fence.

First thing this morning i drove down to deliver breakfast (hay) to my wild ponys.. Just to see what would happen i held a bunch of hay through the fence, expecting them not to come near until i dropped it and walked away. But low and behold the little grey girl walked right up and started eating out of my hand. The bay watched from a distance for a while before timidly coming up and having a sniff, then tucked in to the hay. Food conquers all. I think the stress of traveling and there general thinness, and the fact the mare is pregnant making her hungry has left them both with huge appetite. .

Just wanting to see how quiet or maybe hungry they really were i climbed the fence carrying hay and stood on the side of the pen with them. First they just watched from the corner and then the boy who had been so timid before, walked right up and started eating, even gave me a sniff up and down. The grey not so brave once she already had a bit of food in her belly watched for a while then cautiously came up and tucked in too.So they're happy to take any food they can get from any source. This is defiantly to my advantage, they are going to be a lot easier to handle if they come to me for food and get used to being around me. Rather than having to chase them around and around trying to just get near them

After a couple minutes i climbed out and left them to eat alone....

I'm stunned i didn't expect them to be bolting maniacs who were trying to kick the yards pieces or anything like that...but didn't expect them to be that quiet either.... I feel almost deflated that my wild ponys don't seem to be that wild...Although these could be famous last words...Maybe i shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch....Maybe i will wait until after i have a halter on them before i complain about how quiet they are...

O and i noticed as the boy ate out of my hand he has a tiny whit fleck on his forehead just hidden behind his forelock. He's not just brown after all. Yahh!

Monday, June 7, 2010

They're here!!!

My wild ponys have arrived!!!!

At 11am this morning 2 wild ponys staggered off a truck into my stockyards..bedraggeled and skinny and looking a little shell shocked by the hole experiance. But sensible and quiet. You cant get to close to them but they wer'nt flighty or fiesty. obviously living this long in the wild has given them a sense of self preservation and common sense that can sometimes be lacking in our domesticated animals...

Magically though the two stallions i was told i was getting on friday...turned into a two year old colt and a pregnant mare as they got off the truck today..This is a slight set back to my plan. I now have a mare thats halfway through her pregnacy. So until shes foaled, and her foal is old enough to be weaned theres not much i can do with her. Minimum of a year before any real training can start...

And a little bay colt that cant be much over two. To young to do to much with for now. Tiny just a little pony at moment and timid as anything. Cute. But so skinny and malnurished. It really justifys the mustering and culling of the wild horses if they are in this condition.

But overall i love my two little ponys....So cute. the grey girl looks pretty brave and has 4 white socks and a blaze. The bay just plain and looks like a scared little mouse

so now i have my wild horses the project can really begin..

Saturday, June 5, 2010


spent all day fixing up stallion pouring rain ....chopping, slashing, and dragging gorse..

luckily dad dropped by for a visit, saw my sorry state of things...and hired someone to come help me.....then mum took pity and helped dig post holes and drag ended up with lots of help and got lots done. yahhh!!

so by tomorrow i will have a real paddock with real fences that should hopefully be able to contain two real wild horses...

but for today i got hands that feel more filled with prickles than skin and am soaked to bone for hours. Not complaining though huge relief to finally have one paddock fixed and have help fixing yahhh

Friday, June 4, 2010


spent couple hours inspectin the fence of the future stallion paddock...its designated the stallion padock 'cos about 10 years ago it once contained a stallion (a small 30 year old ancient white stallion)..since then the fences not good to begin with have only gotten worse....

the plan is to fix it up in time for the two new arrivals....i still have a few days up my sleeve

it needs....
# a few posts replaced
# a few post holes dug for the posts
# mutliple wires restrung
# fence battens replaced and restrung or whatever you do with fence battens
# electric outriggers on all fence posts...
# electric wires strung through outriggers
# electric fencing unit attached

i managed to attach about 15 outriggers...harder than thought to hammer theses into the top of posts...only about 30 more to go....

not beatn yet though i will have at least one paddock stallion proof in time for the arrival of my wild boys

Thursday, June 3, 2010

counting down the days...

Just watched the wild horses mustered on tv from the comfort of my makes national news every year...they are gorgeous

only a few days now...

and i realise that although they are getting delivered to my neighbors cattle yards this is very tempoary holding for them....

i have a farm with run down fences that struggle to even keep my domestic horses in. no wooden yards of my own to hold horses. no real horse training facilities whats so ever..... And 2 completely wild stallions arriving very soon

i may be out of my depth.....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the wild horse project

I think i might have lost my mind...finally.

In 4 days two never been touched wild stallions will be arriving at my farm. they will have been mustered by helicopter from the ranges where they run wild, chased into stock yards loaded onto cattle trucks and delivered around the country, including to my lonely stockyard a few hundred kilometres north from there home range

So the plan is to take a this wild horse that has spent his hole life running free and to train it to do highest level of dressage. To take a completely wild, completely untouched by humans,free, independent horse and to teach it the the most demanding and disciplined form of equestrian sports. Not to compete but to just challenge myself and see what i can train a horse to do willingly.

this is the wild horse project........