Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Okay back on track, in case any of you thought id completely forgotten my wild horses for Egypt instead, they are doing great. Life has been hectic, competing, on weekends, traveling Friday, working non-stop Monday-Thursday, i haven't had a chance to hit the keyboard and talk about the wild horses in a while.Well today even though its summer, we have torrential rain and flooding, and after getting up to find the stream had risen 3metres in the night and burst it banks,  blankiting every bit of flat pasture under a good few feet of water. I spent the early par of the morning making sure all assorted animals are away from the danger, i now have nothing to do, but sit inside and wait it out, until the flood waters go down again, this give me the perfect opportunity to catch up on everything so here we go....

I have learned many things since starting the wild horse project, in May last year. Some things,just from observing and comparing horses, from the wild ones, to the ones we raise. Lots of ideas and theories i had about horses, have become more established, and i have been reminded of lots of things that had slipped to the back of my mind after working in solely with show horses for the last few years.

  • The biggest lesson, Horses are only as wild as you make them. I already kind of thought this but working with my three wild horses, just confirmed it. They are not born crazy, and given the chance they are pretty stoic animals, not as prone to flight as we think they are. We determine how settled they become in life due to the kind of handling, and the amount of time put into them. True of either horse born wild or in domestication. But really, nothing seems to upset the wild horses to much, they just take life as it is and don't get to phased by it.
  • You can feed a wild horse half as much, and it will grow twice as fat as one of my precious sport horses. Some of this isn't just their great metabolism, but behavioural as well. The ones from the wild see eating as survival and are very focused about it. The sport horses see it as something to do for entertainment and pick and fuss, or stand at the gates wasting hours of grazing time waiting to come in to the barn.
  • Wild horses are HAPPY, once domesticated. Mine give no signs of longing to be free in the mountains again, and seem totally settled in domestic bliss. Given the chance I'm sure they would lock themselves in the stable with a pile of hay and never come out.
  • Domestic horses are a lot more prone to flight than wild horses. All my 'wilds' if spooked stop and stare and then just carry on with what they are doing. Some of the sport horses, whirl, and bolt before they even seen a thing. this can be in the paddock or ridden. Also while the domestic ones gallop headlong, excuberantly down the hill to be caught, the wild ones have always calmy picked their way down, even though they are the ones born runing on mountains.
  • The biggest thing that surprised me though was the Independence that the wild horses showed. We think of herd animals as being together constantly, and unwilling to act alone. To this day, if the wild mare doesn't agree with what the herd is doing, she just takes herself off and does her own thing, completely out of sight of the herd if need be.Today is a classic example, the herd of mares is grazing where i can see them, totally exposed in the pouring rain, shivering and cold. The wild mare cant be seen, but i know is on the next hill over, tucked way back into the forest, where shes dry and warm, a looking out over the other idiot equines standing in the rain.
  • they develop a lot faster and studier, than our purpose bred sport horses. Sonny the wild yearling looks like a fully grown little stallion in miniature, strong sturdy, glossy coat, and a good covering of fat and muscle. he looks like he could survive anything and behaves more like an adult horse than a you would expect. The purpose bred sport horses on the other hand, long, lanky, impossible to keep weight on, with no muscling, they are still very much babies mentally, apart from the colts keen desire to breed with anything, he is nowhere near as developed as Sonny. This makes sense if they were in the wild, the quicker they develop the better their chance for survival
  • Going slowly as far as training, does not make it easier for the horse. Going to fast and putting to much pressure on them doesn't help either. But the people who take months and months, to get to where they can handle a horse, i think, only prolong the amount of time the horses spends scared of you. If you can get to where they can be haltered and handled relatively quickly, i think its better for the horse as they learn you mean no harm and can relax in their new environment.
These are just my opinions though, some people may have different experiences or not agree with me. That's okay to, every ones entitled to their own ideas. I'm also sure i have forgotten to put down about half the things i meant to, but as soon as i sit down and stare at a computer screen my mind seem to come up blank and i forget all i meant to write about...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Images from Egypt......can you see why i might want to go?

this horse had cloth tied through it flesh for 'good health'....


these ones are simply starving to death with only sand to eat...One thing is for sure im going to see things over there, worse than anything iever seen or dealt with before, it will be educational at the very least



So this is what i have to look forward to when i travel over in march. I'm sure these images make your gut twist just as much as mine. How could this happen, how could people do this or tolerate it? makes you pretty sick to think about...




But then its amazing what you become immune to, or what you think is normal when its all you know. I'm sure their are some bastards over their, that are rotten to the core, and knowingly abuse their animals, working them for all they are worth, literally until they drop dead. but I'm also equally sure, that some just don't know any better and are just carrying on practices that there ancestors were doing back in the stone ages.




We, and i mean anyone, anywhere, are all guilty of becoming to familiarized or used, to certain things and just accepting them as normal. just for an example, horses in New Zealand, live out in pasture mostly, and generally are pretty healthy animals, with good wide hooves and are pretty co-ordinated creatures. This is what I'm used to, its normal for me, to expect any horse i get on to be able to walk up and down a hill. The look of a long lean thouroughbred, or eventing type, is also the kind of horse im used to seeing.




But when Ive traveled, i have found this is far from the norm in other places. In America, i went to a stable, where every second horse was obese and had at some stage, had major colic surgery, navicular and ringbone were pretty rife too, everyone their thought this was totally normal, as they did the tiny pinched hooves and the fact that their horses couldnt walk down the slightest slope without tripping over. this was just how horses were, or so they thought. Everyone had just become so familiarised they started thinking this was normal. By the way, not a attack at american barns at all, because i know there are some great ones to!




Who's to know its not a similar situation in Egypt, you may just never realise their is another way of caring for horses, and that jutting hip bones and gaping sores are not just the norm. who's to say until you have been there. But i think this is why education is so important, and that is part of what the people on this trip hope to achieve, re-educating locals into better practices and care of their animals.




But don't get me wrong, in no way am i justifying what they do. Its horrible, but you cant just tell people their wrong, you have to show them and give them a reason to do it differently.




Well today a friend and i raised $223 to go towards, educating people, and taking medical gear over to look after the horses. What was amazing is how many donated more than required to buy the fundraising raffle ticket. Was really great to see, and most people were genuinely interested and asked what they could do to help. So thank you to all those who brought a ticket and donated, hopefully your money will to making a real differance to the lives of the horses, donkeys and camels over there




I know a lot of readers here will want to help to, at the moment there are lots of ways you can contribute. We need, horse wormers, tick tags, vet wrap, gamgee, wound dressings, non-stick wound pads, flea spray, and lice powders. But also things you might have lying around your tack room unused, such as halters and leads, snaflle bits, foam saddle blankets, plastic bridles, even dog collars and leads are needed. If your handy with a sewing machine, making synthetic sheepskin covers for noseband and gith sleeves, would be fantastic, to hlep protect horses from traditioanl chain nosebands and rough girths. As always money can be donated and will appreciated too!




If you can help and want more imformation please contact me by email chloesponys@hotmail.com




Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kaimanawa to Cairo

I'm feeling a but frustrated, with the weekends of competitions and week of manically trying to keep up with all the work on the farm and with the horses.Don't get me wrong, i love competing, horse shows are a huge part of my life and keep me on my toes and striving to succeed. But you can, at times, get jaded with the whole scene, the money, the time involved, the travel,and the fact that your whole life revolves around a how well a horse can go in different circles and jump without knocking a rail down. Sometimes you do find yourself thinking, "is this all my life is about". Recently i have felt i need for something else in my life, a holiday, a new project, something to re-inspire me. The last time i felt this way i adopted wild horses and started this blog. So what next???





Most people when they need a break, or R&R, pick a nice holiday destination where they can lie on the beach, relax and unwind and think about things.Not me. I'm going to a war zone, to work my ass off, to live in less than great conditions, in the heat, in a country that is predominantly Muslim. and where animals welfare is not high on the list of most people's priorities. Egypt. With Libya on it left, sitting below Israel, Jordon and Palestine, above Sudan and a hop,skip and a jump from Iraq and Afghanistan.That's right, to a country in the middle of a political upheaval, that according to my government is a 'high risk' travel destination, in the middle of a part of the world that is presently rife, with war, terrorism, protesters, suicide bombers, dictatorships and countries that don't allow women any freedom. Sounds great right? Dangerous, hot, hard work and where women are not well respected. What better place to go, for a young girl from New Zealand.

So why go? Why the risk, to a place i wont even be able to kick back and relax? This wont be a holiday, but it will be an experience, because im going to set up street clinics, for starving neglected, abused and wounded horses, camels and donkeys. I'm going to Egypt, because i feel i would actually be able to put some of my skills to something more useful than, preparing a horse for shows. The is a chance to maybe work at Giza Zoo, get some hands on experience with camels, save some horses and donkeys, and be doing all this within a stones throw from the great pyramids. Was to good an opportunity to pass by.

Sometimes in the western world we forget how lucky we are, were educated have great resources at our disposle, unlimited access to knowledge via the Internet. We don't go hungry, mostly our governments run smoothly, and in New Zealand at least we have a green, pristine and beautiful environment. What happens if you live in a desert, and the tourist money you rely on runs dry? Its not even like you can turn your animals loose to find grass, your surrounded by rock and sand. No money, first your animals go hungry and then you and your family. What happens if your brought up without knowledge of modern animals care, what if you practice old beliefs, like piercing an animals flesh and tying bits of string, wire and cloth through their flesh, to promote better health, but instead leave the animals with open rotting sores. Can we sitting at home really judge people?

Im sure not all of it is ignorance but i will hold my judgment until i see condition for myself. The pictures are however horrific. Horses like walking skeletons. Animals with open putrid wounds almost to the bone, from being ridden with ill fitting saddles by tourists to see the pyramids, or sores from chains rubbing across their faces and legs. The photos paint a very grim picture. This wont be for the faint hearted. It will be heart wrenching and hard, but i think worth it.

So when i saw a team of Kiwi's were going, including a horse dentist and vets, i thought that this would be my chance to make a bit of a difference, help out, not just talk about how horrible it is, but go and do something about it.

I'm no delicate flower, not afraid to get my hands dirty,i can deal with injuries, i worked with starved abused and injured horses in the past. I can bandage, dress wounds, trim hooves and deal with unruly animals. I can provide a lot of the grunt work need on this kind of trip.people have told me they couldn't cope seeing this kind of thing, it would be to upsetting.but i just want to get stuck in and help out, i figure anything i can do will help improve theses horses lives, and it worth dealing with everything else.

So i got in contact and signed up for the trip, it was a spur of the moment decision and i don't regret it, March next year i will be ,bandaging, feeding holding and looking after horses in Egypt. The worst part i think will be starting the huge amount of vaccinations i need for the trip, including rabies, which i start next week. I'm excited, i feel inspired again and bursting with passion and enthusiasm. I feel much better to have something to be working towards again. I know its a risk, but one I'm willing to take, and well, if i get kidnapped over there and sold for camels to be part of some sheik's harem, we will all know it was a mistake, but you don't know until you try.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

behind the scenes

Just a couple more images from equidays, Matai and Eliza, as well as other wild horses and their handlers...


































Behind every organisation is a couple of hardworking people who keeps everything ticking over. Every soccer club, dance recital, horse show, school reunion, charity organsition has a handful of core people, that makes these things work. These people who put the hard work in year after year, so that these events and clubs happen, they usally do the bulk of the work, for none of the glory, fitting it in without complaint around their day to day live.






The Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, seems to also have this core group of hardworking volunteers that not only look out for the horses but run, shows, demonstrations, a breed registry, a adoption and fostering scheme, publish a magazine, and continue to promote these amazing horses. It is these people who i have all my dealings with, and have made the overall experiance of having a wild horse so enjoyable. They have taken good care of me, and always made me feel part of the Kaimanawa family, everytime ive gotten to meet them at shows and events. Even going as far as putting me and matai up for the night when we came to the Kai show in february. They are all great people with big hearts and deserve mention for all the good work they do.





So Marilyn, Elder, who are just great people, and obviously so passionate about the horses. Tania for helping Matai, me and Eliza all participate in Equidays. Christine and her family for letting me stay back in february, and all the other great people who keep this organisation going. Thanks for all that you do, your work is appreciated!












Saturday, November 19, 2011

Good hoses are made not born...

What we started with......


and today......

Big screen in the back ground, the wild stallion and his new owner, a little scared but held it together!



In the demonstration arena settling down





Matai and his new owner warming up. Looking pretty flash







I just want people to know that good horses are not born, they are made. Some horses are born more trainable, more athletic, with better movement, better conformation, more intelligent, what effects how they turn out in life, how far they go, is the training and time put into them.


Behind every good horse is someone who at some stage put hours, months even years of training into them. At some stage in every successful horses life someone took the time to put in, the everyday foundation in training that would shape their future.


People spend their whole life tyring to find that perfect horse, maybe just a calm horse to ride on a trail, or something they think will carry them to a gold medal, while other people just create the perfect horse for them selves.


Without going on an on, that little unremarkable scrawny bay pony in the top photos didn't just become the flashy little bay horse that could perform in front of crowds, tv screens, in a windy outdoor arena like he did today.


People put a lot of work into him, training what he already had,and turning it into something special. First me with months of training to bring him from wild horse to domestic horse, and now with is new owner, taking him from green little pony into a horse that will one day have a future in a dressage ring.


Matai had his four minutes of fame today. Going into a big outdoor arena surrounded by grandstands, loudspeakers, flapping flags, we had to push through crowds of people, and past a tantrum throwing miniature stallion, horse and carts, just to make it to the arena, but we did. Matai bless his sole, was scared, and so was his rider, he saw him self on the giant screen and almost jumped out of his skin, yet he listened came back to his rider and settled down to his work, showing moments of brilliance. In another year it will not be moments of brilliance but a consolidated performance. It wont be magic it will be because someone put the work into him..


Congrats to all the wild horses who did a fantastic job of promoting the breed. Well done to Eliza and Matai for being brave enough to put themselves in the limelight!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Matais back.

I have my wild stallion back! well sought of.....





Matai came to stay the night at my place last night in preparation as i was to take him and my big jumping horse down the line to stay with my old boss and trainer, first thign in the morning. Matais new owner was to meet me down here. It was like my little wild boy had never left, he remembered his old freinds, and the wild weanling was delighted to see him again, screaming his greetings from the paddock. Matai just trotted into his old stable like hed never left, and it was great to see his familiar face greeting me from over the stall door, when i arived at the barn this morning.





So this morning i set off giant jumping horse and little wild horse squeezed into my trailer and off we went. Six hours later and we finally arrived in the waikato region, both boys traveled beautifully , the only casualty being a bay of hay i placed within reach of two hungry mouths that got completely eaten, i didn't know so much hay could be consumed in such a short space of time. Little Matai's stomach was bulging at the seams when i finally off loaded him. The wild horses view to eating defiantly being, waste not,want not, as they have known true hunger in the wild.

Anyway my old trainer loved Matai straight away, and as usual no one could believe he was once a stallion form the wild. I look forward to watching him and his new owner getting a lesson tomorrow, as hes starting to look quite the little dressage star. Then its off to be parting of the big equestrian extravaganza, that is equidays, and Matai's going to be part of it, his turn to really shine in the limelight!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just for laughs

I found this while scrolling through a horse selling website, and it made me laugh......

Miniature Horse

I am selling on behalf of my wife who has just come into the house and said she was up all night, in the rain, trying to catch this "real s#!t of a horse". I asked her if I could put him on Trade me and she said "yes, he's a s#!t and I can sell him!!!" (so angry and frustrated).....so I said, "OK, yeah I will!"...So hear we go.

The horse is 8 hands and she brought him off the intranet at work. Don't know too much more as I'm not a horsey person, but can tell you that it is bronze, white and quite small, like a small version of a horse. From what I've seen it's pretty good with my 4 and 2 year old but doesn't seem to like males very much, as it runs away from me and tends to throw my son around a get bit..... So, a good horse for the females of the family! Selling cheep, as want to take full advantage of my wife's utter frustration towards it and my utter desire to get rid of it.

The only completly honest horse add i have ever seen, and shows that horses are horses no matter what size they come in, and are not for people who want something more like a family pet. Unfortunatly minture horses sometimes end up in the worst suitable homes because they are so small anynody buys them without realising you still need to know what your doing....probably like the people with the horse horse in this add....still its a good laugh, love the fact that he described it as bronze and quite small. comedy gold.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

surpassing expectations

I have been slowly falling behind on the story of the grey mare from the wild. Mainly i have written about Matai and his adventures, every so often dropping in details about the mare, and pictures here and there. But I have left out a lot of details, of what been going on behind the scenes. Its not just sneaky escapades to the local rugby fields, or day trips to the beach that have been taking up my time, horse riding is not that glamorous unfortunately.





Behind these outing have been the day to day slog of training horses, the mundane boring stuff. Teaching a horse to turn, stop, and go when asked, all these basics that when done right create the final product of an overall happy horse. But first is the hours of the baby steps where the horse learns the ABC's of being a ridden horse, much like a child learns the alphabet before they can read their first word. Because for those who maybe didn't realise, no horse and certainly not a horse from the wild is born knowing, what on earth a human wants when we sit on its back, its not instinctive to them unfortunately.





the first time you sit on a horse, it has no idea that squeezing with your legs mean go forward, pulling its head mean turn, and pulling back is the command to stop. Why would it, its not exactly logical, is it? Put yourself in a horse position, suddenly you have all this weight on your back and some creature squeezing you around the middle, would you really have a clue what was wanted, i doubt that the first thing that popped into your mind would be "oh of course i get it, i meant to walk forward when i feel annoying pressure squeezing my rib cage"...nope they don't have a clue, for all they know you might want them to walk forwards when you pull their mouth and stop when you squeeze their sides. In fact you could use any aid you wanted for any desired response and a horse would learn it if your consistent enough. consistency and timing...





These are the only two real ingredients to training horses, especially in those first early break in days, when i horse acts like a sponge soaking up everything you teach it unintentionally or otherwise. So the last few weeks for the wild mare have just been boring consistency and rewards and asking things of her at the right time. you just keep asking the same thing the same way until you get the right response and then reward, and you do this hundreds of times, until the horse just knows and reacts straight away. then bada bing, bada booom, and magically one day you realise you have a horse, that at the lightest touch trots off from the leg, slows down when you change your seat slightly, and turns to the lightest touch on the reins.





So the wild mare has been going through this process, and to be honest she has surpassed all my expectations, just like people some horses have different aptitudes for different things, some are more intelligent and some are more sensitive. Of all the horse i have broken in Fern the little wild mare, has surprised me the most.





Fern has never been difficult, but until she started being ridden she radiated a slight air of suspicion, always doing what was asked but not completely happy with the situation. She always came across as a bit withdrawn, she took her time to asses things before reacting, and would often take a fair bit of encouragement to get good work out of her. She also never really seemed to grasp the concept that other people were trustworthy, she was fine with me, and got to know the boyfriend and a few other regular farm visitors, but would eyeball any people she didn't recognise and back as far away as her lead rope would allow. The opposite of the wild stallion, who within a short while loved all people, was not suspicious in the least and loved to work. Ferns love was her baby and food and the rest she tolerated.





Not anymore. For whatever reason it is, that little wild horse dropped all barriers once she had a rider on her back, maybe it just finally allowed her to drop all that suspicion she was carrying around, but whatever the reason she relaxed completely both physically and mentally. her neck dropped her back relaxed and she got this lovely soft but alert look in her eye. It took one lesson for her to learn what go forward meant and she naturally just picked up the cue to slow, and from then we have never looked back. Where i thought she was going to be a bit dull and resistant she has become one of the most sensitive and willing horses ever. She surpassed even the little stallion in willingness and progress. instead of being lazy she loved to work happily trotting and cantering right on cue within days. where Matai was chilled out and happy to go with the flow, she was alert and ready for action, just the kind of horse i love to ride, sharp and sensible.





Funnily enough all others issues she had just fell away after that. When i took her to the beach, everyone came up and patted her all over, some thing that would have sent hers eyes rolling and as far away as she could get a few weeks ago, but instead she happily stood there quietly excepting everything no matter how many people surrounded her. I guess all those defense barriers she had are now well in truly gone. The trip to the rugby fields, you would never know she hadn't been there a hundred times, she just quietly grazed under the goal posts, nowadays she just accepts everything as if it just another day at the office.





All of a sudden now that all the tedious basics are done the future for the wild mare is looking very exciting indeed. i think she may even have to start her competition career in the not to distant future ( opening a whole different can of worms entirely). Funny how life is, i was sure she would be the one i sold and the stallion i would keep for myself, but it ended up the other way and far better for it because Fern has turned out to be just the kind of horse i love.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our boys, congratulations the All Blacks!!








And this is my version........







For those of you who might not know the Rugby World Cup was just held in New Zealand. We are a rugby nation, the All Blacks, our national team, and now our national hero's. That's right people, we won the rugby world cup, the first time since 1987, when we won the first world cup ever held.


I have never seen such a happy country, the whole 6 weeks of the Cup, we all came together dressed in black, decorated our towns, sung our national anthem in the streets, and became 4 million patriotic kiwis supporting our boys on the field. As a country we all came together and our lives and mood depended on the fifteen boys in black uniforms smashing the other nations on the field of play. We screamed as they did their pre-match haka (moari war dance), cheered as they scored a try, moaned if they missed a conversion, winced if a player got hurt, and for the finals game, i think we all felt absolutely sick to the stomach, prayed to our god, and felt like crying until the final whistle blew, and we knew that our boys would be holding up the sacred trophy. It was an awesome couple of weeks




In case you haven't guessed I am a HUGE rugby fan, huge. To show my support, i took the wild horse on a little adventure to our local rugby fields....

I went all out i dressed my wild horse up, got a friend to meet me their, put supporters flags on my saddle blanket. I spent actual money and got my self an official supporters shirt.....My wild horse became my rugby horse... which is kind cool because Fern or CS Silver Fern, which is her official name, well she is named after the symbol of our national sporting teams, the Silver Fern. Every kiwi with sporting aspirations dreams of putting on the black uniform with the silver fern on it.

Well, i don't have the black uniform with the silver fern. But i put on a black uniform, dressed my horse up in black, down to taping the white on black stripes on her legs and rode silver fern to support my team.

GO THE MIGHTY ALL BLACKS!!!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Okay so its late at night and i dont have time to upload all the photos, but Fern and I had a wonderful day at the beach . No one could beleive that she had only been ridden a couple of weeks, because she behave impecably, walking calmly withinj the group. Even crashing waves wernt to scary. To be honest though, i think most horses will behave calmly given the chance. Nevertheless both Fern and Matai were a big success with many people coming over to sat hi, once they realised once they realised these were ex-wild horses.

Discovering a sandcastle.

Matai and his new owner



My eve veiw of the ride





Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We've come a long way baby

leaving the stock yards for the first time, then months later days before she foaled, Fern the wild mare


These are old photos....hopefully twenty four hours from now i will have uploaded some new pics,because Fern, the wild mare will be doing her first public outing, under saddle, on an organised beach ride for Kaimanawa wild horses. I'm excited, the grey horse is going so well under saddle, and i love beach rides, double bonus. Not only that but Matai and his new owner will be there to, and i cant wait to see him again because...


... i may have some exciting news.....i have been talking to some people with the Kaimanawa wild horse preservation society, and it seems that a plan is in the pipeline for my little grey mare from the wild to be a demo horse, not only that but Matai and his new owner,i think are going to be included as well.



In mid November New Zealand is having its first ever Equidays, which is basically going to be a festival of all things equestrian. Training seminars, nutrition and breeding lectures, riding clinics and heaps of horse demonstrations and performances. So when i saw a notice in the Kaimanawa newsletter, asking for people interested in bringing their Kaimanawa horses down to do demonstrations, i of course applied. Later in the week, i talked to Matai's owner while out on a ride together, and she was keen to. That night i asked my old boss and trainer, if he would mind me and the wild ponies coming down to stay with him and train,before the big event, and he liked the idea to.



Matai's owner and i have been excitedly talking and making plans non stop ever since. Matai is looking every inch the little dressage super pony these days and Fern is going fantastic under saddle, even popping over some small jumps. I think these two horses, who are completely different examples of the wild horse breed, but both schooled and performing just like any well trained English riding horses, will hopefully show people how fantastic and valuable our wild horses can be.



Now i just have to come up with some cool tricks , for her big demo, because lets face walk trot and cantering in a circle on the bit, is a bit boring. To ride she is a completely different horse, shes sensitive, forward moving and relaxed, quick and eager to learn and gorgeous. under saddle she just has that little bit extra, that you don't see when shes just tied up or out in the paddock. I love riding her and just am so impressed with her general attitude, i cant believe this is the same horse, im sure we can come up with something special for the show.

Man, thinking back over the last year and a half its just flown by, everything has happened so fast, you would never pick that either Matai or Fern had ever run wild, every time i sit in the saddle i think "we've come a long way baby" but we still have a long way to go. Watch this space



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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Horsmanship?

I have just plonked down at my desk, still in my riding gear, after one of those days where you work so hard, your feet ache, your muscles hurt and your dogged tired, but it feels good because you know you got heaps of done, and for once everything went your way. The horses all behaved and performed well today. The wild mare was excellent to ride,even going for a walk down the road, the other break in's all behaved and my performance horses all co-operated, its a nice feeling because , i managed to get every horse that need it, ridden. Now with the left over buzz of energy from a successful day, I'm going to ignore the cat clamoring for attention on my lap and type down somethings that been on my mind for a while.

What is horsemanship, or rather what do you say is good horsemanship? how do you define it? If you envisioned a horse trainer what qualities would they posses? I'm in a dilemma which i cant totally explain in this post, but i will try to in time. but back to horsemanship what is it? Is it that rider who has elusive 'feel' for every horse they ride, the rider that can see a stride for a jump no matter how far away they are, the trainer that can produce a happy obedient horse, or the rider who really has that pizazz in the show ring and squeeze every ounce out of a horse in competition, is it the ride who has the best cared for horse. Because a lot of people have differing opinions when it comes to what is good horsemanship.





There are some horse care practices that i look upon as torture and other people see as a sign of a competent horse person. I don't really who right or wrong. I look at some people at shows who horses are immaculately groomed, to the point where they wear 6 rugs, hoods, bandages, tail bags and there bodies only feel the sun when they are ridden. They have to be stabled and wrapped in cotton wool at all times, separated from other horses, because god forbid they get a scratch on them. To me this is lack of horsemanship , not a sign of it. Because the horse loses every horse sense it has, no socialising, rolling in the dirt, grazing everything that makes it horsey. But i hear again and again "o so & so is such a good horsewoman look how well presented her horses are"....and i think to myself surely this is just a sign of good grooming not horsemanship.. but i could be wrong, and this is just an example.

My old boss, a dressage trainer, who i have huge respect for, he was a good horseman, in the saddle. He felt that every horse could and should be improved through training. He was not snobby, or particular about the horses he rode he just tried to improve the way of going of every horse he sat on. The horses were happy to work for him, and were beautiful soft and elastic feeling to ride. Yet when it came to things like presentation, he was not the most perfect example of it. He didn't like tidy pulled or plaited tails, and he always looked slight rough around the edges, but i don't think this made him a bad horsemen at all. he also taught me a lot about horse fitness and conditioning, and i had huge respect in him for that. he made sure his horse got galloped and forest rides each week, not just drilled routines in an arena. They were all happy fit and healthy horses. However while he was an amazing rider, his horses lacked even some most basic ground manners that would have made life a lot easier, yet in the saddle that man was amazing.

Then there is the horsemen who take obsessive care of their horses. the horses are not allowed to trot down hills, to hard on the joints. the legs are bandaged with pedantic care, the Velcro must always finish in a exact spot. you can only use certain brushes, and tails are never brushed but separated hair by hair with you hands. You must never ride on hard ground, nor ground that is to deep or muddy. instead of a bit of hay, hard feed and good grass, nutrition is forefront in these horses training, everything from a good top line, and behaviour issues can be fixed with the right food.Each horse must do a certain and exact amount of competition before moving up a level, or competing at nationals. Their is a set routine that is never changes no matter the horse. The horses comfort and well being is paramount to everything, even manners and schooling

But then there is another kind of horsemanship and this is what i picture when i think of the word. One of my biggest mentors and someone who has influenced my entire career, is an old cowboy type, nothing like the dramatic show queens, dressage masters, or pedantic jump trainers. He taught me that every horse can be well behaved, and safe to handle, they can all be responsive and fancy bits are not required. from this guy i learned how to read a horses behaviour, teach ground manners, correct behaviour problems, and break in and deal with any kind of horse. He knew more about a horses psychology than anyone else Ive ever come across, he understood how horses learned, reacted, and how much you could ask from any animal at a time. This guy knew how to teach all the fancy 'show tricks' like getting a horse to lie down, play dead etc etc. But his real talent was that he had an amazing 'feel' for every horse and he showed that every horse could and should be sensitive, calm and well behaved, and safe to handle. Nutrition, fitness and presentation however were not in his familair repertoire.

My last thought, is that competition results are not always the best indicator of horsemanship. i know plenty of fantastic trainers and riders, that for some reason cannot get it together and perform in the ring. They don't enjoy the pressure, they get to worried about how the horse is feeling, what ever it is, that amazing training just doesn't show through when it counts. There are also riders who have the amazing ability to shine in competition. They can jump on a horse they never ridden before and win the class. They may never have the patience to train a horse themselves, but they can perform under pressure when it counts and get the most out of the horse they are sitting on. This is a skill in itself. I'm not sure if one type of rider is better than the other, just different.

I don't think there is one type of horsemanship either. unfortunately i never found anyone who covers all aspects, the nutritional, and physical health, the behaviour, the training and the presentation. Usually its a beautifully presented horse trampling their rider into the ground or a scruffy looking horse happily behaving beautifully. some riders cant bear to push their horse that extra 10% to produce a wining performance and some cant be bothered to train a horse at all. Some people spend so much time worrying about unsoundness they don't let it do anything, and others don't do enough and pay the price. Who knows who right and wrong, who is the better horseman and who isn't?

What is your opinion what quality makes a good horsemen or woman?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Today is a good day. I'm excited, spring is in the air and it feels great. the grass is growing, the horses are all running madly and bucking across the paddock, shedding their winter hair and starting to get that sleek glossy look about them. Spring also mean horse dentist time. which also meant that today i saw Matai, my old wild stallion.

It was horse dentist day at the local pony club. So i loaded up the two of my horses that needed their teeth done the most, a black and white midget and a ex racehorse and headed over. I knew Matai's new owner was going to be there with him and her daughters midget pony, so it was a good chance to catch up, gossip about horses and of course see my beloved Matai. But also i was quite fascinated to see what the dentist had to say about Matai's magical teeth, that had never been tampered with, and were the genuine wild horse teeth that he was born with.

For those who weren't followers back then, i will summarize the magical teeth story. Matai arrived a year and a half ago, a scrawny under-developed little bag of bones, straight off the muster truck. When i first got the chance to look in his mouth, his teeth showed him to be around 2 1/2-3yrs. well that was OK, he was young he needed time to develop. But then towards the beginning of summer he was no longer looking like a 2-or 3yr old, he looked like a fully mature horse, so i peeked in his mouth again, and what did i see? not the mouth of a baby horse that was for sure. Low in behold he had all his big kid teeth, making him look like he was about 4yrs old. he aged 2 years in 6 months....so much for teeth accurately telling a horses age. although I'd say that malnutrition played a big part with Matai, as when he was getting adequate food his teeth caught up with his actual age.

So where are we today? well after a lovely ride, me on a crazy thoroughbred i ride for a client, and Matai with his new rider. In which the ex-wild stallion looked gorgeous, with his newly pulled mane and his legs wrapped in new white boots, he looked every inch a little dressage pony super star ( i cant wait to get some photos). The dentist finally got around to doing Matai's mouth. Both me and the new owner, waited for his verdict? how old did a qualified dentist think the wild pony was? well after a poke, a prod, and a arm elbow deep in Matai's mouth, the verdict was, five. Spot on i reckon, for what he looks like developmentally and about on track from when i last looked in his mouth. Good to know also, that he hasn't continued to age at the rapid rate of two years every 6 months.

Matai teeth were pretty good, except for his two wolf teeth that were not only huge but growing sideways into his mouth. So according to the vet who pulled his balls out, and the dentist who pulled his teeth out. Matai has 'big, tough, wild horse teeth and testicles that just don't want to be detached' those big teeth took a lot of tugging but did eventually pop right out, his new owner kept them as souvenirs. The little wild horse stood quietly through the whole thing, quieter than the pony who reared, ran backwards and basically had a full mini mare meltdown. Love the fact that a horse from the wild is quieter than the school pony that kids learn to ride on.

Anyway it was great to see Matai, he looked so happy and healthy, his owner is obviously besotted with him. it was interesting to know more about his teeth. But even more excitedly, his new owner and i have a plan, we have been talking up a storm and may have some exciting news for the future...watch this space...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why did i want wild horses again??

I wanted wild horses for a reason, I'm sure i did. I just cant remember at the moment, why? I have after all gone against my own better judgment, and purchased four non-wild, but pretty feral ponies, and taken on, 3 ex racehorses, and two other, excuse my french 'f*cked up' problem horses to re-educate in the last 6 weeks. So why on earth did i think last year it was good idea to get wild horses, when i could buy 'pretty coloured' feral, for $250 and make a healthy profit on, once broken in and schooled, or actually get paid to ride ex-racers and problem horses? Im struggling to remember..

O that's right now i remember, because all of these horses come with baggage, the amount and intensity of baggae may differ, but all of them are carrying it never the less. While all of the above horses, come with attitude, behaviour problems, are naughty, panic, kick, bolt, rear, buck, are anti social and have no sense of self preservation. The wild horses just came with worms and lice, which all of the above horses seem to come with as well anyway. The very reason i wanted wild horses to begin with was because they were a clean slate, a blank canvas, they were just horses.

They were not some one's or syndicates, spoilt million dollar racehorse that wasn't fast enough and could only run around in a circle, that was looking for a new career because it had already failed at its first one. That came with a with a iron mouth, no slef preservation and a pretty good panic button to boot.

They were not some backyards breeders money making scam to breed "pretty coloured' ponies, that while a fashionable colour had every confirmation fault under the sun. Who had been dumped, when the couple divorced, had been half broken in, before the divorce, before the wife lost interest, before it was realised that working with cute ponies was not butterflies and daises, but after they had learned to kick, to pull away, to shoulder charge and to bite when asked to do something.

The wild horses were not, prone to to wild fits of behaviour when being ridden, they did not hate there work so much they would do anything to get out of it. They were not pressure cooked, by to many expectations to young, and they were not cocky from not enough work to late. they were not sour, and they were not arrogant. they didn't attack other horses in the same paddock with them, and they did not endlessly pace fences until they were skin and bone.

the wild horses just behave like horses. In the last few weeks i have had to deal with every range of man made problems relating to equines. i have as you know been kicked, but also barged, bolted on, nipped at, ears pinned back at me. I have spent hours teaching them that i am in fact boss horse, and they do need some ground manners, and that work doesn't mean punishment, that tthere are other speeds beside flat tack, that they don't need to lean on bit and can in fact carry there own heads. but none of this i have ever had to teach to the wild horses.

Fern got ridden today, you know hard that was...not hard at all. Do you know why it wasn't hard, because she just behaved as she should.I put the saddle on, did some groundwork , got her happily walk, trot and cantering, and then had my assistant climb into the saddle. We lunged her in circles, the assistant could lean over rub her on the rump, on the neck, wave her legs around and the wild grey mare just kept happily doing her job as she should. She handles all these things because she never learnt that she shouldn't. Shes always been happy to work, because work has never been bad. There are rules to our relationship, no pushing, shoving, or misbehaving she knows the rules and happily follows, and the rules having been in place since they very first day of her arrival.

Horses just behave like horses, until we teach them otherwise. I cant stress this enough, like every other creature that is capable of learning, horses only learn what we teach them. By never setting boundaries, by creating bad experiences, or good ones, by asking to much or to little, by thinking something is cute until when its a wee little foal, but not so cute when its a fully grown 500kg animal. These are the things that determine the good horses from the bad ones, the crazy from the sane and the horses that live to a ripe old age and those that end up on a meat works truck.

I got wild horses because wild horses are easiest of all! I wish i had never forgotten. I wish other people would realise that training horses is not rocket science and not whispering and unconditional. I wish that people would realise all horses can be good horses until you teach them otherwise. Wild horses are just horses without other issues, its the domestic ones that are the wildest of all.

Monday, September 12, 2011

then and now

Where has time gone? Ten years ago my mother woke me up and told me World War III might be starting, i will remember that day the rest of my life, watching the Twin towers fall to the ground. As a proud New Zealander, that was born in America, and holds an American passport, i was horrified that my birth country was being attacked. Five years later and i had finished school and was about to start my equestrian career, the world was also a slightly different place. we knew about terrorism, and there was now polarized opinions in my quiet little country about America and the middle east. Two years ago, i was riding in Germany, the horse riding equivalent of going to university, and about as opposite as you can get from the way we do things here. Fast forward even more and a year and a half ago, two little scraggly wild ponies arrived and another journey started. So where are we today??

Its a recession, horses are not selling, and the equine industry is struggling, yet i am busier than i ever have been, I'm turning down horses to ride, working harder than ever, more horses than ever, and the horse i wasn't planing to sell, has sold on gone on to be the most fantastic of all. Matai the ex wild stallion, is doing fantastically in his new home. I keep getting regular updates, She has been riding everywhere, leading her daughters pony off him, and has enjoyed him more than any other horse she has ever owned! I have seen photos of him on her Facebook page, hes gleaming with a beautiful pulled mane and looking stunning, obviously thriving in his new environment. From the wild, to my house, and now on to be the perfect family pony, he takes everything in his stride.

The wild mare, is finally getting some work. Today, i got around to putting a saddle on and riding her for the first time. She too took it all in her stride, no bucking, bolting or broncing. I have free jumped her over winter, and with that big butt of hers and snappy jumping style she looks well on her way to becoming a super little jumping horse. Bring on the jumping season, cannot wait for the comments when i arrive with my 17hh warmblood and my 15hh wild horse.

Sonny, the shy little foal born last spring, i now a strapping young man. He has been weaned, and went to live with Matai. When Matai sold, it was like weaning all over again, he cried for days for the wild stallion that looked after him, that shared a stable together at night and even ate out of the same bowl. Yet now he has taken over the roll of caregiver. Two weeks ago, i picked up an 11hh pinto mare with her four month old foal that was already bigger than her. there were a million things wrong with the situation i got these horses from, but that is another story. The foal badly needed some extra nutrition, that she couldn't get from her mother, she also needed a slightly better role model. So now Sonny is her special friend, as the stallion cared for him he now looks after this pint sized fluff ball, teaching her that humans are friends, hanging out with her in the paddock, and at night the stable he used to share with Matai, he now shares with the foal. When i snuck up to check on them the first night, i found Sonny lying in the hay, with the tiny foal curled between his legs fast asleep. I Don't think i have ever seen anything so sweet, this in horses is a rare and special sight.

You never know where you will be in the future, how the world will change, what forks in the road you will follow, what you will learn on the journey. I know with horses i have had my share of highs and lows, bumps in the road and educational experiences. I look back at 10 years to the day that really did change the world, and cant believe where i am now. I look back at the scrawny horses that arrived in 2010 and cant believe where they gone, how much they have changed, all i have learned and all i keep learning.

Monday, September 5, 2011

how is sucees measured?

How do we measure success? Is it how much money you make, the car you drive, the trophies you win. Is success based on how happy you feel, or how you well other people perceive you doing? I think success comes down to how you perceive it, some people will finish a race and have a overwhelming sense of success just for participating, while another might do the same race and come 3rd and perceive it as failure because they didn't win. Likewise at a horse event a rider might be over the moon to come home just having finished without penalties, while another did the same and viewed it as failure because their score wasn't good enough. whose to say which attitude is right? We cant all win every time so are we failures every time we dont, or are we successfull because we are doing somethign we love.





What about the pony that carries endless number of children around gymkhana rings, along endless trails, and over countless jumps safely, but never wins the champion ribbon, is this the real success story? or is it the fiery pedigree pony the only an expert can ride, but with its beautiful looks comes home with the awards? whose really to say. I think that the safe pony with the heart of gold, and the super model looking fireball are both success stories, in their own right. Just like with people, the stay at home mother who raised well loved happy children, is probably just as successful as the woman who gives up everything to prove she can foot it in the professional world. Its definitely just how you perceive it, because no matter what you choose to judge it on, other people will have other opinions and other standards for success.





Where am i going with this??





Well, that little wild stallion, and a phone call i received today got me thinking. Up until now i felt a bit disappointed with myself that i didn't do as much as i could, with Matai while i had him. I am a competitive person by nature, i like wining, or being the best at something, and its a huge driving force behind me. This doesn't mean i don't get a sense of achievement, just by accomplishing things, just that i am always looking to do that little bit extra. I tried to convince myself that it was still a success to get that horse, from being totally wild to being the tamest horse on the property, and from being skin and bones to glossy and healthy, but until today is just had the ring of excuses to my ears.





Then the phone rang. It was a number i didn't recognise, and when i answered a very small child voice greeted me " Matai wheely likes me", i was taken aback who was this little voice on the other end of the line?, and then i clicked as the little voice continued talking " Mummy wode him today" the wild stallion's new owner has two very young girls, four and two years or around about that age. I was clearly having a conversation with a four year old girl, who was very importantly telling me about her day. I heard about "making mooseli wth gwandma" who apparently like all grandmothers has the nicest food, and all about her own pony, but most importantly i heard through a little girls eyes, about how much the wild stallion likes her, and she likes him to, when asked. After a few minutes of talking we said bye-bye.





Not long after that i got a text from the mother, who owns Matai. It said something along the lines of, her daughter was very excited and had wanted to talk to me all day, as she thinks Matai is pretty cool and cuddles him all the time, she herself has been riding him everywhere, and that he has been perfect and the whole family loves him. Basically the wild stallion is now the perfect lady rider mount and little girl cuddle buddy.





After that i felt that his adoption and training had truly been a complete success for the first time. It just took a four year old girl to adjust my perception. That horse has gone on to make so many people happy. I gave him the start he needed, to be able to look after himself and behave in a way that will guarantee him a loving and permanent home. He is a special horse and he didnt need ribbons, or to learn fancy movements, or jump massive obstacles to be successful. He justed needed to be calm and happy enought to let a little girl walk out and cuddle him, and a mother to feel safe enough to ride him everywhere. It takes a lot of effort to make a produce a horse to any level, a now to me it will always feel like a success now, knowing that the months of work put into a horse,have worked. He has gone on to be so loved straight away by his new family, surely that is the true measure of a successful horse??

On another note, people like me who truly love the horses we sell, it means the world to us, to hear back from their new owners. To know that they are being well loved, well taken care of and appreciated in their new homes. Sometimes it can be a truly thankless profession training and selling, the money is pretty low and hard to come by, so sometimes, a thankyou note, updates, an email, or in this case a text and a phonecall, make all the world of differance. I know today it made my day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The wild stallion is gone

The wild stallion is gone,Matai has moved off to his new life today.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry, to be relieved or be sad. I miss his presence already, but at the same time I'm so relieved to have seen him go to such a good home. It also cannot be denied that having one less horse on the property is a relief at the moment, as we are definitely a bit short of grass and have more horses than ever. But most of all i just miss him, hes only been gone four hours, and i have noticed his absence, so has Sonny the colt Matai's paddock mate. Now who is going to give me a good morning whinny from their stable each morning, and an afternoon neigh as he trots to the gate to be brought in at night? Matai was one of those special horses, one of the animals that i will always remember, who taught me so much, and was just a happy little brown presence in my life.

Matai wasn't actually meant to go today, there was still so much i wanted to do with him, cliche last ride and photos etc etc But it just didn't happen and with the competition season fast approaching again, as well as four new horses arriving to be worked, i was having less and less time to spend with my special ex wild ex stallion. so when his new owner came by to drop off an old mare shed borrowed to keep her child pony company after her own horse died, we talked about it and she decided to take Matai home with her. Part of me screamed 'No don't take him! I'm not ready yet!' but the sensible part of me let out a huge sigh of relief.

She had already ridden him today and it just confirmed my belief that this was the right home for him. With his wound site from gelding still not healed, he also needs to be monitored closely, and i knew she would take such good care of him, probably even better than i could. So off he went. he just loaded quietly into her float and they drove off together to start there new journey. I watched him go and heard one last nay as he went out of sight and thought my heart would break, it felt like a huge sense of loss to see him go.

But now as i sit on the computer typing i read something that makes selling him all the worth while, as i checked my facebook account the first thing that came on my screen was this
"Just bought my wild pony home hes such a sweet heart thank you so much chloe im sure we r going 2 have so much fun 2gether!" this was posted proudly for all to see by Matai's new owner..

I think that horse is going to go on to have a very happy life indeed. Whats even better though, is that she excitedly plans to take him to all the kaimanawa shows, as well as competing him in dressage events. together they will be promoting the wild horses, hopefully next muster this means even more horses may be adopted into loving homes, this can only be a good thing!

Just as she was about to leave i snapped a couple of quick pics, of her and Matai together. There not flash, he looks like he normally looks, chilled out and covered in mud. But that's what its all about really, she loves him and doesn't expect him to be a flash glamour horse, and he just is happy and content with life. Happy horse, happy owner, i think this is true success, cant wait to see whats in store for these to, I'm sure this wont be the last any of us see of them.












Friday, August 26, 2011

Balls be gone

The days are n't long enough, theres too much work, to many horses, no matter how many hours i work, i never get everything done at the moment. But yesterday one thing did get done, the wild stallion got gelded. I sadly no longer have a wild stallion but a wild gelding, which does not have quite the same ring to it, does it? And really hes not even mine anymore.... It feels a wee bit like the end of an era.

I wish i had the energy to write a long post about the whole process, because it was actually fascinating. But tonight I'm too exhausted. I will just summarize.

Vet came, Matai being the lovely boy that he was stood there while she sedated him, and then lay quietly down on the ground when the anesthetic kicked in. From there, i grabbed his back legs, the vet his front and rolled him onto his back. i came round the front, straddled his front, braced his shoulders between my knees, and held onto his front legs, to keep him on his back. With his back legs spread wide, lying on his back, me holding his front legs, and his head on the ground behind me with his mouth open, and eyes glazed over, it was an odd picture in the middle of the paddock.

But we got it done, the vet cut through the scrotum, pulled the testicles out, attached a drill (yes a drill just like you'd use for building your house) to the cord, switched the drill on, which spun around and around, until 'pop' the family jewls just came right off, one by one. That was it Matai was gelded, very little blood, no stitches, just twisted cords, and a very sore spot where his stallion parts used to be. After about 20minutes, he woke up came to his feet, and spent the rest of the days walking around like, well, like some had just twisted his nuts off. This morining though he seemed non the worse for wear happily greeting me from his stable, before going out to graze wiht the rest of the boys.

i will keep you all posted, but my poor little wild stallion, while no longer mine or a stallion continues to be his happy horse self, hopefullyhe will heal up well wiht no complications, ifngers crossed.




Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the last wild stallion ride??

I have to say now that Ive made the decision to sell my precious wild stallion, i have been much happier, and feel i have made the right choice. But knowing my days with Matai are numbered, before i have to hand him over to his new owner, i going to spend every minute with him just having fun. Today being no exception. So with the help of my terrible photographer, who shall not be named (my mother), we managed to take some of the worst photos, the wild horse project has ever seen, of what might be my last ride on the wild stallion, on Thursday the vet comes and he will instead become the wild gelding...


Going back to just having fun instead of 'training' made me remember the good old days, where as a kid, i used to spend all day galloping around bareback, usually in bare feet, untied and unbrushed hair tucked behind my ears, across the farms, with friends, taking our ponies through the steepest hills, deepest mud, leaping the biggest logs, and basically causing havoc on horse back. But this is where i learnt the most important lessons in horses and life. You learnt just what a horse was capable of, how steep they could climb, how deep the mud they could crawl through, and just how big an obstacle those ponies could jump. Galloping furiously to beat your friend on her pony, and pulling up just before you crashed into a gate, those were always the best memories.

In winter, i refused to use my saddle because i was so proud of it i didn't want it getting muddy, so i use to ride this one winding trail, bareback through the bush over in over again bareback, flying around the bends and leaping over thorn bushes that i progressively stacked higher and higher. Yet these things that i don't do anymore, they are what taught me how to sit on a horse, stay balanced and soft, to go with the motion, and let a horse jump without interfering. These were all skills i developed and have helped me in my career ever since. Riding Matai today reminded me of all those great adventures and skills, and how much fun they were.

Those years on horses growing up running feral, although unconventional, and probably not the safest, taught me more about 'feel' than a lifetime of lessons in an arena ever could. it means on days like today when i just want to have a bit of fun, i can go back to my old ways, blast around the paddock, jump things at random and cool off in a stream, you know what the horses love it too.

But what about everyone else? did anyone else learn any great life lesson this way? not just on horses, on farms, in the city, what is your story?

Monday, August 15, 2011

sold

Well i think i have made up my mind, I'm going to go ahead and sell the wild stallion. Although the money isn't in the bank, it looks like the sale is going to go through. The rider definitelywants him, and i agreed to sell him finaly.





I think for him, it is the best thing possible. loving permanent home, with people i know. The lady buying him will be able to go on and keep progressing with his training. She plans to continue him in dressage, and even talked about doing some jumping (something she has not been confident enough to do in years), all because she feels so safe and confident, not on an old schoolmaster, but on my little stallion from the wild.

I will miss him so much, he really does have a special place in my heart. But it also means, apart from all the other reasons, i can adopt another little stallion from the next muster, and save another life. While little Matai, with his new owner will continue to promote these awsome horses, and hopefully get more of the equestrian public involved in giving homes to some of them.

It is always a bit frustrating from a trainers point of view though, that the horses that are easy to train, enjoyable to ride and work with, are always the ones you end up selling on. Well that's how it works for me anyway. I would never sell a horse if i thought it couldn't cope with a new person, as well as life in the big wide world. So the horses like Matai, who love everyone, handle life really well, and take care of themselves, are the ones that i get to spend the least amount of time with.

instead i spend extra months putting work into the panicky, unreliable, skittish, spooky, thick skulled or super hot,and less enjoyable animals. While i love all horses, they are not created equally as far as mental and physical ability.usually its the 'mutts' of the horse world i end up keeping, because i don't trust them to go to other people. You have to repeat every lesson to them a million times before they can reliably be expected to remember it when it counts. You have to ride every movement with exaggerated carefulness in a competition ring so they don't have a emotional meltdown. These are the horses that spook again and again at the same little things, and no matter how much time you spend, always look like they never seen a human before when your handling them. These are the 'enjoyable' creatures i keep for myself, not the Matai's of the world who feel like from the moment you sit on there back, that they are taking care of you.

A couple years ago i got a group of racehorses off the track. There was one i absolutely loved, he was intelligent, athletic and sensible, he actually reminds me a lot of the wild stallion. With in a few months he could do fantastic dressage, jump anything and was always there waiting at the gate to be worked. I did a handful of competitions for a few placing, which was awesome for such a green horse. Then i sold him to a young rider, even though i would have loved to have kept him for myself, he went on to be a really nice horse for his new owner. The horse in the bunch that i didn't like at all, but was by far the best looking, i spent 2 1/2 years riding before i could find a suitable home for her and i only ever got half as much money as the little gelding that i loved. horses with a good temperament are priceless, and will do absolutely anything for the right rider. Where as difficult ones teach you a lot, but will never be anywhere near as enjoyable or memorable.

Enough whinging though, i choose this career after all. Really it makes me so happy to know that Matai, the little wild stallion is going to such a fantastic home, and the horse that i love so so much, is going on to be loved just as much, and will bring endless joy to another family. Horses like him, you just cannot put a value on the happiness they bring, and are the real reason i choose to work with these animals.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

choices

there are always tough choices in life. How many times have i sat and wished a decision, especially anything to do with the farm and horses could be easier. hundreds of times I'm sure. I don't think even once in my life, Ive thought to myself "wow i wish it was a bit harder to make that decision". Nope, when deciding anything i always wish for it to be a little more clear cut, a little bit easier to decide.





Well in this case, my wishes might be coming true, not completely, but the choice as to whether or not to sell Matai, the wild stallion has become slightly less painful.Why? Well because the friend who's interested in him, has come for two trial rides now, and loved him. Not only loved him, but absolutely adored him, even more importantly the wild stallion seems to like her to. This important to me, i have very strong morals when it comes to selling horses, i will not send them to a home where i think they wont be cared for, or be thrashed for competitions, or where the rider isn't going to be able to cope with them if things don't work out. i care about my horses and put months, sometimes years into training them, i don't want to see that destroyed by a thoughtless or ignorant rider in a few short rides. Luckily if i sell Matai, i wont have to worry about this. The little stallion had no problem adjusting to someone else riding him, happily doing everything asked, and the rider, she was thrilled to be riding him, they looked so happy together, and more than competant of handling any challeges, this definatly put my heart at ease. My moral compass says that this sale, would be a good one for all three parties involved, Matai, myself, and the girl/ lady wanting him.





In fact it was great to see Matai go so well with somebody new, not just her, but for one ride, she brought her mother and two young daughters along as well. The little stallion from the wild, stood very quietly while the young girls admired and stroked his long flowing mane. The mother thought he was gorgeous to, and loved his calm disposition. He was a huge success, even better was that one ride took place at the local Pony club grounds. With kids, ponies, and parents coming and going the little stallion, was the picture of calm, except for a few wolf whistles for the ladies at the start of the ride, he was perfect, again allowing everyone to come up and meet him, standing quietly among all the comings and goings.

I still haven't accepted the money, so hes not sold yet, but at the moment I'm feeling a little bit more like the sale will go through. Like i said in the last blog, it is hard to guarantee a good home for your horse once they leave you hands, and this would be a fantastic one, where he would most likely never be sold on. Although I'm a little bit hurt that its not just me that Matai has a special bond with, and that he goes just as well for another rider, i also realise horse training is not actually like a Disney movie, where the horse just magically loves one person. in real life i think the sign of your success as a trainer, is that your horses can go on to cope with other riders, and be safe, happy, well adjusted animals, isn't that the real goal? If it is, then i think Ive done a pretty good job, as Matai was definitely a happy well behaved boy for his potential new owner.

I'm still thinking though and there are also plenty of pro's for keeping him too, but i just cannot decide if the pro's for keeping out weigh the pro's for the horse if i sell him......

any opinions are welcome......like i said you always want a decision to be that little bit easier.