Saturday, February 5, 2011

the most exciting ride yet

I love my boy more than ever.

In the blistering summer heat, that we are now having, yesterday i went for another amazing ride on Matai, the wild stallion. he has an awesome nature, and is one of, if not the best horse i have ever worked with. But i also think it is important to know, that training, understanding and handling of the horse makes a huge difference in how fast they learn and how willingly they work. A intelligent horse, no matter how willing, can soon be turned, nasty, aggrieve or sullen to work with, if training is done incorrectly. there are some absolute horror stories out there, about people who have taken on wild horses, with no knowledge, and it has turned into a horrible disaster.

i took Matai back over to my cowboy friends farm again. For those of you maybe not so familiar with the horse world, Stallions are somewhat notorious for being hard to handle, especially around females of the same species. But Matai happily loaded into the float for the journey, this time with another horse beside him, a pretty young girl,who has been broken in about a year now, and is soon to be sold. After an initial look of excitement as the female horse loaded in to stand directly beside him, he was an angel, loading easily and standing quietly for the whole journey. unloading again quietly after the girl had hoped off.

instead of working in the arena, with the extreme heat and dust, it was decided to go out for a ride across the farm. For young horse sometimes the best thing, is to get them out and about, moving forward freely, and make riding a fun and interesting experience for them. instead of dulling them with endless circles drilled in the arena. Horses feed off the behaviour of other horses and their rider, so having horses that are calm and happy and ride out with them, allows them to follow the example and become relaxed and unstressed about any situation.

i saddled both my ponies, the cowboy rode his mare (girl horse), and another friend riding her mare as well. I rode my little girl, and led Matai behind me. To start with his little face was so confused about what he was meant to be doing, so i got him following me, and working him a bit off my horse ( turning around me, getting him to move away from my horse) just so he didn't think it was a breeding situation. Once that was established he happily followed along behind, calm and quiet but his eyes taking in everything. Off we set, over the paddock and into the bush where shelter from the burning sun, and cooler temperatures beckoned.

Leaving open paddock behind us, the trail become narrower, and a lot steeper, winding along a ridge,through beautiful native forest, with cicadas roaring in the trees, and cool enough under the forest canopy to be enjoyable, it was the perfect ride for a hot summer day. It also gave the horse something to focus on as they always had to be thinking of where to put there feet next. Matai being a sure footed little thing, from his days running wild on the moutains, had no trouble negotiating over logs, steep, narrow and winding terrain, he was unworried by the whole experience. huffing a little bit he happily made his way behind us, unfazed about all his female companionship.

Even with the shelter of the bush, after a about an hours ride it was time to head back for home, before we sweltered in the midday heat. climbing off my girl i handed her lead rope to the cowboy, and jumped aboard my wild stallion, who was standing as calmly and contentedly as a old farm hack who being doing this his whole life. i always test my control as soon get on a young horse, by doing turns and halts, bending left and right etc, to make sure they remember and have their mind on the job. Matai felt relaxed and focused underneath me, the ride out taking the edge off any extra exuberance he may have had. We turned and headed for home, Matai and i following the other three horses.

My wild stallion never gave me cause to be anxious, i felt completely at ease on him, safe in the knowledge that no matter the terrain he was secure on his feet, he never felt like he would do anything other than what i asked of him. Every so often when i had the chance, i would go for a little trot or canter, to keep up with the others, and use it to teach him more about the correct aids to go forward. He didn't need reminding he remembered everything, and as easily as i could make him go forward he would slow and stop, when ever asked.

The whole journey home, was a twisting and winding, downhill trek the entire time. This can sometimes be where a young horse is inclined to buck as they feel your weight shift around on there back. Not matai he never even felt tense. sometimes following behind other times leading the way home, he was focused and at ease underneath me .

I wish i had photos, it was a magical ride, and a huge adrenaline rush, to be able to enjoy a beautiful ride on a horse that has came from the wild, and yet felt completely calm and safe, on only his second ever saddled ride.

all i can say is i love my wild boy to bits!