Wednesday, February 2, 2011

im in love

I'm in love.... I have a smile on my face, and a bounce in my step, as i go about the farm chores.

Its been a big day, late in the afternoon a little brown pony, carefully and quietly backed down the ramp of my horse float. he calmly followed me down the driveway,walking a few steps behind, down the gravelly bank and into the stream. Pausing halfway through the cool water for a long deep drink. He gave a big sigh, standing there, water dripping down his chin, he seemed to be cotemplating life, and all he had learned t.

Matai, had a big day. Horses must wander to themselves, what human are up to at times, and my little wild stallion, will have had plenty to think over in the paddock. Today was a day of many firsts for him. His first trailer ride, his first real farrier visit, his first time being ridden with a saddle, his first time being ridden out and about in a new enviroment, his first time being handled by some one other than me.

Finally had a long overdue visit from the farrier today, all the horses have had i good toenail trim and there hooves are looking nicely manicured again. Although Fern has had her feet trimmed before, Matai has only ever had me handling and doing slight trims on his hooves. But after watching the trimming and rasping of his paddock mate's feet, and a slightly cautious first glance at the farrier. he stood there quietly, liked he'd had this procedure a hundred times before.

I had a bit more time on my hands today, with only my personal horses to ride and the farm chores to attend to. So i decided it was high time to give my little wild stallion, his first real ride. I don't really have the facilities for breaking in horses at the farm, with only big open paddocks. But i am lucky enough to have a great mentor, horseman and friend, who lives about a 20 minutes drive from me, who has excellent facilities and always helps me with my horses when i need it.

To ride a horse properly ( not just play around in the paddock) it helps to have two people, one to ride the horse and one to help from the ground. i.e encourage the horse to go forward if it gets tense, or help turn it, basically help guide the horse and prevent bucking or bolting or panicking it. Its also important to have a good walk, trot and canter so the horses learns to go forward and then relax with a person on its back. Avoiding this on a young horse is like creating a ticking time bomb, they never learn to relax and will usually get very tense when you ask them to go forward for the first time, if you only spend months just walking them in the beginning.

Anyway Matai, had his first horse float ride. He walked quietly up into the trailer, and stood looking back at me as i closed the bars and doors behind him. I have loaded him in the trailer before, in preparation for his first journey. So he wasn't worried about going on this time. Off we set, i checked him at the farm gate and he was alert but standing quietly.

Arriving at the friend's place twenty minutes later, Matai was a bit sweaty but otherwise had made the journey calmly and quietly. Unloading him, he looked around, then stood at the end of the lead rope watching me for guidance. off we set for the indoor arena, past horse trucks, tractors and all manner of things, the wild stallion would never have seen before. He walked calmly past it all. His attitude is so stoic, calm and accepting, if your not worried, hes not worried.

Saddling up my boy in the big indoor arena, i was buzzing with pride for my horse. He had passed our first test with flying colours. My cowboy mentor, ( who incidentally is a professional trainer) is amazing to watch with horses, and always inspires me to continue to improve my horsemanship skills, had worked with my little wild stallion for the past ten minutes. To get a "feel" for him, see how he reacted, and to ensure there was no flaws in my training, that would cause things to go wrong once i was on his back. Matai had eyed him suspiciously at first, trying to watch me sitting on the rail, as i was the one usually guiding him in his work. it took me back to the timid little mouse he used to be when we first met, always watching you with those big brown eyes. But eventually, he focused his attention on the cowboy int the middle, and did all that was asked of him to perfection. Sigh of relief by me, as it meant that i to had passed, i had done every thing in his training, and hadn't forgot or botched anything up.

Next step, was me up and sitting on his back. I was confident in my boy, but you can never be 100% sure how a animal prone to flight will react, when it finds something tight around its chest and a great weight on its back.... My confidence wasn't misplaced. He was an angel, he did everything, no hesitation, no bucking and stayed focused on his job at all times..
This is what i live for, the milestones you hit, the seconds of adrenaline as the horse learns to go forward and the instant where it could have gone bad or good is over, when you realise the horse knows it job and it was your training that got it there. I'm not going to lie, It is a massive thrill to know the horse i sat on today once ran wild, that i trained it, I'm the only one to have ever handled it, ridden it, i was the first one to touch him and the first one to sit on him. It really does make all the blood sweat and tears worth it.
his amazing attitude, his intelligence, his train-ability and willingness to work and the absolute thrill i get from working with him. is why I'm newly in love with my little wild stallion.