Friday, March 29, 2013

Off to India

Life is going to be a whole new level of crazy soon. In three days I'm off to India, not for a holiday but to work with animals again. Specifically working animals and help educate locals into better animal welfare practices. It's going to be as little crazy...

So before I go I thought I'd give everyone an update on the wild horses which I have been so slack at writing about recently. I feel like I've almost got my own little herd of them currently. With Bear, Fern, Matariki, Oscar, Sonny, Shy Boy and Miro was here until a week ago, I still see Matai a lot to. So from the top heres a little bit about them all.

Bear who has been ten months out of the wild, is still a quirky little horse. Tame, and well mannered, he still has days where everything scares him. But he copes more and more. Hes good for the farrier, and has had his teeth done by the dentist, and accepted it all happily, I can ride him, and handle him as i would any other horse, but he much more alert and tense than the other ones. New people sometimes scare him to. But deep down in his tense soul Bear is a lover, he nays to you as you go past the paddock and will come and present himslef  for a scratch, not cuddly like the other but a quiet slow backscratch while he's loose in the paddock, and he's a happy horse.

Matariki, the newest wild pony, is gorgeous, and a genuine sweetheart. He's gone from being a nervous, worried creature, to completly relaxed and one of the quietest horses on the property. I've ridden him and worked with him a lot , and he just have the most beautiful attitude always so focused and dying to please, a quick learner and super intelligent as well. Currently one of my favorites to work with.

Oscar, just continues to be the most relaxed, quiet and easy of horses. The horse that is every little girls dreams as he just loves cuddles and attention he stands around happily relaxed for hours while he's showered with affection.

Sony is huge. He arrived from the 2010 muster still in his mother belly, and was born on the farm. Fern, his Mother was big for a wild horse, and Sonny is even bigger at only two years old. He's also a very polite and well mannered young boy, his mother did a good job raising him. He is a sweet and stoic chap, who all the ladies want for themselves as a riding horse when he's older.

Shy boy is only here on a diet as his owner is grazing one of my horses that needs fattening up. He is the moivie star, with the longest, thickest flowing mane and tail, dark mohangy coat he's one handsome boy. Still shy, but lovely to handle and not wild at all.

Fern, my lovely grey mare is sick. She's missed almost the whole competition season battling a lung infection, that keeps reacurring. I'm hoping I've finally healed her with yet another course of antibiotics. It's been scary though, the hottest driest summer I can remember and my tough, stoic little mare sounds like she's breathing through a water filled hose, a gurgling rasping sound. Fern is never sick, never lame, never has a bad day, so to watch her cough and gurgle for months is not a nice thing.

Miro & Matai from what I've heard and seen are both doing excellant. Both have gone to fabulous little girls who love them and are doing a great job riding them. I'm really excited to watch there success in the future.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Miro's Story

Selling horses is awful. Once they leave, the horses are out of your control forever, endless hours of training,time and effort passed into the care of someone else. New owners can be a nightmare as well, because no matter the training, and how good the horse was when it left you care, horses are animals and there behaviour depends largely on the way they are handled and ridden, they react to the people and there behaviour can change quickly and suddenly, ending up not to be exactly how the new owner wanted. Dealing with irrate new owners is horrible!

But today for one of the first times in my life, I'm truly excited to have sold a horse. Miro has gone to a new home. A beautiful farm home, with a little girl to love and ride him. Even better I know his new owners well, they have brought a horse off me before, and taken marvelous care of it, I'm sure they will do the same for Miro.

But I think there is even more to this that I find lovely and heart warming. The  girl came to see the wild horses when they arrived ten months ago from muster. Since then she has been saving every penny, her weekly pocket money and anything extra from doing odd jobs and put it into a fund to save for a Kaimanawa pony. She wanted to save a wild pony to.

Miro wasn't actually on the market at all,  I was going to keep and compete him before selling, but when I heard these people were looking for a new pony, I new it would be a perfect home, and to good an oppurtunity to pass by. They were actually looking for a more experianced pony, and I'd told them about another one I had. So they came to look at both, and trying not to sway there descision I kept quite to which I wanted them to buy. They came back twice unable to make there mind up...

But luckily in the end it was Miro who stole there hearts. I think he will be a perfect fit, the kid is a kind compassionate and capable rider and Miro is a a laid back, easy going, but talented fellow. He's come along way in ten months, adapting and excelling domestic life.

So the kid paid for some her new pony, while the parents made up the rest, and I know she was super excited about getting to ride and train her own wild pony! Which I think is really sweet.

For his last day on the farm I let him wander where he pleased as a special treat. Thinking that he would graze the lovely green grass on the driveway. But he didn't, he took himself up to his stable, and stood in his favorite spot, peering through a gap, and watching the coming and goings of all that happens on the farm. He hung out ther by choice all day, every so often coming out just to check the the feed bins were still locked, or having a sniff and a cuddle. Before I loaded him up adm took him to his new home.

A very excited girl met me, and Miro just casually stepped off the trailer looked over his new surrounding before going sticking his head down to graze. I stayed around and took a few photos as the girl took him for his first ride. Miro really couldn't have looked more relaxed about the whole situation.

It was a nice feeling when I left, to know that there was a happy kid and happy pony. I can't wait to watch there progress and I'm sure I'll be seeing more of them, as they are already booked in to come in riding camp in for for the first time ever it's really nice to feel excited about selling a horse. Now to get working on the rest of the wild ponies sitting in my paddock!

Here are some photos, some at his new home and the other from when he arrived.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


You  never stop learning. It doesn't matter what you do, what your profession is, there is always more to know and discover.

In the last few years, I've worked with wild horses, show horses, kids ponies, riding horses. I've run riding camps and worked in some of the top barns in Europe and here in New Zealand. But there is still much more, and so many aspects of horsemanship left for me to discover.

I  just spent the last four days mustering horses in some of the remotest parts of the country. Crossing rivers, climbing mountains and taking a herd of horses where I never thought any horse could go. I learnt a lot, and a lot of what I already know came in handy over four very exhausting days. 

Most importantly that cans of Nestlé condensed milk and coffe in one, are life saving on the mornings you wake up underneath a tree. Sweet goodness & caffeine in one hit equals bliss!

I learnt what is really involved in mustering a herd of horses, from horse back, with dogs and more people on foot. There we little things I understood but wouldnt have thought to do, that made the whole operation run smooth. Like leaving a shirt hanging from a tree to stop 30 horses taking a wrong path .

Some of it wasn't pretty, but I understood for the job at hand how it worked. One or two horses in the mob, most likely to want to run, or turn, or cause genral chaos were roped and haltered and made to drag ropes on the way out, so if they ran they  would stand on the rope and it would slow them down, stopping them form setting the whole herd stampeding,essesntial in areas where your negotiating a goat track along a cliff with no room for error.
Something i knew but came  even more apparent to me, not all aspects of horse riding cross over. You may be able to ride a beautiful workout in the showring but doesn't mean you know how to ride a horse down a mountainside. They are different things, although in the perfect world you should be able to do both. There are some really good riders I would never let do the sort of riding I did the last four days, because they wouldn't know how to do it.

I was lucky I grew up riding across farms and taking my ponies across what I thought until this weekend was steep hills, and deep swamps. I know a horse knows best where it's feet are, and on that kind of country the horse is best left to its own devices, leave its mouth alone and it will negotiate the trail just fine. To many times a rider tries to interfere and more than anything unbalances the horses. However this is someone a lot of riders theses day don't have any experiance with and don't know how to do.

Horses are tougher than we realize to, I rode a borrowed horse and it was a 32km hike out, and that little mare, with her four month old foal tagging a long, carried on just fine. Climbed up landslides, along goat tracks and swam rivers, never got upset , never wore herself out, just got the job done and was ready to do it all again the next day. Working animals like dogs and horses,  i think are actually some of the happiest animals you come across and certainly the most no nonsense.

Anyway here's a couple of pictures from my adventures more to come