Exavior is one of my biggest learning curves at this point. It’s true – warmbloods are a different kettle of fish. I had always thought that they must be rather like large, glorified thoroughbreds, but there is definitely an extra element of power – and pushiness – with them. The sheer size factor is also something very new, with almost every other horse I work with standing under 15 hands and Exavior standing nearly 15.3 at the age of two. But there’s no getting around the fact that there is something a little heart-stopping, a little breathtaking about that rippling power packaged in burnished chestnut. He can also be a little maddening because when he puts his mind to it he’s smart, talented, and infinitely trainable; the rest of the time he’s too busy goofing off to pay attention and merely plops around doing as he pleases.
This big baby did well on his goals last year, though:
Exavior’s 2015 Goals
- Complete advanced halter training – Done. He will walk and trot politely, stand up square when asked, and lead from both sides without issues. Sometimes when going past mares he wants to jump up on his hindlegs, but this is improving and should improve exponentially when he’s no longer a colt. We put him to Magic Lady this spring and he was well-mannered enough that I could handle him for all the covers, so that’s quite a win – I never dared go near any of the other stallions I know at cover time.
- Leading over, through and under scary things – Done. We’ve led under low roofs and branches, over logs and tarpaulins, and in narrow passageways.
- Leading away from his group – Done. He’s way more excited to go see the girls than stick with his paddock buddy, currently Magic.
- Bathing – 75% done. You could probably bath him but it wouldn’t be pleasant. He’s cool with water being on his forequarters but can throw a tantrum about having a wet butt.
- Desensitisation to noise and sight – Done. Plastic bags, tarps, whatever – he just deals.
- Loading preparation – Done. Leading over a tarp, under a low roof, and in a narrow passage just fine.
- Loading – Not done. We just didn’t get to this last year, but with his pressure/release understanding being good and the preparation work done, he should be quite easy to train.
- Injections – Improved. He used to jump up immediately on seeing a vet or syringe, but now he just fusses. You still have to be careful and really, really quick but I’m seeing improvement with every shot.
- Be gelded – Not yet. This whole winter the necessary bits refused to descend; that’s for next winter.
- Lowering of the head when requested by pressure on the halter – Perfect. He’ll put his nose on the floor for me to take his bridle off, which is kind of awesome when you’re as short as I am.
- Basic lunging with a halter and long line only – Done. He lunges really nicely in three gaits now, on voice commands.
- Wearing a roller – Done. It took him a few tries but now he accepts it beautifully.
- Lunging over poles – He has been introduced to poles, but not yet a proper series of them.
- Wearing boots – Done. He didn’t bat an eye.
- Preparation for clipping – Not done. Mostly because his owner is kind of broke and doesn’t have a pair of clippers around that can be destroyed during desensitisation of stupid young elephant-sized colts.
- Bathing. If you’re going to insist on being chestnut with four white stockings, you’re going to be good to bath. This is just going to be a matter of steady repetition, but we’ll get there.
- Loading. I think this should be a pretty quick fix, but he needs to self-load. I’m not a fan of baby warmbloods jumping on their back legs when they don’t want to go in the box.
- Continued improvement on injections. Again, this is just a matter of repetition without any bad experiences.
- Lunging over poles. This is an important one for strengthening and developing the muscles in his butt and hindlegs, which will help to push his slight cow hocks straighter.
- Introduction to small free jumps. The sooner he learns that he goes between the uprights every single time, the better. He’s too young for real jumping, so we’ll keep the fences small enough to just trot over.
- Backing. He’s a baby so I’m in no hurry, but I’d rather get on him while he’s not quite the size of a monster truck yet. He is nearly there; he accepts the saddle and bridle, works correctly in side reins and long-lines fairly well. He allows me to put my foot in the stirrup, stand over him in one stirrup and lean over him without issues. He just needs to have his long-lining perfected and to carry the sandbags I use to desensitise the babies to weights and movement by their sides, and we’re golden.
- Basic aids in walk. There’s no need to trot and canter around with me on him just yet, but he can learn a solid foundation of whoa, go and turn in a walk only.
This is stuff I normally try to achieve in about three months with client horses, so he’s got a slow year ahead of him, but it’s about what his baby brain can cope with right now. He will probably be turned away for several months throughout the year just to relax and grow up – in fact he has a month off ahead of him from next week.
He is my little miracle horse and God’s will has been so abundant in his life already. Glory to the King.