New Kids on the Block

Since December of last year, I’ve been working at a nearby Arabian stud – a dream come true, considering that I used to only gaze at the shiny stallions in the roadside fields as we passed them on the way home every single day when I was a kid.

they have peacocks!

These days, I get to handle those shiny stallions, and the serene old mares and the little dinky foals that look like they’ve been cast out of finest porcelain.

I have absolutely loved it, and gotten to know a bunch of such lovely personalities too. I had sworn off stallions completely, but now find myself handling them on a daily basis thanks to Lancey’s ever-gentle daddy (who also goes by the barn name of Lance) and his big shiny chestnut colleague, Belrock.

photo from their Facebook page

My main mission, of course, has been the young horses. My favourite, a chestnut half-sister of Lancey’s, won her class in hand and was then sold at the stud’s production auction to a very very lucky buyer. Now, I’m working Lancey’s full sister (she is nothing like him lol but beautiful and smart) and this handsome little chap.

Gatsby is five years old but I’ve only had him under saddle for five months or so. Nonetheless, he is a great guy. He learns things almost instantaneously and never seems to run out of try. I love him to bits. Gatsby is about to make his training show debut, so he’ll be making a few guest appearances on the blog in show recaps.

Generally I try not to talk about client horses on the blog, but I just had to gush about the beloved Arabs a little bit. Another pony that’ll show up here from time to time, while not an Arab, also lives at the beautiful stud farm. His name is Christopher and I had no idea how badly I needed a Welsh pony named Christopher in my life until God brought him into it.

Christopher is in his teens and has been around the block a thousand times already – including being a winning EM pony. His breeding is drool-worthy and so is he. Impeccably schooled though he is, he is a sassy lil dude and knows his job, and it’s very cool to get to play around on him. Thunder can only school so many days a week, and everything else I ride is Prelim level or lower, so I jumped at the chance to ride Christopher and get some more mileage at the more difficult movements.

so photogenic

If funds allow, Chris and I will get to go to a few shows soon. Get used to this adorable little dark bay face, blogosphere – there will be more of him.

At this point, I’m just going along with God’s wonderful ideas. Glory to the King.

Golden Pony Updates

Last time I wrote about the little golden dude, I had just put his first saddle on him and commented that soon I’d be swinging a leg over at the rate he was going. For once, I was right.

Poor little Midas has been progressing slowly through the months for only one reason – the hapless creature has found himself being a resale pony on a schedule full of paying clients’ horses, so he always ends up being the one that gets missed when the wheels fall off. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that working intermittently with a newly-backed isn’t the greatest idea, but the little guy has been holding up just fine. Every session is better, every time we figure out something new and he just gets it. He’s been an absolute pleasure.

I was very relieved to find that his attitude issues on the ground do not happen under saddle. He’s not bad – just late gelding, little pony stuff. Pulls his ears and pretends like he doesn’t need you. A teenage boy packaged into 13.1 hands of sassy pony. But I never let him get away with any of that under saddle, so he never does any of it.
I love his gaits, too. The walk is brisk, forward and together, just the way I like it; the canter balanced and powerful, and fairly supple with the leads. His trot is dead boring but that’s no matter considering I’m aiming for him to be a good jumping pony. Besides, you can always school a trot to be good.

The only health problem we’ve had from him so far. He was fine when I tacked him up and like this when I got off. This is the most dramatic hives I’ve ever seen. It was gone by that evening after some cortisone, but the poor little chap was quite miserable!

We have just progressed to cantering laps on the correct lead out in the big arena/glorified field. He tossed a buck here and there when he couldn’t figure out his leads, but as soon as he got that worked out the bucking stopped. Typical confused baby horse stuff, he’s not going to be a proper bucker. He’s also a little on the spooky side. We’ll have to see how that changes as he grows up and gains confidence.

I can’t fault his intelligence and trainability. He really tries, and he’s got a lot of material to try with, both in physical ability and in brainpower. Definitely a very firm favourite with me, I look forward to competing him this year, starting with Horse of the Year and SANESA in February. After that, wherever this epitome of a pocket rocket takes us.

After selling Bruno came the best thing about resale: getting to go shopping for a new one. It took me ages, but I finally managed to find a registered young Nooitie mare who was all of 13.3hh. Also sweet-natured and a flashy mover, the little lady had colour to boot: meet my new little golden pony.
Sadly, it hasn’t been quite the fairytale that it was with Midas. He arrived with all his ground manners and basic citizenship skills. She was unhandled when I met her, but the breeder offered to get her halter trained so that we could box her easily. I gratefully accepted. Huge mistake. Pony was unhandled when we met, but now she is violently terrified of people. Sure, she’ll follow you around on the end of a lead – if by any chance you can catch her. Which takes me half an hour, in a stable, with food, on a good day.

Her registered name is too similar to some of the other horses’ to use, so we just call her Nugget because she’s a little gold nugget. And she breaks my heart. She was so soft-eyed and uncomplaining and now she’s torn between terror and desperate aggression. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a horse actually do what the books say they do – turn aggressive when cornered. She’s not a bad girl; her whole body just screams fear; she truly believes she’s fighting for her life.
Poor little soul. I wish I could speak her language better so I can tell her that she’s safe now, that nobody will ever hurt her again. Maybe it wouldn’t do much good even if I could. These things aren’t mended by what you say, I suppose. It’s a longer, harder, better journey of loving action after loving action, and I pray to God that I’m up for it because Nugget doesn’t have other options.

She deserves better. She will get better.

God willing. Glory to the King.