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Part 3

11 September 2017
Part 3

Bridleless

03 September 2017
Bridleless

Trimming

08 August 2017
Trimming

Maverick

01 August 2017
Maverick

Page 2: Ebony

13 July 2017
Page 2: Ebony

Part 1: Echo

13 July 2017
Part 1: Echo

Never knock the curiosity out of a young horse

Leo is our 3yo Kaimanawa gelding. Along with a few like minded ladies we saved his mum Koha from the Kaimananwa Wild Horse muster in April 2014 and just after Christmas 2014 Leo was born.

When born, foals are pure, soft and free of resistance. The further along I go in my journey with horses, the more my focus is on retaining these qualities, and taking them through into the ridden part of the horses life, as unchanged as possible.

Through the process of being handled and eventually started under saddle, a horse can end up quite a different animal to the one they was born as. They've been changed and shaped by their experiences, good and bad. I've found foals to be incredibly open and willing to try, and as I've learnt better ways of presenting my ideas , I find they have very little resistance when working with them. By the time they are started and under saddle though, many horses have lost some of that willingness to try. There is often a backward thought before they go forward. I find this in many of the horses I work with be it dentistry, hooves or horsemanship. It comes from us, they are not born like that. It's important to realise once try is gone, you never get it back to the same degree as before it was lost.

I have moved away from over handling my foals. From birth I keep the mare and foal in a paddock handy to all the day to day activity on the farm, so the foal is around us indirectly from birth and we are a familiar presence in their life. Because Koha was not long out of the wild I would keep her with Leo in the yards at night.

Leo's first session in a halter was at 10 weeks old. It was a a quality session, quietly caught in the yards and haltered, taught him to follow the feel of the halter, and comfortable with picking up his feet, and then I trimmed them. In this initial session I noticed Leo was very mouthy...and trying to bite me at every opportunity. Some young horses, colts in particular are like this,very tactile. At this young experimental age, their idea of checking things out involves putting everything in their mouth. I could see that there was nothing defensive or aggressive about it, just that he couldn't seem help doing it relentlessly. Leo was gelded at 4 months old as I thought being a colt would only encourage it. As I was only working Leo when I trimmed his feet and I don't pet foals loose in the paddock, it wasn't too much of a problem. On the occasions I was handling him, I knew he was likely to bite if I was handy and I simply avoided putting myself in a position to get bitten. I chose not to hit or reprimand him, but rather to stay out of his mouths way. I had a fair amount of criticism about my lack of putting him in his place, and not chasing him away when he tried to bite etc.

Leo was so full of colour and character, he seriously has enough character for about 20 horses! He is enthusiastic, interested and curious about everything. All he came into contact with went into his mouth, which included the electric fence tape a few times!

Leo's curiosity and enthusiasm, are all qualities I want there when it comes time for him to be ridden. If I had of reprimanded him all the time as people suggested, those qualities would undoubtedly have been knocked out of him by the time I do start him. For 3 years I would have been telling him that this part of his character was unacceptable to me and needed to go away, and I have no doubt he would have eventually stopped trying....I never want my young horses to feel they are not to try. So I was clever enough to avoid being where he could put me in his mouth, or I would know it was coming and ask something of him, to direct his thought away onto something else.

As I expected, Leo is now 3 and that phase has passed. Instead of perceiving me as the person who tells him off all the time and makes him feel uncomfortable, he is calm and relaxed around me, and ready for his next training phase with all his great qualities and try in tact.

Lets think about nurturing all the amazingness foals have in that little package, and not take anything away from them. The great Bill Dorrance said "Never knock the curiosity out of a young horse" and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

#ManestreamHorsemanship #Partnership

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Louisa Andrew
Phone: 0274 300 875
Email: louisa@manestreamequine.co.nz

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