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Posted: Wednesday 20 November, 2013

by Rosemary Champion at 12:49pm in Equines 1 comment Comments closed

Smokey (or Munro of Millfield, to give him his posh name) is my Highland gelding. I’ve owned him for 10 years – we were happy hackers, then my chum, Claire, and I broke him to drive. Then we had an accident and since then he’s pretty much been a pet / grass cutter / manure maker. I’ve always wanted to work him round the holding and we’ve had a few false starts but I thought if I kept a blog of our doings, we (I) would benefit from the support of our on-line friends and that I’d be able to record our experiences and our progress.

Before we moved here, Smokey was on a big livery yard so there was always someone around to offer advice (sometimes even if you didn’t want it J) and support, but since we moved here, I don’t really have any horsey friends locally. This is partly / mostly down to me (psychologists may find some good material in here) being rather intimidated by horsey people and never really feeling like one of them.

Last week, I went along to the local RDA driving group for a look-see. They were so nice – so I’m going back this week. I am going to become a volunteer so that I don’t feel quite so selfish. I had a wee drive of their Shetland, Boris and it was lovely.

So enough of the mind-games stuff here – although, no doubt, more will emerge over time J

I washed and cleaned Smokey’s harness last week but it took me until yesterday to actually put it on him. I used his French collar, rather than his breast collar; I couldn’t find the false martingale and there was a bit of harness “spare” but with some baler twine in place, it all held together.

My plan was to longrein him round the track that runs round the outside of his usual paddock. I thought that would be easiest to start with, since it’s so familiar to him. We set off going clockwise – the track is about 400m and I only intended to go round once in each direction, working on stopping, standing and walking on to verbal commands. I really just wanted to see where we were.

He was walking out nicely until we were almost back to the gate and he took off. Did I try and hold him? No. He went about 50 yards, stood on the rope rein and stopped. I caught him, gave him a treat and we set off across the next paddock; we simply went up and down for about 20 minutes then headed back to the barn. At that point he decided it was way too scary to go through the Triangle, so I ended up leading him through. Not the best start.

So today, trying not to be daunted by yesterday’s performance, we tried again. This time, I just used the roller rather than harness. We went anti-clockwise round the track this time and he walked out beautifully – one wee spook at some killer sparrows in the bushes – and back to the barn. Best to quit while I was ahead J

TBH, he hasn’t been handled all that much recently – apart from having his foot poulticed – so I decided that a wee bit of ground work would be worthwhile. So rather than letting him out the barn to make his own way to the field, I haltered him and lead him out. Hmmm, interesting – he was pushing ahead and not leading well, so I spent 20 minutes leading him round the field, asking him to keep a good position in relation to me. He knows – he just hasn’t been asked to do it for a while.

So that’s where we are. Planning the same again tomorrow – maybe two circuits of the track, but we’ll see how we go.




Thursday 21 November, 2013 at 7:15am

Sounds like this will be fun for both of you and give you a reason to re-establish your bond with him. Good luck

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