Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Three T's

So when I set out to breed a foal, my ultimate goal is to produce a horse with the "Three T's" - Temperament, type and trainability. I'm not breeding for the professional rider and I don't breed horses that I expect to perform at the highest levels of equestrian sport (although that's not to say that it could not happen). I am instead breeding for people like myself, people who simply want to have fun and enjoy their four legged friends. Usually I don't keep the horses that I breed - at the end of the day the stud is a 'self funding' hobby so youngstock must be sold in order to allow me to continue what I do. So, instead of keeping them I must content myself with following their journeys in their new homes with their new families (and I LOVE all the updates and news I get) however, Ailbhe is one with whom I am enjoying the complete journey. 

Ailbhe really has the BEST temperament. Three years ago he was introduced to the horse float and he had two very long truck journeys when he was 6 months old. As  2 year old he went to some grazing off the property for a few months so was trailered again and since then he's been nowhere near a horse float or a truck. This is what happened when I dragged him out of the paddock today to see what he would think - BOOM, self loading! And I didn't even teach him that, it just kinda happened. LOVE LOVE LOVE him!!!

Monday, 20 April 2015

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step ...

or, in our case, a handful of canter strides!

Today was Ride No. 8 and Ailbhe experienced three 1sts. His first bitted bridle, his first ride outside the arena and his first canter. I really couldn't be happier with him. 

Ailbhe definitely has a sensitive/spooky side and we've always known that BUT once he's had that initial WTF reaction/jump, he doesn't let the flight response kick in and will just stop and think about what has just happened. There are a couple of barrels up against the fence in the arena, with a pole resting on one side and jump cups on top. Ailbhe always eyeballs them a bit when we ride past so today we spent a bit of time focussing on that area. Once he'd had a good look and been ridden past close a number of times and realised they were not in fact going to eat him, all was good. The 'scary' barrels are against the fenceline that runs along the race and the race was today's big adventure. We started by walking down to the end gate and back and then we headed down to Brennan's paddock following the fenceline with the scary barrels. As we passed the tree that they are 'hiding' behind on the race side Ailbhe realised and had a wee panic which involved a slow motion spin and stop. OK, no drama, just turned him back around and asked him to go forward, step, by step until the barrels were back in view. We then stood next to the barrels for a minute and contemplated our navels and when I felt he was fully relaxed and happy, we walked on. He didn't even blink walking past them on the way back. I totally expect him to spook at them next time too but forewarned is forearmed and I'll just make sure that I have my 'go forward' legs ready :)

I took him back to the end of the race a couple of times and we had a couple of trots and then I thought I would have a crack at getting some real forward momentum to see if we could perhaps fall into canter. Watch the video and I think you will agree that Thelwell would've been proud of me and my flapping legs, haha! But, by jingo it worked and we had half a dozen canter strides. This just makes me silly happy.

It won't be long and he will be ready to venture right out (with a friend) - Truth be told he's probably been ready for days, it's just me who needs the confidence.

Autumn Fluffies

Scenes from around the farm ...