Monday, 7 January 2013

Introduction to my horses...

Totally new to Blogs, but several people have been suggesting I give it a try so here goes...

I work as an Equine Behaviour Consultant in Scotland, and intend to use blog this to write about equine behaviour and welfare. I'll aim to keep it light, short and informative (short is not my strong point!). Due to client confidentiality (you don't want to call me out then find details of you and your horse plastered all over the internet!), I will mainly relate my comments on behaviour to my 'herd' - the horses at my yard, or keep them abstract. Also intending to add articles on clinics and conferences I go to and so on.

So, to get started, an introduction to 'the boys' and their environment would be appropriate!

My yard has 4 horses and a pony, 4 of which are mine and one owned by a friend. The yard itself consists of a large field shelter with 2 doors, an area of hard standing, and a field of moorland grass - low in calories but very varied grazing. I'm useless on acreage, but can say that the perimeter of the field is a little over 1 mile, so it's quite a decent size.

The biggest drawback to the place is that it is half way up a mountain in central scotland!

It's designed to be as horse-friendly as possible. The horses can come and go between the 'yard' and the field as they choose.

The second aim in the design is to give me an environment where I can watch lots of interesting horse behaviour and horse-human interactions. As a simple example, I can see when they chose to use the shelter, how they share it, whether they really want to be around when people turn up (as they are free to leave!)

Now, to introduce the horses.
Firstly Paddy (or, to give him his full name, Paddington Bear).

Paddy is a Connemara x TB, in his late 20's, who has been with me for nearly 10 years. The photos above were taken when he was 24 and still full of bounce, though he's slowing down a bit now. He is a wonderful teacher for both horses and humans - plays with, grooms and generally hangs out with the younger horses but keeps them in line with just the right amount of telling whenever necessary.

Flynn is an Arab, 23 years old. He belongs to Eileen Knight (seen riding below). A lovely, well-mannered horse for humans to be around. Not always so lovely to the other horses as you will see :-)

Next, Benson. Benson is 22, breeding unknown - just about everything unknown really! He's been with me for just over 10 years. He's looked after many beginner riders wonderfully, and is very gentle and biddable. However, a lot of things worry him - the anxiety comes out in subtle ways, and training Benson in a way that helps him to be genuinely calm and untroubled is quite a challenge. 

Tigger is 12 (a horse who isn't ancient!). As with Benson, breeding unknown. He's been with me (and more importantly, with Paddy and Benson) for 9 years. Tigger is rather pushed about by all the other horses, and whilst horses like Paddy get out of the way when trouble is brewing, Tigger always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, looking in the other direction! He was a handful, to say the least, when he arrived - he knew about squealing, rearing and planting and not a whole lot else it seemed :-).

Happily, he's forgotten that stuff now and does other things that we humans prefer!

And finally, Elvis. Elvis is a 7 year old exmoor pony. He has been at the yard for several years, but only recently became 'mine' when his owner reluctantly had to sell him. I couldn't see Tigger's best friend leave, so... I call Elvis my best training tool - he always keeps you on your toes. He's very friendly, loves people - if only they would do as they were told!

Well, I said I wasn't very good at keeping it short... if you look at my pages, there are several videos of the horses in 'action' - 'Should we behave like horses' gives a good overview of the herd dynamics!

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