When we moved to Serpentine 7 years ago, I had no interest or desire to have horses. Seriously, what is in the water out here? I’m now obsessed, especially with my young boy, Cruiser.
So how on earth did I end up with a one year old gelding? I had no experience in training horses or even having young horses. I rode as a teenager once a week, then in my 40’s ended up with a pony for my daughter and a standardbred (Magic) to keep him company. I was enjoying horses and enjoying riding once again.
My husband, Julien, asked me one evening how old my mare was and what would I ride when she got too old, indicating I should get something younger. Perhaps he had a few too many wines with dinner?
So one day while looking for a saddle on Gumtree, I came across an advert for a one year old, Cruiser. I liked his colour! He sounded like he had the perfect upbringing on 100 acres in Bridgetown living in a herd with his mum, dad, aunts and uncles. He had some basic handling but that’s about it. Perfect, a clean slate.
Cruiser with mum
I took my sensible friend, Jill, along with me to have a look. She would tell me if it wasn’t a good buy. Not only did she encourage me, she commented that in 12 months time she would come back for his brother, who was only 4 months old at the time. That story in another blog……………….
Of course I bought him.
My mare, Magic, took to him straight away. She has never had a foal but she is a natural leader and she made sure Cruiser felt welcome. He also had Aunty Floss and two ponies to keep him company.
Well, what was my plan? Google all the things I should be doing with him of course! Touch him all over, pick up his feet, lift his tail, lead him, brush him, hose him. Simple. Well I thought so until on one occasion while I was getting him used to having his back feet picked up he kicked out, got me in the knee and sent me across the laneway. This actually took me 12 months to feel fully relaxed picking up his back hooves, even though he never kicked out like that again. What was I thinking?
photo: Cruiser, one year old
I had lessons every once in a while with a wonderful trainer, Jayne Lavender, to make sure I was practicing the right things with Cruiser. She gave me heaps of advice and Cruiser and I seemed to be going along quite well. I took him to the beach, I ponied him off Magic, I took him to Denmark for a weekend to visit Jill. I spent time with him and the next thing I knew he was 3 years old.
I decided to back him at 3. He wasn’t anywhere ready to be ridden as he was immature mentally and physically but I felt he was ready to accept a saddle and a light person sitting on him. I achieved this quite easily and before we knew it we were walking around the property. When he turned 4 he trotted under saddle and I thought everything was going extremely well. It was time to expand his education. We did a few short walk/trot journeys off the property and all was well until one day we ended up in a situation that had too many scary things happening at once.
A new place, a new horse that wouldn’t settle, a train. Each of these he was fine with, but not all three at once. He froze, watching the train pass with the unsettled horse going nuts behind him. I leaned forward (mistake number 4) to pat and reassure him and he lunged forward and around to get away from the train. My hands went forward with the reins and I pulled up hard to get myself back in the saddle (mistake number 5). He jammed up and bucked a few times and I Ianded on my back, on the gravel. Nothing broken, I was able to walk him home but couldn’t ride for 4 weeks. Lucky.
4.5 years old
Time for some more help!
I heard of an instructor that sounded my style. I had Sam Jones assess Cruiser, and when I could ride again she assessed my riding. It was apparent that Cruiser had some anxiety issues that needed to be dealt with. I didn’t think I could ever send Cruiser to anyone but what I saw in Sam I really liked. I asked Sam to take Cruiser for a little while to work on him. 12 days later he came home and had a whole new set of coping skills. I continue my lessons with Cruiser and Sam now and we have achieved so much. I’ve ridden him bareback at the beach, taken him on a 5 day Carlos Tabernaberri Clinic and taken him to an Intro to Endurance Clinic.
He is not yet 5 so we still only do short sessions and only a few times a week. His attention span and his physical development have really come along this year and I am so excited to see what the next 30 years will bring.
Thank you Seiske http://equibalance.com.au/ for the photos of Cruiser when he was young and for breeding such a beautiful horse.