I have a friend who has a lovely farm, Tebogo Sporthorses, where they retrain off the track Thoroughbreds, to become sport horses. They do a fantastic job, and are super fun people who love horses and helping horses find the right job! Anyway, I had asked my friend if I could bring Neuf over for a field trip. He’s young, needs exposure, and there is a nice level of quiet, purposeful activity there, so it is a good place for a baby horse, and they understand that sometimes the power steering fails.
Today, was the day we agreed upon. I loaded Neuf up this morning, he travelled well, no hissy fits, no banging, and when we unloaded, which was a solid leap out of the trailer, I think his eyes were popping out of his head!
The initial, unspoken dialog went something like this:
Neuf: OMG! Where are we? What is that thing there? It is going to EAT ME!
Me: Neuf, it is a hay net, here, let me grab a handful of hay….
Neuf: OMG, IT MOVED, did you see that? It will KEEL me dead!
Me: Look Neuf, here is the hay I grabbed for you.
Neuf: (eating hay) Oh, it might not kill me, but I’m not getting too close.
We repeated this for few moments while he had to move. There were no other hay nets, but there were giant stones, I stood on one to demonstrate that it doesn’t eat people or horses. We walked to the indoor arena (the weather was wet, so no outdoor today) and hand walked around, and every single window was a new “OMG! A WINDOW, are there MONSTERS out there?” He made it all the way around both ways, we watched a horse being ridden, and then I went to tack up.
He was fine for getting his saddle on, it started to pour…I put the saddle cover back on for the walk to the indoor, and the other horse was finished, and Paige was going for the next one, so I planned on lunging while she was gone. I was ready to end with just having lunged him, if that is what his baby brain needed, he lunged both ways, in 3 different areas of the arena. A new horse came in, and was greeted, by Neuf, with a relieved whinny. And he had settled enough for me to feel ok getting on and walking around.
He continued to settle, so eventually we walked, trotted and cantered, both ways. We were just watching the horse jump while cooling out, and Neuf got a bit nervous when the other horse cantered past him, and would jump when a pole was knocked, but he settled back down, and then I called it a success and we walked back to the barn.
Neuf is fantastic! I did learn that I need to plan on giving him a full hour to settle in at new places when he goes alone. I’m sure he will rapidly mature and not need quite that much time, but for now, that will be the plan.
Many thanks to my friends at Tebogo! If you have any friends who want a fantastic, Thoroughbred, sport horse, keep them in mind. OTTBs are awesome!