Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Introducing Will

Ok, finally, as promised - here is Will.
He is a fraction under 15hh, and about 11/12 years old. I've known him for a long time, as he was born and bred half a mile down the road, by friends of mine. He has been a pet most of his life, quiet to sit on, but not really done more than walk around the block a few times, several years ago. Sadly, his owner's circumstances have changed, and Will needed a new home before the winter got under way. After thinking long and hard about it, I offered Will a long term home, and here he is.

Align Centre

Although a 'coloured cob' like Captain, they couldn't be more different, both in type and temperament. Is he a Vanner? No, although to be honest, it's not a term I like very much. I had never even heard it used until the last 5 years or so - it seems to be an new thing, as they have become fashionable, and begun to command huge prices. When I worked at Coolmore Stud, in Ireland, many years ago, they were called 'Battys'. The stud kept a small herd of Batty mares, bred to their National Hunt Thoroughbreds, to use as foster mares whenever needed. I reckon those foals became the Irish Sport Horses so sought after today, but at the time they were not worth much, and virtually given away. I always wished I had brought one home with me! Here, we always called them Gypsy cobs, and that is really what Will is. He doesn't have the leg feather to be classed as a Vanner, but he has been bred specifically for driving. You can see the width across his chest, and he has massive amounts of bone. I keep forgetting to get the tape measure out to see.


I knew his sire, and his grand-sire when I was a teenager.
Captain is not a Vanner either - in fact, although he has the requisite feather, he is far further away from the Vanner requirements than Will. Captain is, to all intents and purposes, a mini Clydesdale. He is long of leg, and narrow in front and behind. He has the calm and gentle temperament too. However, he is remarkably athletic for his sort, and loves to work.

When Will first arrived, he was very unsettled by the move. I gave him a month to settle in, and get used to a new life. He was anxious about being in a stable, and anxious about being alone, and anxious about everything new. Given half a chance, I think he would have broken loose, and galloped back to his old home. He is built like a battleship, and towers over me, and was inclined to be bargy and drag me across the yard. His nervous reaction is to toss his head, and one sweep of his enormous head could send me across the stable. I had a couple of days where I wondered if I had been very foolish to take him on, and feeling rather gloomy about it all.
However, I decided that the first thing to do was establish a regular routine. They all come in every morning for a half an hour, for a small feed, and a bite of hay. Will is rather fat, but he still gets a handful of chaff, and I've added seaweed and magnesium to his. (I intend him to stay barefoot, and magnesium should have a triple action, - as calmer, to lessen sensitivity in his laminae, should there be any, and to help shift some of the fat deposits on his neck and rump)


The next step was to work on his ground manners. An extra large control headcollar came into Proper Job on the very day that I was planning to go and buy one after work. Coincidence huh?! It fits Will a treat, and so I've been working on getting his respect on the ground, and now he is being very polite, especially about things like not walking out of the stable door until I ask him to, even if his friends are already on the move.


So finally, after managing to find some tack to go round his enormous bulk, and a couple of quiet practices in the yard, we went for a ride around the block yesterday. He's not much used to a bit at the moment, so I currently have his control halter on too, with rope reins, and ride as if in a double bridle, so he needs only the lightest touch on both. He marched out beautifully, poor Captain, supposed to be escort, struggled to keep up with Will's walk, even at a joggy trot! An excellent first time out - he even passed his old home, with no more than pricked ears, and a whinny to his friends the goats, but he never stopped or baulked at riding on past. Traffic is fairly new to him, but again, once stopped, he led the way through. So, I'm hoping that things will continue on well, and he'll be a great little horse for me! I've been sorely missing Red, and his bouncy attitude and powerful stride. Captain is a dear, and perfect for the fey-daughter , who adores and trusts him, but if I'm completely honest, I like a bit more attitude :)

21 comments:

Kath said...

OOh I enjoyed this post enormously. Will is just divine and I love him! It was very interesting to hear about his progress and I look forward to getting to know him better. he is a lucky boy to get such an understanding new home and such a devoted and knowledgable family. I wish you many years of fun with this gorgeous boy.

Danielle Barlow said...

Thankyou Kath :) I'm finally feeling like I'm starting to make the connection with him.

Freyalyn said...

He is rather splendid - is that a hint of blue I can see in his left eye or just the light? And once again, I am so delighted to read about your responsibility and respect for the horses in your care. I think you'll be good for each other.

Danielle Barlow said...

Freyalyn - yes, there is just a splash of blue in his left eye. I like to think it helps them see the otherworld! I like to think I am responsible, but a new one in means one of the outgrown tiddlers MUST find a new home next year, and I am racked with guilt and anxiety about it :(

Priest's Housekeeper said...

Great post, I enjoyed it very much.Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Will, he is magnificent!
Ann:)

Swan Artworks said...

He looks a lovely hansome chap, I like his broad width of chest, I bet that gives him a comfy stride? His build reminds me very much of the young 'gypsy cob' mare I had years ago.
You are so understanding and knowledgeable with all your horses, I think he couldn't have come to a better home. Hopefully he'll soon be as settled and confident as the others in your loving care!

Shirley said...

He's a beauty!

Terra said...

These two horses are charming and very handsome, and I enjoy your photos of them and reading their stories. I think Will has found a forever home with you.

Tammie Lee said...

I love that top photo of him, though all are wonderful to see. I do hope you have a wonderful time sharing life together. Getting to know each horse, dog and person is an adventure.

As I sit here I look up and see your lovely little witch ACEO with the mouse on her hat, she is well loved and sweet in my tiny cabin.

Virginia said...

What a wonderful horse! And how lucky he is to land you as his new home! Many years ago, as a child at boarding school I had a much loved 3/4 thoroughbred 14.2 hand pony. We used to take them for outings around the district, passing one of the few Clydsdale farms left. Remembering the ground-shaking gallops of the enormous horses on the other side of the hedge still sends tingles down my spine. They were huge, and so powerful in comparison with our lightly built ponies!
Thanks for a wonderful post

samihob said...

Great equestrian blog! Why not come over and post this for more to follow at Haynet an Equine Social Blogging Network http://hay-net.co.uk/

Bovey Belle said...

What a splendid boy he is, and talk about heart room! Blimey! I am sure he will start to understand your routine and begin to respect your space and keep out of it.

I like your take on the combination bridle (the control halter and a bit). I used to use a Scawbrig bridle on my Arab - initially after he'd had his Wolf teeth removed and couldn't be ridden in a bit for a couple of weeks. It's a good way of introducing a bit though as you can use it just off the noseband, or then noseband with a bit suspended (no rein) and finally introducing a bit rein too and using that more and more.

Time for him to become more than a pet though, and I'm sure you can take him forward.

I know the word Vanner from the old Monica Edwards books of my childhood (especially Cargo of Horses), but I've always called them gypsy cobs. I was interested in your saying that Captain is like a mini Clydesdale, as that was what I thought too!

Melody said...

Amazing art, amazing horses; there is just such magic in your beautiful world. :)))

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

I love hearing about your horses/ponies. Interesting on Vanner's and Gypsy Cobs. On this side of the pond Vanner's are the new "hot" thing.

Will is very lucky to have found you and I am glad you finally have another one to ride! I love how much bone he has!

Velma said...

ooo, the first thing i noticed was that massive chest! and pretty, i hope you and he continue on well together.

Dartford Warbler said...

Will is a very fortunate lad to have found you in these difficult financial times. He looks full of attitude and intelligence, so a winter of good groundwork and easy rides out will give you both a great bond. Respect on the ground seems to be the best way to a horse`s head and heart ( along with food of course!).

Good luck - enjoy him!

Patty said...

This fine post was just what my weary heart needed to read today. As long as a kind human and a fine horse are able to make trust in this world we must keep hope. Thank you for reminding me of the great strength of understanding and kindness.

Danielle Barlow said...

Thankyou everyone.
Bovey Belle - I need to look into combination / bitless bridles as I'm not very familiar with them, and although mine is a cobbled together version as I don't have any spare money, I'd like to think about getting one when I can afford it. Any advice gratefully received!

The Village Queen said...

What a gorgous horse, some serious chest width there! He will be fun to work with I bet. Always glad to find a post from you, you have the most amazing life. Thanks for sharing it.

Merri said...

ooh, my, but he is a handsome beast! Lucky Will!
- The Equestrian Vagabond

Blackfeatherfarm said...

What a handsome boy. Always an adjustment period for animal and owner when a new pet arrives home. Sounds like things are working out just fine.

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