A very happy new year to all my friends, supporters and followers wherever in the world you may be and let us all hope for a much better 2021 after all the challenges, trials and tribulations of 2020 and Coronavirus.
I thought I would start the positivity off with the story so far about Newt, a Highland Pony, who will be four this year. I will be continuing the backing processes with Newt in the Spring of this year and it has been an interesting one so far, with the very best still to come hopefully, and we all need some hope in these days.
From a very early age, nine months on, Newt was slowly introduced to the idea of a certain level of respect for his handlers. This is essential as the early days are when problems that can show later can actually start. Prior to being gelded I was very careful to allow Newt to express himself as a youngster but to at least have an awareness that one day he would need to be very well behaved. Right from the start he showed grand potential and was as boisterous as any youngster but very willing to listen and learn. Newt had to learn to respect my body space and not be too easily distracted. This was achieved without force or physical punishment of any kind. Just the use of my body positioning and voice, gleaned for four decades of training and the realisation that horses try much harder for kindness than they do for physical punishment and brutality of any form. Newt has to this day never ever been hit with a stick or smacked in the mouth whilst having a bit in, that is the only way in my opinion if horses are started correctly and never over faced. Patience is the key, it was with Newt.
Forward straight and calm
Of all the thousands of problem horses I have seen and handled over the decades, I would say every single horse I was presented with had an issue with its lack ability to be either forward, straight and or calm, some of them all three. It matters not what the intended use of a horse is, or the level of performance, without all three of these most important factors there may well be trouble ahead. All of the gadgets, gismos, gimmicks, potions and other nonsense are all aimed at horses who do not possess any or all of these three simple traits. Horses should move forward with at least a degree of energy , they must be straight moving and they should be of calm temperament. I believe all horses are trainable to this goal. Some will test the trainers ability, but that is life. As a yearling I was able to get Newt established in a show halter, moving forward, in a straight line,