It is my very great pleasure to introduce Bretford Drifter, my new 6-year-old 15’1 Irish cob cross. Or to my non-horsey readers, my new short, hairy, stocky, black, young, horse.
Last Sunday I went to view him for the first time. After a less than promising start (initially being sent to the wrong yard, then when we got to the right yard we were shown to the wrong horse…) we eventually found him.
He looked good, and seemed quite calm and accommodating about having 3 strange humans in his stable. We asked to see him ridden and he went nicely. We asked to see him jumped and he jumped confidently and steadily with no rushing to or from the jump. Time for me to get on…
I would love to be able to say I rode him well, but that would be a barefaced lie. I rode him quite badly. But during the minutes I was on him, we did develop a better understanding than we had initially. I am used to riding-school horses and riding-school horses are used to bad riders and good at understanding what riders want even when the riders ask badly. Drifter is not used to bad riding but tried very hard to interpret my requests as best he could. He’s going to teach me to ride better. So I agreed to buy him, subject to vetting.
And then spent that night lying awake wondering if I’d done the right thing.
The stress of waiting for that vetting result was indescribable. If he passed, I’d have 101 things to do yesterday to prepare for his arrival, if he failed, I’d not have found a horse. Or worse, if he passed but had lots of little issues that I’d need to decide whether or not I could live with.
On Tuesday he had his 5 stage vetting and passed with flying colours. The only negative point was that he hasn’t had any vaccinations but that is easily remedied, and there was the added positive that he’s had his teeth seen to recently.
So we arranged collection for Thursday afternoon. And I got him insured.
On Wednesday I bought him rugs, a food bowl, water bowl, headcollar and leadrope. And waited…
On Thursday evening he was at the livery yard! I have a horse! He was stressed from the journey but unfortunately I needed to try all 4 rugs on him to see if they fitted because if they needed to be changed for a different size they would have to go back quickly before the shop shut for its Christmas break. He was not best pleased to be rugged, unrugged, rugged, unrugged etc. etc. which was a major factor in his escape attempt when I came in with rug number 4. I opened the door and asked him to step back – instead he barged me into the yard. I hung onto his mane and various other people in the yard helped grab him and he was enticed back inside with a feed.
Since then he has been very good about stable door etiquette, so although I will be watchful for a repeat, I think this was a reaction to a very stressful day and being in a strange place. He will not be making a habit of it.
So I have a horse, but I don’t yet have a saddle or bridle. Both of these things would be quite useful … but so far I can’t find anyone do a saddle fit until after the New Year. So in the meantime I’ve learnt to lunge him. Of course this necessitated another trip to the shop to buy lunge line, overreach boots, side reins and a roller. Luckily there’s a bridle I can borrow to lunge him in until I get one of his own. (For the non-horsey reader lunging is when you stand in one place and get the horse to go in a big circle around you at the end of a long rope for the purpose of exercise.)
I had a lesson yesterday to learn to lunge him. It’s not that complicated really, but you do ideally need three hands (2 for the rope, 1 for the whip) and I found it’s a good idea not to let yourself or your horse tread on the end of the lunge whip. He lunged very nicely yesterday so I wasn’t too worried about doing it without a member of staff this morning, although I did have visions of him just standing there looking at me wondering what on earth I wanted him to do!
Today (Saturday) was the first day I really felt like a horse owner. I went to the yard, checked which school was free to use, groomed him, put his new lunging equipment and borrowed bridle on him, took him out to the school and successfully lunged him on both reins in walk and trot. I had decided I wasn’t going to worry about getting a canter today, as I knew he would be easier to control in trot, and although I did have a half-hearted go at asking for a canter I didn’t insist on it and he declined to go faster than a fast trot. When we finished, as well as a cool down walk on the lunge I walked him in-hand around both outdoor schools so that when we come to ride in there he will be a little more familiar with them.
I was glad it was raining as it stopped him sweating so much as he did yesterday. As you may be able to see from the picture, he’s very woolly and really needs clipping to stop him sweating so much when he exercises. Unfortunately that’s another thing that may have to wait a while as we suspect he will need sedating to clip.
I returned him to his stable and rugged him up and left feeling that we are beginning to bond and he is settling in nicely.