If you have been following us for a while, you will know of Boris, who is one half of the pair affectionately known as the delinquents. Aka Boris the bastard. Now, Boris is a magnificent creature, standing at nearly 17hh weighing in at approximately 750kgs and is only 5 years of age. He was a surprise baby, when I purchased his mum, Mouse, from a horse auction, so we didn’t really know what we were going to get when he was born.
As a foal, Boris was an absolute delight. He was very easy to do things with, and very quick to learn. Very chilled about life and generally very pleasant. He adored the Clydesdales and like to copy everything they did. He was easy to lead, stand calmly for the farrier, didn’t even flinch the first time he had harness gear on. We even floated him a couple of times, with no problem what so ever. He was so dreamy, he inspired a visit for mouse to a stallion, to create another one!
Like Clifford the Big Red Dog
Boris grew. And grew. And Grew. What I found surprising however, what that he didn’t seem to mature. While training the clydies, they were like little old men at 3, just totally chilled and obliging, only too happy to try and please. Unfortunately with Boris, he seems to have taken the teenager path.
Boris is a dude, very gentle and relaxed, but also a bit arrogant and determined. To complicate him even more, is he seems to lack confidence. It is scary how similar boris is to my first born human child. They are both very capable, they both have an understanding of what I want, but they are both just lacking that confidence to just DO what they are being asked. They thing I am learning however is that treading gently, and allowing them the time that they need to mature, is the way to make progress.
Work training wise, Boris has been really quite accepting. My training method means slowly introducing things, not moving on the the next step until they are totally comfortable with the last one that was introduced. This is time consuming, but seems to result in a calm obliging horse. Boris took to the sled like a dream, even when we made him drag all of the feed bags down to the feed shed.
Introducing the cart for the first time, for me, is always a nerve wreaking step.. not for Boris though, he was totally chilled, even though the shafts are a bit narrow for him resulting in the most elaborate muffin top. He just casually went about and did everything we asked.
Boris needs exposure!
The next step in Boris’s journey realistically is exposure. It is imperative that Boris gets out to see things, and learns there is a world outside of the confines of his paddock. I like my horses to be introduced to new things for the first time, when there is no pressure of requiring to perform. This is where our problem lies. Boris with all of his forgetting to stop growing, thinks that he is too big for the float. Boris is adamant that he doesn’t need to stand in the float. Possibly more infuriating, is with a bit of food encouragement, he will walk in, but will not stay long enough to get the door shut behind him.
A couple of times we have succeeded. Once he is in, he floats perfectly, unloads calmly and is totally fine. It doesn’t make him go in any easier next time however. We have tried a few different training methods, so far not have helped us achieve our goal. We have tried other floats, some of which he goes in, some he doesn’t. It is proving really hard to expose him to things, without being able to transport him.
In order to try to get a better connection with him, and so he isn’t standing around doing nothing, I have started riding him. He’s actually proving to be really fun to ride! He is calm, responsive, and just wants to do what is asked. This brings me back to ‘I want to get him to some outings’… hmm… back to the float thing.
We have enlisted the help of a trainer. So far we have had one session, which was positive, but not the miracle cure I was hoping for. We will continue this path. Although a larger float would be of assistance, it is not a financially viable option at this point.
Boris is teaching me so much. There are always things to learn on this journey, and one of the most important lessons is that it is not one size fits all. What will work for some horses will not work with others. The path some horses take, just may not work for another. The important thing is to listen to the horse, and learn what works for him. I look forward to when I can report that we have overcome the float hurdle. I’m just unsure how long it is going to take!