In the words of the great Kenny Rogers, ‘you have to know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em’.

Unfortunately Boris has been a problem child for a while. He is such a magnificent fellow, however his work ethic is somewhat questionable to say the least. While things are going Boris’s way, he is more than happy to comply. The moment he is asked for something out of his comfort zone, he has a tanty, sometimes with rather dramatic results.. 

Earlier this year, he wrecked my training cart, after insisting we turned when there was a fence post in the way. I was able to mentally work through how this could be justified as a speed bump. The lack of going in a float has been an ongoing argument for years, I’ve always put it down to needing a bigger float. His redeeming feature, was that he was always lovely to ride. Floaty, obedient, keen to listen. 

I’ve always been open to the ‘listen to the universe’ mentality, feeling that it would guide me into good decisions. 

Not long after the cart incident, we took a couple of steps back, and worked on long reining down the road pulling a tyre. Something we have done many, many times. This particular day, I turned in a place unfamiliar to him. This was not ok in Boris’s book, he had a rather large tanty, which he wouldn’t calm out of, and bolted for home. Fortunately there was no traffic for him to collect, but he went straight through a wire fence, which could have resulted in other horses loose on the road, had I not been hot on his tail. 

For me, this was the end of his harness career. In harness there is so much less communication than under saddle, and given his projected job was for commercial carriage work, the trust was just gone. 

I hung on to the riding thing. Chipping away at the float thing, I was eyeing up events in the new year which we could attend, while we gained experience under saddle, and perhaps I could find my missing riding mojo. The intention to sell him as a riding horse, but able to ask more money for him, given the exposure I was planning on him having. 

I advertised him and Stanley, and had a bit of interest, but nothing serious. As it was  approaching Christmas, I just decided to bide my time, and advertise in the new year. With a short getaway over new years planned, I arranged for Boris and Stanley to go to the other side of strath, to make it easier for my house sitter. Stanley is easy to float, so the plan was to take him over and ride Boris. 

I saddled up, and headed down the road like I have done many times before. We got maybe 1km down the road, and he said no. I asked nicely, allowing him time to think as he likes, and we made it a bit further. He then stopped again. I asked more firmly. At this point, he bucked, spun and headed for home, quite similar to what he has done in cart previously. 

Having not cantered Boris before initially it was a bit of a surprise, but as he is so wide and slow, it really wasn’t unseating, but there were really no lines of communication. He was not listening nor did he have any intention of listening. Eventually I managed to pull him up, I guess he just realised he was using more energy than he wanted to. I tried to turn him again and continue on our way, but there was just no getting through to him. 

It was at this point that I realised I had to cut my losses. For years I have been hanging on to hope that his arrogance will dissipate, he will become more of a team player, but at this point I just had to liken it to a pokie machine… I would not sit there, putting in more $1 coins chasing my losses, so why was I persisting with this horse who had no interest in respecting what I was asking. The trust was just gone. His last redeeming feature shattered in the blink of an eye. 

I realised that I was hanging on to the emotions involved with Boris and Stanley rather than the horses themselves. If they had turned in to the carriage horses I hoped they were capable of being, it would be a wonderful, heartwarming story of saleyard rescue success and perseverance, but in reality, they are just not the right characters.

Their personalities aligning with that of my children, the lovely story of how Boris got his name… all lovely, but safety and common sense trumps all. Boris is not a suitable candidate for the job I had for him. 

Following the bolting incident I made the rash decision to slash his price and move him on. Within 4 hours, he was paid for, by someone who had previously expressed interest in him. Given the time of year, transport was delayed for a few days, but the feeling of relief (intermittent with regret, sadness, frustration and stupidity) was instant. 

Moving in to the new year, hopefully this has cleared the way for bigger and better things for 2024. New year, new opportunities, less roadblocks and frustrations. Lightening the load to try and help reignite the passion I once had to move forward in my little carriage business

4 Responses

  1. It was a hard decision to make… but I am sure it was the right one! When things go wrong in harness they go very wrong!!!

  2. Heart wrenching decision but gut instinct has to win out over emotions. Hopefully the universe will fill the Boris shaped gap in your life and in your business with all good things 💙

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