Following dreams can be a bumpy ride.
Sevenish years ago, long before Nibbles and Tabby entered my team, I purchased a grey Percheron mare from Echuca sales, with the intention of her joining my team as a harness horse. This was a big step forward in having a grey to pull my carriage.
Before starting to work her, I got a vet check, to make sure she was physically fine to do the job. During this vet check, we learned that Mouse was in fact, in foal. With no proof of who the stallion was, we really had no option, but to wait, let it be born, and then reassess our plans.
I couldn’t utilise Mouse in harness while she was cooking a foal, but working her on the ground, it became apparent that she was not going to be a good fit in our team.
She was however a great Mum. When Boris was born he was jet black, but we know he would turn grey with the ‘goggles’ around his eyes. He was lovely as a foal, so we arranged for Mouse to have a date with another Percheron stallion, to produce a pair for Boris.
Then Boris grew. And grew. And kept on growing. Draught horses grow and mature until the age of 8. Boris is currently only 6 and a half. With Boris’s growing, he started to realise how strong he was. This was not a good thing.
Boris entered a very challenging period, where he was rude, obnoxious and generally unpleasant. The funny thing with Boris though, is that he has never been dirty. (Like in behaviour- he is filthy in the physical sense). Under saddle, or in cart, Boris has not once kicked, bitten, or been dangerous. If he is unsure of something, he switches off- like a light switch. Floating is a different matter- when he feels overwhelmed there he just leaves, and at 800kgs, it’s very hard to argue.
I have lost count of how many times, I have been told to get rid of him. A couple of times I’ve actually even advertised him. In my heart though, I’m hanging on to the fairytale that he is going to be brilliant.
At my wits end, I enlisted the help of my friend Emma at ‘Silent Voices Animal Communication’. Now, I hear you say ‘That’s all heebee jeebees scammy rubbish’… but I can assure you, it is far from that. I want to be sceptical of Emma’s amazing gift. I mean, seriously, this person communicates with horses, through a photo of their eye. How is this even possible? I don’t know. But what I do know, is that when I have been lost, she has always pointed me in the right direction.
This time round, Boris gave Emma very little feedback. ‘He refuses to reflect’ (I asked about a specific incident between Boris and myself). ‘Boris only wants to focus on now, and will not give me anything’. Great, I think- there goes my lifeline. What Emma said following this though, could well have got the fairytale back on track. ‘Boris feels like his muscles are achy and he feels a bit yukky. Add magnesium to his diet’.
Enter eye-rolling from me here, about being gullible, and an idiot, and I’ll just sell the bugger… but I digress. I added magnesium to his feed, the following day he colicked. He was touch and go for a week or so (sand colic can be like that). Add on a couple more weeks of ‘too busy life’ and a month passes. I did keep him on the magnesium however.
Finally, I decide I need to do something with him, take a few steps back, and take him long reining up and down the road pulling a tyre. He’s totally chilled about that, and then I realise even while tacking up, the fidgeting had stopped. The barging had stopped. He was standing relaxed, and asking for hugs.
I used Henry’s harness, as it is a better fit for him than the one I was using, and put the chariot on. He stood patiently and calmly. So I hopped in and went for a drive. He was brilliant.
To gain him more exposure, with a friend riding Henry, I rode him to Langhorne Creek. He far exceeded my expectations in his behaviour, when being exposed to the new surroundings. Not even a large group of loud motorbikes worried him.
The journey to fairytale was definitely put back on the rails. We still have a long way to go. Boris needs outings and exposure, and while he won’t go in my float, it is really hard to give him that. We have however just bought a larger float, and we are working on resolving the transport issue.
Time and patience have been HUGE factors in developing Boris. He is not the type of horse that you can rush, or bully into things. Boris needs to understand what is being asked of him. What can’t be looked past though, is looking for answers outside of the square, and being open to suggestions that seem ludicrous has kept him progressing. And definitely adding magnesium.