Start Blog - Sorraia Mustangs 5.1.14: Boys getting boisterous!
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5.1.14: Boys getting boisterous!


Our new wild Sorraia starts to show stallion behaviour 


It's hard to believe it's been just 4 months since our "wild stallion" arrived - he has completely settled in and become very much part of the family. He now has a proper name. "Rato" was just what was on the transport papers when he was brought from Portugal, and is actually his colour that had been entered in the wrong box! He's been officially named "Grelo" - and it suits him.


As he indicated at the beginning, he is a generally rather shy and gentle type around people, but as he grows he starting to show some more typical stallion behaviour around other horses.  


Learning to fight


The following photos show him playing with "Billy", a gelding who joined us in the Autumn. Grelo is starting to act out "stallion fight" behaviour. This was all playful, but shows many of the classic fighting patterns.





It's interesting that Grelo is consistently attacking Billy's left side - the usual confrontation and fast reaction side. In this case Grelo lost the fight at the end of the day - Billy is much bigger and stronger, and eventually just pushed Grelo over. However, I don't think Billy should get complacent - Grelo will back to get him another day!


I particularly like the first photo, that very clearly shows Grelo's target - that all important spot between the eye and ear.


Fun and games


He's also the first of our horses to really enjoy playing with the the big squashy ball. The others ignored it completely, were scared of it, or lost interest in a few minutes. Grelo thinks it's a wonderful toy - and much easier to intimidate than Billy! 





 Running free




Grelo also enjoys a trip up to the grass pasture, but has shown himself to be very attached to Claudia.


He will run around and play, but then comes back to her, more like a dog than a wild horse!






Training continues



 In the meantime, training continues with the 6 Sorraia Mustang mares. Trimming their feet has still been something of an issue, so I have been working on building confidence by teaching them to pick up their feet and let me pick out and rasp them while at liberty.


I take one into the round pen, with the others standing around the outside to avoid separation anxiety. Then I hook the one on, left and right and then start working the rope over them. As they are not wearing a halter, they can leave any time they like - so I get a clear picture of exactly what point in the process is giving each one a problem.


With Alegria, it seems to be mostly about personal space. She tries to push me away, and will even try to bite if I hold her leg for too long. Then it's a matter of asserting my own space and starting again.


With Tocara, on the other hand, it seems to be anxiety about her feet being compromised. She will walk off if it gets too much, then I have to win her confidence back and try again in even smaller increments. It's getting much better, and in the next weeks I will start introducing new people into the picture again.


It's yet another very clear example of how horses distinguish between one person and another. Just because they are happy with me holding their feet, it doesn't mean it will work for someone else. I think that's something that often gets underestimated with domestic horses. Training a horse, wild or domestic, is not like programming a computer. Each new situation and each new person represents, to some extent, a fresh start. I think this is why people are often disappointed when they send a horse away to be trained. It might do everything for the trainer in that situation, but when it goes back to the old environment, unless the owner has changed their approach, it will very soon revert to the old habits and old behaviours.


Many thanks to Claudia for the photos!


As always, please feel free to post any comments or questions on the Thinking Horse Facebook page!




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