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14.9.13: Make way for the wild stallion! PDF Print E-mail

 14.9.13: Make way for the wild stallion!


Well, the new boy has arrived! With the filly foal Alegria now behaving more or less like a normal horse, she is back out with the mares, and “Rato” has taken her place as the integration and training case.


He’s a 2 year old pure Sorraia from the Val de Zebro in Portugal, and he arrived, after a very long journey that took several days, on the night of August 13th. Unfortunately for me, I missed his arrival as I was in hospital with acute colitis – but as soon as they let me out I high-tailed it out to the ranch to meet him. If I look a bit pale and wan in the photos, that’s why!   


Luckily, any fears we might have had about a fire-breathing “wild stallion” turning up were quickly allayed. He’s still a baby, and absolutely NOT aggressive. Shy and insecure, yes, but difficult or dominant, definitely not.


He doesn’t have a proper name yet; “Rato” is his “stable name”. It means “mouse” or “rat” in Portuguese, and also describes the grey colour, but obviously he will need to be called something a bit more imposing than “mouse” if he’s going to impress the girls!


A blank sheet 


Seriously, as far as we know, he’s had minimal handling in the past, so we have been treating him as a “blank sheet”, and he’s proving to be a very quick and willing learner. He didn’t even know what carrots were for when he arrived, but now he’s developed quite a taste for them, which is useful for training.  


Freshly arrived from the Val de Zebro - tired and a bit wary after a long journey, but a good looking fella!


As you can see, he’s a handsome chap – but still looks very young indeed. The first thing was to get him used to being handled so that he could be haltered and led.


Compared with Alegria, he was very easy to approach and halter. This was on the second day I worked with him. The first day was just getting him settled and used to my smell and presence.


Getting the basics 


Haltering was one thing, but leading was quite another. The whole idea of moving his feet forwards was something he needed time to get to grips with, and it took a lot of tries with just setting it up and letting him find it for him to get the idea. I could see in his eyes that too much pressure would panic him, so it was a matter of just putting on a gentle request and waiting.


He was fine with the halter, but moving the feet was something else. It took a little while for him to get the idea that moving his feet would was the "right answer".


 Moving sideways was an issue too – but that had to be dealt with before it was safe to take him outside. Unless he can yield his hindquarters, he could he difficult or dangerous to lead.  


 He also took a while to cotton on to the idea of moving his hindquarters over, but once he "got it" he was soft and willing.


It wasn't long before he could be led and would recognise the personal space of the person leading him, so we then started taking him for little walks outside and teaching him to move forwards from energy behind as well as a pressure on the halter. Claudia has a Parelli background, and uses the carrot stick for this – I find it easier with the tail of the rope. It doesn’t matter either way – the point it to create energy behind him, and for it to stop when he moves forwards.


Meeting the ladies!


As soon as he was haltering and leading properly, he had his first introduction to "the girls". We kept a fence between them to be on the safe side, and it all went off peacefully, apart from a few squeals.


 A lot of sniffing, and a little squealing, but essentially a peaceful first meeting. Rato seems very young next to the adult mares, and they seem to treat him more as a colt than a stallion.


 Next steps


The current plan is that Rato will stay with the domestic horses over the winter. He has a large paddock box withing the Akrivstall complex, and he is turned out with the geldings (Bigsy and Eco) every day. In the spring, he will go out with the mares.


In the meantime his training is continuing, and if he turns out not to be suitable as a breeding stallion, he could well have a future as a child's pony! After overcoming his initial anxieties, he is proving to be very relaxed and "bomb proof", and seems to be enjoying human company more and more by the day!


Many thanks to Claudia and Alex for the photos!


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




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