We are already settling into a good routine here with the horse handling and training. Because it’s very hot during the day, we rise early and get to work at first light. There are two main groups of horses that we are working at the moment and each horse has two short lessons a day. The first group of the morning are the more advanced horses. Most of these horses have been at the refuge for some time and a few of them are orphans that arrived at days or weeks old.
The training star to date (only two days in so things might well change!), is Polo. This lovely little orphan is now 6 years old and an absolute credit to the gentle handling he’s received here. He takes everything in his stride and is already long-reining very nicely. He has picked up the give to the bit work very well which will enable me to give some staff members a riding lesson this afternoon.
Our next group of horses is a herd of four mares that have come from the streets of Ooty. Today ‘The Ladies’ all got names. We have Jackie (O) and she is going very well, is in very good condition and already seeking out human company. Annie is also very friendly and more confident than the other two. Little Rona, a bay pony with a roan face, is nervous and frightened of the whip but doing well with the whip habituation. These three all look as though they are in foal (and they were brought in with a stallion who is awaiting gelding) so it’s important that they are well handled before the babies arrive.
The final mare of this group we’ve named Maggie (Princess Margaret). She is old, about 16-years, and thin and has had a pretty hard life. Maggie is very defensive and I’m sure still has areas of pain so I am working her quietly while she eats alfalfa. Today she was much more tolerant of my handling and I managed to work my way down her front legs to the hoof and all the way down both of her back legs. These working horses are hobbled and most are scarred on their legs from the experience. As a result, when I first went to handle her legs yesterday, Maggie didn’t want me to touch below her knee. She’s doing very well and associating the food with touch and voice appears to be having a very positive effect.