With Catori settled away from home it has given me an opportunity to bond with Easter, frequently using short periods of quality time educating her without any other distractions. I like this weaning process, only once the first 24hrs have passed. Easter has accepted her mum has gone and not there to comfort her, she is calm and absolutely adorable.
Although Easter was imprinted at birth I believe it is very important to expose her gradually to the sights, sounds and procedures she will encounter next year and future life. I spent and completed the same tasks with Reus and Evee and they both have made the last two years showing an enjoyable and hassle free experience. (Reus’s hormones excluded from that statement).
In my experiences, handling/training light weight impressionable young stock is far less of a risk than the four-year old National Hunt store horses I have always been used to…..very challenging.
I really enjoy working with young stock, earning their trust and respect is very rewarding. Starting with a blank canvas is very precious and can easily go wrong if their reactions are misunderstood. The important thing is patience, a calm positive approach and plenty of time.
Learning from repetition, I do not move on to the next stage until the first stage can be repeated without question with any task. Their reward is only ever a good scratch on the neck with a kind tone of voice and never a titbit, that’s just a personal preference.
Here are the task’s Easter has encountered, overcome and completed with A* so far………
Will confidently enter and exit her own stable without question and will stand back from the stable door and wait for her head collar to be applied without moving.
Easter could tie up (next to mum) but now on her own, in and out of the stable.
Can be led at a confident walk from both sides, this was really from her early days with mum to and from
She already was able to pick up her feet with ease and confidence but now whilst tied up on her own with great balance.
Can confidently enter deep water and play….
She has been desensitized all over her body with a towel but now we can use a soft brush, finding those itchy spots.
Asking for a step back, a light pressure to the shoulder has been applied and accepted.
Can confidently walk up the lorry ramp, stand, wait and walk slowly back down.
Here is the process of Easter loading the horse lorry for the first time.
The ongoing tasks not yet experienced……
One of my favourites, “the clippers” especially around the head…..a long working process.
Throwing a sheet over her (even head) from both sides without flinching.
Walking on and over a polythene sheet, seeing blowing balloons, hearing loud music, playing with a variety of objects and the best one of all, the aerosol spray can……
To tie and stand on the lorry and later accept the ramp closed. Eventually go for a journey around the block. This is probably the best education that puts them just right before their first show.
Allowing traffic to pass, with the dark nights the lights on cars I believe is not a true reflection of what a car looks and sounds like. Easter has night blindness so I will be leaving the traffic experience until next year.
Only by teaching her these experiences will make the preparation for showing an effortless task next year but also a valuable education for the future. When leaving the yard at stupid ‘O’ Clock in the mornings, when time is so precious, do you realise how much your yearling has learnt and should never be taken for granted.
Catori is home now and was reunited with Easter over the stable door. It really is an unbelievable reaction as they act like strangers. Easter greeted her mum with the “mouthing” action demonstrating her submissive behaviour, “I am just a baby, please don’t hurt me”!
They are all back out in the field and as you can see, all very confidently grazing away from each other, yet in their comfort zone.
When mum is out of sight and ear shot there is an exceptional window of opportunity to educate a weanling, they are like “sponges” and readily absorb any education offered to them.