Friday, 6 March 2009
Background story on Harvey.
Well I promised I would post this a while ago but what with one thing and another I haven't really had time to sit down and thinnk it through. This is still a rush-job - it's 7.30 am so I may end up adding bits later but this should give you the gist.
He was supposed to be an eventer ( I was told this by 2 different people) but threw some sort of spazzy fit when he was asked to go through a puddle, this apparently ended when he fell over and injured his leg. He got a steel plate in his leg which ended his eventing career before it even got started, was written off by the insurance company and got the appropriate recovery time before being donated to the riding school where he stayed for somewhere in the region of 10 years ( give or take).
Now this is ( or was) a big riding school BHS and ABRS approved etc etc and they had a lot of horses and ponies. They had a system whereby horses could be turned out/brought in with a minimum of staff - basically a corridor arrangement where horses were turned out of stables into the aisles and made their own way to the field with the staff member following to close the gate and reset the corridor for the next lot. I worked there for a while and the system worked brilliantly ( I use a simplified version of it myself). Bringing them in is the opposite with the horses walking in and going straight into their own stables and someone going along and shutting the doors. So, no use of headcollars and no leading involved. Grooming and saddling happens in the stables so no tying up. Hosing and farriery involve a person holding the horse.
So you see there was never any time where he needed to be tied so naturally he never learned it.
Most of his actual work involved being in an arena with a group of other horses so I think that makes his clinginess, spookiness and general lack of confidence quite natural. He never needed it so he never learned it.
When I first got him he was a pain to catch - you just couldn't. You'd end up following him around the field endlessly until you could get him cornered ( and the only way to do that was to remove the other horses first and have an assistant. Catching him singlehanded was nigh on impossible. I did get fed up with this and we had a couple of sessions of me chasing him around the small field, keeping him moving until I wanted him to stop, had to do this a couple of times but now he is catchable at least.
You could say that he has a lot of issues but really I think he's institutionalised. He's the big boss in the field but won't go in front on a hack - he gets all stressed and spooky - but he will try to bite the horse in front to make it go faster and has managed to tread on heels too. If you take him in front he instantly becomes hesitant, slows down and starts wavering ( that is actually an improvement as he used to just stop dead) He is a dream horse for the farrier ( with someone holding the rope - he just dozes off - I'm sure the person holding the rope isn't even necessary, that you could just park him in the middle of the yard and leave him there), perfect gentleman to clip ( even if it does involve standing on a crate) and easy to work around in the stable.