It’s a slow time of year competition wise, but a really great one because you can focus so much on learning, development, and teaching the young horses. (And usually I find it one of my favorite times of year…. But since we’re having the most harsh winter of my lifetime weather-wise, I won’t venture to praise winter so much!)
The wonderful working students and I took one morning to work with the young horses in our breeding program on their first loading lessons. We were working with numerous 2010 foals by Nightfall. Because of the TB breeding season in Lexington, as well as the competition schedule, we like to plan for all of our foals to arrive May-August each year…. The very best repro vets here in Lex have their heads spinning with race foals January to April. And besides, who the heck wants to be soaking wet, delivering a foal in January????! Personally, I got my fair share of that when I worked on the track and for a TB farm, so for now I think I’m good! =) So to the point, our 2010 foals are all about 6 months old now. It was a great time for their first loading lesson!
The girls and I had a great plan…. Opened up the whole trailer, had grain and hay and multiple handlers. We were so prepared, and blocked off several hours of the morning to work with the babies. By now I should know better when we’re working with Nightfall foals… LOL. We bring the first two to load… We started with my favorite colt (I know you shouldn’t play favorites, but who can help it??) and I walked on ahead of him, intent on working on getting him to step on the ramp. In typical fashion, he calmly walked straight up the ramp and into the trailer. The entire process took perhaps 3 minutes! I laughed, and we agreed that perhaps we’d have more difficulty with the others…. Yet one by one, they all loaded and unloaded, all walking straight on as if they’d done it every day. The entire process of loading ALL the 2010 foals took about 15 minutes. I should know to expect that…. These guys are born BRAVE!!!
The next day, we had a major wind storm here (when the rest of the country was hit with that blizzard from the super storm that covered 75% of the country!) We got really lucky and it was 50 degrees that day, but by evening we had 60 mph winds. A small tarp blew out of storage and into the yearling field. As I was walking out to the field to grab it, three of the yearlings (all by Nightfall) took off to CHASE the flapping, blowing tarp! It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. As the tarp rolled and flapped in the wind, one of the colts jumped on it and BIT IT. Then they all converged on it and started playing tug of war with the tarp…. I arrived moments later to take it away, but that has to be one of the strangest things I’ve seen a horse do…. And I can definitely say I think they’ll be BRAVE eventers!! LOL
I love dealing with them….. I started a small breeding operation a few years ago, not really to breed to sell so much as to breed a couple of upper level prospects for my future upper level horses. Always being on a budget and liking to own my own horses, I can’t afford to go out and buy big money warmblood prospects…. Hence why my current upper level horse originally cost me $600! So I’m out to breed my future upper level horses….. I expected them to all be talented, but what I didn’t expect was that all of these guys are so EASY! We work hard to keep them very socialized and interact with them a ton, and as a result they are so docile… Even at 6 months, they all do all the big kind handling, and are such a joy. I think this will really put a great handle on them for their future traveling and competition careers, and can’t wait to get started! Plus the fact that the yearlings regularly travel from Hidden Hollow Farm (Howard’s farm 2 hours east of here) to our farm means that they are comfortable in new surroundings and are comfortable traveling. (Heck, they associate the trailer with FOOD!)
We currently have seven 2009 and 2010 foals on our farm, and a few more at Hidden Hollow. They have multiple Olympic medals in their eventing pedigrees, so I can’t wait for them to be just a touch older and start being ridden! It’ll be two more years before the first Nightfall foal is out eventing (They’ll be 4yo when their dad is 7, so I’ll have the privilege of eventing them simultaneously!) but I am already anxious for that day to come…
Thanks to the terrific WS for helping me work with our terrific foals!