Day One of Horse Ownership

First time horse ownership is daunting. Even if  the whole idea of a farm sprung from my wish to have horses  and I already reserved a horse and bought all the gear I could think of, there were still lots of times when I got cold feet and felt like chucking it all in. A lot of things could go wrong. Horses are huge, powerful animals. I could die or get paralyzed. Or I could discover that I don’t really like horses that much after all. Or I could love it. But, I wouldn’t know unless I gave it a shot. It’s been said in many a motivational poster that “If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough”. So, onwards with the big, scary dream.

Horses are pack animals. It’s better to keep at least two horses so they don’t get lonely. We had already decided on the first horse, Takoy. He is an old gelding, a very solid and stable former cattle horse. When we were choosing the second horse, the husband decided that he wanted to ride too! This was welcome news! The husband hadn’t shown any interest in horses before. So Takoy became the husband’s horse and I got Batman, a 3-year old gelding.

I thought we would wait until the cottage was done before we brought home the horses. But I thought wrong! Day one of horse ownership had arrived!

We hired a trailer to bring the horses from MPL Farm to our farm.

Takoy saying goodbye to his old farm.
Takoy saying goodbye to his old farm.

We walked the horses into the farm just in case the trailer couldn’t make it up our bridge.

Looks deceptively flat in this photo.
Looks deceptively flat in this photo.
Near the paddock.
Near the paddock.

We brought along Darwin, one of the cowboys from MPL Farm to show us things like how to put on the tack, wash the horse, and tie up the horse. That must be where the phrase “showing the ropes” comes from. It was sad to see Darwin leave. The man knew his horses. There would be no such person on our farm!

Putting On The Halter 101
Putting On The Halter 101

After Darwin left, I wanted to try out some horse training on my own. First I fortified myself by reviewing some of my horse training videos on my iPad. Then I went into the paddock to fetch Batman. As I was leading Batman, Takoy’s ears perked up and he started following us. Why was he so interested? When we got near the gate, Takoy made a move to overtake us. I should have stopped what I was doing and asked for help.  Or tied up Takoy. Or something! Instead I tried to wave Takoy away and then proceeded to open the gate. Big mistake! Takoy pushed his face through the opening and ran out! Holy Crap! Day one and I lost the horse!

I handed over Batman to the husband, got a rope and halter, and went to catch Takoy. It wouldn’t have been so nerve-wracking if our farm was properly fenced in. But it isn’t! I tried to muster up all the horse knowledge I could — don’t approach from the back, approach from the side, stay calm. But mostly I was thinking “Newbie error! I’m never going to catch him! Call for reinforcements!” And also, “I can’t believe I’m running in jeans and boots!”

I ran after Takoy. He seemed to be staying on our winding horse path. I would catch glimpses of him, then he’d run off. I was just hoping that he would stay inside our property. I finally found him at the end of the farm where the thick bushes prevented him from going any further. He saw me approaching and I thought he might come if I called. Instead he ran back down the path towards the other end of the farm. I started running after him again. Then,  lo and behold! I came upon the husband standing in the middle of a field with his arms around Takoy’s neck! Batman was standing quietly beside them. Yes, the husband was hugging Takoy! I was ecstatic! My husband was a horse whisperer and he didn’t even know it!

Turns out the husband had just watched a segment of a horse training competition called “The Road to the Horse Colt Starting Championship”. The cowboy that won did that hugging technique. The husband said Takoy was scared and the hug calmed him down. It worked! Both horses were calm and relaxed and we easily brought them back to the paddock.

Then it was time to pack up. But first we had a toast to our first day of horse ownership. Then a Grass Owl flew over the paddock, inspecting the new occupants. More toasts to to the Grass Owl! Then, back in the car to drive home in the dark while enjoying the early evening spectacle of Philippine Nightjars hawking insects from the road.

And that was Day One!

Back in the paddock.
Back in the paddock.

10 thoughts on “Day One of Horse Ownership”

    1. The horses are actually quite sweet and friendly. I think maybe Takoy was worried that I was taking Batman away.
      Also, I brought Momo to the farm for the first time yesterday! He was incredibly well behaved!

    1. Hi Sandy! Momo was incredible. He just ignored the horses! i thought that was very smart. Wouldn’t even look at them at the beginning. He was like “oh, don’t mind me, I’m just a harmless little dog sniffing this here grass..” He startled a few times when they made sudden moves and gave a single bark. But no continuous yapping. He also growled a bit when one horse was sniffing him, but stopped when I told him to “get easy”. Towards the end, he was much more relaxed already. The horses were very curious and interested. Not hostile or scared at all. Good thing!

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