Hugo arrived in February 2017 and he's been growing ever since! He was born in May 2014, bred locally. He has a great aptitude for learning and is quite the clown.


March 12, 2018
Wintered well
Hugo has come through the winter well. He has grown so much in the last few months and is front end high for the first time since I got him. He is an amazingly quick learner but also really sensitive. If you get loud with him or push him too fast, he will just shut down. I figured that out pretty early on so everything I do with him now is bite-sized pieces of learning. His sessions are never more than 20-30 minutes long. His attitude to learning is so positive that I know we have found the right balance. I will not be starting him until later in the year - he isn't 4 until May and I feel like he still has plenty of growing to do. However, there are so many things I can teach him on the ground - he already understands vertical flexion and also how to perform shoulder-in. This should make things so much easier when he finally has to do these exercises ridden.

November 8, 2017
Hugo's first ridden trot

Hugo has been coming along nicely recently. He is now a really confident learner and is able to take on board a bit more information than when I first got him. He understands the training system that I use (of pressure and release) so has started to offer things to see if it will get a reward. He always has such a bright expression – I guess his curiosity has not been blunted – and he learns things so fast that sometimes I have to just stop and check with myself that he learned something that had once taken me a long while to grasp myself! I guess because I know what I am looking for a little more now, it’s easier to know when he is getting warmer. Today, I wanted to see if he could trot with me on board. I tried yesterday and he was a little reluctant to go, more of an un-confidence, so today I got my mum to come in the barn with us in case he needed a little help from the ground. I need not have worried, as once going each time, he trotted with purpose and freedom and seemed very unconcerned that I was on his back. 

September 8, 2017
Hugo learning about forwards

I thought this video of Hugo learning might help a few people. I asked him to trot round two markers and he got stuck each time going from right to left, not so much with the turn but the concept of going forwards afterwards. He doesn't always think forwards, although once he is moving, he actually frees up. So I made sure every time he made an effort to go forwards on this turn, he was allowed to go forwards for a bit before asking for another turn. I don't want to be turning him a lot right now if it is going to start to second guess going forwards. The last revolution he was much more forwards in his turn and continuation so we stopped. Often when I see people playing with this, they get really stuck on making it look as good as it can be as a whole exercise, when sometimes it would be better to work on the ingredients of the exercise.



August 7, 2017
Hugo learning about steering
Hugo has been doing really great. I've have sat on him five times now. On the 4th ride, he figured out how to go forwards off my leg. Today, he learned how to steer. This might sounds a bit obvious but when I pulled on his reins before, his nose just ended up at my foot! I am so proud of him. This video is today's ride:

July 18, 2017
Hugo's adventures
Hugo_Torbay_and_District_9th_July_2017_01.jpg17-07-16_Hugo_Backed.jpgHugo has had a busy few weeks. On 9th July, we went to his second show, this time without Shaun for company. We were parked near the entrance and his first educational moment came when all the trailers came past him and made quite a racket for a boy like him. After about 10 vehicles, he had decided that actually the vehicles were fine and not that scary. It did strike me that it was a really good way to introduce a young horse to vehicles without being on the road. 

So when we finally got to the show ring, we did a Turnout Class, where we came last as he was the only one that wasn't plaited. After that, we did a youngstock class and he came 2nd. He was a bit agitated and excitable so we need to spend some more time just hanging out at our next show, which is at the weekend.

After a really busy week for me, I was lucky enough to have a few days off, which I really needed. My friend Karen Corbett popped over on Sunday and we mucked about loading Hugo on her trailer in every permutation we could think of. After that, she suggested that I hopped on him, so we just set it up for him so it was really easy. He didn't really flinch and was more interested in the food being offered to him than the fact I was on his back!

July 4, 2017
Hugo's changing

I took Hugo to a show at the weekend and was lucky enough that a professional photographer snapped Hugo and I in our posh clothes. Hugo did two classes - Best Turned Out and Best 2 and 3 Year old. Being a native breed, he wasn't plaited so we were marked down for that, but still came 5th! He got a little excitable while he was waiting for his turn but settled down again. In the second class, he was much calmer and we came 3rd. Again, I was so impressed by his chilled out nature and manner. Here's a comparison between now and February when he arrived.

Hugo_Arrives.jpg Hugo_Cockington_3-7-17.jpg

June 13, 2017

The great thing about having a blank canvass is that you don’t have to undo other people’s mistakes. The flip side of that is it’s perfectly possible to teach something you didn’t intend to and you only have yourself to blame.

We have a (loose) goal of taking Hugo to Totnes Show, which is an agricultural show local to us. To show in one of these classes, he should really be wearing a bridle, although it is possible to do it without if necessary. So it came time when I felt he needed to at least understand what a bit is. I don’t really like leaving this to later in a horse’s life as they seem to take much longer to accept it. But in my mind, it was no issue either way.

I started off with a rubber bit and he just hated it. Every time I came near him, he would reverse away from me and take ages to stop chomping. After a couple of days and consultation with a friend, I tried a very narrow sweet iron bit. He took hardly any time to go quiet in the mouth but I still had the reversing. Feeling like I had pushed him too far, I went back a number of steps and just made it into a game. By the end of the next session, I could jingle the bit and he would walk over, pop his head through the headpiece for some carrot. By the end of the next session, he was allowing me to pop it in his mouth for a second or two and then he got carrot. Today, he allowed me to slip the headpiece over his head and hold the bit for a few seconds. He got a treat once I took it off. He seems happy with this arrangement. It’s not how I bridle Shaun, who gets a treat as he takes the bit so Hugo has shown me that one technique does not fit all. Plus, he really struggles to fit anything else in his mouth when there is a bit in it!! Here’s a video of today:

May 25, 2017
Hugo is travelling!

Many apologies for the lack of posts. My web hosting server has been misbehaving! 

The day Hugo came, we had to shoehorn him into the trailer and he sweated up badly on the short journey. A couple of weeks ago was the first day he went somewhere since then. We've done lots of preparation in terms of getting him used to the ramp and being shut in but today he had partitions for the first time and, crucially, Uncle Shaun by his side for reassurance. We only went for 20 minutes but he ate during the journey, didn't move his feet and did not sweat at all. Shaun was completely brilliant throughout as well, loaded on his own and stayed calm and dependable throughout. Just to check, I reloaded Hugo again once we got home and he happily went in on his own, was shut in and then came quietly out again. 

A non-event, just like it should be. 

April 20, 2017
Hugo Level 1
Just for fun - Hugo having a crack at Level 1. Somethings didn't go as smoothly as others and I probably forgot something but it's no big deal

April 15, 2017
Hugo at Liberty

Hugo and Shaun have been doing a few things together recently. Yesterday, they went for a short hack with Hugo being led from Shaun. Hugo behaved impecibly. Today, they both did group liberty. It was always a dream of mine to do group liberty with Shaun and Taz so hopefully Hugo will be a great replacement. Here they are having a play with Figure of Eight:

April 11, 2017
Hugo learns about sprays
I've been so busy lately that Hugo has been left a little to do a bit of growing :-) As it has been a bit sunnier, I had to put a little fly spray on him yesterday, which caused him some bother. Luckily it's an easy solution to overcome - all you need is a spray full of water and some patience. Hugo actually figured it out really fast

April 2, 2017
Hugo's learning continues
Hugo has a fairly quiet week last week so we've made up for it this week with some new learning. As an introvert, he doesn't always see the point of moving so I was really impressed with him when I started to ask him to circle me, that he offered it so willingly. He also figured out how to yield his hindquarters in very short time, which I am pleased about. This is because sometimes when he doesn't understand, he turns his hindquarters to me so obviously I actually want him to be facing the other way. He is very good natured though and usually figures out that he needs to turn around with just a little feel down the halter. Here's his circling video:

March 24, 2017
Hugo's First (Real) Trailer Load
When Hugo first arrived, we had a fairly entertaining time getting him into the trailer. Over the last few weeks, I have been helping gain more confidence in stepping onto things to help him. He is especially unconfident with his hind feet. He's a speeded up version of me playing with the trailer today, including letting Shaun help him:

March 18, 2017
Hugo has been doing really well this week. He had vet Thomas from Blackdown Equine come and see him for another flu injection, which he didn't even notice happen! In terms of his progress, I have moved on from teaching the more static questions and now we need to start moving. This isn't something that Hugo generally thinks is always necessary so I've had a couple of 'No, but Yeah' moments but he is so mild-mannered that you can usually diffuse the situation by coming up with an alternative plan that he thinks he can do. So we have been looking at moving his front end and hind end from more distance using rhythmic pressure. He is so babyish in his walking that he sometime just wanders towards you before he's figured out where he's going and he would rather like to use his left shoulder to change the discussion, but overall, we get where we want to go. Here's a little video of him in my play field today:

March 8, 2017
Follow a feel
Hugo tried so hard today! He got his back feet on the pedestal, having first nailed front feet on it today. He's got that sussed now! He also helped me make a little video showing the difference between him, a blank canvas, and Shaun, who has had me as a teacher and a learner. I am truely grateful to Shaun for being such an amazing teacher. We take the good with the not so good :-)