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.


February 27, 2017
A pattern emerges

As I've played a little more with Hugo over the last few days and asked him to offer a little bit more, a pattern is starting to emerge about how he deals with things when he is not sure. Today the pattern was very clear and I was able to see exactly what he does to avoid a conversation. When he is not sure or maybe not willing to discuss, he will pop his left shoulder towards you and bends his head to the right so that he is bent in opposition to you. I was very careful when he does this not to put any feel in the line so that he didn't have anything to lean or brace on and each time he eventually turned left back towards me when I said his name. I spent the day pondering how to help him through this without using alot of pressure. There are many different ways to help a horse understand things and I often find we use more pressure when we want to get the horse to find the solution quicker. But I wondered if this would really help him because he has a bit of a stubborn streak and I suspect he would get (more) defensive if more pressure is used.

While I was going about my day, I asked myself what exactly it was that he didn't understand or respond to i.e. what element could I isolate and teach him to help him understand it more clearly. It seemed to me that he just didn't understand to follow a feel when the rope was used from the left side. I went into his stable, popped on his halter and asked him to flex his neck round to the left. Sure enough, he pushed his shoulder towards me and braced his neck against me. I pressed my fingers into the base of his neck, where the shoulder starts, which is pretty sensitive and he flexed round and looked at me. We repeated this about 10 times until it became a little better. I tested the right side and it was very soft and he understood to follow the feel. I will not work on anything more taxing with him until he has this at halt. Then we can progress to walk and so on. A valuable lesson to learn from Hugo and a conversation to be had with him over the next few days which will hopefully benefit him in later life.

February 25, 2017
First steps of education

Hugo had a week to settle in and has spent quite a bit of that time sleeping! Here's a link to a video I took of him dreaming, which was really cute

However, as cute as he is, he also needs to learn how to be a grown up horse. He's very friendly and can sometimes take things too far, to the point of pushiness so it was time for him to learn some boundaries. I started off checking he was happy with my tools, which was no problem. Then he learnt how to back out of my space from a little rhytmic pressure on his chest. He didn't take too long to figure it out and within 5 minutes, was just going back off my energy. The next day we played with moving his shoulders out of the way as he likes to try and push past sometimes. Interestingly, on his left side, he wasn't impressed and tried very hard to push back towards me. Rather than get into too much of a fight with him, I just drifted to the fence and kept asking the question lightly until he tried something else. After a couple of goes, he was moving his shoulders out and around me, rather than through me, in a nice calm way.  The sessions are very short, only 15 minutes or so as he finds them pretty tiring :-)

February 21, 2017
Vet Visit

Hugo had his first flu jab yesterday from our vet Thomas at Blackdown Equine, who are just down the road at Berry Pomeroy. Hugo was very laid back about having the injection and hardly flinched at all. He has a good nature about him that means he doesn't get concerned unless there's a problem. Thomas also had a listen to his heart and lungs and looked at his baby teeth. Apparently they will fall out over the next year or so as the adult teeth come through. At present, he doesn't have much in the way of inciscors (front teeth) at the top - it is mostly gums! PS this picture was taken during nap time :-)


February 19, 2017
The first steps of learning

I set out with a plan today to start going through a number of checklists to eventually prepare Hugo for being a ridden pony. My first few tasks on my list were getting him used to my tools, specifically the stick and string as some horses take a while to accept this. Amusingly, Hugo decided that he couldn't actually go in the barn because it was new and had this funny stuff on the floor - sand. It has already become apparent that when Hugo decides he is not going to move, you'd better find a Plan B pretty quickly. So I went and got Shaun from the field and he came down to the barn, running around, rolling and so on. Hugo wasn't convinced so I sent Shaun back out next to him at liberty, and then draw him in again. Having a horse that is this well trained suddenly has amazing uses. Shaun came back to me and Hugo followed. He then stood staring at the floor for about five minutes. I realised at this point that my list may as well be put away and we wandered round the barn checking out everything we could think of while Shaun calmly munched on a haynet in one of the corners. Once I had done this in both eyes, we played with putting the rope over his head. He accepted this very sweetly - check it out here

The moral of the story is not to make assumptions and always have a Plan B!