Red – Appaloosa – Gelding

Red – Appaloosa – Gelding
Red – full name Afon Fed – is one of our most popular horses here at the centre, he has come so far from the horse that he was when he first arrived here.
This handsome and traditional spotted Appaloosa gelding found me through one of our lovely regular young riders.  As well as riding here she also rode at a riding school where her favourite was a spotted horse.  The family  decided to buy one of their own and went to the stud where this horse had come from, an bought Red. He was ungelded and had only just been backed.
In my opinion this is a bit like buying a Ferrari as your first car, especially as Appaloosas can often be a little bit quirky and need a lot of work. I would not choose such a green horse for a first-time owner.  She moved him to a new yard and had a lot of instructors trying to help her with him but he still became, in my view, a little bit dangerous. When I was asked to give my opinion and met him for the first time I found him to be one of the scariest and most unpredictable horses I have ever sat on.
I don’t scare easily and I don’t get off a horse easily, but this boy was worrying about everything his rider might do, so he just couldn’t settle or feel safe. She was trying to ride him through his problems, but I would not ride a horse who was feeling so tense. I did some ground work with him and I could feel his tension as soon as I mounted.
I offered to help with Red but eventually his family decided to offer him to me. It was a tough decision for them to make because they are lovely people who loved him very much. As it happened I had a nice Welsh Section D called QT who needed a quieter life, so we decided to swop horses.
His yard wasn’t very far from me so I rode QT over there to fetch Red with another horse as company. I have to admit that on the way back I was thinking ‘what have I done?’ because I had to leap off him at least twice.
It took a couple of weeks of really intensive training and me riding him out to start to get through to him and get him through whatever it was that was bothering him. Eventually I started to make progress.
Writing this story now makes me think that all of you who know Red and love riding him so much will never believe it!
People say to me now that you can trust him with your life – and that is absolutely true. Years later no-one can begin to imagine the sort of horse that he was.
The trekking centre was his saving grace. The feeling of security he gained from living in our herd environment enabled him to be ridden in a quiet and calm atmosphere. He felt safe and at ease.
I bought Skye from the same yard and they had been stabled next door to each other. Skye was already here when Red arrived and straight away they became best friends in the field. They will even share a stable beautifully. Relaxing in Skye’s company really helped Red to chill out and for such a nervy horse he never had problems in the field.
I think in another environment he would never have become the horse he is now. He does everything and has always done everything that is asked of him. He is so relaxed and happy in the indoor arena that he excels in our lessons.
He is so different to the horse I bought – our handsome boy and a reformed character.

Princess – Highland Dun Mare

PRINCESS – Highland Dun Mare
This little lady is a Highland and a beautiful cream dun – and she had a surprise in store for us when she arrived!
Princess was a three-year-old when she joined the trekking centre.
I was looking for a pony with a bit of bone, suitable for both children and lightweight adults. Princess was for sale in Stoke and I went to see her with Jackie, one of the girls working for me at the time.
The pony had been brought over from Ireland and had only been lightly backed. The people selling her didn’t know much about her history but she was a lovely sweet mare.
We had a little trial of her and she was very green and I knew I would have a lot of work to do. But I was happy with that. I like to put my own stamp on a horse.
We agreed to have her and Princess came to the trekking centre a couple of days later. Once she arrived I had a really good look over her and I almost kicked myself. Knowing she was only three I could see her teats were a little bit swollen and her stomach a bit low slung for a pony of her age.
Straight away I suspected she was in foal and I asked my vet to come over with the scanner and check her over. The vet confirmed it – Princess was pregnant!
I had really mixed feelings. Business-wise I was cross with myself because I needed another pony for the centre and that is why I had bought her. But I love babies and I was so excited that we were going to have a foal!
The lady I had bought her from offered to have Princess back, but I decided to keep her and turned her out in the field for a few months. Then I stabled her at night with the cameras on so I could keep an eye on what was happening.
I was keeping a close eye on her and she was showing none of the signs that we look for to indicate that foaling is imminent.
One evening she was checked at 8pm after an evening ride and I came back an hour later to take a look at her again. As I put the lights on I could see something cream against the door. It was the foal!
She had been sneaky – as maiden mares often are – and in that hour she had quietly given birth all by herself. We had another beautiful dun with a dorsal stripe and stripey legs.
We called the filly Wispa – after the chocolate bar – but it’s a name with a double meaning because she was her mum’s little secret.
Princess had six months’ maternity leave and once Wispa was weaned I got on with the job of schooling and riding. Jackie had a soft spot for her and did a lot of work with her as well.
We found that Princess was very forward going and she has always been an exciting ride. She wasn’t one we could put any rider on but as she has got a little bit older and more experienced she has really come into her own, even winning ‘Best Turned Out’ at the Lichfield Sheriffs Ride.
Now we are using her in the riding school and for pony club activities and she has a great jump.
She is our BOGOF – Buy One and Get One Free!