Having made the decision to buy little Tiny I set about making a list of things I needed for him. Obviously the bridle was already on the list from Tony but given his height much of the spare kit Tony had lurking just wasn’t going to fit the Orange Prince.
Shopping is so much fun. Actually it’s not, it’s REALLY not, and it’s particularly not when so much of the stuff available online or in stores makes no sense to you at all really. It’s not that I’m thick or a novice at this lark, it’s just that stuff has changed so much! Even if you take out the natural rise in the number of bits (always a winner from a brand perspective I’m sure) and the wide range of supplements and gizmo’s from the numbers equation in the last 12+ years since my last ridden horse was at home with me, there’s just SO much stuff.
The technical aspects of products have gone through the roof in that time.
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If you just look at the pieces in my new blog series picture, there’s a wicking rug, a lightweight soft shell water resistant jacket for me, chaps that are truly contoured to your leg, humane girth and then there’s the bridle with a cut back comfort headpiece designed to provide a more anatomical fit to the horses head.
That’s only 5 everyday items that have really come on in leaps and bounds. I know that not all of these are new concepts in those 12 years but it’s the great range of options and more cost effective choices that are out there, it all makes this so eye opening for me. Anyway, as I mentally jotted things down I found myself howling with laughter after dinner one day. Hugo, the big grey hunter Tony owns, is often called Huge at home (he’s 16.3 & Irish). I realised that between us we had Huge and Tiny. Now I wasn’t snorting with humour on this though but it wasn’t far off and yes, no-one else seemed to find this amusing….
I digress. Armed with a list of what I needed, I set out to buy some of them and then my jaw dropped at the likely total cost. Heck!
Seriously though, it’s not the buying of the horse that costs the money it’s kitting the flipping thing out, and a flimsy TB needs some layering. Someone please tell me why I thought it was such a great idea a few years ago to sell pretty much everything horse related I had in my life bar my hat (which still needed replacing) and the leather boots I had made for me when I was about 22.
Shopping aside, financial scares aside, Tiny has settled in really well. We’ve hacked out alone or with Huge and TC. We’ve done a number of days of autumn hunting now and each time he’s been good really. A little fidgety and sometimes a bit clingy to Huge at times but I’ve made sure I’ve kept him apart from him as much as I can without being unsociable. He is dense though. A dapple grey mare, smaller than Huge and obviously the wrong sex, walked past and Tiny decided he needed to follow that one (RIGHT NOW) having me wondering if we needed to check his sight!
We’ve dabbled with bits and nosebands to find a combination that he goes sweetly in for me at home and then slightly differently out hunting. Happy Mouth bits seem to be a favourite for him so I’ve stuck to them.
The biggest aspect to his way of going is that he doesn’t really have what I would call everyday gears once he’s out of a trot.
So one of the first steps with him was to give him the understanding that gears are a requirement with me! You also can’t really sit down and ask for canter in the way you would many other horses, he just doesn’t fully understand what you are asking at the moment. The racehorse in him just says, ok, time to gallop and then time to gallop faster. I’m getting used to that initial lurch that comes with the step up in pace and he’s now also learning that we don’t need to plough on either. We can now lob along in a field. I particularly love that we’ve got to this stage when all around us others are bucking, flinging and farting and my fab little orange pony is just merrily cantering on.
Each time we finish a day hunting I’m grinning with how he’s gone. He’s proper lazy at home but out hunting he comes alive and actually this makes him easier to educate as he’s switched on to things a bit more. I waffle on in the truck on the way home recalling minute details. Utterly boring to anyone other than me. I know TC has glazed over when he starts saying a certain phrase. I won’t repeat that phrase here in case some of you also recognise his ‘oh how lovely but I’m not really listening’ moments!!!
As an Ex-Racer (remember his last race was only late spring this year) he doesn’t exactly ‘do’ contact, he doesn’t know how to bend or to turn a corner correctly overly well…. That’s not his fault; his life has been to go from starting stall stop to flat out gallop in mostly straight lines or with long easy corners. So whilst I have zero plans for any kind of dressage, to have him going in a nice flexible way would be a long term aim.
The plan is to take him back to some basics now that he’s settled in. So some lunging education lies ahead. I see that’s changed too with all kinds of gadgets to help them gain balance, core strength and way of going etc. I’m going to have to read up on some of these things!
If anyone out there with an ex-racer has some good advice on which system seems to suit more than others then I’d love to hear from you please.
All in all at the end of nearly three weeks together we are getting to grips with each other. He’s just such a sweetie. He might not set the world alight for some, but he’s still ticking boxes for me.
Then it got suddenly legally very real with the arrival from Weatherby’s of his passport. In my name..
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Next time in the blog read about what happened the day we went for some cross country schooling in an attempt to get me jumping again after more than ¼ of my life (yes, it’s been that long…) and to give Tiny something other than a hurdle or chase fence for him to really tackle. It was hilarious, exhilarating, terrifying and much more.
There was definitely airtime, that I can assure you.
I’m also fully aware it’s about time that the photographers own horse appeared in a proper photo, rather than a phone snap. I will make amends for this, I promise…
See you next time!