Friday, April 20, 2012

Stu Update!

Well, Stu has been at the barn for over two months now!  Can you believe it?  How time flies. 
Bringing him to LA's was a piece of cake.  We met the transporter (recommended by an acquaintance) at  Handsome Farmer's place. I went along to keep Jean from crashing her car in the excitement and seeing Handsome Farmer again was a bonus.  ;-)
Hey, Mom's here!
Where are we going??
The transport guy was terrific.  His trailer was big enough for Stu and very clean and maintained.  In fact, this guy owns Canadians, so he couldn’t be bad, right?  :-)  Stu loaded without issue.  Whew!  Now the ride home.  Jean thanked the handsome farmer and basically sprinted to the car.  I shook hands and thanked Handsome Farmer for…oh, I don’t know….being handsome, I guess.  ;-)

We arrived at the LA’s first.  Word had spread and a small crowd had started to gather in anticipation.  They weren’t disappointed.  Stu unloaded like it was nothing and although you could tell he was a bit nervous, he was well behaved.  Everyone was oooh-ing and ahhhhh-ing. 
Watch the ice!
 Jean walked him up and down the lane a few times.  It was icy, so she took him into the arena.  There were quite a few riders in there and he handled it well.

First time in an arena!

Hello, there....
 Stu was a little skittish, but was well behaved.  LA and Jean took him to the round pen and let him run around a bit to stretch his legs.  It was decided to put him out with the herd later that afternoon.  As he calmly started to walk towards the the hay pile, all the horses looked over at him and started to trot over.  It ended up where everyone was trotting behind Stu!  Hilarious!  It was wonderful to watch 20-odd horses following the larger horse.  One horse did challenge Stu but it seemed to sort itself out as we watched.  LA headed back to the arena and Jean and I watched the herd dynamic for a bit longer.  Stu eventually started trotting through the bush out of sight, so we made our way back to the arena. 

Handsome Farmer warned Jean that Stu was hard to catch out in the field and that was what Jean decided was her first priority.    In fairness to Stu, yes, he was hard to catch as an individual, but only because he was used to being brought in with his driving team as a group, sort of follow the leader.   Jean was out there pretty much every day, in freezing weather, sometimes for hours trying to catch Stu, while other horses swarmed her.  Occasionally, I would join her, either gently steering Stu in her direction or keeping the other horses from interrupting.  It was really hit and miss.  Jean went through bags and bags of carrots.  :-)

Over the first few weeks, Stu got more used to Jean and would stand next to her or follow her around like a puppy.  Hooking up the lead was still hit and miss.  When she was able to hook him up, she brought him into my barn and put him in the cross-ties (new to Stu) and groomed him.  Or, if the arena was empty, she would take him in there and walk him around on the lead.  The breakthrough came when LA moved all of the horses into the small field behind the barn (Gem's usual turnout) to allow the grass to grown in the pastures. By that time, the hierarchy had been decided (Stu's upper/middle),  he had a girlfriend (Lucy) and he was eating and putting on weight.  Life was good.  In his content state, he began to relax more and more.  Jean didn't have to walk over miles of acreage to find him.   Eventually, one day when Jean entered the field, he walked over to her and let her hook up the lead rope.  Yay!!!    I commend Jean for her patience.  BTW, putting Gem out with the herd a couple of times a week was delayed until the herd goes back out.

It is funny to see Gem next to Stu.  Height-wise, Stu doesn't seem that much taller to me than Gem.  However, he probably outweighs Gem by about 200 lbs now.  Stu's head must be twice the size of Gem's!  In fact, Gem looks like a chiseled dainty Arabian-type horse next to Stu!  Gem is not completely sold on this new guy.  In fact, he has tried to take a nip out of Stu when Jean walked Stu by Gem's stall!  Stu didn't even bat an eye at Gem's rudeness. 

To expose him to barn life, Jean brought him out to the front paddock the other day.  Three young ladies were riding in there while others watched.  If Stu could have climbed into Jean's lap he would have!  It wasn't that he was dancing or spooking, but every time a rider would come near, he would sort of try to put his head down on Jean's chest or under her arm, just like a dog.   It took a sec for Jean to figure it out, but she believes his nervousness was because he's just not used to seeing people ON horses!  LOL!   He will definitely be getting more exposure to that!  :-)

Stu's progress has been great.    Look what he has accomplished over the last couple of months:
  • Coming to Jean to be hooked up to the lead.
  • Standing in cross-ties.
  • Standing for periods of time to be groomed.
  • Allowing his feet to be cleaned regularly.
  • Had his feet trimmed without the use of stocks (our farrier rocks!)
  • Had his teeth floated (Apparently they were done when he was younger, but Handsome Farmer had never had them done while Stu lived with him.)
  • Free-lunging in the round pen.
  • Spending time in the arena, even when snow was sliding down the sides.
Next up:  Now that he's comfortable with the lead, Jean will start working him on a lunge line.  She is going to have LA show her how to lunge properly.

Stu has such a lovely demeanor about him and everyone loves him.  Jean and I have been together on this horse journey and I am very pleased for her.  Despite the negative nellies at the barn, I think that Stu came into Jean's life for a reason.  Jean was searching for something and I think Stu might just be her answer.

Have a great weekend!




19 comments:

  1. Sounds awesome for Jean AND Stu!

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    1. Hi! Nice to hear from you! It really is awesome for the both of them.

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  2. What a great story, the two of them are well on their way to becoming partners. Good for Jean for not listening to the nay-sayers, she'll prove them wrong.

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    1. Quite a number of people gave negative feedback about having a large horse not started under saddle. That has made Jean even more determined. I think Stu loves having his own person. :-)

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  3. I love Stu! He seems such a sensible sweet boy. I'm sure he and Jean are going to be a great team for many years to come. It's possible Jean is right about Stu's nervousness and I'd attribute it to seeing people on horses too. We once had a horse who almost peed his pants when he saw someone driving a cart behind the horse. He'd never seen that before and he was out of his mind with worry. I had a hard time getting him to let me dismount. So I think it comes down to what a horse is used to seeing and the more Stu gets accustomed to watching people on horses the less nervous he'll be. Jean is doing great work with him and he's come far. I like that she is taking her time and introducing different situations to him slowly. You're a great friend too.

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    1. He is so sweet! I think you are right. He just didn't understand exactly what he was seeing. Jean will absolutely expose him to more and more of this type of activity. I think it's a must in my opinion so that it eases his mind when she starts putting a saddle on him.

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    2. Oh, and thank you for your comment about being a great friend. :-)

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  4. What a great post. It's great to hear that Stu and Jean are gelling as a team. Sounds like she's handling his training very well. So good she has your support too.

    I love drafts! My favorite mount when I worked at the trail barn was a very large Percheron named Tonka. Like riding an unflappable sofa. :)

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    1. I am so pleased that Jean is taking her time. We love big horses (she has ridden Gem and another large lesson horse) and we regularly comment on the smoothness of the ride and how it's like riding a sofa!! lol!

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  5. I think you'll all have a great time and you're going to learn a lot too.

    I agree with Grey Horse Matters. He's seems a sweet sensible boy and there's an awful lot to be said for sensible. There's a lot to be said for temperament. You can't train temperament. So far I think Jean is doing it right.

    I just love the "Hello, there..." picture.

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    1. I am looking forward to learning a lot! I agree with you...you can train temperament, and Stu is one lovely guy.

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  6. Yaay!! I've been so looking forward to this post! I'm so excited for Jean and Stu, sounds like its working out fantastically for them :D He's such a lovely looking horse, I want to reach in and give him a big cuddle! And he has come a long way - well done Stu and well done Jean, that's one in the eye for all those negative people. GHM's right - you are a great friend :D

    Shame there's no pix of Handsome Farmer tho ;o)

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    1. When I look at Stu, it seems to me that he is smiling! Yes, well done for both of them.

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  7. Yay for Jean and Stu - what a wonderful update!

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    1. They were absolutely meant to be together, IMO.

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  8. It sounds like things are developing nicely with Stu -- He is such a cute boy I hope things continue to get better!

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    1. Me, too! I will post updates. :-)

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  9. Argh, I meant to comment on this a while ago. I'm so glad that Jean's happy with her big boy and that he's working out so well. He's giving her just enough of a challenge to keep her on her toes :)

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    1. He certainly does provide a challenge, but not in an obnoxious way. He is working out very well for her. :-)

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