Best Baby Horse

Best Baby Horse

I was busy working at a dressage show this weekend but managed to fit in some time with Madigan anyway. He’s the quietest, most agreeable creature I’ve ever met.

On Friday evening, I took him over to my neighbor’s indoor arena to hang out. Things were busy- three riders were in the ring, horses were moving to their nighttime locations, and people were coming and going. Madigan seemed interested in the all the activity but not particularly excited. He stood in the middle of the ring with me and enjoyed pats and admiration from everyone. Once the riders left the arena, I led him around. He sniffed ground poles and blocks with mild curiosity, and then stood politely while I sat on a mounting block.

Look at that cute face!

Eventually, I looped his lead rope around the arena rail and grabbed some brushes. Madigan stood quietly while I curried him all over- he didn’t move an ear when I rubbed his belly and legs. He fell asleep when I brushed out his long mane. (I have to trim it; the length makes me cringe.) He eventually perked up and got bored with standing around. He wandered off into the arena dragging his lead rope.

Let me digress for a moment and tell you a story about Moe. He’s always been an easygoing and polite horse, unfazed by much. As a kid, I used to take a book outside, park myself under a tree in the front yard, and let one horse at a time graze while I read. I’d keep their halter and lead on for easy catching, and the horses would crop the lush yard grass and I’d finish a couple of chapters. The first time I did this with Moe, he grazed peacefully until he stepped on his lead rope. When he tried to move and found himself restrained, he FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. Like reared up, flailed backwards, and nearly fell over. It took him a long time to stop doing that.

So every time I see a horse drag a lead rope, I assume they’ll have Moe’s reaction. I mean, he was an otherwise mannerly and quiet animal. If he freaked out at that, they’ll all freak out at that, right? Madigan, who has been alive for ONE YEAR, stepped on his trailing lead rope and did not freak out. He stopped, shuffled his feet until he got off the rope, and resumed walking. What a sensible horse!

Copying Uncle Moe

He’s also very easy to catch- he walks right up and stands for haltering. He leads easily, and if he’s not sure about something, he stops, looks, and then proceeds. The only thing he’s not a fan of is fly spray. He’s not bad about it- he just kind of swings away from the spray. I don’t know if it’s the noise or the sensation or some combination of the two. I’ve always heard that Mannhattan offspring have nice, amateur-friendly temperaments. I’m so pleased to find this to be true in Madigan’s case! It’s exciting to think about riding a horse that isn’t a total loon (looking at you, Candles).

He has a great start with ground manners and skills, and I plan to build on them. On my list of things to get him comfortable with are tying, bathing, and clipping. Baby horse people, I would love to hear your tips and tricks for teaching these things!

11 thoughts on “Best Baby Horse”

  • It’s so very western of me, but I made Presto drag a rope around for hours at a time on several occasions for exactly that reason. I cringe so hard when horses freak out stepping on ropes. The two new 2yo’s at the barn right now are living in drag ropes for a while lol.

  • That’s so scary about Moe’s reaction! That’s how my horse growing up was and I totally hold my breath when horses step on ropes.

    I think TC must have dragged a rope around because he’s not at all panicky when things go wrong with ropes. He’s good about stepping on his rope, but also we had one unfortunate incident where he was pawing in the cross ties and got his foot stuck over one of them. He just stood there with his foot dangling until I rescued him.

    As reactive as he can be, I’ve really appreciated this behavior, so I’m all for drag ropes! I just wish mine had done other western stuff like the patience pole, 8 isn’t too old to learn not to be a dingbat when left tied right??

  • He is so cute! So great that he is so easy going. Sounds like you are going to have fun with him. 🙂 I have a 4yr old that is so quiet, I sometimes do stuff with him that I forget he doesn’t technically know… oops…!

  • Most of my horses have all reacted like Moe to stepping on the lead, so I think it’s a great idea to get him used to that, just in case! My pony gives zero shits about it. I was so surprised when I accidentally let that happen and she didn’t care at all.
    I’m so excited to follow along on your adventures together. He really sounds like an awesome little guy!

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