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.
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!
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!