After Madigan made his debut at a Future Event Horse class last year, he went back in the pasture to eat, grow, and learn to live in a small herd. I handled him at least a little bit every day. Most of the handling was super basic- haltering and leading, picking up and cleaning his hooves, brushing him. He took it all in stride; when I put a blanket on him for the first time, he barely lifted his head from his feed pan.

“PLAY WITH ME UNCLE MOE!”

Now that he’s approaching his second birthday, he’s looking and acting more like an adult than a timid baby. His favorite activity is playing bitey-face with Moe (who is thoroughly sick of him). When he gallops around with Candy, he looks like he knows what he’s doing and not like he’s going to fall down. He had a growth spurt and is now the same height as Moe, just over 15 hands. (Which is great- I was paranoid that he would end up large pony size forever.) Madigan is still friendly and easygoing, too.

Earlier this year, it seemed like it was time for Madigan to start learning some new things, like how to wear a bridle and how to self-load in a trailer. My friend next door has a super reputation for starting youngsters, so it was an easy decision to start bringing him over for groundwork lessons. Richal is patient, consistent, and fair with babies and greenies, and it’s been fun to see her work with Madigan.

Nothing terribly exciting happens in their weekly lessons. He always needs a refresher on personal space- he wants to be right next to the people (because the people scratch him and pet him and feed him cookies sometimes). He’s learning how to walk and trot on the line. Last week, Richal introduced him to the mounting block and a saddle. Madigan remains cheerful and curious- he seems to like investigating all the new things.

Who needs grooming when you can remove your winter hair on the grass?

I’m excited about the future with him. He’s sensible and pleasant, and it’s nice to know he’s getting good training from the start!