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You can never completely predict hows a horse is going to react and you never stop learning. This guy is so handsome, has the most soulful intelligent eyes and yet of all the stallions he’s the one struggling to make progress. He’s not flighty and very bold around people, but one minute he understands all that’s being asked and the next he shuts down completely. At the very end today we had a huge win where he could follow a feel in the halter and walk forwards. I think it’s so important with these type of horses that you reward even the slightest try from them. You want them to engage and to build their confidence in themselves and you.
A look in the right direction, before you even ask for a step or waiting just a few minutes longer for them to relax can make all the difference. I have no doubt he’s going to turn into an amazing horse and will understand everything. But his journey will be a bit slower to start with than some of the others.
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An up-date from Bijmin. Great to see the progess. Can't wait to meeting these horses next Summer on Globe Trotting Five day Rides! 🙂A massive week for little Kaimanawas!

So last week was pretty huge for the Kai's. With Jess over in the State's for her brothers wedding, the horses and I had a boy's week of battling through some pretty tough ordeals. Because I've missed quite a few posts I'll split the next few updates into a few different sections.

1. Gelding: the actual event, how we prepared for it, how we could have prepared more.

All the horses are now officially geldings. In a lot of ways I'm actually really sad that we had to get them done. These are by far the best behaved stallions I've ever handled and if it weren't for the reproducing risks there really wouldn't have been much other reason to Castrate them. That being said, the ordeal went relatively smoothly despite a few hiccups:

- Kaewa handled the whole affair like a real Gentleman. Once he got over the funny looking all-blue humans (note to self: make sure to do some desensitising to overalls next time) Kae stood quietly for the injections with only a minor reaction for the first needle. Before the sedative even took full effect, he gently decided to lay down on the lawn and then eventually went down fully. Waking up was just as relaxed, with Kae deciding to make the most of the sunshine and enjoy a nice long nap sitting down before gently standing up. The vet confirmed my suspicions that he's between 15-20 years young and despite the added potential complications of gelding him this late in life he's healed up well and is almost back to being himself.

- Tokala took a little more convincing that the people clothed in full blue overalls were in fact just other humans and not some terrifying oversized Smurfs. It took us a few minutes of approach and retreat to get him used to them but after that he stood (mostly) still while the anaesthetic was delivered and went down without any problems. On the flip side of his procedure, Toka woke up a lot quicker then we planned and whilst I was getting the next horse ready he clambered up like a drunken sailor splashed with water and took off down into the paddock at what can only be described as a drunken swagger. Despite still having a fair few sedatives in his system he managed to not fall down and hurt himself and when Toka saw me coming up behind him, he turned around, came up to me, lowered his head and together we completed the walk of shame back up to his real paddock. He's healed up well but still hasn't entirely gotten over the breach of trust so I'm just hanging out with him without asking anything more at the moment to try and build some of that back up.

- Madiba: Despite handling the initial injection the best out of the bunch, Madiba decided there was no way he was going to let a vet take his manhood and refused to go down to the anaesthetic. He was very wobbly on his feet but every time, just as we though he was about to go down, he'd start tipping and then would somehow get a leg under himself (often times looking like a giraffe drinking water) and correct his balance. If I ever have to ride down any steep, wet, muddy, slippery bank I think I'd like to ride this dude. The vet said she'd never seen a horse with that much anaesthetic not go down so we had to reschedule for the next dayand try again and luckily the gelding was a success (despite all the commotion of trying to finish up Tommy's yards for the new Kaimanawas). Madiba has healed up well but I'm still trying to convince him that coming with me doesn't mean castration so we're in a similar space to Toka.

How we Prepared for the Gelding:

In addition to the general handling we've been doing, we wanted to place some extra attention on the areas that the we knew the vet would be handling during the procedure. We did a lot squirting syringes next to their necks, pinching skin, holding their neck to find a pulse, rubbing with plastic bags, banging boxes, covering with towels etc all without any dramas. We also made sure they were comfortable with 2 of us standing next to them with hands all over them. We also wanted to make sure that if we needed to we could clean the wound so we made sure they were ok with us touching along the inside of their legs and up into their groin.

How we could have prepared better:

- One of the things we're realising is how important it is to have multiple people handling the horses. Whilst the horses are fine with Jess & I, it always takes them a little bit to accept someone new. In hindsight I would have asked more people to join me next to the horse, just touching them and getting them used to others. We've had plenty of other people around the horses but very few actually interacting with them and in hindsight this is such an important part of socialisation in domestic life.

- Overalls: For some reason seeing the vets in their overalls really weirded out all the horses. From the moment they got out of their car the horses were snorting. We'd done a fair bit of desensitising to oversized outerwear like Drysabones, tarps and ponchos but really did not even think about overalls. I think the above point probably would have addressed this issue a bit as well.

- Standing still despite something scary: Perhaps another approach would have been to do a bit more work with the horses to teach them to stand when something scary does approach. Up until now we haven't wanted to shut down any responses from the horses as we feel its so important to know what the horse is feeling instead of just internalising his fear and freezing, but I wonder if it would have been beneficial to do a bit more work instilling that the correct response to something new is simply to stand still. I'm not sure... but would love to hear your thoughts.

Would love to hear any suggestions on how we might improve our preparations in initial handling if we ever go through this process again or for others that have yet to get their horses gelded.
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An up-date from Bijmin.  Great to see the progess.  Cant wait to meeting these horses next Summer on Globe Trotting Five day Rides! 🙂

Autumn is here and the season is changing. Come join us on the Rees River Trail. ...

Autumn is here and the season is changing.  Come join us on the Rees River Trail.

 

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CONTACT INFORMATION

Phone: +64 3 442 9915

Freephone: 0508 59 59 59

Email: info@highcountryhorses.nz

Address: High Country Horses, 243 Priory Road, Glenorchy

MEET SOME OF OUR TEAM

SOCIAL

AWARDS

Trip Advisor Certificate of Elcellence 2018