Surviving Horses

windy sunset

windy sunset

Our home is Hestebu, roughly ‘Living with horses’ but this is not a choice I would have naturally made.  There are many of us who find we are by default caught up with horses because we fell for someone who is passionate about horses.  Here I intend to share some of the things I’ve learnt about being safe around horses as well as some of the things we’re up to with horses and I hope others who find themselves sharing their stablemate with a real horse can get something out of this.

When we were kids we wanted a horse, it didn’t help that we lived in the country and other kids had horses. Where horses from the 3 local pa were often on the road including Gunner a big, white, station-hack stallion with one eye missing.  Occasionally he’d be loose on the road but more often he’d have someone from the pa riding bare back with just a rope halter, sometimes his white withers would be stained with blood from carrying a wild pig and we kids wished it was us who was sitting on Gunner with that pig across our thighs.  My parents were wise and refused, they new horses were an expense we couldn’t afford.  As with blokes and boats “A boat is a hole in the ocean to pour money into” so too with horses “A horse is a way to convert cash into fertiliser”.  Besides we were unlucky with horses, probably because we got stuck on behind a kid who could ride and had the advantage of saddle and stirrups.  So my sister fell off and got stood on by a following horse, 40yrs on, that injury can still bother her.  For me, galloping up a farm track between Tuai and Kaitawa, when Johnny unexpectedly ducked under a branch, without warning I was swept off into a patch of blackberry that cushioned the fall but the close following horse clipped me in the face, nothing serious but enough to bring home the reality’s.

Fast forward 20yrs and I again got involved with horses, those child-hood years around horses that had been “broken” but never tamed, that weren’t vicious but would bite or kick if they got a chance, all those instructions to ‘be confident’; ‘don’t be afraid, they can smell fear’; ‘if you fall off, get straight back on’….etc, came into their own when I fell for a gal with a horse that has now become 4 horses.

If you’ve gotten involved with someone who is passionate about horses then you’ll spend a lot of time alone if you don’t also spend some time with horses.  Always be confident around horses, if you’re not they’ll quickly pick up on it and start pushing you around.  If you behave as though you’re in charge, and they’ve been trained, chances are they’ll treat you with respect.   Keep in mind that they have big feet and big teeth don’t take anyone’s word that ‘she doesn’t bite’ or ‘he doesn’t kick’, those horses need to know where you stand in the herd and at some point they will test your mettle.  When a horse kicks out at you and misses, understand it didn’t miss, they know where their feet are, just as surely as we can touch our nose with our eyes closed.  Don’t be nervous but be conscious of where the horses are and what they’re doing.  On teeth, you need to recognise an impending nip as compared to reaching for an affectionate nuzzle. And on feet, either stay out of reach or be in close and until you know your way around be a wuss and wear steel caps if you have them.  Finally don’t get into a fight, at 500kg for a light horse you will lose, the trick to horses is to not get into a fight.  For now, be confident and be alert I aim to do some posts on specifics as I get the opportunity.



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