Tuesday, July 11, 2017

HORSES AND PONIES PART 2


Previously we have discussed about various categories and general grouping of horses, and we have gone into the subject of hot blooded horses.

Before I proceed I would like to state again that any opinion expresses here is distinctively my own and since I do not profess to be an expert on horses, I certainly stand corrected for any erroneous statement. Any corrective comments from readers are most welcomed as it will only enrich our understanding. So, that out of the way let's continue.

So, next on the scale are the Warm Blood horses. These are middle weight horses originating from Europe and as the name suggest they are more even tempered compared to the Hot Bloods. That being the case they are the preferred breed for show events like jumping, dressage and eventing as this discipline requires greater discipline and calmness from these animals, as opposed to a flighty and nervous disposition. Having said that there is no reason why an Arab or Thoroughbred cannot be trained for these activities. Indeed many of them do participate. I guess it is a matter of preference.





Some of the more best known Warm Bloods are the Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Oldenburg and the Trakener. Others incude the Belgian WarmBlood, Danish Warmblood, Dutch Warmblood and the Swedish Warmblood


Cold Blood horses are the coolest of these horses. They are the exact opposite of the nervous, flighty Hot Bloods and they come from the cold northern regions of Europe. You would find them diligently, calmly and without complain doing the typically mundane farm work, which a regular Arab would view with utter disdain. Consequently they are endowed with great bodies and tremendous strength. Today of course, with mechanization, demand fro their services have almost disappeared. In the past they were the mainstays of farms, coal mines, lumber tracks, etc. All the better I guess, because no matter how suitable they are for the work, it would still be a pitiful sight to see these beautiful animals straining the harness. 

In World War 1 they were used primarily for towing artillery pieces and field ambulances by the thousands by either side and thousands became victims of the conflict. In World War 2, they were still used but to a lesser extend. Thank God, they have stopped using them in wars. But hang on, the Afghans used to charge Russian positions on horses during the Soviet Occupation but it was rather rare. Valor is one thing but stupidity is another.


Denise-Bell-Evans

Friesien

Clydesdale

Running Gypsy

So now that we have the general idea, let's turn back to the local scene.

Where to get the horses: For some years now Malaysia has been breeding quality breed of horses at the National Stud Farm in Perak. I understand the quality there is quite good, however this source is for serious horse addicts, as it would cause quite a big dent in your bank account. On the other hand if you can afford it, you would hardly notice the check hitting your account.

Again for serious horse lovers with the means, some of them go directly to the horse country itself either in Europe, the Americas and Australia and New Zealand. This can set you back a couple of hundred thousand Ringgit.

For simple guys like me, who just want a horse fitting my ability and temperament a reasonable working horse would do. I am not into any of those fancy events, contented just with some trots and canter every now and then. So I would head to the local race course and ask around for retired race horses looking for a home. (in the old days, they put them to sleep), or I would go around the many equestrian clubs and ask around. Invariably there will always be a horse for sale for some reason or another. Current price for the category between RM5000 to RM10,000-00

What to look for in getting a horse: 
First of all know what you want. Is it for you in your sunset years or, for your teenage grand-daughter who wants to be the future horse personality in Malaysia or for your 10 year old great grandson. Get the one that suits your needs.

Age: a horse lives upto 30 to 40 years (half the human lifespan). Goes without saying the older it gets the less millage is available. Conformity (in human terms posture). A well-balance conformation allows for fluid and balanced movement and pleasurable and safe ride. Get someone to walk the horse as you observe from both the front and back. Look out for stiffness and unbalanced gait which can indicate hidden problems in particular shoulder or back injury. These are serious injuries which are almost irreparable, unless at great cost. Ride the horse and see it has difficulty in doing some basic movements. A shoulder injury would hinder turning on either side (painful for the horse to turn its head). Run your fingers down the spin to the waist and see if it flinches at any point, again indication of possible problems. Ask, ask and ask the seller until you are satisfied. Check to see if the hooves are healthy and well maintained. Those 4 hooves are the ones that the horse stand on. The questions are many, but i guess the most important guide is common sense.

Last but not least, have a good idea or feel about its temperament. You can see this from its demeanor, nervousness, calmness, friendliness, does it greet you, or does it give you its back, nibbles you (which can be a problem if it gets out of hand). Ask about its previous work, racing, school horse, private horse, and the owner. Animals like human beings carry forward habits from its past experiences. Sometimes animals have bad character because they have been badly treated in their younger years. I personally do not blame the animals, but those who raised them.

What do you do when you get them home:
Common sense, let them get use to the place, especially if your place is like ours, which had goats, chickens, dogs, cats and at one time deer, not to mention the foxes, wild cats, snakes and wildboars in the bushes nearby. So when they arrive they are bombarded with all kinds of smells, scents and sounds which they are not used to. You would notice them stand straight up with their ears stiff and upright and nose flared. And for goodness sake don't ride them immediately. We had an unfortunate owner (who rented our stable) who insisted on riding the moment the horse arrived at the farm. Needless to say, he came to grief (no, he is still alive).

Another important point is to recondition the horse, especially if they are former race horses. These horses were raised for performance on a special diet and exercise regime. So they are actually great athletes with tonnes of energy. so unless you are a jockey yourself and your paddock is a race course give time for the horse to recondition. Adjust the diet and exercise schedule to your needs and let the horse work out its high energy, basically by being lazy. This may take anything between 1 to 3 months.

That's it for now.








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