Do you really even still get wild horses? Surely in this day and age they don’t really exist anymore?
Well, yes! although it sounds far fetched, there are still herds of wild horses out there!
Although, not all of them might have started out wild…
Not all horses are bred and raised in a controlled environment like a stud or well managed farm area. It does happen that people with bigger farms, have horses that roam free and are not handled regularly or even at all. When these horses reproduce and the foals are never handled or trained, they become skittish and weary of human contact, choosing to stay clear of being touched. If not caught and trained in time, they become virtually impossible to manage. When a second or third generation of such foals are born, you truly have WILD horses. And you also then have to play a whole different ballgame!!
Ruach stud recently bought four such mares into our stud. Hooch and Shasta Splash, born in 2004, Tina born in 2005 and Hunters born in 2006. Now I can hear many of you asking, why on earth would we do that? Well, these mares were born out of the hardiest, toughest survivors, with hooves of steel and great genetics! Qualities that are rare to find, and that we want our future horses to have.
These mares are now between 6 and 8 years old, making them even more difficult to tame as it gets more difficult to gain authority over a grown animal whom have already exerted it’s place in the herd and is more set in it’s behavioral patterns. They have no healthy respect for human authority and because naturally you cannot dominate such a powerful
animal, you have to gain their trust. We believe in a natural approach to horsemanship, so trust is vitally important!
These mares have all had previous foals and have the natural instinct to run and protect their foals from human interaction, and in doing this, teaches this behavior to the foals. Luckily, once weaned, these babies can then be handled and trained. Only one of these mares came to us already pregnant, Hunter, and she had her filly shortly after arriving with us. The other three mares are not pregnant, making it so much easier for us to work with them without the risk of them aborting the foals. We will not breed with these mares until we have made sufficient progress with them to be able to intimately handle them with foals at foot. Hunter is still very much a work in progress, but we can see the huge leaps and bounds of progress already made with her. We also handle and train her foal, Shebah at the same time as mommy gets her training. Nothing major, just getting her comfortable with being touched, groomed and halter trained. This makes life a lot easier for everyone!!
Treating these mares for basic things such as deworming or dipping, becomes virtually impossible as you cannot get close to do so. Should an injury arise, giving medical attention is a huge head ache!
It unfortunately takes years of training and knowledge and hours and hours of time and patience to break through to these horses in order to gain their trust.
Just like humans, horses have different personalities and characters. Each react differently to certain training techniques. With some we have quicker breakthroughs in certain areas than with others. Sometimes even just the lack of reaction is in itself a major breakthrough!!
It is a long and tedious road, but a very rewarding one at that. It is definitely not for the faint hearted or people who want instant results. There is nothing that beats the feeling at the end of every day, the satisfaction and joy that it brings to see the change, when you run with wild horses…..