Gawaine gets the snip

I have blogged before about Gawaine, our mostly-drafthorse foal.  He’s black, with a white flash down his face.

We wanted to have him gelded (castrated), but the vet wouldn’t come unless he was halter-trained.

At eight months, he was a boisterous brat.  I started him with some clicker training out in the paddock, which he enjoyed but it was not without problems.  He loved the games but didn’t want to stop.  Sometimes he even started rearing and biting — which was within my capacity to handle, but I had to ban wwoofers from his paddock (field).

He turned one in late September, and by then he had settled down a bit.  I wasn’t training him all that often — that was when we had all the rain.  I did get a string halter (head harness) on him, but he pulled it off later.  I just about had him to the point where I could take a webbing halter on and off.

Recently, we had Julia from Germany wwoof with us.  She was very experienced with young horses, and she soon had him sorted out.  She got a proper halter on him, and lured him into our round yard.

This gave us an opportunity to wean him from his mother, Domino the anti-social brood mare.  Though when we fed him hay, he would call his mother over and then push the hay to where she could reach it through the bars.  What a sweetie.

Because it’s boring in the round yard, Julia started doing lunging training with him.  Gawaine was brilliant — he would move from a walk to a trot intuitively on Julia’s command.  Julia said that it showed he was going to be a great student.  I think it also shows how good Julia was.  Unfortunately she got an offer for paid work and left us.  Hopefully we might see her again before she leaves Australia.

Our horsewoman friend Jan then took over the training.  She came to much the same conclusion: he has great potential as a riding horse.

She has a horsebreaker friend, who uses really gentle passive methods, who came for a look.  They were able to trim Gawaine’s feet, which is really good for an untrained horse.  Both Jan and the breaker think we should give him some more education as soon as possible, because he’s enjoying it so much.

This week (Wednesday) we finally got the vet in, and Gawaine is no longer a stallion.  Jan and wwoofer Rachel were there to assist.  All went well, and the vet also thinks we should give him early training.

After work on Friday, we led Gawaine out of the round yard into the woods paddock, which he will share with Paulie.  Paulie’s really relaxed, and they seem to be getting on well.  Though Gawaine tried to get some milk from Paulie, and was told off!  This morning, Gawaine was running around and kicking up his heels, so he’s happy.

I did some more clicker training with Gawaine this morning, and he’s still keen.  He will got to Jan’s for more training in a week or two.  I am a little worried because the Clydesdale breed is slow to finish growing, so I don’t want him ridden for a while, but he can certainly have some more training.

This left us with one problem: Domino the Difficult was just one fence away from Gawaine, and Gawaine could have injured himself trying to feed through the fence.  Fortunately Domino solved this herself — she walked right into the yard to check out where Gawaine was getting all the yummy lucerne hay, and Rachel snuck in behind and locked her in.

So now we’re having another go at training Domino.  This has never worked for us in the past, but hope is eternal.

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