The Bandit started to say yes pretty much right from the start.
Yes, I can go and check that tractor out while you are driving about cutting the grass(weeds) in my new field.
Yes, I am happy to walk along the road to go to a new stable yard.
Yes, I’m happy to get in a trailer to go to yet another, new stable yard.
Yes, I like people and big horses.
Yes, I like to eat and am not picky.
Yes, let’s go to a little show and still be happy even though we do not win.
Yes, hello good morning
Yes, look at all my new friends
Ooh a headcollar Yes.
He grew awkwardly, his legs long, his head large. Hard to tell quite what size he would end up. Sid the old boy who started this whole deal, sagely said he would be a “useful” size. He was still angling for a stud fee as it his colt who had sired The Bandit. He often could be heard muttering “two for the price of one” as I walked them past. I did not fall for it.
Two cost twice the price of one.
He still was not staying.
Apart from handling him on the headcollar, teaching him to lead and tie up, he was pretty much left alone to grow into whatever he was going to grow into. Living at first in a field with his mum and later Pippa, then with Apollo where he learned how to play (excuse me the girls did not play!! At least not with him). Apollo was delighted to have a playmate, and generously got down on his knees to make it fair.
Mean time I got on with the task of learning to drive his mum. No easy feat, I quickly worked out that she really wasn’t that keen, and I did not have the skills to teach her. As Pippa had arrived and quite liked to drive, I focussed on her, often tying Alby to the back of the carriage so she could come out too for the exercise. Pippa was fearless, happy to trot along in the heaviest of traffic, Alby faithfully trotting along behind. The various sets of wheels and axles we inherited along with the ponies, had been skilfully turned into a respectable lightweight carriage by my clever husband. I count myself incredibly lucky to have ended up with someone with both a welder and an engineering type mind. Oh, and patience. Pippa and I had a lot of fun as did the various children who came long for the drives. Never short of a willing extra pair of hands, we got reasonably proficient and she got beautifully fit and healthy. She looked a vastly different pony to the sad girl who lost her foal and who had been overridden by over heavy children. Her coat gleamed; her eyes shone. She was a pure, gentle, always try my best kind of a girl. I felt blessed.
The Bandit continued to grow. He still looked quirkily beautiful to me, if a little awkwardly leggy. But he was not staying.
We went through a few changes of yards at that time, The Bandit along with Alby and Pips took it all in their stride. Living at different times in a bull pen (that was an awesome home with indoor digs as well as a large concrete pen outside) various fields either alone or with multiple other horses. The Bandit I remember was a particularly big hit on a rather fancy dressage yard. Full of thoroughbreds and warmbloods, he learnt to cause maximum disruption leading breakneck gallops across the huge fields that we had (those were the days before horses were regularly confined behind tape in sterile, half acres squares and allowed no interaction with another horses unless they braved the electric pulses). The Bandit by now had no idea that he was small, and he certainly was not vulnerable. Once he was weaned from Alby he was adored by the dressage mares, who groomed, chased, and nurtured him.
At some point the “he is not staying” refrain got old and I accepted the fact that, as Sid would say he was “part of the firm”. Sid, I certainly owed him a lot.
As he was now part of the firm, a “useful” size, and getting older I needed to get on with the training to carriage drive aspect of the deal. I became the worlds’ keenest long reiner. I even taught him to do flying changes. Well maybe he taught himself and I was along for the thrill. I certainly never managed to teach another horse to do so on long lines…..
We explored the world on long reins and headcollars. He was not afraid of anything and said yes. He seemed to love being out and…..doing.
He started to lower his head into the headcollar when I presented it. I was no expert on horse behaviour, but I took that as a resounding YES.
And so, he stayed.
playtime whatever the weather