Clover is a three-year-old Irish Draught Sport Horse filly. She’s always been precocious, a bit belligerent and an extreme athlete. This year, she effectively challenged her mother (who may school her after her current foal is weaned) and a newcomer last year to serve as the new herd leader. We started her under saddle this month with a whole lot of caution and a bit of concern over whether her ability to move at dizzying speed in leaps, bucks and directional changes might come into play when faced with a rider. Fortunately, none of this has been a factor, yet, but we haven’t ventured to the outdoors either.
Her personality was obvious from day one with her fearless, savvy and brazen attitude toward people and the fact that she was standing and nursing within about twenty minutes of being dropped. We knew an early blacksmith encounter was a wise and necessary duty. At week four, we introduced her to our patient and kind provider. Mind you, this filly was prepared with rituals prior to his arrival that involved picking up all four feet each day and having her do so with ease, tolerance and staying power as we required longer time periods for each foot to remain up and secured. She accepted this routine easily and willingly. We weren’t looking to trim her, just get her accustomed to the routine and some of the equipment. Of course, Clover had already demonstrated her alpha penchants in her proclivity for testing every new human she encountered to the max.
What unfolded was a scene we had never imagined. Two hours later, after unfathomable athletic maneuvers in response to mere request from the blacksmith to lift a left front foot, the light bulb went off. I sent the farrier off to a corner, picked up the foot in question (with ease) and handed it to him. We did each foot the same way and she calmly and willingly behaved.
This same filly was jumping in and out of our five-foot-high wood board paddock several weeks later just for fun while she was still nursing off her mother – with perfect form.
Later, she grew tired of this game, and found it more fun to send the entire herd through the fence (during winter months, of course, so replacing posts required hours of chipping through frozen ground) by getting them going toward the perimeter at about 30 MPH and slamming on the breaks inches before impact. Her dupes would slide and crash as she watched and chuckled unscathed. Then, she’d exit the paddock (never going much beyond the perimeter fence) and giggle at the crew who obediently remained in the pasture that was no longer secured.
She’s a hoot and we’ve been careful to channel her heart and spirit instead of defeating it. Each day, we chuckle at her antics and bravado, knowing this attitude is what will make her a stand-out athletic performer in the future.