Excerpt featuring John Newborough from Turning Challenging Horses into Willing Partners due for release January, 2010
A bone breaker
Most who have worked professionally with challenging horses have a story to tell about a charge to fix a horse that has hurt someone else who tried.
“A man asked me, would I break a horse for him. He was a very good man. We hunted together. He bred a lot of horses, and I thought, why would he want me to do it? We were very much younger then. We were in our forties. We were quite busy, and I said, ‘I really can’t.’
“The postman used to sit with us and have a cup of coffee on his rounds. He asked if we were breaking any horses and told us that he delivered mail to a lady that specializes in difficult horses. About a week later, he said the lady had an accident. The man who asked me to have the horse said ‘John, I’m in trouble. I sent him away, and he broke the lady’s arm.’ He offered to pay any dowry for me to take the horse. I rang the woman; and she said she was long reining him, and he ran backward and broke her forearm.
“I had a gal working at the farm do the groundwork. He was a pig of a horse. All of his life he’d got away with a lot of things. He’d get topside of the people. If he took exception to things, he would strike and come straight at you rolling like a bull.
“My wife has been riding all her life, and when she started working with him, if he came striking at her or attacking, she’d give him smack on the nose with a longeing whip, and away he’d go. We drove him miles and miles. We did have a few battles, and sometimes he got away. We’d work with him two or three times a day. We got him used to a roll, and he wasn’t too bad with tack. But, he was pretty talented with his heels and would kick like a mule.
“We had one space in a cattle shed with a lot of cattle. It was what we call in this country a cubical house. He was in one stall in a row of seventy-two cattle stalls in this shed. He had the cattle moving constantly around him. He was tied in this stall with a hay net. Every morning, I took the cattle dung out with a tractor and back-mounted scraper. Initially, he would kick at the tractor as I scraped muck out behind him, but he just became used to everything. As I went down with the scraper he’d respond with a bang! bang! I’d hear him kicking every time with the scraper. He became accustomed to it, because he eventually learned we weren’t going to hurt him.
“I had tin with pebbles and a sack full of straw on a rope which hung down from the roof, so he got used to something constantly touching him. As he touched it, it would swing, and ultimately, he came to perfectly accept it. I’d stand up on the stall partitions and lean over him several times a day and rap him with the sack to get him used to it and ready for later lessons.
“We’d probably be about eight weeks with him, but when it came to riding him, he was a Christian. What I put it down to was patience and a lot of hard work.”
About John Newborough
Horses have been a big part of John’s (and his wife Gina’s) life in England, from hunting when he was younger to breeding and a lot of judging now. While the types of horses have varied from Thoroughbreds to Welsh Cobs, ponies, cart, and draft horses, their farm focuses on breeding sport horses now.
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