Produced from the Australian Suffolk Punch Breeding Up Programme, Roy and Gail Fleetwood’s Type 2 geldings, Fred and Harry, have made huge strides in their training in the last 18 months.
The culmination of many hours work, first hitch and ride in the wagon.
Just over two months ago, the pair as a team were hitched to a wagon for the first time. The relaxed demeanour of both horses and driver are the result of many hours of careful and methodical training.
Roy explains: “I always work new horses separately as much as in pairs. If you only work them in company you will have problems later when they are required to work alone.
“My programme starts in a large arena, open bridle, driving on foot beside my older and more experienced mare, Olive, with reins and youngster in slide. Another time with Olive in the old trotting jogger, with young horse tied along side; then when relaxed, around the block, youngster in jogger and Olive alongside. When familiar with everything, youngster works alone.”
As two year olds, Roy had them hauling a training log.
Note Fred is working in an open bridle. Roy says: “This is so he can see what is going on around him!”
Gail and Roy always start their youngsters off this way. They have a period with winkers and visa versa. It is Roy’s belief that if you work your horse in an open bridle, prior to going to a show, if for any reason the winkers come off, your horse is familiar with this situation
Roy continues: “If two or more progress at the same time, they are introduced to an implement with a pole, swapping sides, so they don’t get used to working only one side. Then they fall into any type of work: log snigging, working pairs or as a single in a slide or cart.
“Out around the road I have used a saddle horse which, ridden by a good horseman, can calm a situation until they have done a bit.
“Remember, our horses today are for hobby, therefore they are much fresher than hard worked horses of yesteryear. Because most people work at other activities, horses do not work six days a week and twelve hours a day, so must be read differently.”
Three abreast: Olive Harry and Fred, with Roy, harrowing.
Note the taut and balanced trace chains: each one of the trio is doing their full share of the work.
Roy says of the value of harrowing when training: “Firstly, you have both hands free to help keep your horse(s) working straight – which is important in any work. This is opposed to a plough where you are controlling handles as well as your lines, in uneven going. Secondly, harrows are constant pulling where a wheeled vehicle is not, but harrowing is not as severe a pull as a loaded slide, or a plough set into five inches by ten inches wide. This is necessary to think about whilst teaching unmuscled green youngsters to work. If an implement is too light they learn nothing. Also it can become a missile if the horses change forward for any reason. If an implement is too heavy, a young horse will become confused and jib – and then all your good work will be undone.”
Harry and Fred working together, Roy on corn scuffler with Snip the dog keeping company beside.
Roy and Harry
Roy says of Harry under saddle: “All horses react differently to situations at first, but most times the end result is the same. Harry accepted it as just another job and is happy around people”.
Roy Fleetward talks about his approach to training his two yearling Type 2 geldings, their Sire is Founding Stallion, Samford Jack.
“I am just introducing these two youngsters to their work uniforms which they will wear in the future when they are broken-in.
Horses are like people, each has their own personality. These are both quiet, but totally different in their attitude to things happening around them.
Breaking a horse in is a process of elimination; first I must eliminate their fear of me completely.
Roy with Fleetwood’s Fred
Harry standing quietly while his half brother waits patiently in the background.
Once I have their trust I can then introduce them to:
- foot handling
- then rugging
- and then to harness
I never hurry.
Complete each step thoroughly before moving on: you relax, and so will your horse. If you are new to horses, always have a good horse hand with you because it is most important that you understand a horse; why he acts as he does, things like kicking, running away, pulling back or touchy about the head and so on.
I have heard clowns say, “I’ll fix him with a length of poly between the ears”, but I don’t believe in hitting horses. Like a doctor you must find out what the problem is before you can fix it.
Don’t listen to the clowns or you will never get to enjoy time with your four-legged work mate.”