Jumping into a New Life: Brian and Kate's Journey
Written by Kate Mieczkowska
I acquired Restless Brian, also known as Brian, from his initial owner, who had taken him directly from his racing career. I came across Brian through a Facebook advertisement. His previous owner was a kind young man who taught sports at a primary school while raising a young family. He had originally intended Brian for leisure riding, but due to time constraints, things weren't progressing as planned. Brian needed to remain fit, stay focused, and feel good to exhibit good behaviour.
After a three-hour drive to meet them, I decided to take Brian under my care. In the beginning, he displayed a fair amount of resentment, had strong opinions, and was hesitant to even leave the stable. However, he showed a genuine enthusiasm for jumping and practically pulled me into the arena to attempt show jumps the first time we set up a course.
Over the course of two years, Brian and I have grown to understand and trust each other better. He now eagerly anticipates his work. He confidently goes on solo hacks, engages in cross country schooling, attends clinics and even serves as a mentor to younger horses from our stable during clinics. Brian has transformed into a content, relaxed, and skilled horse. His physical build may not be ideal, but I've learned what it takes to keep him sound and I'm excited to see what we can achieve together in the coming year.
Initially, I considered introducing Brian to point-to-pointing due to his evident love for jumping. To learn more about his racing background, I reached out to his breeder and trainer, as I hadn't known Brian during his racing days. He bears scars and possesses an unconventional build for a racehorse with bones like a brontosaurus and stifles that need lots of help.
Strengthening Brian's hind end and teaching him proper walking technique was a gradual process. From his perspective, it appeared pointless and tedious, but he eventually began to enjoy it, feeling stronger and moving gracefully. Maintaining this progress is challenging, but we've developed a regimen that includes hill work, changes in terrain, and exercises with poles and Cavaletti’s, all of which have been beneficial.
Brian boasts an array of peculiar quirks. He's profoundly possessive of me, always wanting to be close and would even sitt on my lap if he had the chance. His attention span is short, and when he's had enough of pole exercises, he deliberately forgets to lift his feet. At times, he behaves like a moody teenager, but we've learned to navigate these moments. If Brian becomes confused, he can get a bit cantankerous. In the past, this would manifest as a malevolent attitude and sudden veering to the right. Nowadays, it's limited to a momentary stubbornness, with some foot waving. He used to frighten off several farriers, and I suspect he might have been sending them intimidating messages without my knowledge. Fortunately, he now has a skilled farrier who understands him and isn't afraid.
One of our most memorable days this summer was when we ventured alone to Boomerang Stables' cross-country course, overcoming the drizzle and tackling the water with determination. Brian surprised himself by thoroughly enjoying the adventure. On our way back to the trailer, he almost gate crashed a pony club camp. This marked a significant achievement compared to the previous year.
Looking ahead, I aspire to venture into eventing and aim for the Gatcombe Championships, as well as the new eventing prize for ex-racehorses in 2024. Ex-racehorses possess a remarkable connection with people; they move lightly and think swiftly. All my horses exhibit boundless enthusiasm, whether it's sharing a quiet moment in the field, embarking on a hack, navigating Boomerang's challenging course, or playing polo. They are courageous and loyal companions, and it's a true privilege to work with them.
RoR is always interested to hear of other success stories so please email us and send a photograph of your own story.
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