When I have seen horses bowing or performing complicated movements I have often thought that it must have taken hours of training to teach the horses, but today I saw it done in less than a minute. All it took was a carrot and I was amazed that it seemed the most natural thing for the horses. The groom who cares for the four horses has previously worked with polo ponies and racehorses and seems to know much about their care, and suggested these exercises to help strengthen the horses and keep their muscles supple for when they are pulling the carriage.
Beginning with Mandla – who LOVES carrots – the groom stood by his side, holding the carrot towards Mandla’s hindquarters where he curled his neck around in a good stretch to reach the carrot. This was repeated a few times on both sides. Next, the groom held a carrot just between Mandla’s front legs. Mandla effortlessly tucked his head down to reach it and then surprised me with an impressive bow as he took his carrot.
Weeky has had me giggling on previous occasions with his own free-willed stretching out in the field. He begins by placing his forelegs out in front of him, then splaying his hindquarters and leaning back into a gigantic stretch just like a dog would. He was also willing to learn to stretch for carrots but didn’t quite go into a full bow like Mandla.
Not to be outdone by his two friends, I’m not entirely sure if Troy loves carrots or attention more. Either way he was eager to give stretching a go too and had me spellbound with his agility, but then again he is still just a baby and should be more supple than his older companions.
Storm, with his trust issues wasn’t too eager to cooperate with the groom, and when I gave it a go with him at first he was more interested in his hay than the carrots. A little later when he was down to the last of his hay, I tried with him again and he sweetly did a few side arches and an attempt at stretching down for his hay. Baby steps with this sweet boy have him becoming more comfortable a little more each day.
So, while they aren’t yet bowing on command these gentle giants are off to a good start towards greater strength and flexibility.