I have been quite lax in my posting in the past week, and have neglected posting "profiles" of my "ponies". But not to fear.....
Meet "Halley's Comet"! Halley is our 4 year old Percheron-Thoroughbred cross mare. She is the offspring of my Mom's Perch, Aurora. When Halley was born, she was by far the most beautiful foal I had ever seen - and I have raised many a foal. (I LOVE FOALS!) She was coal black, and beautifuly conformed. We knew she was going to be a special horse, and so we decided to keep her, rather than sell her. She had the biggest hocks and knees I had ever seen on a foal; they didn't seem to fit her tiny little newborn body. Her ears, also , seemed too big for her tiny head. But it was so darn cute! When our vet Paul saw her, he said, "She's going to be 'Drafty'," and I said "Oh, come on, she's going to be 'Thoroughbred-y'." Well, Paul was right. As a weanling, she was already in a "average" halter. As a yearling, she was 15 hands and 900 lbs. and soon wore a Large sized halter. We raised her on Purina Mill's Omeline 300 growth formula, and she was eating 2 lbs. of feed for each 100 lbs. she weighed during her first year. That was a LOT of feed. Upon the advice of our vet we backed that off in her yearling year, to keep her from getting too fat. Still, we often worried about her odd development - first her legs got long, but her back was still short and she looked "pot-bellied". Then her back seemed to catch up; but then we worried about her neck being too short and scrawny. Paul kept assuring me, every time I worried about it to him, that she would develop a bit differently from other non-draft foals. She turned out perfict, so I had nothing to worry over.
Usually I start saddling a young horse at 1 year, doing work on the ground, then riding them at 2 years old. Knowing that she was getting big at a rapid rate, I began her training very young, but did not actually ride her until she was 3, upon the advice of our very wise vet, who feared for her slowly-developing knees.
With large horses, it is important (for me) that they behave very well, as I am not a large person, and do not like having to "wrestle" large horses around if they misbehave. I was very strict, and firm (but always kind and gentle, of course) with Halley; and never let her develop nasty habits that could eveolve into dangerous behavior. Dangerous behavior from any horse is bad, but a dangerously behaving giant on four hooves was bad new for me, her primary handler, trainer, and rider.
Now, as a four year old, Halley is pushing 17 hands, about 1100 lbs, and a sweet angel. She also is blessed with a brilliant mind. In her yearling year, I worked with her extensively on the lunge line, and taught her voice commands: "waaaalk", "Tr-OT!" "CAN-tuuur," "eee-seay," and "Whoa" are the ones she knows, and had them down pat as a yearling. On the lunge, when I say "Halley, whoa," she stops in her tracks, turns, and gives me full attention. What a dear!
For my convenince, I taught her that when I come into the paddock with her halter, she instantly lowers her head down to my waist or knees, even, so that I don't have to reach so far up to halter and bridle her. She is an perfict angel for the vet, farrier, trailering, standing tied, all those things. I could not have asked for a better horse, and look forward to advancing her training under saddle. I plan on doing all of her basic training and hunter training myself, and then have a dressage trainer work with Halley, and maybe show her in some dressage shows. I plan on showing her myself as a Hunter, by the end of the summer.
If she shows supreme talent in dressage, as I expect, I would like for her to be shown professionally, if we can get a trainer/rider. (I myself have no desire to show professionally anymore.) But, we shall see. Eventually, I would love to ride her aside; that is my pipe dream; if I can get my hands on a sidesaddle without going broke. Heh, heh. I reccomend draft cross horses for everyone!! They are fantastic!!