Meeting Magic Mike
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   15th Apr 2018   •   2,131 views   •   0 comments
Meeting Magic Mike

My first meeting with Mike was something of a serendipity; one very fortunate but unequivocally unplanned coincidence. And a more fitting set of circumstances I truly can’t imagine, since the very horse around whom this meeting came together, is one Vanree De Niro. Son of ‘Sirandipity’.

They say the knight who comes to your rescue is supposed to ride in on his valiant steed. My problem, of course was that I already had the steed; only, nowhere for him to go, and no way to get him there. At the time of purchase, De Niro was a barely handled 4 year old stallion who had never been inside a horsebox. He was standing in Port Elizabeth (PE) - a 10 hour drive from his ‘new home’ in Cape Town - and he was stranded there for the next month due to African Horse Sickness Movement regulations. This left me with a predicament: either leave my horse at the stud farm and have him arrive in a new home with no groundwork or training, totally unequipped for the start of his new life, or find someone in the area who would keep him for the month and start on his basic ‘education’. Obviously the first option was not ideal, and honestly something I wanted to avoid at all costs. I’ve been trampled by horses much smaller and, um, ‘less entire’ than De Niro was, and – being older and wiser (ie, more of a wimp) than I was back then – I was not exactly jumping up and down for the chance to go through that again in ‘difficult mode’. This left the second option.

Now, you’d think that getting a horse from point A to point B - where point B would care for and train said horse for one month in exchange for some money (people love money) – wouldn’t be too hard to achieve. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. As it turns out, most sensible (even money loving) people have several objections to this simple plan, which can all be summed up and listed as follows:

The horse is a stallion, and not many yards are equipped to handle stallions, or the gelding recovery process. The horse was a stallion, and therefore could not travel on a float with mares on board. The horse was virtually unhandled, and would therefore most likely be difficult to load. The horse had never been in a horsebox, and therefore ran the risk of destroying the property of whatever money-loving dingus was foolish enough to agree to truck him. (As it turns out, nobody was foolish enough. Horse people are –unfortunately – usually pretty smart).

Due to this combination of circumstances - along with the fact that De Niro was standing virtually in the middle of nowhere – what seemed like a simple plan had morphed into something downright impossible. It was like trying to solve a really difficult maths question – and I always hated maths. So, several failed arrangements later, I was sitting in PE - partly to steal their eventing championship trophy (which we did), and partly to somehow find a way of getting this damn horse off the stud farm. It was at this point that I recalled some advice a friend had offered me months ago, back when I first started trying to find a ‘training’ livery yard to take on my horse. She had offered me the contact details of a freelance behaviourist in the area – not exactly what I was looking for, given that I needed a yard where the horse could stay, but at this point I was pretty much out of options.

So I gave Mike a call.

After months of struggling to find a way to get this horse off a stud farm, Mike had everything arranged within 30 minutes. He would come with us, give De Niro a quick crash course in respecting people, listening to a headcollar and loading into a horsebox (yes, an optimistic goal, but miracles can happen), and then we’d be on our way with the horse in tow to arrive at a friend of Mike’s who would keep De Niro for a month while Mike handled all his basic (or rather, fairly advanced) groundwork and training. The plan seemed way too good to be true, but given that Mike pretty much oozes confidence from every pore (and given that we had no other options), we went along with it and hoped for the best.

So there we were, my ever-supportive and very nervous little mother and I, on our way to collect our monster purchase with a complete stranger in tow. Luckily, the only thing Mike is better at than training crazy horses is making small talk, so after a little hour and a half road trip, we pretty much knew Mike’s life story, including the fact that he had only been doing behavioural work professionally for two months. Being a fairly cynical person and, let’s face it, a little bit of an ass, I set myself up with my camera on arrival, 100% ready to watch Mike crash and burn and make a complete fool of himself trying to load a barely handled stallion in the one hour we had left before running out of daylight. Luckily for me (though somewhat disappointing for my sadistic side), Mike very quickly proved that he was not all talk and no action, and that the confidence cloud sparkling around him like Edward Cullen’s vampire glitter actually did have a practical use.

Meeting Magic Mike

I was expecting entertainment. Instead I got the horse-wrangling equivalent of a boring, predictable rom-com with a happy ending and no expected twists.

Within the hour I had a green stallion calmly munching teff in my horsebox, and one completely uneventful trip later, he was all snuggled up in his new stable while we drank champagne, took ‘new horse’ selfies, and got Mike in trouble with his girlfriend for staying out all night helping crazy horse people for what I am going to assume with as much certainty as Mike has confidence glitter was not the first time.

Meeting Magic Mike

That rather long deviation from what I intended to be an introduction is the story of how I met the man who would come to be known as ‘Magic Mike’ – the young Equine Behaviourist taking South Africa by storm. To find out more about Mike and his glitter (I mean his job), keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming ‘Magic Mike’ series, detailing Mike’s theories, ideas, and daily work in the field of Equine Behaviourism.

Meeting Magic Mike

Meeting Magic Mike
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