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Baby Horse Diaries - Meet The Babies
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   19th May 2019   •   1,149 views   •   0 comments
Baby Horse Diaries

Today I would like to introduce the stars of our series, VanRee De Niro (Baby Niro), and Little Miss Sunshine (Baby Sunny).

Baby Niro is a 2013 South African Warmblood by the late Sirandipity (Sir Shutterfly). I don’t know how tall he is, and I don’t want to know. I spend half of my time telling people who say things like “Wow, he’s grown AGAIN!” and “OMG, How big is he?!” to shut up and leave. I spend the other half trying to ignore the fact that he’s still croup high, and positioning him on subtle hills to convince myself that he has, in fact, leveled out and stopped growing forever at about 16,2hh. Luckily, Niro is an extremely well-mannered young man, and although he is an absolute powerhouse of a horse, he never tries to throw his weight around or use his size against his rider.

VanRee De Niro (Baby Niro)
VanRee De Niro (Baby Niro)

Niro has been the ‘perfect child’ in every single way. After a solid ‘preschool’ education with his behaviourist ‘Magic Mike’ to set him on the right path, he has been easy to back, easy to load, easy to handle, and an absolute pleasure to take to shows and any new places.

Learn more about Magic Mike in a Polo The Weirdo Meetup and Exclusive Interview

He has been a joy to train – he is happy to try anything I ask of him, and never says no. (Although now in his 5th year of life he is beginning to exhibit a healthy amount of attitude and sass, but as long as it can all still be channeled in a positive direction, which it can, we’re all good).

Niro’s likes include jumps (sometimes taken from a standstill while mom is adjusting her stirrups), lateral work, carrots, and champagne. His dislikes include being told to wait another stride for a jump (jumps are too fun – why should he wait?), being asked for more engagement than what he generously offers on his own (OMG Mom is nothing I do EVER good enough?!), and shocking his tongue on electric fences while drinking champagne. (True story)

He was backed in December 2017, and is now an established lower grade all rounder with a Showing Championship victor ludorum and multiple prelim dressage wins already under his belt. My goal for Niro by the end of this year is to compete successfully in Novice / Elementary dressage, 1,10m showjumping, Open Showing, and possibly some 90cm eventing.

Baby Sunny is a 2014 thoroughbred by Greys Inn, and standing around 16hh of lanky tweenage shrimpiness. Although she is technically not much shorter than her ‘big brother’, she appears less than half his size.

Little Miss Sunshine (Baby Sunny)
Little Miss Sunshine (Baby Sunny)

If Niro is the perfect child, then Sunny is definitely my problem child. When I tried her out off the track, she was calm, brave, and took everything in her stride. The second I got her home, she melted into a puddle of anxiety and became a spooky, rearing, bucking, napping mess (in fact her behaviour reminded me fairly strongly of myself when I started high school, if you replace rearing and bucking with screaming fits and sobbing in a corner in the fetal position). Since she was a typical OTTB bucket of nerves, I decided to treat Sunny for ulcers. After her treatment, she immediately mellowed and settled to become the slightly insecure, but very willing and talented young horse that I met in the beginning. We made great progress during that time, and although we’ve had some more setbacks since then, we are slowly figuring each other out and moving forward (or upwards, or sideways – direction of movement depends largely on how much anxiety is swirling around in Sunny’s little brain at that particular moment).

Sunny’s likes include hacks (she thinks she was born to be a happy hacker – so at least I know she still has a future if eventing doesn’t work out), water, making friends with every horse that passes within 10m, getting into horseboxes with friends, and food. Her dislikes include birds, butterflies, flappy plastic, watching friends leave, getting into horseboxes without friends, and empty food buckets.

Sunny came off the track in April 2018, and after very slow progress, she is now schooling consistently well at a prelim level and jumping courses of 70cm. She showed enormous talent at her first cross country practice outing, and won a 60cm jumping class at her first little show. This year I would like to get Sunny established in 70cm eventing, 80cm showjumping, and prelim dressage. Most importantly, I’d like her to learn to be calm and relaxed not only at home, but also on outings, and to keep figuring out what she needs to be confident and comfortable in her work.

Every baby horse is different, and although there is not a huge difference between Niro and Sunny in terms of age or time in training, both horses learn and mature at very different paces. For Niro, tackling new experiences is easy and fun, and the biggest struggle in training him is to stay patient and not ask for as much as he’s willing to offer before he is physically ready. For Sunny, the world is a big, scary place that is full of anxiety triggers, and new experiences can be really hard. But she is always trying, so we’ll be patient and let her figure out her new life at her own pace. Then, before we know it, she’ll be soaring up the grades and raking in the prizes.

Here’s to the future with two completely opposite but both extremely talented young horses! Let the hilarity ensue.

Baby Horse Diaries - Meet The babies

Baby Horse Diaries - Meet The babies

Baby Horse Diaries - Meet The babies

Baby Horse Diaries - Meet The babies
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