There were highs, there were lows and there were extraordinary acts of kindness, but what better way to ease out of the corona-nightmare than with the happy news that George’s Ranch is expecting a new baby!
Defying the laws of probability, Shunka is set to be dad again at the grand age of 31. Although he’s not quite ready for the Guinness Book of Records, he’s pretty close.
Two years have passed since Shunka was last asked to ‘perform’ and, to be honest, we weren’t sure if the machinery was still working, but we found a stunning young mare who we knew would be a perfect match.
If the love story didn’t work out, it wasn’t going to be a problem because Julietta would be a lovely addition to the Ranch.
Now, we’re in a win-win situation – a new and very sweet mare who will be an asset to the yard and a foal on the way that we expect great things from, and for good reason.
Six years ago, Shunka sired another foal at the Ranch; the very spirited and very beautiful, Luna.
A handful from the start with a lot of character squeezed into her near-perfect conformation, Luna started her schooling a year ago. This week, she came back to work, after six weeks of light lunging to keep her ticking over, and took to her lesson with owner Maria like a boss.
Although good training plays a large part in behaviour, there are simply some exceptional horses out there that love to work and the greatest assistance you can give them is to nurture their talent in the correct way. Luna is a horse that loves to work and given a job, she simply gets on with it, like a pro.
One of the great joys of being at a yard with such a diverse collection of horses, is charting the course of their development as they evolve in strength, ability and confidence.
In February we brought Valentina to the Ranch, a scrawny Andalusian three-year-old in need of a good feed and some human interaction. Her transformation has been nothing short of staggering. In the space of two months, she looks healthy – shining from the inside out – she’s taller, rounder and happier.
Of course, creating healthy, happy horses isn’t rocket science – feed a horse well and introduce them quietly and correctly to working life and it doesn’t take long for them to adjust and thrive.
When Julietta arrived a few weeks ago from Larnaca, she was an extremely nervous young mare, clearly anxious about getting things wrong, and a ball of pent-up energy that needed handling in the right way.
Three weeks later, we are schooling Julietta in the arena and she is growing in confidence with each passing day. There was no pressure beyond asking, and she responded by giving. Sometimes, it takes longer to build trust, but not usually – not if there is trust on both sides.
As most equestrians know, trust is key to forming a good relationship with a horse and one of the many joys of being at a busy yard is seeing the bond that forms between certain horses and clients.
While it is true that it is our job as riders, trainers and owners to build confidence in our horses, if this is done the right way these horses inevitably go on to give that same confidence back to novice riders or riders who have simply lost their way.
We see the most striking results of this when clients take horses on loan. That’s why we were thrilled this lockdown to see three of our gorgeous horses team up with clients.
First, Amor took on Roxy, who she has been riding for almost a year, then Sofiya paired with Princess and, finally, Lynne loaned Penny.
All three matches are a dream come true for us because we love to see our horses and ponies receive special one-to-one care, but we also love seeing how much they give back, bringing on their rider’s knowledge, development, confidence and self-esteem.
In many respects, horses are our best trainers.
These were just some of the highlights during this worrying era of lockdown and we, along with the rest of the island, are praying for normality to return as soon as is humanly possible. But, until then, stay safe, remember social distancing and protect yourself.