After a short break from horses due to children, work and life in general, I eventually found myself a lovely 15.2hh Connie x ID to have on loan. Unfortunately our time together was short due to his owner wanting to sell.
Luckily a few months later, and following a weird introduction (outside the school gates), I was asked if I was interested in helping a lady who had an 18.2hh Shire just turned five with his exercise and general education.
Initially I had a few reservations due to the fact that the biggest horse I had ever ridden was 17.1hh, back when I was a teenager.
Following a trail period for both of us he quickly became a big part of my life in more ways than one.
Having never ridden a Shire before or had any idea of the difference owning a heavy horse, I went into this relationship with a lot of caution. After a period of having him on loan, the opportunity arose for him to become my first ever horse to own and we have just passed our two years together as horse and owner.
So firstly there’s the obvious fact that everything they need and require is just so much bigger, gone are the days of finding that 6’6” rug in the sales section.
Now you spend time researching the best fitting 7’3” rug for a long horse with crazy large shoulders!
Learning not to look so shocked when you get your feed because although you only have one horse when it comes to feed and bedding you basically budget for two.
Put all of that to one side our biggest learning curve has been my fitness level to ride such a big horse (I’m 5’3”, a little over weight and nearly fifty) and teaching this amazing horse that he has four legs and a large back end, that it needs to work to help carry his own weight as well as mine.
So it’s been a slow and steady start to our education/journey together, we are moving forward with his schooling and my understanding that as a Shire he was breed to pull therefore his instinct is to lean and he will do this every chance he gets, whether that’s leaning on the bit during a lesson or leaning on the stable door whilst I’m rugging him up.
We have learnt that his spatial awareness is slowly improving with his maturity (I have been squashed against the stable wall more times than I can count) and although he thinks he can fit through that small gap he will listen when I tell him it’s a no go.
Due to his size and continuing change of shape due to schooling and his age, he receives regular physio and saddle checks. Now he has turned 8, he will now start to fill out instead of upwards and the saddle checks are to make sure there is no unnecessary tension in his chest/shoulders or back.
The best thing about owning such a big horse is, he truly is a gentle giant and never does a thing with malice.
When he does misbehave, he’s just like another horse that needs reassurance he can do anything and cope on any situation with the right support.
Our journey will hopefully be a long one together as his is my forever horse. We are constantly learning and hopefully one day all our lessons will pay off and we will pull town impressive dressage test but for now we will continue to enjoy each other’s company and our hacks.
Follow Jodi’s journey at www.instagram.com/grey_hairs_and_giggles