Let me tell you about Muff (or Muffy as I tend to call him). Muff is the father of Karma’s foal, Saffy, and is the sweetest boy. He’s very well-behaved and just a delight to work with. He’d rather I didn’t tell you this (because he’s supposed to be a tough stallion) but he’s a little bit afraid of everything, including his own shadow. The only thing he isn’t really afraid of is me.

We have a close bond. In fact, I have a close bond with all my horses but the relationship is naturally different with each one. With Muff, it’s all about cuddles, chin strokes and neck massages. He LOVES nothing better than five minutes of scratches, hugs and pats from me. He follows me around the paddock as I’m mucking out or doing something with the fences. He manoeuvres himself into position – close proximity but not too close (after all, he’s a tough stallion and has to keep up appearances). Then he looks at me with these huge eyes and takes a step forward. This is the signal that he’s ready to be admired and pampered.

Each day, Saffy is looking more and more like Muffy. She has Karma’s considerable high rear-end but she has Muff’s face, eyes and dun colouring. I’m now training Saffy using clicker training; like they use to train dolphins. Foals need to be schooled from the very beginning. They need to understand what is and is not acceptable behaviour.

So far so good. I call Saffy over to me and when she touches her nose to the target (usually my hand or a lead rope), I make a clicking sound with my tongue and she receives a good scratch around the ears or neck. I’ve read that people reward the foal or horse by giving them treats. I don’t want to do that for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, Welsh ponies have a tendency towards weight issues. So using food treats probably isn’t too smart. And secondly, I don’t want Saffy to associate me solely with food. I want her to know that if she behaves well, she receives lots of cuddles and pats. And that a horse/human relationship can be based on good behaviour, lots of fun and loving attention.

She’s a sweet foal. Most of her time is spent guzzling from mum, sleeping flat out on the green grass or running around in circles like a mad thing. And speaking of mum – Karma is the dream mother now that she has the hang of the feeding business. At first, when Saffy ran around, you’d find Karma looking a little alarmed and she’d run after Saffy. Now, she just lets Saffy run and run because she has realised it’s just her foal finding her legs and being a spirited young horse.

I’m also seeing how Karma is teaching her foal. When Karma gets her broodmare mix, Saffy often wants to inspect the bucket or put her hooves in it. Karma tolerates this for a bit, then her ears go back and she looks like she’s about to bite Saffy. You can see that Saffy is being told by her mum when I’m eating don’t bother me. Learn some manners young lady.

My sweet boy, Muff.

Muff doesn't have a skin disease - it's the reflection from my diamante iPhone cover!

Don't you think I look like my Dad? And look - this is my first taste of grass!!

I’ve got my Mum’s rear-end though.

I'm just too cute for words!

Mum and I now know what we're doing when it comes to feeding.

Advertisements