Dazzle is 18 months old now and is coming on so nicely. Thought I'd update you all and also thought it might be useful to others with youngsters or getting youngsters.
She was taught to tie up soon after she was weaned by slipping the lead rope through a bailer twine loop on the outside of the stable and a friend holding the end whilst I groomed her so my friend could hold her if she pulled but also release easily should she throw a complete wobbly (which she never did). From there she tied up with no problem and will now stand when tied up even if I move away from her. Now, if she spooks or panics about something she knows she is tied up and will just swing from side to side rather than pull back.
When she's been tied up I've stood at her side with both my arms over her back and also stood on a tack box and leaned over her to groom the other side of her (without putting weight on her).
Putting a rug on her was a challenge to start and needed two of us. First I just got her used to the sound of velcro being ripped undone! Then I got my friend, Val, to hold her on a short lead rope, whilst I stood to the side of Val nearest to Dazzle's hindquarters holding the rug (folded up) touching her side - which sent her into a mad trot around us with Val and me spinning in the middle getting quite dizzy! I didn't want to her to panic and throw a fit by stopping her from moving, but while she moved I had to be able to keep the rug against her until she accepted it being there .. 20 circuits later she stopped. Then I half unfolded the rug and held it towards the top of her back .. this was followed by another 15 circuits until she stopped .. and after several stages like this we finally got the rug over her back and only had a couple of circuits of spinning with me holding the rug firmly in place before she stopped and we were able to do all the straps up. She was quite sensitive over her hindquarters and I soon learnt that the easiest way to get the rug off her without her having a panic was to lift the back of the rug over her hindquarters onto her back and then slide it off. The second time of putting it back on meant repeating the earlier process again but this time we only had a couple of circuits of trotting around with each stage. Soon I was able to put the rug on her whilst she was tied up and I spent some time over a few days just pulling the back of the rug to one side then the other over her hindquarters to desensitise her. Now she is happy for me to throw the rug high in the air over her and pull it off her (although still has a little fidget to the side as it slides over her hindquarters if I do it quickly).
She has very sensitive ears and so has her headcollar left on at all times. The one time she got it off herself in the field and my friend tried to put it back on her she reared up at her. So I have spent a lot of time just holding her headcollar and rubbing her ears - she wasn't happy about me touching them at all to start with and would try to back up but gradually she got more and more used to it and now actually enjoys having her ears rubbed. I tied her up and got a larger headcollar which I practised putting on her both by undoing the top strap and flicking the headpiece over her head to do up, and by undoing the throat piece so I could push the headcollar over her head and ears - and then taking off both ways also. She is now much better and is happy for me to squish her ears right down on her neck and put another headcollar on her over the top of her existing one although still just lifts her head up if I undo the throat piece and push it over her ears.
I got a lunge line and spent some time over a few days throwing the end of it over her back then sliding off her side or sliding it off over her hindquarters, also holding it around each of her legs and gently sliding it up and down as I gently pulled it from side to side to desensitise her. I also put it over her back, picked up the end under her tummy and then slid it back and forth around her.
Got a bridle (no noseband or reins) with a myler bit and undid one side then a friend stood one side of her and myself the other. We held the bit in front of her mouth and after a short while she took the bit in her mouth so my friend and I held it in place whilst my friend put the top of the bridle over her head so I could catch hold and then hold the bridle in place on my side. She mouthed the bit but wasn't at all phased by it and by just holding the bridle this way I didn't have to guess at adjusting it first or adjust it when on but could just hold as tight as needed and also remove easily and quickly if needed - which it wasn't.
I got a stretch surcingle and have put that around her where a roller would go, just holding it together at the side to start with and then doing it up so it was snug but not tight. Then over a few days I tightened it a little each time and also pulled it away from her body and let it snap back onto her - all which she took completely in her stride and wasn't fussed about at all. She is also happy for me to throw the surcingle in the air over her back or hindquarters and then pull it off down her side or towards the back over her hindquarters.
I have put a roller on her and at first just held in place, then did up loosely and walked her around a little with it on. Then I have put on and fastened tighter. Yesterday I put the roller on her, put one strap through the buckle and pulled as tight as it would go, whilst she stood tied up. I didn't do the buckle up so I could quickly and easily release the pressure if needed - the first time she took a step sideways so I released the pressure a little then tightened again once she was stood still and she was fine. I kept releasing and tightening over and over and she stood completely still, totally unphased.
Also yesterday I took a lightweight old saddle with no stirrups or girth and whilst she was tied up, I let her sniff the saddle, rubbed it against her side, then placed in on her back whilst I held the front and back of the saddle so I could lift off easily should she panic. I then slid the saddle off down her side - with the saddle firmly touching her side as I did it, and repeated this 3 or 4 times. All of which she took completely in her stride.
I've heard a lot of things from different people about Demonstrator foals not liking being tied up, being spooky, having difficult brains, just generally not being easy to deal with, etc but I have to say I couldn't be more pleased with Dazzle's progress. I do feel though with youngsters that the earlier you can start doing stuff with them (no matter how little the things are) and being able to do things gently and gradually (rather than leave them more or less untouched and waiting until they are 2 or 3 and doing everything all at once) does pay off.
I will try and get some pictures to post of her soon. She has grown so much lately - she must easily be 14.2hh+ now and is bum high at the moment so still growing well!
Our Winnie is coming up to 18 months old so its good for us to know what others at this age are doing, especially as we were new to horses when we found our new mare was expecting.
We took a chance last December and moved our two to a DIY yard from a riding school. Winnie has been sharing a field with her mum since February after a 6 month seperation and they get on really well with each other and the other horses that are in the field. They are not stabled close to each other though. Nancy(our mare)is not really bother where Winnie is, and Winnie likes the company of the other horses.
Winnie is very laid back, she has seen a dentist, sees the farrier regularly, she will pick up her feet for him and for us when ever we ask her to. She is happy to be tied up for the farrier and when we brush her. She walks up and down the road outside the yard, doesnt take any notice of the cars, lorries, bikes or tractors. She is walked around the outdoor school on a long rein but is not lunged.
My daughter is always cuddling her and Winnie will rest her head on her shoulder. She took to be rugged quite well and most of the time will stand without any problems.
We havent tried a bit yet but when we put on her head collar she trys to put it in her mouth. We have a surcingle, which we put round her holding a numnah in place. We do this from time to time while she is watching the cars go up and down the road ourside her barn or when she is in her stable being groomed.
She is getting a big girl now, when we last measured her in August she was 14.2 but her bum was 15hh. She wears 6ft rugs and is chunky. To be honest we couldnt have asked for a better temperament on her.