The Adventures of Hercules - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 12-01-2016, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: New Zealand
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The Adventures of Hercules

I had another journal, but it appears I have lost it, and so with a bit more time on my hands and with a new outlook on the future, I'm starting a new one. I really need to get Hercule fit as myself and my boyfriend are moving to a station in Hastings, as he's got a job there. Very exciting for us and it means we will be living together after a year of long distance. I get to take Hercule with me so that means lots of riding on the farm! And my boyfriend (who's a better rider then me, aren't I lucky) will likely be using him for mustering.

I currently have two horses: a 20+ year old Clydesdale/Thoroughbred mutt, a very handsome fellow who stands at about 16.3 and is aptly named Hercules, as well as a standardbred lease mare, Daisy, who is about 14.3 and will be returned to her owners soon. I really hope i've done her justice.

For those wanting a bit of background on myself and my horses; I am a 18 year old who lives in New Zealand. I've been horse mad all my life, but really only started riding (apart from a few horse camps) at 13, doing an hour lesson once a fortnight. Looking back now, where I use to ride was pretty useless and really just taught things that we found fun rather then things I needed to know. I thought I was pretty much the bees knees because I was jumping higher then most of the other students on bombproof, slow ponies. When my family moved to a lifestyle section about 20 kms from town, I was allowed a horse. I should've bought a been there done that horse, but instead I bought Hercules.

Hercules was previously a 1.20m showjumper and so is pretty much a schoolmaster when it comes to jumping, but he's also a fairly hot ride who they were selling suspiciously cheap for a '14 year old' horse who I found pretty straight forwards when I rode him. Previous to me, he was sold from a place where he was ridden very frequently and jumped extensively, to a nervous beginner rider. He became difficult to catch, was ridden in a poorly fitted saddle so combined with that and a very reduced workload, he quickly took advantage. This is a big horse, and allowed to get away with things, he picked up a habit of bucking during the canter. I did not know this.

For the first month or so my family couldn't afford a saddle so I rode bareback. I hadn't really ridden bareback before and my seat was terrible. Again, he basically got to do what he liked. One day he got particularly carried away at the canter and bolted on me, jumping the electric tape and going into the trees. I basically got clothes-lined by a tree and came off a few seconds later, my face scratched. For the next year it was a misery of bucking, new fitted saddles only to find him still bucking, and hard work because the second he was out of work he was a pig to bring back in. I really did not like him but I knew I wouldn't be able to sell him without lying, and then I wouldn't be able to afford a new horse. He was a big scary horse and I was just thankful he was a gift on the ground- the gentlest guy who was very obliging. It made me hope that he could become that horse under saddle.

Its been over three years now, and what really has made me connect with Hercule is leasing Daisy. This is a five year old very green mare but she has the most willing temperament under saddle- if a little mareish on the ground. I got a lot of confidence from her, which transferred to Hercule. While in the second year we mostly sorted out our issues, I was still afraid of him acting up which in turn made him act up. He's a tad sensitive to such things. In the summer we competed at 90 CM showhunter and won, and he was great, cantering calmly for his lap of victory; completely in his element. I hacked him out not in work over winter successfully, which I had never done before. I worked out a way to just relax even when he was jig-jogging, throwing his head, and realised the less I worried about him being stupid, the less stupid he'd be. If he started to get hot I would just let him canter or let him trot till he came back more calmly. It's very important in his case to make sure you do not keep contact on his mouth if he's getting excited. A half halt is fine, but I have to remember to use my seat and voice and as a very very last resort, my hands.


This year has been very bad riding wise. I have just finished my last year of high school, and the weather has been incredibly wet. It's December now, and I would've thought it'd be nice and dry heading into Summer, but it's still raining every few days. The horses basically had winter off apart from a few rides here and there. Unfortunately, Hercules got more miles then Daisy which I felt bad about, but she is still pretty green and is a bit odd with traffic, and only the road was dry enough to ride. She also has an intense dislike for flat work, so more the reason that she was rarely ridden. Even so, I've given her a great deal of experience. She can be hacked out on the road by herself, she went to a horse camp where she was ridden with 30 other horses, she did games, has been jumped up to 80cm. She's a bit fat at the moment and I'm not happy with her feet (seedy toe) but I really hope they're happy with what I've done with her. I'll be sad to see her go.

Yesterday it was raining so I just rode Hercule in the paddock. I've always been super fixated with getting him to travel without his head in the air. At the walk he travels really softly but lacks power from behind, but definitely doesn't 'llama'. At the canter he's a bit tight and not as soft, but drives really well and comes onto the contact fairly easily and its definitely not a "false" headset. His way of going about at the trot is hideous- head up, short strides. He does this in the paddock too, and the only way to get him to stop this is to push for a really big trot. Under saddle even in a really big trot he can giraffe quite well but will drop his head long and low style for a few moments, or into the contact, but it takes a lot of leg and as soon as he comes back up he's very stiff and on the forehand again. I'm not really big into jumping anymore which is a bit of a bummer since that's the reason I bought him and that's what he's good at, but he's got a decent work ethic and is happy enough with whatever I do with him (unlike daisy).

We had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday. I've noticed the giraffe thing is so annoying because it completely locks up his jaw and poll and makes him so stiff- no bend through his neck or body. So, starting at the walk, I put inside leg on and curved him around my leg with the lightest contact on the inside rein I could, asking him to step in, before swapping to the other side, down the center of the paddock. We basically looked like a squiggly line. When he had got that at the walk, I asked at the trot. As usual, his head shot up in the air and he locked up straight away. I put inside leg on and some hand and he veered dramatically that way, still stiff and not at all bending. I kept asking and eventually he softened, dropping his head down and towards my hand. I then swapped to the other side. It took a lot longer with the trot but he eventually got it. I tried with the canter but I think it's a bit tough to ask him for that as he's a big old boy and although he's extremely agile in the canter, he just kept swapping lead changes. I need to find another exercise to ask for softttt bend and light contact in the canter. I know what I'm saying probably makes no sense but it made sense to me!

Thanks for reading :)
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post #2 of 24 Old 12-02-2016, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Location: New Zealand
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Oh just so you know, Hercules is the one with the stripe in the photos, and Daisy the teeny star.

Had a good ride today on my boy. I went to ride with the people down the road- one of their mares went crazzzyyy into heat upon seeing Hercules. He has that effect ;P He got a bit stirred up after the girl decided she wanted to canter and me and her mum had a little canter afterwards. They are both on thoroughbreds, but after that, it was Hercule who was jig-jogging. He was head flicking like crazy which worried me a little- likely allergies flaring up I'd say, combined with being excited. We then went back and did some flat schooling. I really need to push him into corners more he loves cutting into them. He was really coming down onto the bit and up over his back at the trot though which was fantastic.

For such a big horse, he loves tiny circles in the canter. I also need to work at using my OUTSIDE hand to turn, because i always use my inside and it's pretty easy for him to ignore.

All in all, it was a pretty good ride. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to use the facilities up the road- a lovely arena, big flat grass, jump poles, x-country jumps etc... He always gets stirred up going there so I'm glad I rode today. I think i'll do some jumping as well as flat work to give him a bit more variation, but we shall see.
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post #3 of 24 Old 01-23-2017, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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I've been busy!!! I moved into our new house, two, coming on three weeks now. It already feels like home and I'm having such a ball. It is on 890 hectares, so basically 2200 acres, of land. Not hours obviously, my SO is just a shephard here, but the owner is very kind and so I am allowed to ride wherever I want on it. For the first two weeks, I didn't have Hercules as we had no room to take him down on the first trip, but he arrived mostly safe and sound on Saturday afternoon. It took quite some effort to get him on the float (I wasn't there), which was a bit odd to me as usually he just walks straight on.

Previous to him arriving, I have been lucky enough to ride the neighbours kids ponies. One is a Kaimanawa who is really slow and kind towards the daughter who rides, but very very quick when an adult is on him. Me and the girls mother went for a ride, and even though it would have been quite a distance, we covered it quickly as he just would not walk. It was a bit nerve wracking at times, but good fun. He isn't dirty at all, just likes to go fast. The other horse is an absolutely gorgeous welsh cob, dappled grey and pretty much my dream horse. She is very green, however, and is super nervy away from other horses. I am stoked to have my big man back.

He's settled in really nicely- he's being paddocked with the other two horses, and there has been very little fighting. He's massive compared to them, so even though they are somewhat in charge, they are hesitant to get into a battle. So far I've had three rides on him- Sunday, Monday, and today.

Sunday was not such a nice day, very blustery and a bit cold. Despite him not being worked for a few weeks, I decided to be brave. He's still definitely not comfortable in his surroundings, and is super looky. He was not keen to move away from the other horses, but if he had to, he did not want to walk. That was okay for me, and we basically just cantered/trotted the entire way up to the lake. When he is cantering it is like he completely forgets about his friends and is happy to be moving. I unsaddled him and led him into the lake and he became a total hippo- wallowing in knee deep mud for as long as I'd let him! Needless to say he got a hose off when we got home. I was really proud of him, he was happy enough to walk home.

Monday wasn't such a good ride so I won't talk much about that. It was nasty again (quite cold for summer) so I just wanted to stay in the flat paddock and do some arena work. He had no bend and was fixated 80% of the time on the fact his mates were just over there. So, we just did nice big canter circles right around this massive paddock until we lost some of that stupidness. We then had some trouble with gates, and did not end the ride particularly nicely, and I felt bad about that.

Today is a stunning day! Hot, but not unbearable, blue skies and only a tiny bit of wind. I decided we'd go out the back. For the first paddock or two he wasn't happy to walk forward and would only move forwards while looking ahead at the trot or canter. Once we'd gone up quite a bit of hill and he was puffing, he decided it'd be okay to walk. He was honestly super well behaved I was so impressed! Not really herdbound at all once we got past the initial bit, and he seemed to be really enjoying himself. When we got to the lake, I jumped off again and let him have a play in the water. He really did seem happy with himself and was not in a hurry to head home.

For most of today's ride, I found he worked better using just the reins on the halter, rather then on the bit. So the next ride I think I will just put him in the halter if we are hacking. I prefer that anyway, just so he can graze easily, and i don't know, I just like how free it makes me feel. I wasn't at all happy with my saddle either- it slipped back quite majorly despite the martingale, and what with it being a tensy bit too long for his stupid back, yeah, nah, I think I will go bareback while hacking too.

I'm so excited for this year!! I'd love to buy a green horse for a project, but we shall see. Photos attached are of today.
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post #4 of 24 Old 01-24-2017, 10:30 AM
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Congrats on the new house! That's so awesome.
Hercules is soooo cute. Such a handsome boy.
That scenery is just breathtaking, I'm so jealous. I'm glad you had a good ride!!
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post #5 of 24 Old 01-26-2017, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! @PoptartShop He sure knows he's handsome.

Gave Hercule the day off after the last ride, then rode him again yesterday. I was going to go for quite a big ride but it was very hot, and the boyfriend finished for the day early so I didn't want to be out too long. I went up to the lake again, and then went up the hillside till I was looking out over the lake. It was very beautiful. Hercule did super well and was only a tiny bit sticky. I really don't think he's getting on very well with the other horses- he was completely fine to leave them, and they him. When I let him back out, he stood and waited till I left before walking away to go find them, even though they were right on the other side of the paddock. It was really quite sweet.

I think he's a bit arthritic in his hind legs. He finds it quite hard to go down the hills. He zigzagges even if there's only a slight decline and feels quite clunky. I just let him go at his own pace, where he wants to go. Other then that, he's in great health and fitter then I expected him to be. I was stoked I was able to ride bareback and in a halter as well, and had no problems staying on even while trotting and cantering. Until I get a saddle that doesn't slip (I'm looking at buying a T8 Thorowgood Compact) I'll ride bareback over the farm. It'll be good for both of us.

It does make me a bit sad though. I really would like to have a green horse to bring on- originally I was going to be starting a midwifery course this year, but I've just been so unsure about it that i've decided to take a gap year, which means working, and money. First purchase will definitely be a float I think. I would really, really, really, love to get into endurance. I'm absentmindedly looking out for a cheap project horse type that I could grab, but really its only a dream. I'm a bit bummed because I don't think my boyfriend is going to be as supportive/into horses as I thought he was going to be- don't get me wrong. I'm super lucky that he rides and is good with horses and likes them, but he's more into the racing side of things, and less into the actual riding. He wasn't gone on one ride with me since we have been here :( I get that he's a bit tired from working, but we have weekends!!! He just doesn't seem to be showing any interest. I'm going to ask him to ride Hercule while I'm away Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, hiking, but we shall see...
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post #6 of 24 Old 02-03-2017, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Had a really busy week and I'm feeling quite drained. Monday/Tuesday, I was hiking- our family did our usual 3 day walk in 2 days and it was HARD. My feet are covered in blisters and I'm quite lightheaded still. It was massively enjoyable and some of the views were just spectacular. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how well I handled it- I did no training, so I wasn't really fit at all. Self preservation clearly kicked in!!!

Yesterday I went for a massive ride (I thought so anyway), over 15km in three hours, with a decent pace. We could've gone further, but I err on the side of caution when it comes to Hercules. I was really wishing we did go further by the end of it- he certainly didn't feel tired! I don't have all that much steering control in the halter and it really showed. My brakes were okay, but when he decided to canter towards his mate (who was just following/leading us without a rider), I really couldn't stop him. I wasn't even worried really but it was a bit annoying because he was going in the wrong direction. A few firm corrections later and he was much better. I really need to work on him being lighter to turn in it though, he's usually pretty easy until he just decides he can ignore me. He's a bit of a dick like that. I think I'll probably ride him in his bridle next time we are out, just because his one rein stops are established with a bit, but DEFINITELY not without one.
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Last edited by falling; 02-03-2017 at 10:26 PM.
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post #7 of 24 Old 02-06-2017, 10:59 AM
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Wow, beautiful ride it looks like! :) That's so beautiful!

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post #8 of 24 Old 05-18-2017, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Man I'm awful at updating this! Honestly, not overly much has been happening. I was reading my old journal and I think it's hilarious just how far I've come in the last year or so. Hercules would have to be a raving lunatic for me to hop off him now- back then, I'd jump off if he spooked and got uptight.

Worked out why Hercule was feeling so old/tired. I was feeding him epsom salts, under the assumption that they were normal salts, so I was way over dosing him! As soon as I took him off them, he was back to his usual silly self. He even threw a few silly little rears in while out riding in company to prove it. His flat work is really coming along nicely, and when I;m hacking with him, he is using his back most of the ride. Although back to acting like he reckons he's a thorougbred, I can definitely feel he's getting pretty old. Something in his hind end feels clunky- probably his hocks. He's still sound and happy though, but it is definitely time for him to slow down some more. I got invited to go on a hunt though so he might have one last big hurrah! We will probably only gate but who knows, depends on how the old guy is feeling.

I've been working with my neighbours horse, and I am soooo excited with how she is coming along. Major case of separation anxiety- starts shaking when she is taken a few meters away by herself from another horse. The progression has been- working her in the paddock with Hercules tied up somewhere, and slowly working her further away from him, until she gets she just has to go away from him. Then, I took her for walks by herself, and jumped on for small amounts of the ride. Now, I have had three rides out on the farm by herself! The first one was short, and I had to hop off quite a bit to get her moving forward. The second, was fantastic! I was so impressed with her. Didn't hop off once except to do gates. The third would have been equally as good except that she got pretty sticky going past some other horses (a colt especially, the tease), and we had a whole lot of steers chase us, which meant I had to walk quite a bit. She really clicks onto things fast, and I think she's definitely trusting me now. She has literally like no spook, apart from when she is in some place new and worries herself to death. The secret to get her past the stickiness is to make her trot, I've found, until she is capable of walking in a straight line calmly. We have also had to work on standing to mount, as she was never taught this really. I don't like to mount from the ground (even though she is tiny) and she had never been taught anything other then that, so she was completely baffled by the idea of lining up beside an object and standing. By the third ride by herself she pretty much has it down now.

I'm a little besotted with her. She's so cute, and friendly. She comes running to me in the paddock, neighing loudly. Mostly because I feed her a lot, but hey! She's super cuddly. She's also getting some lessons on being covered (a first), being washed (seems to hate water), and I miiight talk the owners into letting me pull her ridiculous mane, and make her look like a pretty show pony. The more i ride her, the more I want her. I feel like she'd be such a fantastic endurance horse, if she gets over the seperation anxiety. She is just such a little powerhouse and recovers so fast, not to mention her trot and walk are ridiculously ground-covering.
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post #9 of 24 Old 05-28-2017, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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Gave Hercules about a week off since he felt really odd when I last rode him. I think he's just not going to handle being ridden extensively. On Friday, the neighbour's daughter had a little lesson on him, and he was super well behaved. My SO came and watched as he had finished work, and decided to hop on after her. Hercule actually looked great, rounding well at the walk and TROT, which really shows how he's improving. He even popped him over a few small jumps and said he felt fantastic. SO looked like he had a blast, which was nice to see. It's like he forgets how much he likes riding until he's actually riding.

Prior to her going lame on Friday, I rode Spirit most days last week. We had a few disagreements about moving forwards occasionally, but she's getting really good. She's also not fussing about lining up and standing for me to hop on. She's really starting to trust me and turns her head to look at me in the saddle if she's feeling nervous. I'll give her a pat and a few words of praise and then nudge her on. She got massively freaked out by something at one point and just wouldn't move forwards. She was trotting on the spot, showing the whites of her eyes, flagging her tail, snorting, the whole lot. I believe it was the smell of donkeys. She has been past them a few times, but is certainly wary of them, and they weren't in their typical spot. On the Thursday before she came up lame, I did some flat work with her. Still crazy green about most things, but she was very well behaved. We are mainly working on a sensible canter depart from a canter cue, aka outside leg back, instead of just running into the canter. She manages to get a fright a few times when I slide my leg back and spooks forward into the canter, but by the end of the session we had one really nice canter depart from a slow trot into a canter. I really need to work on making sure I'm working on both rein because I've noticed I'm really silly and just stick primarily to one side.

We also did some jumping which was good fun. At first she was like, why on earth do you want me to go towards the difficult path! but by the end, she was getting a bit excited and having her little ears *****ed. We are just trotting into jumps so far, a tiny little grid. Overall, super happy with her progress so a bit bummed she is lame now and will need time off.

I'm planning on going for a trek on Hercules today, but it might not happen as the weather is a bit yucky, and I have a lot of cleaning to do! I will try and remember to bring a camera for once.
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post #10 of 24 Old 06-15-2019, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Reviving this thread with an introduction of the horsey love of my life Romeo. Romeo is about 15.2hh. He is a TB x, was bred for polo, but likely failed because he's pretty lazy and terrified of horses coming towards him. Hes six years old and I've had him for a year.

I've still got Hercules but hes largely retired now, only used as a spare horse and when I want to let Romeo 'rome' over the farm off the lead. He's getting a cataract in one eye now- so old!!!

Anyway, a little catch up on my life. We have moved farms and towns to my old home town which has been amazing. With buying Romeo and my home town being so horsey I have been able to really get into competing. It's so awesome to be able to go to a horse show and know so many people.

Me and Romeo have slowly been going up the heights. This time last year we weren't even jumping, and about a month ago we jumped a 90cm round with only one pole down (rider error). We are currently a bit out of action waiting for a new saddle to arrive (remind me to never buy from overseas!!!!) but have a few shows to look forward to soon.

Our other fluffy baby, our cat, has just cost us nearly 2k in vet bills so finances are really tight. Hoping once new saddle arrives I'll be able to sneak in a few dressage lessons. Although we have been mostly competing in jumping, I really enjoy riding dressage on romey... Mainly because he makes it easy!

Anyway attached are a few photos of the pretty chomey boy.
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