Xato arrived during a particularly cold, wet week in the UK, but this week the climate is a lot more clement for our Mallorquin expat. I’ve actually left him naked for the last couple of nights because it’s been dry and the temperatures have been around 11/12c (in November!!). He approves of this: I don’t think he much liked wearing his rug, as although he’d stand and let me put it on and fuss with it, he would shake his ears when I did it up and would occasionally bludgeon me with his enormous battering ram of a head.
I have been doing little groundwork sessions with him during the week, working on homework set by Ben at the weekend; he’s made time to fit me into his teaching schedule and is giving us a lesson every Sunday, so hopefully Xato and I can stay on track!
Leading from the right is still a bit baffling to him, and he really isn’t keen on circling to the left, but we’re getting there. I had thought that he was very different from Marty: that Marty was the one who needed subtle cues and a lot of reassurance, and that Xato was bolder and less likely to look to me for comfort. What I now realise is that Xato is just as sensitive as Marty. He might look like a great big chunk, but he really doesn’t need much to make a change; I’m learning how to ask enough to get that change, but not enough to make him want to leave.
He is very good at standing still and being patient while being groomed, but at other times he likes to creep forward and I must remember to put him back when he does this and not back off myself – otherwise I find a sneaky hoof hovering near my toes!
We’ve also been practicing feet handling as our trimmer, Emma, is coming out on Wednesday. The first day I handled them, he was a bit of a lunk; he picked them up alright, but then wanted to lean on me, walk off, or just waggle his leg around in a mildly irritating fashion. I persevered because I know he knows this stuff, and picked the foot up again if he put it down (there isn’t a whole lot I can do if one of those legs wants to go somewhere).
The next day he was much better, although his left hind is still quite troublesome. He’s quite keen on testing me to see what he can and can’t do, and so long as I pass, he’s always better the next time we try it! But given that he is being consistently bad with that one foot, I’m assuming he may have tweaked something somewhere and it is probably uncomfortable. I have Gavin Scofield coming out to him on the 14th December so hopefully that will help him out, though it’s a shame I couldn’t get an earlier visit.
He is always a constant pleasure to have around, though. I love how talkative he is, how he always comes over to the fence to see me, and I especially like that he’s decided to stop kicking his water bucket over whenever I bring one of the horses in. Those feet of his have a mind of their own.