I hope you can forgive me for another week without a Mule Tale … can I make up for it by sharing a gratuitous amount of Xato photos instead?! It’s just that, if I wait until the midweek slot, I fear I will have EVEN MORE Xato photos and then the blog will drown in a sea of golden mules. At least this way I can spread them out a bit.
So, Xato arrived in the early hours of Wednesday morning and was taken straight to LOC HQ. Having been given notice of his arrival on Monday morning, I had spent two days flapping around like a dying fish as I tried to organise transport to bring him the final leg of the journey; LOC could not bring their big lorry into my village, and I had not been able to book a secondary transporter until I knew when he would actually be in the UK (there had also been talk of LOC maybe being able to deliver him after all). Wanting to stick with people I knew and trusted, I contacted the chap who usually takes Ben and Iris to clinics, and the company who took Marty down to Devon, but neither were available for a Wednesday pick-up. Fortunately I then contacted Neddy Stobbart who was free all day! Although I hadn’t used her before, she came highly recommended and I knew she had a natural horsemanship approach to handling so I felt safe entrusting Xato to her.
This was very much an 11th hour booking, but once arranged I could breathe a huge sigh of relief and start preparing myself to worry about everything else instead.
I work a split day on Wednesdays, but because Xato needed a rest after his big journey we couldn’t bring him over until late afternoon – i.e. after I’d gone back to work. Luckily I literally work just up the road from my stables, so I was able to nip back, unload him, settle him in, and then go back to work for an hour before rushing back to sort everything out.
Of course, this also gave me plenty of opportunities for photos.
Having met him, I obviously already knew that Xato is a real sweet cuddlebug. But I still wasn’t properly prepared for how friendly he is! I’m so used to Marty and having to be hyper-aware of every move I make. Xato will lower his head and put his forehead against my belly so that I can scratch his ears, he follows me around, I can interact with him whenever I want, and he’s basically just a big giant gorgeous creature.
We have had our first “discussion”, however: my initial plan had been to stable him that first night, but I ended up scrapping the idea because he wouldn’t settle and I decided the arena would be better for him. When I first led him into the stable, he immediately turned round and walked back out.
“Hey,” I said, “hang on a minute, you don’t just go where you wa- oh, oki then, apparently you do.”
There was no speed or silliness to it, he just towed me right out the stable! I turned him and went to bring him straight back in again. He planted himself, but I just waited for him to figure out the answer and after a few seconds he walked in. Later, when I decided to turn him out after all, my friend opened the door for us and I asked Xato to wait in the open doorway until I actually asked him to go. And he was good as gold! I was very impressed with him.
Marty was very funny. He threw a lot of tantrums – bucking and kicking on the spot, pinning his ears, snaking his head, scuttling sideways and whirring his tail so hard I thought he might take off. He would charge the fence with his neck low and long, ears pinned, like he does when he sees a calf on the other side. But when Xato finally lost his cool and charged him … well, Marty shot backwards at 90mph, his neck arched, head tucked in, and ears so far forward they were practically touching his nose.
He’s got a lot of talk, has our Marty, but he’s got no trousers to speak of.
As Little Mare is still on boxrest, we’re still having to bring Iris in during the day and Cash in during the night. Taking Iris away caused a lot of concern in a little golden mule. Marty was still in the field, but apparently he doesn’t count.
Although he was running up and down, I was interested to see how careful he was – unlike the horses, there was no death-before-dishonour gallop towards the fence with the brakes being applied at the last minute. It seemed to me like he knew exactly where the fence was, and he slowed himself accordingly.
The twice daily swapping of the horses still causes him some concern, but he seems to be more assured that we will bring a horse back and he’s not going to be left alone with Marty.
He’s actually got a pretty good coat, but I’m still rugging him at night (and during the day, if wet) because Barcelona temperatures were in the teens when he left and I felt it was a bit mean to just dump him in rainy, cold England and expect him to get on with it! The plan is to wean him off slowly.
However, when the day is clear, he gets to be naked. I discovered that he’s too hot in the 200g during daytime hours, and the 50g/no fill rugs are fairly counter-productive when not being used to keep wind or rain away.
So all in all, I’d like to tentatively say that he’s settling right in. I don’t think there’s any chance of travel sickness showing up now, and he seems to be very respectful of our fencing. Hopefully I won’t be proved wrong now I’ve said that!
He arrived during the busiest part of my week, so I’m very much looking forward to the weekend and having a bit more daylight to play with him in.