Breaking your horse

Nothing can prepare you for the challenge of starting your own horse. This may be your first time or your one hundredth time, and one thing you can count on is that every horse will be different.
In this series of blogs we will explain the process our horses go through to help them become fully working animals, that enjoy their job, the rewards of work and who will carefully look after their rider.
Hazel during her training

Teaching Sandy
Training Sandy on the long reins
The most basic thing you will need to understand is that the horse needs to feel safe and have trust in those working with it. If you can establish this through kindness and patience, the horse will follow your lead, hopefully reacting to new stressful situations positively and carefully, rather than explosively or negatively, causing hurt to itself and those working with the horse.
We have been lucky to own a few of our horses from weaning, but some have come to us literally straight from the fields or mountains, where they have spent 3 years roaming the pasture wild, with little or no human contact.  As you can imagine being transported to a new world can be frightening and upsetting for these animals. First job upon arrival is to get a head collar on them with as little fuss as possble. This is important so that we can control the horse safely. It can be a huge test for a wild horse, but with a little kindness, quietness, calm reassurance the collar is on and they can be unloaded from the trailer, and lead to their new home. A clean fresh stable, clean straw and lots of food to nibble on will help them recover from the upset of transportation. It is also a good idea for there to be a friendly neighbour available to keep them company throughout the first night.
So you have managed to safely deposit your new unbroken wild horse into its stable and by now I’m sure you are questioning you sanity! Yes there will be days when you will wonder what have you started. Be confident, be patient, be kind…. Best thing you can do now, is to leave your new horse to settle into its home.
Part one of Breaking a horse will conclude here. Part two will deal with socialsing a horse to our touch and grooming.
There will be regular updates to this blog so please feel free to keep checking in with us. If there is a particular topic you would like us to cover please email or like and follow us on Facebook.
For some more useful tips on breaking a horse visit   There is some great tips on getting a horse to trust you.

Helmets, Gravity, and Human Superiority.

Nice little blog about wearing your helmet around horses

Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog

Leslie and AndanteAugust 1st is International Helmet Awareness Day. It’s the day Riders4Helmets started, in the wake of US Olympian Courtney King-Dye’s traumatic brain injury, to raise awareness and promote equestrian helmet use. Helmet retailers join in by giving discounts and tomorrow is the day.

This is the fifth year and every year I write about helmets because it’s so important. Every year, I repeat statistics like this: Equestrians are 20x more likely to sustain an injury than a motorcycle rider or that speed makes no difference. Many brain injuries happen while mounting. Last year I wrote about nearly getting in a bar fight on the topic. Previously, I wrote about a woman I met in a nursing home who haunts me still; she’s living my biggest personal fear. Every year riders who wear helmets cheer this day. Preaching to the choir is easy–and the other side is dug in and…

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Galway County Show

Galway County Show

The one thing that can be hard working for ourselves is having to take the bookings when they come, even if it means missing a competition or show we would love to enter. Sometimes the bills are more important. After the personal success at last years Galway County Show, we had hoped to take other horses and have a bit of craic widening their horizons and showing them what fun horses can have too. The kids took turns doing the photography, the results of which can be seen in full on our facebook page here!

Galway County Show
Side Saddle

The Galway County Show heralds in the summer showing season here in the West of Ireland. Up and down the Wild Atlantic Way horse trucks, lorries, little trailers load up their horses, dogs, cattle, & sheep for the chance to shine at the Ballybrit Racecourse on the outskirts of Galway city.

Our interest is naturally in the equine classes, but even those not enamoured by our four legged friends can find something of interest for themselves and the family. There was the amusements located close to the entrance but cleverly placed away from the animals to avoid unnecessary hardship and competitors. The screaming from the waltzers could upset even the best trained animals.

The 2 day affair is not one to be missed, and thankfully a contingent from Cooper’s Hill ,managed to sneak away late Sunday afternoon to grab a hours at the show. We were not disappointed. The Grand Prix Jump Off had just started, and we got up close and personal to some spectacular horses jumpIMG_4942ing over huge obstacles. We briefly watched the Connemara Stallions, Connemara Mares some with foals, Coloured Hunters but by far my personal favourites were the Side Saddle ladies. Horses so well turned out, that you have to wonder if they are wrapped in bubble wrap or clingfilm when not showing. I cannot imagine the time, patience and effort that goes into making horses that fabulous. I crazily wondered if maybe the horses were hoovered because no matter how much I bathe ours, or groom them I can never get them looking so good.

Sadly, our disappearance was noticed after a couple of hours. The dreaded phone call came and we had to make our way back to help sort the horses out for the night.. Not before we had one last spin on the waltzers though.

For scientific purposes, and general curiosity I did investigate if you can hoover a horse… apparently the answer is yes!

Check out this video link.. Vacuuming a horse

For more dates on agricultural shows in Ireland check out this website.

Irish Shows Association

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Thank you for reading.

Tattersalls International Horse Trials And Country Fair

Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair

We were lucky enough to win some tickets for a day out to Tattersalls International Horse Trials & Country Fair. I must start off by thanking for the opportunity. We had never visited Tattersalls before and it was an amazing day. Here is just some of the action we captured on our mobiles. We were honestly enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t want to spend too much time turning it into a work day out.

We started our journey very early on the Saturday morning. Kids shipped off, picnics packed, rain gear just in case… It is Ireland after all. After a few hiccups, someone’s alarm not going off, we managed to arrive safe and sound.

Tattersalls is a wonderful venue, good helpful staff, easy to access, great facilities and plenty of places for viewing the action. It is well worth the time and effort and we would recommend that you should go at least once.

We didn’t check out the shopping village mainly because we were too excited and wanted to spend our time taking in the course and watching the riders. Our wallets thanked us. Me let loose on a horse shop is never going to end well.

While it is a great day out, I did find that even the best of us eventually need a break and no better place than the green green grass.

Break time
James taking a break

Here are some links to pages and websites with more photos:

1. Tattersalls

2. EquusPics Photography

So we end our day satisfied and now on Monday we are suffering withdrawal symptoms.  Well done to everyone involved, and congratulations to all the competitors.

Horse’s first solo hack

Samson for sale

Samson  Goes  Solo

So this is Samson, well on his way to being a truly great allrounder. He has a nice sensible attitude to work, and importantly new situations.

This is a video of his first time out on his own….

Samson has previously hacked out on these roads with another horse to babysit him. We repeat this until the horse is so comfortable hacking out that he can do it automatically. The next big step is for them to perform the task on their own.

There will always be a few goofy steps as they get used to the big bad world all on their own, but I think Samson did a good job.

For regular updates on Cooper’s Hill Livery and all our horses, you can like and follow us on all these sites,

Introducing a horse to traffic

Sierra is a 2010, Irish Sports Horse, 16.2, green numnah in video.

She as backed before Christmas 2014, given time off due to horrible weather and for good behaviour. She has been back in work since February and continues to go from strength to strength.

This video is a good example of what we do with horses that need to be introduced to heavier traffic. Sierra has been hacked out on smaller lanes, with little traffic but varying vehicle sizes.

We placed her second in the group behind a calm, forward going relaxed horse. Behind her is Rocky a horse she is regularly worked with and Midnight, the most dependable horse. Starlights job is to guide her, keep her going forward as he can match her pace. Rocky is there for security and comfort while Midnight is the rear guard. If there is any trouble he come from behind her and urges her on.

Starlight is ridden a bit further out on the road than usual so that if there is any issue with Sierra, like her shooting forward when frightened, Starlight can cut her off and keep her behind him in her place.

I hope you enjoy watching our video. We regularly update to our Facebook page.

Backing a horse

Samson is an 18h 3 year old Irish Sports Horse. We are continuing to record his progress during his breaking.

Samson has proved to be a very easygoing, trusting horse which considering his size is a blessing. I would not fancy having a battle of wills with this guy. He accepted the bit and the saddle with minimal fuss.

This video records Samson’s first time being backed by a rider. How we do this is we have the rider lay across his back and walk in little circles to familiarise the animal with what we want him to do. It can get hairy at this point, and not all backings are as plain sailing as this was, but it helps when the horse is so trusting.

You must do everything possible to make the horse feel comfortable. We achieve this by petting, brushing, scratching and leaning into them. Each time he reacts positively to a new task or touch he gets praised. Dont be afraid to praise and reward when he is good. By doing this we hope that trust is built and he will react well to pressure on his back.

Gather yourself, slow your heart rate, relax but always remain aware, for laying across any horse for the first time can be unpredictable. Never attempt this on your own. You must allow the horse to react even negatively, remain in control of horse, rider and yourself. Never react loudly or negatively, but always reinforce the positive. This is where time spent in the stable grooming and socialising with the animal is extremely beneficial. He will know if he reacts well, that he will be rewarded. Each time we do this it is different for each horse. You have to be able to judge when to call it quits, or when to persevere. If its not working out for you, never be afraid to call it a day. Try doing something you know the horse is comfortable with, ask him to perform that task, reward him if he does it right. Always end the day on a good note. Tomorrow is another day.

This is video of Samson being backed for the first time. It is only a little snippet of what we do. When backing we will repeat the action up to 5 times depending on how well the horse reacts to the first initially backing.

Be sure to like and follow Cooper’s Hill on Facebook for regular updates.

There will be more video of Samson’s progress posted.