Thunderbird

Gender: Gelding

Year of Birth: 2010

Height: 15.1hh

Colour and Markings: Bright bay with a star and two socks

Breed: Friesian crossbreed

Thunder is kindest horse I’ve ever known, a willing, absolutely loving, friendly horse who tries his gentle heart out and loves everyone he meets. Although not overburdened with brainpower, Thunder does his best every time. His only fault is his excessive good nature and occasional tendency to forget that he’s a horse, not a giant Labrador.

Thun was a little dream come true. I was thirteen and knew nothing except that mommy horses could make baby horses, so poor old Skye was subjected to the affections of a partbred Friesian stallion and 365 unbearably long days later, Thunderbird was born.

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He was apparently born loving people. Although a little shy for a day or two, it didn’t take long before he was sleeping in my lap and giving his tiny, high whinnies when he saw me coming, even though his toothless little mouth couldn’t take any treats. Until he was about three months old he used to follow his mom when we went on outrides, squeaking in breathless delight when we galloped. By the time he was a few weeks old he took tremendous pride in lifting his tiny feet to be cleaned even though I couldn’t really fit the blade of the hoof pick into the minuscule grooves beside his frog.

Weaning, halter training, lunging and gelding went past without incident; Thunder accepted everything I did to him as part of a game, from injections to walking over tarps or bits of metal to the saddle and bridle. Desensitisation? Ha. I tried, but he just stood there while I flapped plastic bags around his head until I gave up. I used to take him on walks like a giant hairy dog, sometimes not bothering with a lead rein.

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By the time he was two, we were thoroughly bored of groundwork, so I backed him. (See above re: knew nothing). The first time I sat on him, he turned his head to look at me in curiosity and then just stood there. It took him a couple of lessons to figure out that kicking meant go forward, but after that, he was great. I can count the number of times he ever bucked on the fingers of one hand.

He was my hack/experiment for years, doing everything from chasing cows to Western to dressage to jumping. He even did a stint as a riding school pony and continues to pack around adults and the taller teenagers, but in the beginning of 2017 I stole him back for dressage. He also competes in the SANESA shows under our deserving yard rat K.

He loves absolutely everyone and tries to make friends with everything from dogs to donkeys, and will still go to sleep in your lap if you let him.

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