Two years ago, Karel and I were on our way to pick up horses for a demonstration by Monty Roberts in Hasselt, Belgium. We had to pick up a horse that had already been with three different trainers, but was sent back by all of them after only a few days because the animal was crazy and unrideable. We had to pick him up that day up because he also did not want to load on the trailer.
I remember that we arrived at the stable after a long drive. Unfortunately, the entrance was too narrow for our trailer and Karel and I reluctantly had to carry our metal fencing panels over a distance of more than 100 meters to put the animal on his own trailer. The owner said that he was going to get the horse, but that he first had to put the mare in the front stable in her field. The horse that we would take with us had to go through the box of this horse. No problem of course.
After about ten minutes we still saw no sign the owner coming out, so we went to take a look. With sweat on his forehead, the owner was busy taking the first animal from her stable. But no matter what he tried, the animal wouldn’t come out. And then you immediately see the differences between Karel and me. I immediately take the line and try for myself (to no avail …) and Karel is quietly watching, observing everything. Eventually the owner said “I’ll get a whip!” But of course that went too far for me. Then suddenly, there was Karel. He asked the owner; “How long has this horse been in the stable?” The owner replied without pause, “Oh, no more than a week or two, maybe three…” I couldn’t believe my ears! Karel then asked the second question: “How long has the horse that we would take with us been in his stable?” – “Well, that won’t be longer than 2, 3 months…” I told this gentleman I could not believe what I was hearing. Did he really think we would be putting a rider on this horse in a demonstration the next day? Surely not? You could not seriously have any intention of starting a horse under saddle that has not had any free movement for months. It is not fair to the horse and dangerous for the rider!
This animal could not participate in the demonstration the next day. After taking a breath, I walked back to the owners and told them the not so good news. But I did add that six weeks later, we had a course coming up in Oudenhoorn with Dan Wilson and Grant Bazin, and that the horse could come there and receive free training. However, I immediately explained that horses need daily exercise and lots of free movement in a paddock or field. The outraged owner exclaimed; “What a nag! The horse has been in the field all day until mid-October!” Just to be clear, it was March by then… The horse had been locked in his stable not for two, but for five months. I honestly did not know what to say...