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Trooper is the newest member of the herd. He is rising 3 years old and is a Welsh section D cross, crossed with what I do not know. That is pretty much all I know about him to be honest. His Mum belonged to a customer of mine who hadn’t known she was in foal when she purchased her. Trooper needed a home, I was there and as they say the rest is history.

Trooper joined Jess and Douglas when he was a mere 6 months old and separating him from his Mum is something I never want to relive. It’s much too emotional for my heart to deal with but he is now a very happy member of the herd.

Taking on Trooper has been a very steep learning curve for me and one that is nowhere near complete yet (and it never will be). I have never had a “youngster” before so me and Trooper have been learning together. Some of it has been fun and other parts not so much as he tests the boundaries and my patience.

One particular test of my patience that I will always remember was the day that Trooper decided he didn’t want to get his toes muddy in the gateway, although he had 10 minutes before that walked straight through the mud to get to his dinner bowl. Anyway, after a 10-minute tug of war and also trying to push him through from behind, I decided that at 18 months old Trooper was stronger than me, so a battle of strength was not needed. I would not get anywhere fast and was already covered head to foot in mud. So, then it became a game of patience. Who would win this one? Trooper or a very soggy and muddy me? Luckily, I wasn’t in a rush so I stood inside the field with Trooper on the outside. The lead rope was loose, so Trooper didn’t feel pressured and we stood and we stood and we stood. Now I like being outside so this wasn’t an issue for me. I could have stood there all afternoon but I didn’t have to. Trooper doesn’t particularly like to stand still, so after what felt like a long time but in fact was only a few minutes he walked through the mud and off he went, out into the field. We practiced this daily until he realised that standing was boring and the sooner he walked through the mud the sooner he could go and play.

This is how the training has continued. We don’t use pressure or force and I try my hardest not to lose patience with him. This can sometimes be hard and I have to walk away, take a breath and come back but overall, he is a good lad and after all he is also learning, just the same as me.

Trooper won’t be backed until he is at least 5.5 years old as I want to give him ample time to mature in order to prevent problems arising in the future. If he doesn’t slow down I may not back him at all. I’m not too keen on sitting on something that moves as quickly as he does.

Trooper occasionally takes part in our hands-on experience days, although this is mainly during the summer months when he can be treated in the field, as standing on the yard for too long means he becomes very fidgety.

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