Friday, November 9, 2012

It has been over a week since the arrival of our second newest equine acquisition. The delay between his arrival and my bragging about him on the blog has not been due to a lack of excitement about his arrival. Purchasing two new horses in a week must have just rendered me speechless in happiness. That, and we couldn't decide on a name.

But first, the introduction... Meet Samson, our handsome, strong, and long haired Haflinger:

After several years of oogling over the Riegle Haflingers, displayed every October at Farm Fest, we finally arranged a time to visit their farm. After some complications in retrieving the 30 odd Haflingers in from 140 acres of pasture we were confronted with this little gem, trotting excitedly around a little holding pen. We got to see his flashy trot and then, as he calmed down, his sweet and friendly personality. Clay liked his big muscles and I was smitten after he blew softly into my face. 

We were told that his father was a grand champion, his mother was one of the Riegle's favorite show horses ("the kind you never want to grow old and die"). He had been halter broke and taken to Farm Fest a couple years but had otherwise been left in the pastures to live a horse's dream life. He is a registered 4 year old AHR gelding in the M-line, 13.3 hh, and originally named Matte (Mah-TAY). 

We looked him over and then very calmly said that we would go home and think about it. We also went and inspected another Haflinger gelding that afternoon and told them that we would go home and think about it. We were being very objective about the whole matter. But Clay should have known better than to let me actually go meet the prospective horses. The more I thought about "Matte's" flowing mane and warm breath the less objective I got. Clay is always much more sensible and practical than I am in such matters, but I knew he favored the horse too. And in the end I have a very indulgent husband (and in-laws). A week later my early Christmas present arrived and was calmly led into the round pen. 

For being a pasture ornament for several years I was (and still am) very impressed with his calm demeanor and super respectful leading habits. Clay and I have managed to round pen him a couple times, work with his feet, desensitize him to ropes and lead him all over the place. I have also desensitized him very efficiently to having a camera shoved in his face.

Check out those long eyelashes...

He is definitely getting used to being around people and is a little nervous about some things, but I couldn't be happier with his personality and train-ability. After a week he has gotten used to the kids running around and jabbering and has formed a strong bond with me -- one that is mostly tied to being fed lots of grain and being an outcast from the herd while Chico chased him around the pastures for several days before accepting him.

I was his only friend. Now he has Fritz and Sackett, so we will see how our relationship progresses.

We have heard a lot about Haflingers in the past several years as we have contemplated buying one. We have heard all about their calm, people-loving personalities, strength, healthy hooves, and versatility. Samson certainly seems very people-oriented and friendly, curious and calm. I am looking forward to getting to know him better as we work on training him this next year. And, if everything goes well, we should have another fabulous addition to the riding lesson scene. Perhaps it's a little too early to say, but I'm pretty sold on the breed. I can see myself happily raising corgis and Haflingers into my old age. If only one didn't have to consider the practicality and fiscal wisdom of such prospects. 

And, on a positive note, Samson satisfies my secret cravings to own a Belgian draft horse, in a much more economical size, so at least Clay doesn't have to worry about that for a while. And, if all goes well (once again), we should be set on horses for many many years. 

The naming process was rather long and drawn out and with much indecision. The poor horse got called countless odd and creative names over the week as we tested them out. Matteo, Matthias, Troy, Jove, Big Joe (Mufferaw Joe), and Hans... just to name a few. Most of the names were centered around Austrian or Italian names and words (since Haflingers originated in that region), greek/roman gods and names from mythology. As with Fritz, we circled around endlessly and then finally settled on one of the names that had been mentioned originally... Samson. 

As a bonus we can now associate this great song with him:


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