2021 Ultramox Freedom to Friendship Stallion Challenge – Mentor Student Trainer
Trainer: Tina Fagan (non-competiting)
To follow Heidi & Apollo through their journey on Facebook & Instagram visit:
I have lived in the Waikato my whole life, and currently own a lifestyle property west of Hamilton with my best friend, a couple of horses and some cattle.
I work full time as a Flight Attendant for Air New Zealand – based out of Auckland for just over 7 years. I am passionate about my role not only as a normal Flight Attendant but I am also a Trainer/Checker.
I have ridden horses from a young age, starting out doing show hunter for most of my pony career. I met Tina Fagan as I needed a ride to Hawera as I was chasing the Equitation and high points series.
We then got discussing my next step onto horses, she said I should come to look at some of the young ones she bred and the rest is history. Not long after I moved in with her for my final year of high school in Cambridge, for the next 5 years I learnt a lot about natural horsemanship, started gaining experience in different disciplines while bringing on a young horse Tina bred by her beautiful Stallion Damontez. I love Showjumping and the challenge of working Equitation. Many years later I was lucky enough to go to Japan with Tina to help train people and horses at Adventure World for displays to the public, and a night show with the horses.
Starlight Farm is a massive part of my life and without Tina’s mentoring I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Previously known as ‘Courage under fire’ in the KHH database mustered from Zone 20 and a band stallion.
Apollo – after the Greek god, who was one of the 12 Olympians. Known for his beauty, the God of Archery, music, dance, healing and prophecy.
He hasn’t been officially measured but is around 14.3hh and approximately 6 years old.
Apollo is very confident of himself and sure of his surroundings, he is naturally inquisitive, curious and playful which made the transition into the human environment smooth.
The initial handling required a lot of time and patience as he commanded his space and he chose when he was confident enough for you to enter his space.
Apollo now loves to be in your presence as long as food isn’t involved and loves getting cuddles.
On the 27th July, it will be officially 3 months since Apollo has started his domestic life. Every day his personality is growing and he is becoming more confident and comfortable with his domestic life, He loves bucking and playing in the paddock with his friends and his little face lights up when the feed bucket is coming. Apollo loves just hanging out and spending time being pampered. Apollo progressed quite quickly after being able to spend many hours a day in the initial 14days, although he is generally quiet Apollo can be strong-minded and once he decides he doesn’t want to do something he becomes animated although he is willing to learn and very intelligent, he likes going on adventures around the farm and when he sees something new or strange he snorts, strikes out then accepts.
Recently Apollo has had quite sporadic training due to my work commitments, but we have started schooling under saddle and are currently working on softness and lateral movements, we have even popped over some jumps. I look forward to seeing what we can create in the next 3 months to present at Equifest
Today marks five months since Apollo was delivered after been mustered, Apollo has come a long way in a short amount of time, our training over the last couple of months has been based around getting the basics consistent and starting to train to a higher level, on-line and under saddle. We have done a little bit of liberty work, played with some obstacles and started to teach him some tricks. Under saddle he is starting to establish a little more rhythm in his gaits, he happily gives long and low stretching at walk, trot and canter, has a consistent soft contact when working and he happily moves off your leg.
Apollo has had quite a few outings now, when he gets to a new place, he will check it out then relaxes. Apollo’s personality is cheeky and willing and really enjoys his domestic life especially at dinner time. One month to go before Equifest, looking forward to seeing what we can create and showcase his talents.
Today marks six months since Apollo was mustered and delivered a completely wild horse.
Apollo is a quiet achiever, every task I give him ridden or online he tries his hardest to attempt what you are asking of him, he can be quite a hot horse and can be quite reactive and animated if he was to feel unsure.
Leading up to the original Equifest date Apollo was getting consistent online and under saddle schooling, creating consistent softness and self-motivation online and creating that connection needed for liberty work. Since Equifest was postponed, I gave Apollo 2 weeks off work to consolidate everything he has learnt and just enjoy being a domestic horse, that time off worked wonders he came back into work much more relaxed and happier. Recently I have been concentrating a lot more on the under saddle schooling, he is much more consistent in his transitions, rhythm and contact.
I had a little play at liberty for the first time in a month expecting a lot of work needed but was happily surprised, his “stick to me” at walk and trot was very good and when I sent him out for a gallop around the arena, he drew back into me every time I asked him. I have been working on a couple of tricks for his freestyle performance which he quite likes to show off.
I have enjoyed Apollo’s training, its amazing to think that just over six months ago he was completely wild. It’s great to look back on his progress from a Stallion who asserted his dominance and could get aggressive if he wasn’t happy with you in his space or near his food and getting quite animated, his “flight” instinct kicking in when he decided he didn’t want to be in that situation anymore, for example, the hose, he didn’t want anything to do with it and couldn’t comprehend where the water was coming from, he would rear up and try to get as far away as possible, to this day he still snorts and spooks when its bath time but is starting to enjoy it a little more with the warmer weather.
Looking back at his milestones it still amazes me how much and how quickly he progressed. After 11 days of getting him comfortable with us in his space, I was able to rub him all over and put a halter on for the first time, At 13 days he was wearing a cover, three weeks after being mustered he was standing on obstacles, had been on a few adventures around the farm and did some float loading. Only 23 days after being mustered he went on his first float ride and I took him home to my place, from there things progressed even more. 35days out of the wild I was jumping on and off him laying all over his back and asking him to bend his head in both directions. 7 weeks after being mustered we were trotting under saddle, had been on many adventures around the farm and even travelled to a new arena, 9 weeks after being mustered we were cantering under saddle, getting used to contact on the bridle, backing up and moving sideways in both directions off my leg.
Looking forward to seeing what I can create in this extra time as we prepare for Equifest in February.
Follow Apollo’s progress at @apollokaimanawastallion