Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom

Over the Moon

And so with heavy hearts we have waved goodbye to Moon Fox, the Spanish Mustang mare we have had the pleasure of training here at Quinto do Brejo for the past four months.

Moon came to us as a five year old at the beginning of her schooling and has now rejoined her owner to continue her development into the very fine horse I know she will become. It has been a wonderful experience to work with such a beautiful strong mare and to know her unique characteristics as well as those she shares with her Lusitano cousins.  Every horse I come to know brings new experiences and new learning.

Spanish Mustang Mare 'Moon Fox'

At five years old, Moon’s musculature was already beginning to be well developed, but having lacked the gymnastic work that would often take place from around the fourth birthday, her physique was quite tight and inflexible.  We started then with a lot of work in hand to supple and free her in walk. This helped to build the right foundations for the balance and strength necessary for ridden work.

Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom

On the other hand, being five years old, Moon had the mental maturity to progress quickly with the ridden work. You will see from the photographs that we found we were able to introduce the double bridle relatively soon in her training. For a young horse at Moon’s stage of development, this is more helpful in encouraging and supporting flexions of the neck and the suppling work from the ground, than as an aid to collection (as the horse matures, there will be more potential for collection in ridden work).

Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom

The early photographs also show that Moon’s physiology gave her a tendancy to fall on to her forehand. Therefore we incorporated lots of exercises – such as rein-back from the ground – to encourage her to carry her weight more evenly.

Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom

By the end of her period of schooling with us, Moon had progressed very well through the basic lateral work and is beginning to find self-carriage in the more difficult lateral exercises such as haunches-in and half-pass.  She is very attentive to the seat and can be ridden with a very light hand, which shows that she has both the physical and mental maturity to enjoy her work at a higher level of training.

Moon Fox Spanish Mustang with Charlotte Wittbom and owner, Julie Ann Rees

I’ve had a lovely time training Moon and I wish all the best for her and her owner. They have the makings of a great partnership and I’m sure will have a wonderful journey together.

Spanish Mustang mare, Moon Fox and owner, Julie Ann Rees with Charlotte Wittbom

The New Moon and Shooting Stars

As promised: Here are some pictures of Moon Fox – the Spanish Mustang mare – after one month of training with me at Quinta do Brejo. She has been a lovely horse to work with – strong, willing and trusting. Our early work focussed mainly on developing communication and rapport through lunge work and then on suppleness and responsiveness through working in hand from the ground.  With that foundation, she’s now feeling lovely as we begin our ridden work.

Charlotte Wittbom riding Spanish Mustang mare 'Moon Fox' at Quinta do Brejo

In the pictures (which you can click to enlarge) you’ll see we’re working a lot in walk, with some transitions in and out of trot, to help develop Moon’s balance and musculature. A young horse, or one early in her training will often have a tendency to fall onto the forehand and be a little uncoordinated until her strength and poise improve enough that she can carry herself in collection underneath the rider. So while we’re schooling I’m encouraging Moon to work toward a better balance with the influence of my own position in the saddle and with sensitive use of the hands. We take things little by little, so that progress is steady and surefooted and we both finish on a good note, looking forward to the next time.

Charlotte Wittbom schooling Spanish Mustang mare 'Moon Fox' at Quinta do Brejo

Charlotte Wittbom schooling Spanish Mustang mare 'Moon Fox' at Quinta do BrejoCharlotte Wittbom schooling Spanish Mustang mare 'Moon Fox' at Quinta do Brejo

In other news: Yesterday a fashion house photographed their new collection with Quinta do Brejo and our horses as a backdrop. Here are a few behind the scenes shots of the day…

Charlotte Wittbom riding Vip; Don Tomaz Noronha Alerção riding Sado at Quinta do Brejo.Charlotte Wittbom riding Vip at Quinta do Brejo.Charlotte Wittbom riding Vip; Don Tomaz Noronha Alerção riding Sado at Quinta do Brejo.Charlotte Wittbom riding Vip at Quinta do Brejo.Charlotte Wittbom riding Vip at Quinta do Brejo.

Spanish Mustang Mare 'Moon Fox'

Return of the Mustang

We have a new young student here at Quinta do Brejo – a beautiful 5 year old cremello Spanish Mustang mare named Moon Fox, who started life in the United States.

Spanish Mustang Mare 'Moon Fox'

Spanish Mustang Mare 'Moon Fox' (image by Brigitte Blanche).

Belem Tower, Lisbon

Belem Tower, Lisbon (30 minutes from Quinta do Brejo) was made a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its importance in the history of maritime exploration, including the voyages of Columbus. (click to enlarge)

Like me, I’m sure many of you won’t be too familiar with the Spanish Mustang. The modern breed is descended from horses taken to the Americas by Columbus and the Spanish Conquistadors and therefore has strong connections with the origins of the two main Iberian breeds, the Lusitano and the Andalusian. In the twists and turns of American history following the Spanish conquests, feral herds of Mustang horses developed, migrated north and became extremely hardy in the vast wilderness of what is now the United States. They were prized by Native Americans, would play an important role in the shaping of the nation and are now an icon of America.

It’s interesting though to think about the strong links between the Spanish Mustang and those breeds that were valued in the European Baroque and Cavalry traditions – horses closely related to each other, living in worlds that couldn’t have been further apart. It’s also special to see a descendent of those horses taken by Christopher Columbus from these Iberian shores to the New World, now come full circle to live in Portugal.

Columbus map

"Columbus Map, drawn ca. 1490 in the Lisbon workshop of Bartolomeo and Christopher Columbus (click to enlarge).

Moon Fox has just been started and I’m delighted that she’s now going to continue her training for some months with me at Quinta do Brejo. She has a lovely temperament, moves well it’s a real pleasure to have her around. I’ll keep you posted on her progress.

For more information on Moon Fox, the Spanish Mustang breed and its history see www.spanishmustang.org, www.centerforamericasfirsthorse.org and www.cavalospirit.webs.com