Tuesday, August 30, 2016

29th August, 2016 Reflections

It's fair to say that when I met Zelda and Zoe for the first time it was chaos. They were all over people like a rash, knocking into them, moving them around, but refusing to move themselves. Just two beautiful girls in herd mode. Over the weeks that they were with me we taught them to lead, to stand still, to pick their feet up, be tied up, to accept creams, sprays, and water, to walk on different terrain, to relax about new, novel, noisy, challenging, and colourful things, accepting strangers, to be separated, and we practiced loading. Yesterday their behaviour was amazing for two, two-year olds at their very first show and a big one at that. The stood around from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., grazing from time to time, and being held by various people, without fretting or pawing, pushing or pulling. I'm really proud of them.

Monday, August 29, 2016

29th August, 2016 Ribbons and Bows

The culmination of five weeks of training, a few hours of bathing and grooming, and a lot of help from friends and supporters, Zoe and Zelda went to the New Forest Pony Breed Show today and both brought home ribbons.

From left to right: Berry (grooming assistant and supporter), John and Pat (pretend judges); Fritham Zelda, Sarah (showing practice and showing handler); Wendy (owner, groomer and producer of many products); me (chief trainer); Julie (assistant trainer); Fritham Zoe; Carla (showing practice and showing handler); Tracey (assistant trainer); Penny and John (breeders of Fritham ponies).

First in the Forest Bred class

Second, along with Zelda, in the pairs class.

"Thank you so much to all of you for helping me achieve this. I can’t stress enough that today is all about having fun and making the showing experience a positive one for ponies/ everyone concerned." WJ 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

28th August, 2016 Future Prospects

Sunday off for Honey whilst Iona has a final consolidation session before Sandra goes it alone for a while.

Once again we were working on walk to trot transitions.

A very autumnal feel to the Forest on the way across to Fritham, with the cows making the most of a heather bed...

Some were tucked in more than others...

This also heralds the start of the drifting season with ponies having their tails marked to indicate that their commoning fees have been paid, and the part of the Forest on which they normally reside.

Back at the fields Zoe and Zelda were having a more thorough hairdressing appointment in readiness for the show tomorrow.

Good news about a past customer, Theo, one of the Warmblood foals that we worked with earlier in the year, gained a Higher First at his Futurity evaluation at Catherston with his new owner Vicky Morgan. Vicky came along to out course as a student and left with a horse...it happens!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

27th August, 2016 Exemplary

I was so impressed when I went to visit my team of three, Richard, Jan and Anne, working with two of their horses, near Stonehenge. They have got their practice sessions down to a fine art, noting all of the little successes and improvements made by the horses, the body language and concerns, and working all the time quietly, patiently and thoughtfully. As a result, their horses, one which has previously jumped over the breast bar in the trailer, and the other which had previously dashed out of the front ramp and then got bolted into some fencing, are steadily getting their confidence back. Here's one of them, Archie, being loaded and the ramp closed up behind him for the umpteenth time today. He loaded easily thirteen times in total and had the ramp closed on eleven of those occasions.


Bond worked so quietly too, no longer planting on the ramp or shooting off backwards.

He still expressed his concerns through a 'running foot' but...

...he's becoming more relaxed... and his droppings per hour have reduced to just one lot.

I have left my panels with the team who will continue to practice regularly until I see them again in three weeks time.

Having got Ivy's sweet itch rug on yesterday I thought I ought to make sure I can get it off again especially as it has some particularly strong and noisy Velcro. I had to be extremely careful but, having achieved that, I bathed her with some gentle shampoo to help relieve her itchiness even more. Later, having dried her with a towel, the rug went back on and I shall be repeating that endlessly throughout the rest of her stay.

Ivy galloping through the gateway...this instinctive behaviour.

Leaving Ivy in the company of Zoe and Zelda, Julie and I took Jack and Henry out for a walk. They absolutely love being out and about.



Friday, August 26, 2016

26th August, 2016 The Invisibility Cloak

Five horses to work with turned into four today when Honey made it very plain that not only didn't she want her girth done up but she didn't really want to be touched much either (threatening to bite and one occasion actually biting). Another visit from the physio and some further investigations needed since the gastroscope was absolutely clear. It can be an expensive and exasperating business trying to find out what lies behind a horse's behaviour but the fact that it is intermittent proves that it is not normal. When she's sweet, she's very very sweet.

We made some good progress with Iona instead, trotting circles in both directions with Sandra on board.

Pat and John took their roles as pony judges very seriously today, turning up dressed up to the nines, complete with fancy hats for the occasion. They thorough inspected and said knowledgeable things about both ponies.

Ivy made my day by accepting the sweet itch rug and appearing to love it. Putting it on had to be done with some delicacy but she showed no fear of the rug itself. I watched her moving about in it for about half an hour in the barn before turning her out.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

25th August, 2016 Six of the Best

A really long day with horses from start to finish. Before I began I pulled over at a New Forest 'hat', the name for a small clump of trees, in order to take pictures of the ponies as they arrived to shade for the day.


Just down the road, Sandra's horse, Honey, was being massaged before being ridden and seemed to really appreciate it.

Clearly she is not concerned about fly spray as Sandra goes in with all guns blazing...

Ivy made even more progress, allowing me into her right hand side and to work on both of her ears...

...and on our last course for now, Magic finished with a headcollar on and off nine times. Great that Sarah and Amanda were present at the very first course and now for the last.

They also came up to the fields with Carla, to practice for the show on Monday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

24th August, 2016 Something Suething

Seem that Henrietta is ruling the ROAST this morning having denied access to all the big riding horses. I am not sure how she gets away with this. Still, both Théoden and I are feeling a lot more comfortable on our collection of painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

Another session with Magic today with students Karen and Sue. Karen had camped out in my field overnight and half finished the field poo-picking before I arrived this morning. Guests like this are always welcome! Sue was taking a significant step down from her Friesian gelding, Atse, 15.3 hh, to Magic, but at least they are the same sort of colour.

More scarf work today concentrating on asking her to lead and seducing her little face. She marched into her stable very positively this morning and waited for the party to arrive. Once again every student brings something new in terms of their skills.

Time for a lie down afterwards...