Saturday, September 30, 2006
My New Forest ponies are on the mend and gaining weight too. Some people on the Forest are really blase about strangles and local shows have been going ahead as well as the sales. The drifts were cancelled for Turf Hill and Long Cross. I shall pleased when this is over as my girls will be immune to strangles forever more.
I have not been totally ostracised, and have had some very interesting work this week. Today for example I did a radio interview for BBC Radio Somerset Sounds on the Moorland Mousie Trust and went to load a New Forest pony in the afternoon before visiting a Morgan x Trotter on behalf of a friend. I was so nervous before going on air but the producer and the DJ were really easy to talk to and I used all my horsey methods for bringing my adrenalin down. I really enjoyed the experience and got a good plug in for the Trust.
The afternoon pony was a real planter (what do you expect from a pony that is called Flower?) and it took some time to get her to move at all. We used the panels to help her and once she was loading we took them down again. She must have loaded 25 times by the end of the session and her owner, who is 12 was doing all the work. I am always amazed at the abiltiy of teenagers (or thereabouts) to absorb information through watching and then put it into action.
Incidentally, David really enjoyed his five day course at Hartsop Farm and has come home enthused. Now he is discussing ponies with me!
Leaving Nickie in charge, David and I were able to go to Denmark for a week without horses although I did spot some Warmbloods, Norwegian Fiords and Shetland ponies. Copenhagen is marvellous and we came back very relaxed.
Back in England, Blue and Nell are both better. What a relief. They can come in and eat their heads off all winter before going out again next spring. It also means that Petra is allowed out of the field again and we spent the weekend at a Perry Wood clinic. Petra went beautifully and Perry said some lovely things about her. He also praised my hands and seat - it's good to hear such reassurance when I am working with sensitive and young horses most of the time. Petra still stretches me more than any other horse - just a millimetre in one direction with a finger or my leg and she will respond by mirroring me.
I ended the month by helping out at the Monty Robert's demo at West Wilts Equestrian centre. It was great to be surrounded by people I know - Patsy, Linda, Freya, Georgi and David all came to help too and we joined Carol, Serena, Rita and Yann. Helping at the demo is a fabulous way of discovering what goes on behind the scenes - how the horses are assessed, how Monty prepares himself and the amount of sheer hard work that goes into setting up the venue. I love doing car park duty because I get to say hello to everyone that comes in. My favourite clients turned up including almost everyone from the Margaret Green Foundation Trust. Monty's third horse was one of the most dangerous cases that I have seen him work with - a lovely looking horse that would stand straight up on it's hindlegs when anyone tried to mount it. To see Dan Wilson riding this horse around the round pen after a display of some of the most intense and careful horsemanship I have seen was a very emotional experience. This horse came in holding a one way ticket to the slaughterhouse. There is no doubt that this little horse will need a prolonged period of very sensitive training before she is fully rehabilitated and yet she has already put the hardest part behind her. Monty's demos have provoked great debate as to the ethics of the so called "quick fix" and to the inherent pressure of working under bright lights with an audience of over a 1,000 people. I think it is by no means established that the slow way is always the best way - Monty is extremely experienced at working with horses just beyond their comfort zone and yet well below the panic zone - a narrow corridor where learning is at its absolute peak.