Tuesday, May 30, 2006
On Bank Holiday Monday I ran a "Turning Fear into Curiosity" course with the help of David, Kayti and Alison. Despite the odd heavy shower, it was a wonderful day. All the people and the horses that came were lovely and the highlight was a congo of ponies following the noisy tractor around the field and then weaving in and out of the bollards behind David on the trail bike.
During the last week of May I have worked with a pony that is very frightened of tractors and noisy vehicles. This seems to stem from her being run over as a youngster - even though it wasn't a tractor that hit her. We can only guess at how noisy this would have seemed at the time. On the NFED open day she followed the little grey Ferguson tractor in the field and the following day we took her up and down the track walking behind and beside the tractor before performing gentle "fly-pasts". She did well at this and became blase about the whole thing and the day after that we repeated this exercise down a narrow lane where the hedges are high. She then graduated to a bigger, redder, noisier Massey Ferguson tractor with cattle trailer attached. Again she was fine. Before she went home on Saturday, she was ridden beside the tractor and it was driven past her down a narrow lane. Eventually she was cantering with it next to her!
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Halfway through the month I went to a talk by Patrick Kempe at the Wessex Classical Riding Group. His talk was excellent - he described the horse festival in Portugal and how he came to buy his fabulous Lusitano horse, Tetua. Tetua graces the cover of Margrit Coates' book Horses Talking. Patrick is also a healer and has his own website. By coincidence I am phoned the next day by a lady who has imported an Andulucian stallion and is worried about the future. I urge her to ring Patrick because he has having so much fun with his horse - which show jumps, does Iberian horse classes, picks up litter on the Forest and plays football. I am feeling a little sad myself because Olly and the lovely Hackney horse are due to go home and I have become very fond of them.
Two new New Forest ponies, Jamie and Oliver (formerly Graham!) have arrived for some handling before they get turned out in the field next door. They belong to my neighbour who very kindly gives me access to her outdoor school. Jamie is bright chestnut and arrived in a delapidated trailer. The other, a rose grey, was bred by the same people as my Forest pony, Nell. Both are friendly and need to be get use to being touched, having a headcollar on and being led.
This week I went to Patrick Kempe's to experience healing for the first time. Patrick tells me that his horse is a healer too and I spent a long time with my hands on this beautiful horse. I wish I could say that everything became clear after that but I did feel I got something positive out of it and felt quite serene on the way home.
The following day I went down to The Donkey Sanctuary for a Donkey Behaviour Course only to find that the course was being presented by Ben Hart. What a bonus. It was good to be made aware of the significant differences in the natural herd behaviour of donkeys and the way that they react to fear and pain. Ben uses a lot of positive reinforcement with the donkeys and it was a great opportunity to watch clicker training in action. He worked with a mule called Mrs Knox although he calls her Martha (pronounced Marfa) because when asked she says "I'm arfa donkey and I'm arfa an 'orse".
I do despair of the New Forest Commoners sometimes. There is a pony walking around this village at the moment who likes like a skeleton. I mean condition score 1. Visitors are shocked by her appearance and it will be giving the New forest commoners as a whole a very bad reputation. She has a colt foal at foot which is doing really well and she is now about 30 and probably won't carry another foal. She is absolutely valueless to the Commoner who owns her. I have offered to buy her and her foal but the Commoner said that he didn't like the fact that I had said that she was thin and would rather take her off the Forest himself and send her to Beaulieu Road Sales..... which means for meat. So she has to suffer for his pride. If I contact the RSPCA or ILPH they won't be able to do anything until she is at death's door and anyway he would probably just take her off and have her killed.
Monday, May 15, 2006
I backed both of the Fell ponies on day six just in the field without separating them. I think they took a lot of comfort in each other's company although, to be frank, it was difficult to get them to stay awake! I just sat on board bareback untangling their manes for a while.At the weekend I am due to go to Exmoor for the Moorland Mousie Sponsored ride. I am borrowing an Exmoor pony called Bracken and it is debatable whether she will carry me or whether I should carry her. There are some very steep hills so I expect I will be on foot for some of them. I have raised over £100 so far and I am hoping to increase that (hint hint). I've always wanted to ride through the water at Tarr Steps - let's hope we don't get swept away.
On the way to Exmoor I went to work with a New Forest pony at Bridgewater that is utterly terrified of ropes and on the way back I go to see yet another black horse. Both of them are likely to be coming in for me to work with.
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Boss, the Friesian Cross is now backed and has been introduced to the pleasure of long-reining on the Forest. I have to think ahead with this horse because he can't just walk under all the trees! He has worn his saddle and a Myler bit and seems to approve of both. (he is in a 5 1/2" Myler slotted comfort snaffle with 04 mouthpiece - plenty of room for his tongue). The Hackney horse is much more relaxed about being ridden now - she is wearing a 4 1/2" Myler Comfort Snaffle and seems quite happy in it.
Poor Ollie has his social status radically altered when he was castrated. He stood like a rock to be sedated and I felt like a traitor! He went through the operation very well and was soon up and enjoying a new area of grass. He will go home in about two weeks time.
Two super Fell ponies have arrived for starting. They are very typical of the breed and quite bewitching. Their groundwork is so light I can't wait to take them for their first confidence walk on the Forest. They arrived beautifully groomed...... and tomorrow I am going to get them muddy! In the meantime, Boss has proved to be an amazing horse and is happily plodding about in the inclosure with me on board and is apparently frightened of nothing. I rode him back from the school yesterday along the roads and he was absolutely fine. He had a good look at some donkeys but was all curiosity and not a hint of apprehension.the Hackney horse is riding out like a ranch horse and loves it when we go looking for my Foresters. She gets quite broody when she sees the foals. Little Oll is walking out in hand and can now pick his feet up for me without playing colt games.