Monday, January 29, 2007

29th January, 2007

The inconvenience of having two appointments cancelled at very late notice was tempered by the fact that it enabled me to go up to Lancashire with David where he had an interview for a job. Although he was offered the job they couldn't offer him enough money to make it worthwhile for us to move. Although I do love Lancashire it would be a real wrench to leave here. Hopefully David will be able to find another job in this area - he is sick of his present job - and we'll be able to stay put.

We were overtaken on the Forest tonight by V601 BBD

Sunday, January 28, 2007

28th January, 2007

Overtaken by a yellow break down truck on the blind bends at Deadman's Hill. N284 GOR. There seemed to be no apparent reason for his hurry as I passed him in the car park at Godshill where he was just sitting there.

Friday, January 26, 2007

26th January, 2007

I've had a very interesting day. I was called out to a horse that was refusing to let the vet take the staples out of a wound on it's shoulder. This horse, who is normally very sweet, has definitely turned sour and had squished the vet and the owners several times. Today we started off by giving her one unit of Sedalin paste which did have some effect. I then offered her lavender, ylang ylang and neroli to sniff which she seemed to enjoy. After this I did some very simple clicker training with her - giving her a click and a pony nut each time she let me put my hand over the wound or allowed me to pinch her neck as the vet would prior to administering a sedative injection. In no time she was accepting both of these (and even wishing I would do it) so that she could get her click and a pony nut. When the vets arrived I asked them to touch her and then I gave her a click and a pony nut and we repeated this as each staple came out. She hardly moved at all and certainly didn't need any further sedative and we were all left feeling very good about the whole experience. Much better than a twitch eh?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

25th January, 2007

Overtaken in the dark last night by HK52 TAU Silver pick-up truck when I was travelling at 40 m.p.h. on B3078. I was left way behind so it must have been speeding. Today one of the cars that overtook me was a black car P89 PAE.

Monday, January 22, 2007

22nd January, 2007

Today I received a questionnaire from a woman who is studying animal behaviour. One of the questions she asked was "Do you think natural horsemanship is beneficial to the rider and handler just as it is with the horse?" My answer was "yes!" - natural horsemanship techniques are helping people with confidence, anger management and a general understanding of how their horse thinks. It also enables them to live with their conscience. This made me think of all the areas in which horses are helping people to understand more about themselves - managers, schoolchildren, offenders and people with mental illness.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

20th January, 2007

Like Noah, I continue to get horses that go two by two. This week I have seen two young Arabian horses both absolutely exquisite and very bright. They can be quite challenging to work with because they are so sensitive and quick. You can find yourself dealing with three behaviours at once and being totally distracted by the first one. They seem to get very frustrated if they don't understand something immediately and snake their head around and stamp a foot. Give it a little longer though and they have got what you were asking them to do down to a fine art. I really like them.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

18th January, 2007

The animal accident figures for 2006 on the New Forest have been published. Last year 69 ponies were killed and 44 injured across the Forest. The vast majority of animals are killed by local motorists and 36 were not reported. Two recent accidents have highlighted the callousness of some people: a donkey and her jack foal were killed together at Brook and a chestnut mare was badly injured on 9th January and left to wander the Forest for three days before she could be found and destroyed. I travel along the B3078 every day in order to go to the horses and am regularly overtaken by people exceeding the 40mph speed limit. Many of them are commuters. From today I shall publish their registration numbers on this site.

Monday, January 15, 2007

15th January, 2007

I haven't really said a lot about the remedial horse, Orca. She looks a lot like Kelly's horse Pie - super build and very attractive markings. The trouble is that she turns I can't into I won't very quickly indeed. If she spent as much energy on doing things right as she does on making objections then she would be a super horse. The first job was to ask her to be quiet on the ground. She was inclined to walk through you, constantly move around and to suddenly have hysterics. Out riding she would tuck in behind another horse and plod along happily but she wouldn't go alongside the other horse or go in front under any circumstances. She hasn't been ridden out on her own for at least a couple of years. Slowly but surely things have improved. She was quite sore and she has had some physiotherapy followed by appropriate exercises (Kate Barnett has done a great job with her). She now stands like a rock, ground tied when I get her ready. I really did have to insist that she respect my space and resorted to shaking gravel in a box when she wouldn't respond to the use of the Dually or my body language. In order to build up her confidence I have been taking her out with another horse and instead of pushing her to go on and past the other side, I have got the other rider to describe a circle and come in beside her. Surreptiously we have got to the stage where she is "accidentally" in the lead and she is starting to accept this more and more. I get the sense that there would be no point in getting mad with this horse (and certainly not in hitting her) - even a whip wop rope has no effect. She would be quite happy to escalate things to far beyond anything I can cope with and the rest of the time she would be metaphorically looking out of the window and distancing herself from what was happening. I felt and still feel that it's about making everything black and white for her - hassling her when she says no without getting cross or violent and then making life absolutely calm and wonderful when she at least tries to get it right. I am starting to feel a better connection whenever I work with her now and today she excelled herself by going out long-reining on her own (with me of course!) without protest. I made a huge fuss of her and told her what a wonderful girl she was and I could almost see her swanking. Let's hope this is a breakthrough and that she is starting to enjoy herself. Tomorrow she's having a luxury sports massage.
This evening I was called out to an emergency. A show pony that wouldn't allow anyone to catch him in his stable. He was quite adamant about it and turned his bottom on anyone who went in the stable and threatened to kick them. I worked with him with the false hand on the stick to begin with and once he had settled I was able to put his headcollar on by taking it apart completely and doing it up around his neck first. Everyone was at a loss to understand what had suddenly triggered this behaviour. This pony is 10 years old, an experienced show pony and never been known to kick before; indeed, when he was caught he was incredibly sweet and affectionate. It made me think about how necessary it is to find out what has happened in order to find the solution - so often we just don't know and can only surmise (although healers would say that they can find out). In those circumstances all we can work with are the symptoms and to find out the best way of quietly getting over the problem and persuading the horse that all is now well with the world.

Friday, January 12, 2007

12th January, 2007

Monday was a beautiful day. The sky was blue and the sea even bluer. My Dad's best friends went into the sea and scattered his ashes so that he could come and go with the tide just as he has always done. Enricho played the guitar on the beach and over 100 friends said farewell. I think he would have enjoyed every moment of the last week.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

6th January, 2007 Puerto de Mazarron, Spain

Considering the circumstances it hasn't been too grim. My father died in his sleep. He was very happy in Spain and surrounded by good friends. Apparently he was partying all over Christmas. Providing my Dad could dance, laugh, drink, smoke and stay brown, he was content. There was a Pythonesque moment at the funeral director's when they wanted to ask whether we would be burying his ashes or scattering them. As we don't speak a word of Spanish and they didn't speak a word of English, there was some rather fairly insensitive and unsubtle miming before we established what we would be doing. My Dad's ashes then held pride of place at Bongo's Bar on the sea front while his friends drank to his memory and danced to his favourite McGuiness Flint record - When I'm Dead and Gone (Don´t want nobody to mourn beside my grave). On Monday there will be a more solemn occasion when we scatter his ashes in the sea.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

2nd January, 2007

Today I learned that my Dad has died in Spain on New Year's Eve. He won't want to come home so I'm going over there to make all the arrangements so that he can stay in the place he loved so much. We didn't have an easy relationship but I know he was always proud of me. He always loved horses although our last ride was four hours long, three of which were spent in the Nag´s Head!

Monday, January 1, 2007

1st January, 2007

New Year's Day and time to think of all those resolutions that you'd like to keep to for the coming year. Mine include spending more time working with Petra Perkins, being kinder to myself and being true to myself too. It's impossible to run my business on lines that don't coincide with my own moral code. In particular I don't want to charge the earth because I want to be able to work with horses and ponies that may have been cheap and cheerful in the first place and where the owners put very spare penny towards the horse rather than themselves. I like to be generous with my time and my advice too. I won't press someone to make a second appointment even if I really hope they will for the horse's sake and I won't go where I'm not wanted. I must be a bank manager's nightmare. So, if you think my van is tatty or my clothes look well worn it's because I'd rather be reassuringly affordable than reassuringly expensive. I hope I will be judged by the quality of my work rather than the quality of my labels.