Saturday, July 28, 2007

28th July, 2007 Another fine mess......?

During the week that Piper was gelded at The Barn, I witnessed a coloured cob having his feet trimmed under intravenous sedation. Despite the sedative, the farrier still had a huge battle on his hands and was having to use ropes on the horses feet to get the job done. When I left, the horse was standing on his hind legs boxing out at him. This horse was subsequently sold and I got a call about his foot handling problem within a week. It took two sessions with Stanley to set him up to pick up his feet for a click and treat reward. This morning was a fine example of co-operation between an owner, the vet, the farrier and a horse trainer. The vet authorised a very mild dose of oral sedative (the horse didn't look in the least bit dozy) and the farrier worked with me so that whenever Stanley picked up his feet for him I gave him a click and treat. Quite unexpectedly, Andy Marsh , the farrier was able to trim all of his feet without him so much as threatening to rear. Stanley fought his apprehension instead of the farrier and the whole job was done within 30 minutes. We were all rather pleased with ourselves. This is a four year old horse and he is going to need his feet done a lot of times....much better if we can get him over his phobia now.

I would very much like to have put up a picture of this event but sadly thieves broke into my van last night and stole my camera.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

26th July, 2007 Rubble and rain

For the first time I think I might quite fancy an office job. Having been rained on consistently for the past week and had my computer confiscated by the builders for the last six days I am beginning to fantasize about a roof, dry clothes and a desk. How people in Tewkesbury are coping with being cut off from having their house completely flooded, cut off from the rest of the country and no drinking water and no electricity I don't know. If my bedrooms weren't totally demolished I'd be offering refuge to someone but as it is we are camping out at Char's house down the road and coming back here to do the washing and grab the computer when we can.Our builders are the opposite to every other builders I have ever met or heard about. They turn up in force on time every morning. They don't drink endless cups of tea or swear all the time. They don't treat me as if I am an idiot and they work, work, work all the time. Every time I come home the house has changed out of all recognition (in a good way). So here's a plug for Rob, Seamus, Ian, Mark and Matt of PCL Building Contractors, that is Pembroke Contracting Limited.

Every horse report I have written in the last few weeks has been prefaced by the words "Working in torrential rain..." mad horses and Englishwomen work in the midday rain. Julie is proving her worth as capilliary action in her jeans meant that she was soaked from head to toe yesterday but was still to be found legging Andy up on to Charlie at 6.30 last night. On Monday I worked with a Cremello Welsh Cob mare with loading problems. She has only ever been loaded a handful of times and each time to move home and owners. Although she was quiet in the yard as soon as she came into the field where the trailer was she was bucking and rearing, running rings around her owner and ramming her with her immense shoulders. I began to think I'd wasted my time bringing the trailer as this was clearly a leading and leadership problem rather than a loading problem. It took me 20 minutes to get her to stand still and ultimately I had to shake my trusty tin can at her with the gravel in it - I really ought to get sponsorship from Coca-Cola! She looked at me I wonderment and I could here her thinking "B-----!" in Welsh and then say to me "Yes, what do you want?" After that she was light and responsive and soft and attentive and we were able to load her into the trailer every which way - bars up, bars down, ramp up, ramps down, doors open, doors closed - and she grew calmer and calmer. After that I went over to Burley to move Freddie the orphan foal to his new home a couple of minutes down the road. On the way I was overtaken at speed by a four wheel drive car the driver of which treated me to a view of his two fingers when I waved at him to slow him down. I wish I could have taken him to see Freddie so that he could see why it is my business when people speed on the Forest. Freddie loaded beautifully. I used a figure of eight rope gently around his bottom and he led along the drive and down the lane to the trailer. Someone travelled in the trailer with him as it wasn't very far and I thought he would appreciate the company. He settled in at Ann's straight away by peeing and rolling in the shavings. As soon as it stops raining he will be able to go out and meet some other ponies.

Here are the latest reviews:

The experience Fran is gaining is more than enough but thanks for offering (to pay for her transport). Since spending her work experience with you, her confidence and whole attitude with the ponies is really amazing I think I'm going to have to book myself in with you and see if it works on oldies as well as youngies.
VR 14.7.07

I must say I am finding watching and helping with Charlie very rewarding and extremely interesting – should have done it years ago.
PG 13.7.07

Freddie was great today, Grahame and I have just got back from spending time with him, I gave him a "proper" muck out whilst Grahame played with him doing everything correctly and getting great results. He wasn't scared of the new straw going in, which worried him last time! After I had finished Grahame put on Freddies foal slip (that is on Freddie not on him - I don't think it would suit Grahame!!) Grahame was lovely and quiet and did exactly as you had shown us Sarah. Freddie seemed perfectly happy. We left it on for about 10 mins whilst Freddie had lots of stroking over most of his body, then Grahame removed the slip and it was time for supper, so all in all a really good session.
From Sue NF 14.7.07

Thanks for setting up a great day

LP following MGFT Bitting clinic 16.7.07

Once again a million thank yous, what would I have done without you and Ann? I am so looking forward to moving him on Monday so that he can get a bit more stimulation. Tonight he was great, came straight up to the bars very happily. I am 99.99% sure he has a home for life with us, which certainly wasn't on the cards even a week ago! When he becomes our wonderful driving pony you must be his first VVVVV vip passenger!!!
From Sue NF 21.7.07

WOW! I am so thrilled with the pictures. He looks fantastic! Maddy will be absolutely thrilled! I am so pleased to see him finally beginning to relax re the long reins. My friend said he would take a while to start because of his age and I guess she was partly right. He is obviously feeling physically stronger, less pained. I can't tell you how grateful we are to you for all your hard work (especially in all this revolting weather).
LB 21.7.07

Just a note to say thank you so much for helping us load Megan, it is now hassle free and a pleasure to take her out. We made it to our first show and loaded perfectly there and back and we came fourth in the ridden class. Since you came we have been able to explore the Forest further afield and we are also planning our first beach ride in the summer. Once again thank you for all your help and making our travel experiences far less stressful and dramatic.
LS Card received 22.7.07

It was great to meet you today, thanks so much for the opportunity to see you at work. I had a great time, despite the glorious summer weather! Ihope to see you again some time soon and if it's okay with you, I'd love to take you up on your offer to come and help out another day, perhaps even get the chance to meet Freddy next time.LM 24.7.07

Friday, July 20, 2007

20th July, 2007 Horse Magnets?

Horses seem to attract all kinds of people and I am really fortunate to be surrounded by a dream team. Sheila who has been working with me regularly for two years is due to take her exams in November and we have been busy videoing her Join-ups and loading sessions (most of which have had to be done in the pouring rain!). Andy is a real find and can even turn his hand to mending pipes. Julie turned up just a couple of weeks ago and fitted in straight away. She has worked for another horse trainer for a little while and has all the basics and more in place. Then of course there is Kate the physio and Kate the chiro who come on a regular basis to look after the horses.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

19th July, 2007 Horseworld and Dartmoor Pony Training Centre

Dartmoor Hill Ponies

I have three more demonstrations before I go down to the Moorland Mousie Trust in November. The first will be back at MGFT on Dog Show Day on Sunday 12th August, then at Horseworld on Sunday 2nd September between 1 and 5 p.m. The final one will be at the Dartmoor Pony Training Centre on the last weekend (30th) of September. On the last two occasions I will be working with horses that I have never met before.Horseworld A presentation of the effective, nonviolent handling methods of training young and remedial horses as established by Monty Roberts. Demonstrations by Sarah Weston Recommended Associate of Intelligent Horsemanship With Sasha Holden & Megan TurnerTickets cost £8 per person and include a tour of HorseWorld's Welfare Department.To order please contact Liz on 01275 893034 or email Charity No: 206749I Dartmoor Pony Training CentreWe are holding an open day / information day on Sunday the 30th September with another organisation called Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony. We will be running training workshops, having talks on clicker training and Dartmoor Hill Ponies and will have lots of stalls and refreshments available.
If you are interested, please contact Natalie Torr at DPTC, Ashburn Cottage, Kingsbridge Lane, Ashburton, Devon, TQ13 7DX. She will then put you on our email or postal mailing list for the event, and you'll receive the official invitation closer to the time. Please note that spaces are limited and that supporters will be given preference.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

15th July, 2007 MGFT Equine Open Day

A somewhat chaotic day down at the MGFT with Hilary's Bitting clinic running in parallel to talks by the Damory Vets and a sponsored ride across the Purbecks! My own demonstration ended with a marathon loading session for a horse that came in for the bitting clinic and seemingly didn't want to leave. Ebony, a delightful mare that's in foal, is available for re-homing...

N.B. Since this post was written the MGFT has changed it's policy on re-homing horses so that horses that are re-homed are actually given to their new owners in return for a donation. I am deeply concerned that this protects neither the horse, the old owner or the new owner and I no longer feel able to recommend the Trust.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

14th July, 2007 The Three Musketeers

The three horses that are all on fittening regimes at my fields have all been in action today. Arnie went for a long walk in the woods and jumped streams and ditches and off the end of a loading ramp. Charlie Farley did clicker training and stretching over poles and little Jester did some short-reining followed by pole-work and jumping over the barrels. if the horses don't get fitter, their owners should!

Friday, July 13, 2007

13th July, 2007 It's four in the morning.......

I couldn't sleep this morning so I went off to the fields early to see the horses. Kanuthi, who has been off the Forest for about a week with his mother was playing with the deer. He's looking a bit moth eaten at the moment. It has been an extremely busy week with two trips out to the Margaret Green Foundation Trust and two horses to see at Wimborne as well as lots to do at home. What with that and the builders and three dogs staying this weekend, I shall be glad of a day off (a week on Sunday I think!).Saddles are proving to be a bit of a nightmare again. One that was supplied to a client of mine dropped dramatically within four weeks and the horse objected pretty strongly. It's replacement was delayed by the floods and is still too tight. Another local supplier took twice as long as promised to provide a tailor made saddle and two other local tack shops store their saddles in heaps of five, all higgledy piggledy which can't be good for the structure of the saddle. Another saddle fitter is trying to persuade me to go treeless but I don't feel as secure on a starter when I have to reach down to check a dressage girth arrangement and I have heard of so many horses being sore after a few months. I think they may be a short term solution for remedial horses where there is going to be a lot of change in their shape. In the meantime the Myler hanging cheek low port comfort snaffle is proving to be the very best bit for starters and remedial horses alike.

Monday, July 9, 2007

9th July, 2007 She took the horses over the hill and she flew

Yesterday we took the horses out for a long walk including a pub stop. We covered 2.9 miles. Last night I went out with Maurice in an aeroplane and in the same time we covered 96 miles including two circuits of Liz's field so that she could wave at us!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

8th July, 2007 Wild things make my heart sing

After a frantic week working with three horses in parallel, it was great to get back to a couple of wild ponies once again. The first, an 11 month old filly bought from Beaulieu Road Sales has been eluding her owner for some time and has a mighty kick up her sleeve. The second, a six week old colt that lost his mother in a road accident last week, was already dictating who could and couldn't come into his stable. Both were actually very desperate for close contact and once they realised they weren't going to be eaten, they cuddled up for more. Both owners were able to get their headcollars on and off before I left and I am waiting to hear how they got on this afternoon. It just goes to show though that even New Forest ponies are not straightforward to handle and can soon become a problem if they are not handled quietly and regularly from the outset. If horse-loving equalled horse-whispering there would be no problem ponies at all. Unfortunately, love, sympathy and empathy are not sufficient on their own but they certainly help. Incidentally no one stopped to report that they had killed a New Forest pony outright and left her foal standing next to her trying to suckle. No-one knows how long he had been waiting for her to get up again.Freddie the orphan foal (sire: Portmore Pickle)(photo added 20.7.07)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

5th July, 2007 Finalists

So the finalists for the "Nicest People of the Year" competition are as follows: Nikki, Sue, Elizabeth, Maurice, Jacqui, Auriol, Hannah, David, Steph, Julie, Andy and Katie for all picking up the poo when it hit the proverbial fan. Fortunately my fingers aren't painful at all so I can do some in hand work with the horses and walk for miles. The prizes for the nicest Doctors go to Dr Hannah Primrose and Mr. Chris Busuttil at accident and emergency and the lifetime achievement award to Dr Hywel Morris who got me through and out of the other side of depression for the first time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th July, 2007 What a pain

Injured people always have too much time to think. I have been thinking....Almost every single horse I have met in the last three years has had a physical issue of some sort which has been resolved in parallel with it's behavioural training and it can be no coincidence that horses that are in pain are generally more nervous. I certainly feel more vulnerable when bits of me are hurting or not as useful as they could be. I am constantly amazed at how many starters come in with tension here and there - perhaps from cavorting in the field, perhaps just from the slack way that young horses carry themselves. Older horses that come in for rehabilitation have often learnt to compensate for a physical weakness or pain somewhere and then found that route blocked by another bit of tack or gadget. I am always conscious of the financial drain of having your horse trained by someone else; it often costs far more than the horse did in the first place. Nevertheless I am fast reaching the point where I am going to develop a programme of preparation for starting or rehabilitation which has to be carried out either by the owner or by me before ridden work proper can begin. I have had an afternoon with Kate the physiotherapist. It's fascinating to watch her work and the horses learning that they can trust her to find where they are struggling. Although they all stand still (as best as they can) they will stomp a foot here or reach round and nudge her there and groan a bit or yawn a bit or lick lots. I wonder if they are feeling that delicious pain that I feel every time I go for a massage where it really hurts but you just think yes, keep going.....?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

3rd July, 2007 It's not just the rain that is falling

Having gone for months without falling off, I came off a really quiet pony today and learned two things - nylon reins are vile and, always always wear gloves no matter how quiet the pony is. 5 1/2 hours in casualty with my fingers nerve-blocked was really only mitigated by how pleasant all the doctors were and that I couldn't feel them scrubbing the wounds with a plastic brush or chopping bits of skin off with the scissors. Still, Andy has the winning score this week having flown off one horse twice in ten minutes. Having wondered if I would have to send all the horses home (72 mounds of poo is a lot to pick up every day with only one useful hand!) I have received lots of offers of help from friends. This week's management theme has become "The Art of Delegation"....