Monday, January 28, 2008

28th January, 2008 What a drag it is getting old....

We went to a party on Saturday night and were told to bring our dancing shoes. Now, I don't know what went wrong but I spent the entire night discussing aches, pains, nursing homes and death.

Yesterday I had my first day off for weeks. We went to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth and sad as it may sound, my favourite fish was the sea horse. Exquisite faces. The sting rays were great, they flap their wings at you. Went for lunch next door and had tuna and mayonnaise......sorry tuna.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

24th January, 2008 The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

It's been a busy old day today. The two starters were ridden out on the inclosure and were both extremely well behaved especially considering it was just the second time they have been ridden since they arrived.

Julie's lovely horse, Chancer, had to go to the Barn Veterinary Surgery today where dental expert, Chris Pearce, removed two of his baby teeth. We were first alerted to a problem when one of Chancer's adult teeth popped out in totally the wrong place. Chris treated us as students today and explained that the roots of baby teeth are actually very long but they are normally dissolved by the adult tooth following behind them. In Chancer's case, the milk teeth had been damaged and therefore never crossed paths with the adult teeth. Accordingly, they still had really long roots which has to be fully excavated before the tooth would come out. Chancer was amazingly well behaved. Although he was sedated, he could still have been awkward but he just put up with all of it, loaded beautifully to go home and then ate a good feed of soaked Lucienuts.

23rd January, 2008 Let them eat cake.....

Today I went down to Somerset to work with Carol and John who bought two Exmoors from the Exmoor Pony Centre - Bobby and Gingernut. Both of the ponies and their owners have grown a hand in height and confidence since I last saw them in the Autumn - the result of consistency and commitment. I also like them because they feed me on cake and toasted cheese sandwiches!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

22nd January, 2008 Angels

A glorious day. The sun was out and it was warm on the horses' backs. Julie got on the Lusitano and the New Forest pony for the first time and both of them were absolutely fine. X has been ridden before but some time ago and she has had a few problems since. W has never been ridden before and he just thought it was a great way of keeping warm. Julie is so calm when she gets on them and just sits quietly while they work our how to balance and what they think. We will probably take them out for a walk in the inclosure on Thursday with Julie on board.

A few reviews have come in since Christmas....

Today was great and I will put your teaching into action. Will let you know how I get on.
P. Austreng. 27.12.07

Met Sarah Weston today and she was amazing!!!!She did wonders with my friend's horse it was incredible to watch. I would highly recommend her :-) Thank-you for letting me watch.
Mentioned on the NFED (Tracy 12.1.08)

Just a quick note to say thanks very much for the session on Saturday and for the book recommendations and notes you emailed. Lara and I really enjoyed the afternoon. We feel so much more confident with Lady and Spizzy! We talked about it later and decided that we both felt good because you gave us such positive feedback as well as ideas for 'what to do next.' We continually try to learn and improve our skills...I guess we are learning all the time...but also we try to have 'fun' with our horses and Saturday was good fun!Anyway...we shall continue practising the techniques you demonstrated and hopefully it will help us keep our horses fit and supple! E-mail from GS 22.1.08

What a remarkable job you are all doing in this appalling weather. P.D. 21.1.08

Thursday, January 17, 2008

17th January, 2008 D E M O

My first demo this year will be at Wilton Group, RDA, just outside Salisbury with all proceeds going to the Group. I want to highlight the sort of work that Julie, Sheila and I do on a day to day basis with local horses and avoid the temptation of trying to emulate a Monty or Kelly demo. So far we have been offered seven horses to work with, some that I have met before and some new ones.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

16th January, 2008 Ha! Two steps forward, three steps back

So, my Grampa's in hospital having fallen over twice, the Commoner's Defence Association have refused to advertise my free foal handling service in their annual report because "we feel that the commoner is capable of handling his own stock" (but how???) and Kelly Marks can't think of a good thing to say about me to put on my poster other than "of course she's good or she wouldn't be an RA". Today I took X horse out long reining with her owner and the horse was perfect, better than a four year old should ever be and the owner put it down to almost everything including the dustbin men coming on a different day in Timbuktoo. I am trying hard not to lose my sense of humour - but I'm going to have to lose my ego.

When pushed Kelly said: 'Sarah Weston is marvellous and fab bless her'. Which made me smile and I met a nice Commoner called Rod this afternoon who is so kind to his ponies and open minded enough to give some of my techniques a go. We worked with his New Forest foal, Juniper and she was marvellous and fab bless her.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

15th January, 2008 Looking Forwards

The diary is looking pretty full for the next few weeks. It goes like this:

Wed 16th Jan - Vet check for X-horse to check fit to be ridden
C-horse - walking out
W- pony - polework and de-sensitization

Thur 17th Jan - Horse-sit Horace and Jasper
X-horse - vet for teeth
C-horse - walking out
W - pony long reining out on Forest and first saddle
remedial massage for me!!

Fri 18th Jan - visit Wimborne area - horse bucking when first mounted
X - horse - polework

Sat 19th Jan - visit Wimborne area - horse napping
Wimborne area - Welsh cob and Icelandic - long reining session

Sun 20th Jan - Day off - gardening!

Mon 21st Jan - X - long reining out on Forest
C - walking out
W - long reining out with saddle
Visit Whiteparish - leg handling and leading young brood mares

Tue 22nd Jan - Horse sitting Horace and Jasper
X - re-backing (if vet happy)
W - first backing
C - walking out
Talk at Wessex Classical Riding Group by Neal's Yard

Wed 23rd Jan - Somerset to work with two Exmoors

Thurs 24th Jan - Chancer to vets for x-rays and removal of tooth
X, W and C as Tuesday

Fri 25th Jan - Alexander technique lesson
X and W long reining out.

Sat 26th - RA Day plus two people coming for long-reining lessons with Petra Perkins

15th January, 2008 Too much too young

I will always try and persuade people to wait until their horse is at least four before starting it. Too much too young is one of the biggest causes of both behavioural and physical problems: too much ridden work, too many circles and far too much food. Here's an article by Dr Deb Bennett on the subject:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

10th January, 2008 Bad news week

I am sick of bad news. What with poor Butternut dying of Atypical Myoglobinuria Hepatology and renal failure and then learning that Teyha had died of the same thing at the beginning of December I was already feeling pretty down. Then our Ann's rescue foal, Leo, got kicked by his little mate and now has his jaw wired up - hopefully he is going to make it. Today I heard that the little Dartmoor I was going to see has not only got locking stifles but is likely to go blind as a result of an injury he received from his previous owner - little wonder that he is so spooky. Aaaaagh!

On the good side, the Lusitano horse is proving to be an absolute angel. She arrived with a bit of a reputation for tantrums and saying no to anything new and this morning she long reined out on the Forest in a gale force wind and torrential rain with a huge smile and workmanlike attitude and was a dream. I haven't had a lot to do with Iberian horses but this one makes me want one. The eight year old New Forest pony is also wonderful. He learned to long rein in about 10 seconds flat this morning (in the same appalling weather) and will be going out and about tomorrow. Another all-terrain-follow-you anywhere type of pony. Let's hope both of them take to being ridden so easily.

Monday, January 7, 2008

7th January, 2008 What a star

I've been back to Horsham today to put a headcollar on Bryn. It took a bit of doing as he was so worried about having his head restricted again - the headcollar that his breeder put on was so tight that it left marks that haven't disappeared even four weeks after we took it off. Today we showed him that headcollars don't necessarily hurt and that if you touch them they might even give you a click and a treat! By the end of the session we had put it on and taken it off seven times and he was getting used to the whole idea. I also removed the sticky bud from his hair.

On Saturday an eight year old New Forest pony arrived for starting. He was bred by Pat Dunning who owned all my project ponies and so he's a confident and friendly boy. It's be interesting to see how easily he takes to being ridden - it will be nice to work with mature bones but will he be set in his ways?

One of my latest customers is a professional showjumper. She and I have some very different ideology but many things in common too. It will be funny to see how she reacts to my mud coated, long haired, whiskered horses that live out full time. In the meantime I have been making friends with her shiny, well groomed, largely stable-kept expensive horses. It's no good saying to her that she shouldn't clip her clipper phobic horse when he has a job to do that makes him hot. Hopefully we will be good for each other and widen each other's knowledge of our seperate worlds - after all we are both in the horse business.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

3rd January, 2008 Birthday girl

In sharp contrast to last year I am still at home. I'm going to be working all day. Lots of people seemed to have made New Year's Resolutions about their horses and the telephone and e-mail are red hot. Sadly the word Parelli keeps cropping up as part of the history of horses that have gone astray and I wonder if it's going to be come a recurring theme. I have recently been to see one horse where the owner had the Parelli work down to a fine art and the horse looked happy. All too often they look confused and frustrated and angry. Being so circle based, many of the horses are also sore. The Lusitana is progressing well. As I peeled away the layers of the onion, I discovered that she found it very difficult to stand still, wouldn't pick her feet up and tended to anticipate that she was going to be made to go in circles - if she thought she wasn't going to like what she was being asked to do, she threw a tantrum. Within three days she has given all of that up and is now merrily long-reining around the Forest.

I have also made a New Year's decision and wrote to the Moorland Mousie Trust as follows:

"It’s with a very heavy heart that I have to ask you whether you can find a suitable conservation project for Piper. I have had him with me for over a year now and despite what I think are my best efforts, I know I’m not going to do any good. I can put a headcollar on him but every day is a new day for him and we have to start right at the beginning every time I see him. He is still extremely wary of touch although he likes his head and neck stroked. He is very worried about anyone going near his back end and would always rather go away. He has had time off here and there and each time he has come back as if we have never met. It isn’t a complete regression but it’s hard to see him stand and shake especially when I have never done anything horrid to him.

I could cope with all of this and the financial aspects of keeping him but my real concern is about his weight. Inevitably he started to gain weight after he was gelded and towards the end of last year I had to restrict his grazing. None of my other horses have the same problem (and the New Forest ponies can always be put on a diet by turning them out onto the Forest – something the agisters wouldn’t tolerate with Piper) and therefore he ended up being kept on his own although there were horses in the next door field. More recently I have been able to turn him out on some rougher grazing with Petra and Chancer but even then he has gained weight and yesterday I had to separate him again. I am worried that he will have to spend the best part of his life in starvation paddocks on his own. If he were safe to lead out, I could have given him more exercise and I had dreamt of being able to lead him out off Petra.

Since he has been gelded (and even before) he has shown no interest in mares in a sexual way so I don’t think he would make himself a nuisance. He has always been very placid around other horses and especially foals. He has never been aggressive to me – he would always prefer to just leave – but did kick me once when I made the mistake of going with him. He has never struck out or bitten. His feet seem to look after themselves. I did have them trimmed once while he was under general anaesthetic for his op but he didn’t really need them doing.

Please would you have a think and let me know. I will arrange/ provide transport for him to wherever. "

So far I have had nothing but support for my decision which is about Piper not me; I have to accept that I can't succeed with ever horse and that he needs to be out with other Exmoors. Juliet has responded to say that he may be able to go to Sutton Park or up to Northumberland.