Friday, January 29, 2010
Nothing in particular has triggered me to write this particular thread and I recognise that people buy horses with pre-existing issues so that it's neither of our faults that the horse is like that in the first place. When a horse comes from a harder type of home, he often feels freer to express his feelings when he gets to a new and more sympathetic one.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I got back in time to be able to take Jack out for his fifth walk. Conditions were a little more testing today as there was a herd of Shetlands outside the gate and one in particular is a feisty soul. He followed us over to the inclosure where he first gave Jack a kiss and then turned round and tried to kick him. Jack didn't bother at all. His little map is getting bigger all the time and today we went out of the inclosure through one gate and then back in through the next.
I really can’t thank you enough; the loading skills and the handling skills you have passed on to us can only make our relationship a stronger one." Naomi M
Monday, January 25, 2010
This is Cougar. He's an 18 month old New Forest pony and he's great. He has super manners for such a young pony and his owner has done an excellent job of her basic groundwork so that he doesn't bite and doesn't invade space. Today we looked at his leading work and we went out on to the open Forest. We finished by doing the preparation exercises for long reining. Although it is probably too early to long rein him just yet, it was good to ask him to accept a surcingle and girth, gently done up with a breast girth to keep it forward and then to accept the long rein all over him and around his bottom. he was fine. He is a completely different colour "dun" to Jack, more properly described as a buckskin and has a clearly visible black undercoat whereas Jack is much more teddy bear coloured with a cream undercoat. In fact, I am told that there is no such thing as a truly dun New Forest pony.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I am slightly worried about telling Jenny as she was desperate to be there the first time but if she will go swanning off to an all weekend party and then a two day horse psychology course, she can't expect me to sit on my hands the whole time she is away.
Julie is working out how to send the pictures that she took on her mobile phone.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I have come to the conclusion that it is very easy to turn a horse or pony into a fully paid up member of the Flat Earth Society, afraid of leaving the field and adamant that they won't, because they are frightened of falling off the edge. I hate the phrase "comfort zone" but it will do for now and it seems to me that a horse's comfort zone will actually contract if left to it's own devices. Without pushing at the edges and taking them out a little way here and a little way there, the space in which they are willing to operate, or rather co-operate, shrinks to the size of a womb. I remember reading Jeremy James' book, Saddletramp, where he buys a stallion in a small village in Turkey only to discover that the horse simply won't move when he gets it to the edge of civilisation. It's a bit unorthodox, but Jeremy blindfolds the horse (and please don't do this) and leads him up to the top of a mountain where he takes it off again. Once the horse saw that the world was big, he was fine. In the same way, Kim, a horse my mum bred and later gave to me, was completely liberated by living out on a large hill farm at the top of Dartmoor when before she had only lived in a square field, with a square trough and square hedges. I have heard recently that Kate a friend of Cello's new owner, has taken him out for a walk and marvelled at just how confident he is away from home - but of course, he has never known any real boundaries existed and he and his Mum could have walked and kept walking for a number of days before they found that the New Forest has any limits. Yesterday I went back out to a young horse that says no even to being led around his own field and can't be taken out on a quiet track without losing his nerve and creating a scene. If that situation isn't resolved soon, how can anyone ever expect to ride him out? So important to get them extending their comfort zone bit by bit by bit - arcing out in petals if necessary. I know how these horses feel - I don't even like shopping in Salisbury these days but think that is more a product of my husband's hatred of shopping than a real fear of towns!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Last night I gave a talk to the Wessex Classical Riding Group about our trip to Kenya and Tanzania. It brought back memories of not only the physical warmth but the general human warmth with which were met by everyone we worked with there. Considering that I used to be a Court Clerk and accustomed to speaking, completely ad lib to people from all walks of life, I still find public speaking a little unnerving. Once the "on" switch was on last night, I talked for one and half hours and I'm not sure I breathed throughout that time! I think I probably just need to do more of it. "Just wanted to tell you, again, how brilliant your talk was this evening. Even though you didn't have a horse under your arm just reliving the whole experience must have helped you to be in pony mode. You are a natural..." Sheila
I got back to work proper with Jack yesterday although it doesn't feel like work at all. I can lift him up from his grazing by just saying "Jack, Jack" and showing him the headcollar. He then walks over to me and follows me into the top paddock. Headcollar on in the normal way with just a couple of "intermediate bridge" clicks and then I was able to groom him all over - except his tail which he still says is private - and then handled and pick up his feet. The feet picking up is still a bit tentative but considering it is months since I last tried, he has forgotten nothing. I then did some clickered desensitisation work with a long lead rein which he is still worried about but getting better all the time. I am hoping to use him as one of the ponies on the Equine Touch course so I need him to relax even more by then.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Monday 18th Jan at 3.50 p.m. Same road but in direction of Fordingbridge N2 GJC Big black 4 x 4 type with tinted windows. Over took me and then three cars ahead and sped off into the distance.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
After a further 12 months bringing Talin on, Cat finally decided that she wanted to sell him. Although she had begun to ride him again and was getting on very well, she felt that she just didn't have the time available to commit to what was a very sensitive and athletic horse. She sold Talin via projecthorses.co.uk giving the lady that bought him a full account of what he had done and the problems he had had in the first place. That lady is also an IH member and will get help whenever she needs it from her own local RA. She is doing the courses as well so Taliln has truly landed on his feet and is all set to continue in the right direction.
Friday, January 15, 2010
"We have had another major improvement, so thought I would send you an update.
You may have seen on IHDG that both my liveries are on box rest so Illie was evicted from his stable, I turned him out with the herd praying I would be able to catch him again. First evening Tuesday could get nowhere near him, I spent wednesday approaching him every couple of hours, produced a carrot or gave him a rub and left - by the evening he was leaving the herd to come and see me, Wednesday evening and last night he came to call when I went out, allowed me to put headcollar straight on and came in for an evening feed with the others. The field is 10 acres and its a mixed herd of 6. At lunch I went to check on them I called him and he came straight over to the fence to say Hi :-)"
Isn't that great?
Thursday, January 14, 2010
It's been over two years since I saw Leggy. He's now ready to be started and in fact Heather has already been on his back with and without a saddle and he has been fine; she's done a great job. Today I assessed whether he is ready to go on to being ridden more regularly and started him off long reining so that we can teach him to accept direction and build up his fitness. He was a very good boy and clearly liked having something to do.
Heather told me some of the things she has done with him: "Thank you for your email with all the information and for your visit today. I'm glad that you liked what you saw, especially as I try to be mindful of my actions around my bonny boy. I have tried to teach him well to prepare him for all sorts of things . So I often do seemingly loopy activities with him, including draping clothes over his head or banging saucepans in front of him! Currently he thinks that the huge sheet of plastic that I use when pruning is the best game ever and loves to chase after it and demolish it when it flaps."HS
It looks as if I have going to go through my entire winter's supply of hay in just one month. My ponies come back every day without missing and bring all their mates. The Shetlands even turned up one morning. Pie's "wife" came along this morning. She's a bit of a shrew and would kick you as soon as look at you and brings home the fact that ponies have no real sense of gratitude. I took my life into my hands just trying to remove the bramble off her back and eventually had to pull it off with a twig!
Monday, January 11, 2010
I make no apologies for these graphic pictures. At least one pony or cow has been killed or badly injured every fortnight along the B3078 from Cadnam to Fordingbridge. They are not killed by tourists but mainly by commuters whose only concern seems to be the speed with which they can get to work or to the station, or delivery vehicles trying to get round their rounds as fast as possible. If you can't slow down, go round.
In fact, this little girl was killed in the dark last night about 50 yards along from a sign that reads "Beware animals on the road day and night". The road is open and was clear of snow and no doubt this pony had been attracted to the edge of the road by the salt in the grit that the Highways Agency are spreading in order to save people's lives.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
It's hard not to get emotionally involved with a horse that is in trouble and I got very close to Moose yesterday as I tried to show her that the horsebox was not such a terrible place to be. I got an e-mail from Steve Mills, the transporter last night which said that: You where great today, I was a little worried for this one did move around quick. Anyway all went well with the other end. The horse travelled well and also walked out very relaxed.Thank you again great job and well done." As I had been lying awake worrying about whether she was alright, it was great to get this in the middle of the night so that I could go back to bed and sleep.
In the days before I started to see things from the horse's point of view (I wasn't born this way and it's not the way I was brought up to be), we had a couple of nasty incidents with horses that we were loading. The first was when a pony (Roxy as a foal above) came out through the jockey door of a trailer we had borrowed taking the whole of the wooden side with her. Amazingly she was fine and she travelled okay after that but the friend never loaned us a trailer again. On another occasion, I went up to collect a horse called McKenzie from my Mum's. Once we set off with him in the horsebox he reared and went over the partition. Luckily, he was fine too and frequently travelled to events but its a wonder. At that time we gave no thought to practising horses before we ever travelled them and didn't think that they might be frightened and that it is entirely against their instinct to go into a small dark space where they will be trapped. It's a couple of decades ago now but I would give anything to go back and do it all properly; at least that way you can keep the risk of an accident down to a minimum.
This morning I have picked up the BHS Stage 2 Manual and it says about loading: "A sharp quick tap with a whip on the hindquarters may persuade a stubborn horse to walk forwards." I don't know where this evolved into chase it on with a big lunging whip as I see and hear about all too frequently. Even tapping like that can create a horse that runs backwards or stands on the ramp kicking out with its back feet - not something you want to be behind if you are doing up the breech bar. There is absolutely no place for whips when loading horses - but I can't say that in the old days I didn't use one. While we are learning these things for ourselves, it it the horses that pay. I really envy anyone who comes into this having never used fear and force with horses.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I have had my hands too full over the last couple of days to be able to take any pictures of the horses so this photo taken from Bulbarrow Hill is the only proof I have that I have been out at all.
Yesterday it was off to meet Ruffy, a three year old Thoroughbred x New Forest who has been getting a bit feisty around his food. Perhaps because he has inadvertently become the herd leader (his companions are a foal and a two year old), he has grown to believe that he has the right to take food off people as well. We worked on this specific problem, establishing body space and making sure that we moved him and he didn't move us, as well as doing some basic groundwork stuff. Once the food was out of the picture he was actually a very polite boy and a quick learner too. With this weather who can blame them for being so attached to their food?
This morning Julie and I went to load a 15.3h.h. mare called Moose as she was moving from the loan home back to her original owner. With the tricky conditions we had to find a safe place to load and we took the precaution of covering it with straw too. Although she is 9, I don't suppose Moose has ever been taught to load and I heard that on one occasion she had been loaded by the army who practically carried her on and on another attempt, a lunging whip had been used - that is standard BHS practice as described in their training manuals and people don't see anything wrong with it but this is the surest way to teach them to run backwards. Moose has learned to run backwards once half loaded but with the aid of the panels and a good long lead rein I was able to persuade her that she could come in and turn around in the box and get to know the place a bit. It was touch and go whether we would be able to close the ramp safely and it was only after she had gone through three periods of high adrenalin and high activity that she finally settled enough for us to give it a go. Fortunately it worked and I hope that this low pressure approach and a gentle journey will be the start of her changing her mind about the whole thing. In an ideal world, I wuold like to have stopped the session at the point where she was really relaxed to reward her for doing so but the costs involved in coming back another day were going to be extensive. She's a lovely horse and she was getting better all the time so I hope that she does get a training session very soon with one of my colleagues closer to her home.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Anton Philips, Animal Rescue Specialist, is an experienced horseman and is looking for a quiet cob type filly foal to join the animal rescue team as a training and “rescue” horse for their practical exercises. She is destined to become a favourite with the public and will no doubt appear on t.v. programmes like Real Rescues. She will have an incredibly important role in the training of Animal Rescue Officers and trauma vets from across the nation.
The filly will be trained by Anton with input from me (Sarah Weston, RA) where required. The younger she is the better, and both of us are willing to work with her while she is still with her Mum to establish a good bond and trust. The ideal pony will have a solid if not dozy temperament and the hairier she is, the better. She doesn’t have to be absolutely bombproof from the outset but needs to be amenable to training as she will need to lie down when she is asked to and to accept being lifted off the ground with carefully designed equipment to keep her safe. Ideally she should grow to be about 14.2 hands.
Having completed her apprenticeship over the next three years, she can expect a very exciting and interesting life acting as a “rescue” horse. She will be based in Hampshire but will travel to shows and fayres to give demonstrations.
Hampshire Animal Rescue Team are a centre of excellence for training Animal Rescue Officers and Veterinary Teams. They operate at the forefront of developing equipment and techniques which aim to provide safer horse rescues and their work may potentially benefit every horse owner.
If you think that you have a filly foal or may have a filly foal on the way that could fulfil this role and you would be willing to donate her or sell her at a reasonable price for an extremely worthwhile cause, then please contact: Sarah Weston in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Although Hampshire Animal Rescue Team can only accept a filly (for anatomical reasons!) they are particularly keen to consider foals that may be looking to be re-homed by busy and overcrowded horse charities. They would be happy to consider some sort of reciprocal arrangement whereby your charity or organisation would receive publicity and acknowledgement and to support events or open days (subject to the distance involved).
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Tomorrow I shall be 47 which seems to be a very non-descript age to be. Oh well. Julie bought me a super notebook with photos of the horses on the cover - I shall use it for making notes for the new book. Jenny summed up the way Piper made people feel when she says: "I can honestly say nothing compares to the humbling feeling when Piper allowed me to touch him, personally that is a feeling I shall never forget." I'm rather daunted by the prospect of starting on it but I am sure it will be fine when I get going.
Today I got this lovely e-mail from Jan who owns Phineas (above). Can you believe how tall he is at only 10 months old?
"I do feel as if everyday is my birthday following your visit to help me and Phineas in November! I can't believe what a beautiful, confident ,trusting boy he is since you came. He just comes on in leaps and bounds and surprises us every day with the speed he learns things. He happily picks up all four feet now, wears rugs and goes for walks down the lane meeting all sorts of scarey, horse eating things! He is such fun to have around and everyone at the yard is amazed at how he has such good manners (and hasn't tried to kill me yet!). I know I wouldn't be at this stage with him without you and think of you everytime I'm with him..motorbike hands and smiley ropes..the breathing comes more naturally now! Our vet was astounded when he visited for jabs last month as he was safely able to feel his 'bits' and inject with no fuss!"JW