Tuesday, May 31, 2011

31st May, 2011 For richer for poorer

I worked fifty hours last week but before anyone thinks, crikey, that makes you rich, you should be aware that I was only paid for 2/5th of that. Another 1/5th was spent travelling to and from clients, another the final 2/5th on voluntary work for the Fire Service, Kelly's demo and a further session with Nettles. I earn less as a full time RA than I did as a part-time lawyer but I am so much happier. Yesterday it was time to do our annual shop for essential clothes - top to bottom in four hours. From Marks to Matalan!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

28th May, 2011 A tin full of padlocks

At the end of a really varied week, we have been upping the security at the fields following the mass arrival of travellers at Stoney Cross. I am hoping these precautions are not necessary and I hate to tar people with the same brush, but better safe than sorry. I wish people would keep their thieving hands off other people's property.

I've worked with some really interesting horses this week once again including Albi, Teddy and Guilda. We have found a light little rider for Champ and tried her out today - she proved to be quiet and sensible and unperturned about riding without a saddle for the time being. I also worked with endurance friend Susi's darling new Arabian Tilly, teaching her to pick up rather than waft her hind legs. Noo-Noo, that I haven't seen since November, had her first long lining session and worked very well.

Last night it was off to the Kelly demo at Kingston Maurwood where I seemed to know at least half the audience. Great to catch up with them all.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

26th May, 2011 Deer deer

I'm half expecting Peechay to grow up thinking he is a deer - boing!!

26th May, 2011 Cow lick

This kind steer washed my car for me today while I was checking the horses.

26th May, 2011 Hit the Road Jack

I'm trying to get a little stallion watching in every day as it's so good for the soul. High Jack has a group of foal-less mares with him. Although he is fairly robust when he rounds them up to join his harem, he is very gentle with them once they're there. They tend to ask him for attention rather than the other way round. Unlike the younger stallions, he seems pretty relaxed and is retaining his weight rather than running up light.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

24th May, 2011 Rider-less

Today was Jenny's last day riding for me before she goes off to take her MRPCH exams in June. I couldn't have done without her over these last few months where she has got on all of our starters and done a fabulous and quiet job. All of the starters will now have a month off from being ridden before we begin again with them in July. Teddy and Guilda both got 11 out of 10 today - Teddy was ridden for only the second time and is already off the lead rein and Guilda had her first ride out on the Forest. Long gaps between training sessions seems to have no detrimental effect and indeed all of these ponies seem to be as far ahead as they would be if they were trained more often or on consecutive days.

Monday, May 23, 2011

23rd May, 2011 The answer is blowing in the wind

On really windy days like today, it's good to repeat old lessons rather than start on anything new...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

21st May, 2011 Days of Innocence?

More like days of plaguing the life out of everything. He needs to be out on the Forest!

Friday, May 20, 2011

2oth May, 2011 Hysteria and haste

Such fun this morning. J and I were standing in the horsebox having taken the ramp down, having a quick chat before the session began. Albi who was loose in the field, walked up and straight on to the horsebox on his own. I had to put all his kit on with him in situ which he didn't mind at all. Today we practised closing the doors with him inside - he has never even stayed in a stable before - and then practised tying up elsewhere (something else he has never done).

20th May, 2011 Equine Assisted?

I'm becoming very wary of the term 'Equine Assisted' which is creeping into the new management language around horses as the new buzz phrase. I think there is a danger in using horses to teach people and putting the emphasis on the humans, that means that the horses come second. We all know that horses are great teachers and sometimes their needs have to be sacrificed for the greater good - hence there are horses teaching new mounted police and army personnel how to ride, carrying people who find riding fantastic therapy for mental and physical conditions and helping people overcome emotional trauma. However, we must never think that they are volunteers even though they seem to have an instinctive and spiritual recognition of people's vulnerability. They do seem to have the power to heal. Nevertheless, their needs should be protected too and the label 'Equine Assisted' should not be used to persuade outsiders that everything is soft, cuddly and nice for the horses where it isn't. Poeple need to be aware of the style of horsemanship that lies behind the label -bad traditional, tough natural, willing partnerships, and so on.... People can still be very mean to horses that are apparently providing learning opportunities and great solace.

I have been asked to write a protocol for the ponies that are going to be used at a new charity in Devon where the aim is to match the needs of the ponies and those of the people who will be involved with them. It would be easy to think well, these are Dartmoor Hill ponies, as long as we've saved them from being shot or sent for meat, we've done our bit, they'll be okay. When using ponies it's important that we aren't just using ponies - they should have rights too.

Most 'pony constitutions' consist of a list of requirements which fulfill their basic physical needs although some talk about turn out and the company of other horses. It's hard to specify just how you protect a pony from being 'peopled out'! It's a bit like working for the courts where the Government concentrated on counting how many chairs were available in the waiting room rather than the quality of justice meted out. My idea of what ponies should put up with is a lot different from other people's and probably yours. For example, I don't think people should run and shout around horses but that's probably because I don't like people running and shouting around me. However, it is also based on experience - with horses, energy in equals energy out and why would you want to wind a horse up? If people are shouting or speaking very quickly, how does a horse get his 'voice' heard?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

19th May, 2011 Baby come back

There was much excitement this afternoon when Lovelyhill High Jack turned up for his second season at Fritham. My girls will miss out on the all the fun as they are both being kept in until he is taken off again. It's a marvellous chance for me to observe stallion behaviour. He is of course Peechay's father although they don't look at all similar.

19th May, 2011 ARTy

New recruit Jan did a fine job of screaming at the Animal Rescue Team practical exercise this afternoon where fire officers from as far afield as Northern Ireland and Belgium were practising their skills. Save for the fact that 'Randy' lost his ears and had his headcollar put on upside down to begin with, the rescue went pretty well. I won't mention the fact that I managed to delete all of the photos and had to use a Rescue Program myself in order to get them back.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

18th May, 2011 Front unloading

The next step in Raf's loading went without a hitch (although of course the trailer was hitched to the car!). He now accepts the front and back bar being fastened and has started to unload via the front ramp. Like many horses, he was deeply suspicious of the ramp itself the first time he was asked to step on it but stuffing a bucket under his nose helped to slow him down and even to just stand still with all four feet on the ramp.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

17th May, 2011 Nice Nettles

It's been three weeks since Nettles was trained to wear a headcollar for the first time and he hasn't had one on since. Today he readily accepted the headcollar again and began his leading and leg handling training. By the end of the sessions with Nicki, Nick and Alison, he was happily being touched everywhere including on his left hand side where he had been a bit wary before. He is by Limekiln Endeavour and has a lovely temperament, just like his sire.

Nettles is for sale. Contact me if you would like to be put in touch with his owner.

17th May, 2011 Foal Fest Continues

Pie's girlfriend, the imaginatively called Orange Girl, has had her foal.

Monday, May 16, 2011

16th May, 2011 Peechay Peechay

Peechay is also doing really well. He's pretty confident around people which means that I am already having to use body language to ask him not to mutually groom me, gallop up to me and turn his bottom on me - all perfectly natural behaviour but not acceptable. Of course, Blue and Nell are fantastically tolerant and he is enjoying clambering all over them. Once the stallions are off the Forest, he can go out again and play with lots of other foals.

16th May, 2011 Brandy

Nelly's best friend, Brandy, who does not belong to me, has had her foal - a beautiful colt. You may recall that Brandy turned up with Nelly in the winter just over two years ago. At that time her brand was not visible and it was only last year that I spotted it and was able to contact her owners. When she came in she was very very poor having moved away from the place were she was turned out so that her owners hadn't been able to find her. She's looking so well now and her foal is a big and strong.

16th May, 2011 The 'Ah' Factor

For Simon's second course I was chief pony scouter and washer-uperer. I still had time to play with my camera out on the common at Woodgreen where there were six foals. I now know what some of the dials on my camera do and how to change the aperture, ISO and metering as well as compensating my exposure. Everyone seemed to enjoy the course and one said that she had learned more in one day than she had on an eight week course at college.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

15th May, 2011 No Apologies for this Picture

Another poor pony hit by a car at some time overnight / early morning on the B3078 at Telegraph Hill just yards beyond the sign that says, "Ponies on the Road Day and Night". This two year old filly had a front leg and a back leg broken. Slow down or go round the Forest.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

14th May, 2011 MC+2C=LP (fc)

Martin Clunes plus 2 Clydesdales (Ronnie and Bruce) is the front cover for the next Listening Post which is due out on 1st June, 2011 and available to all members of the Intelligent Horsemanship Association. This edition has a massive 48 pages (I know, I edited them all!).

14th May, 2011 Into-The-Lens

I'm in the middle of co-hosting a special horse owners' photography course with Simon Palmer of Into-The-Lens. End of day one and it has gone very well. I've discovered that there are other settings on my camera other than auto! One of our students, is 79 years old and not afraid of learning something new.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

11th May, 2011 Well spotted

Today we working on tying up with this beautifully marked filly. The key is to ask her to step forward into a pressure instead of going with her natural opposition reflex. This sort of training always needs to start with the lead rein threaded through the tie up ring to a human hand rather than tying her up to something she can fight. The lead rein is clipped on to the normal halter ring rather than the training rings of the Dually.