Sunday, July 31, 2011

31st July, 2011 What?

What they do is what they learn. What they learn is what they do. Simple eh? Nature and nurture.

31st July, 2011 Roneo, roneo wherefor art thou roneo

Everyone came in for worming yesterday. Blue seems to be nanny both to Nelly's foal and Brandy's. Both are rapidly going grey except for their faces.

31st July, 2011 Horsepital

Poor Chancer has been in the wars. He managed to cut his leg on a metal hurdle when he was leaning over it to get to the six blades of grass that were on the other side and is now on antibiotics for five days. Fortunately nothing too deep but still nasty. While the vet was out I expressed my concern that he just doesn't seem to be thriving at the moment and we have agreed that he should have a gastroscope in the near future. Chancer hasn't been in race training for over five years but I understand that gastric ulcers do not always resolve themselves just because a horse is turned out full time and given plenty of fibre. Lindy is also a bit of an expert on nutrition and we are trying him on a higher protein diet with some added oil. Although he is a nice weight, Chancer's coat is just a lot duller than the others and he is very quiet. The vet also took blood samples to see whether he is deficient in anything. And finally...the vet is going to investigate whether the lump on Chancer's eyelid is a sarcoid as it does seem to be getting bigger very slowly. Photos will go off to Professor Derek Knottenbelt at Liverpool University to see which treatment he thinks would be best.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

28th July, 2011 Mission impossible?

After yesterday's outburst, I made today's mission to find happy riders at the New Forest Show. This one was pretty smiley and so was her pony - absolutely gorgeous. He came third in his class and she was pleased with that.

In no way am I saying that people shouldn't go showing. It's a brilliant education for a young horse - they see more sights and sounds in one day than they would ever get at home. It's also good for promoting good manners and responsiveness. It's just that it should be enjoyable for all participants and not just a maul or battle. In the end it is just a beauty contest and judges have their favourite shape, size and even colour. Jenny's Mum's pony, Poppy came third in her New Forest class yesterday out of a really strong class. Just a few weeks ago another judge told Jenny that she "didn't like chestnuts!"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

27th July, 2011 I don't get it

Young Auriol (as she is known) is the daughter of my friend Auriol and must be one of the few people that I have seen looking happy in a showing class; both she and her horse were so serene despite the class running two hours late.

I have to confess that I don't really understand what drives people to take part in shows as most of them seem to be entirely miserable and the only really happy person is the winner. Today I saw people hitting their horses before they went into the ring, jagging them in the mouth, being spiteful to them while they were standing in line and then screaming about their behaviour when they came back out. One woman was complaining bitterly about how her pony misbehaved in the ring, had been tense and nervy and I kept thinking, you should hear what the pony says about you! It can't be a pleasant experience for the ponies either.

The rule about leading at the shoulder with the hand close to the headcollar means that the horses are bent to the left, forced to move crookedly and have a constant pressure on the lead rein. You can see them shouting "get off my head, get off my head" as they toss their heads up and down as they go around the ring in a futile attempt to find a release. There's a saying, 'show me a good show horse and I'll show you a crooked riding horse'. I wonder how any judge can judge the conformation of the horse when he is prevented from going straight in the first place. It's a daft rule, put there for daft reasons and it's a shame for the horses.

27th July, 2011 New Forest Show

Armed with my camera and my new unofficial 'apprentice', Lindy, I have got three days at the New Forest Show this week. We are helping out at the Animal Rescue Team's stand but taking it in turns to take photos from the collecting ring where you get the very best photos of people getting ready and the excitement and anticipation of entering the main ring.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

24th July, 2011 Boarding School

Theoden went off on the school bus today all the way to Dallington, East Sussex where he will be boarding with IHRA, Jim Goddard. As well as building on Theoden's work ethic, Jim will be introducing him to some more Western work. Theoden has struggled to leave Petra behind every since they met and much as their relationship is very sweet, it does mean that he can get cross if he is asked to leave her - leading to him throwing me off a couple of times. I am hoping that some time away, some solid work and having his comfort zone stretched will all help as well as having someone who can get on and stay on if Theoden says 'no'.

Friday, July 22, 2011

22nd July, 2011 That time again

Once again it was down to the Fire Station to help out with the Animal Rescue Team course although in fact I had nothing to do because William 'Work-Experience' took over as camera-man. Afterwards we were treated to a barbecue to say thank-you for the work we have done over the last year. That led to the alarming thought that we might actually set the fire station on fire!

22nd July, 2011 Small police horses

Champ is going to be a lead rein pony for small children and therefore we need him to be pretty bombproof. As he has never met a whip or had one used for a bad purpose, it was fine to tie a plastic bag on the end of it. A little dubious, he coped with everything he met but there is still work to do. In the meantime, the miniature Shetlands lay asleep in the sunshine.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

20th July, 2011 Fan Anna

An interim visit for Anna this morning between her six weekly farrier appointments. Although she would always prefer people to just give her the food, give her a fuss and go away, she allowed me to touch her and then to put her headcollar on. William and I then spent an hour brushing her and doing nice things so that she won't always associate the headcollar with having her feet done. I did however pick them up and pick them out without any problems. I finished the session by taking off and putting her headcollar back on five times the 'normal' way, i.e. over her nose.

Anna has lived alone since her mother died a few years ago but receives regular attention from quite a big fan club that pass her field when they go for a walk in the woods.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

19th July, 2011 Forwards

Guilda stepping out through the poles this afternoon with Jenny on board.

This morning, William and I, went to meet a newly purchased New Forest pony who had become shy about having his bridle on. His problem was very specific - he happily takes the bit itself (better than I have ever seen any horse do), is happy to have the left ear put under the crown piece but unhappy about the right ear. The vet has checked his ears and his mouth to make sure there are no underlying problems. Once again the problem seems to have been solved by pushing his ear forwards with a flat hand and then through the gap between the crown piece and the brow band. I think a lot of horses object to having the crown piece pulled back over their ears particularly at this time of year when the flies are so irritating.

"E-pony has been so much better with the bridle the last couple of days!! " E-mail from E's owner.

Monday, July 18, 2011

18th July, 2011 Work experience

It was the beginning of William 'Work-Experience's' second week today. Not only have we been trundling around in the MG with the top down but we have music on while we do admin work. He's been updating the accounts, banking any cheques, fulfilling book orders on Amazon and a bit of proof reading for the Listening Post. Outdoors he has been to all my appointments, helped me set up panels, worked with some of the semi-feral ponies, and had the occasional lesson with my horses at home. Today he was joined by his school tutor, Miss Hardy, who is quite horsey too. We told her how we have a word of the day - 'convoluted' today -and how I finally taught him to get his head around apostrophes.

18th July, 2011 Peechay is peachy

The girls popped back home for a feed this afternoon bringing Peechay, Brandy and her foal with them too. They all look so well and have gone back out on the Forest this evening.

18th July, 2011 Express yourself

I don't have a lot of pictures of horses rearing on my blog site - I really try not to provoke it as a response and I don't think it is particularly cool that I can 'deal' with a horse that rears; I'd rather work without drama. However, ex-racehorse Lucy had so much pent up emotion and energy when she was put on a single line this morning that the best thing to do seemed to be to let her get it all out. All I asked was that she didn't bring the behaviour into the middle with me so I used body language to keep her out and remained fairly passive. As she calmed down, I began to direct her movement and to show her that I didn't need her to be on automatic pilot.

I don't see this behaviour as naughty; she is just expressing the way she feels. If your horse bucks, rears, kicks, bites, gets down and rolls when he is hot, kicks a hole in your field shelter, chews things, puts his head down to eat grass and isn't all that bothered about working then the evidence all points to the fact that he is........ a horse.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

16th July, 2011 Write AS Rain

Plodding on with The Listening Post today as I didn't want to go out and get soaked. Seven hours later, I am making headway. I have sent 5 articles off to the designer, 4 more off to Kelly and 3 off to my co-editors. I've got my head around a complicated article on poisonous plants, got some basic ideas down for my article on eyes and sorted through a stack of photos for each of them.

Friday, July 15, 2011

15th July, 2011 Puck and his Sisters

It has been three years since I have done any work with Puck and yet he accepted his headcollar, lead rein and being led, really easily and seems to have forgotten none of the things he learned as a baby. Today his sisters, aged two and three years were introduced to the headcollar for the first time. Having been born on the Forest, these three have now moved with their mother to the same farm as I bought Blue and Nelly all those years ago.

Angela says that Milly and Molly, top and middle, go to different hairdressers...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

14th July, 2011 I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow

Appropriate lyrics for this Danny Boy where his owner wanted to work on strengthening her bond with him. He is a little ambivalent about having people around him and wants to know whether they represent friend or foe and whether they can be relied upon as a leader. On the other hand he is bold about new and colourful objects and out in traffic. Hopefully the work we did today will be a good start for them both.

14th July, 2011 Unanimous decision

When all three of your horses take to someone instantly it's hard not to be jealous. No. seriously, I think horses are a great judge of character and Chancer, Theoden and Petra all worked really sweetly for Jenny B today. It's tempting to want you horses to love you the most and not to want to be with anyone else but it does them no favours. All of my horses are turning in to great teaching horses and earning their keep very quietly. The great news is that Jack-Jack will shortly be mine too - just need to transfer his passport into my name.

Jenny and I have been working on energy and tension levels and how to reduce your aids down to the minimum number and the maximum softness. All of the horses felt just how relaxed she was and the tables were turned when Jenny showed me a technique for asking Chancer to come forward that he clearly preferred to mine. I shall pinch that then!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

13th July, 2011 Fautras Fortress

Loading practice for Badger today who looked rather dapper in his poker playing poll guard. This was the first time that I had worked with a Fautras trailer - only a tiny ramp or they can be used as a step up (not so keen on that option). They are a really solid looking trailer with loads of room for the horse. It has double doors at the back like a wardrobe! Successful session with Badger loading time after time.

E-mail received 14.7 from JG: Success - Badger loaded 3 times tonight.

E-mail received 1.8 "All went well with the travelling on Sunday. Badger walked straight in the trailer and was quite calm once shut in. He called a lot as we went up the track and his field mate was shouting back, but he soon tucked into his hay net and travelled well. We had a good crack at our first le trec, poor Badger was very tired by the end of it, it was quite hot too, but he was very good. He argued a little, maybe 5 mins but not long, before getting in the trailer to come home but I felt quite confident with the skills you had taught me that we would get home so I kept him moving, kept a little presure on the rope, looked at his feet and eventually he walked in and travelled well. I loaded him again at home on Monday morning because I thought he might say 'no way, you drove off with me yesterday' but he didnt hesitate and walked straight in - what a good boy!"

13th July, 2011 Ain't nobody here but us chickens...

Latest news from LF about her chicken phobic pony....

Just wanted to give you an update on our chicken training. Had a real breakthrough today and can't wait to tell you. We went out for a ride as usual and when we came back to the yard the chickens were out and I had an 'oh no!' moment and then thought, no you can do this together. I walked her up to her tying hitch and asked Pat to get me the Dually headcollar as I thought I need to keep control and not ruin the progress we made already. So I did deep breaths, said nothing and untacked her. Still she coped no real panic so she was to washed off, and given her feed which she ate with them in plain sight. One even decided to have a dust bath right near her!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

12th July, 2011 Best foot forward

This is new boy Woody, a New Forest pony with a vaguely Lusitano look about him. He's a nice pony with lovely manners. However he has not been too keen on having his feet picked up by the farrier so we did some work on that using desensitisation techniques and I have suggested that he have his back checked just in case there is a physical element. When I moved on to the second desensitisation technique, otherwise known as chasing things, Woody thought this was fantastic fun. Makes you wonder if the instinct to drift other ponies has made it in to their evolution.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

10th July, 2011 Faces

Jenny and I were working with a few of our regular faces yesterday - Beau, Champ and Teddy - as well as a new pony called Woody. Here are a few new faces from Horseworld on Thursday including Mario at the top.

10th July, 2011 What to do with a stick

Here is Seven-Up from Horseworld demonstrating what to do with a stick!

10th July, 2011 Zoopharmacognosy

A few years ago I watched a demonstration by Caroline Ingraham who practises and teaches Applied Zoopharmacognosy. As a result I began to use some essential oils with my own horses. I was delighted to be able to meet up with her again for an exclusive demonstration for the Listening Post at Horseworld on Friday. The results can be seen in the next edition which is due to be published on 1st September.