Tuesday, July 31, 2012

31st July, 2012 Home Thoughts

Rhys, who has just completed his Stage I Horse Care Course at Kingston Maurwood College, came over today for a one to one training day with my horses. We crammed in loads and he enjoyed every bit of it and so did I. As well as doing fundamental groundwork with Petra, we took Jack out for a clickered walk on the Forest and then did a little jumping when we got back. Jack worked really well with Rhys.

We also did the three desensitisation techniques with Theoden, getting him accustomed to lots of colourful and noisy things. After which I taught Rhys how to long-line.

Lastly we did some work with little Indiana who is growing more confident every day (she had a bath last week).

Monday, July 30, 2012

30th July, 2012 Minnie the Minx

Back to see Minnie the Minx this morning and, after just one month of careful groundwork, she feels more than ready to continue her education. Horses learn to learn. She took everything in her stride today and was really wonderful to work with.

"Just wanted to tell you that you truly are amazing!!! Minx had fly spray all over her today and didn't mind one bit she just stood there snoozing!! We also did some long reining." KS

Saturday, July 28, 2012

28th July, 2012 Naturally co-operative

It always amazes me how naturally co-operative horses can be if we engage with them in a way that they understand. Mind you, the owners can be pretty co-operative too. I often lead people around as part of training 'feel' and people generally work with me rather than against me even though I haven't asked them to do so.

On my second visit to Max this week we worked on setting up a square of poles as a 'safe place' so that we had somewhere where he could stand quietly and just be asked to move his feet one step at a time. We are hoping that this will over-ride his default setting which is to leave at speed.

I have also had two sessions with the little grey Arabian starter this week. She had her first trot on Monday and today she was ridden out on the Forest with me on foot. She has been awarded eleventy million out of ten for her work on both days.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

26th July, 2012 Soldiering On

These pictures go back to 2001 when I was in the middle of my project for the MRPCH and worked with six untouched New Forest ponies. This one is Foxhills Soldier and this was only the second day of working with him. I think he was two at the time. It was lovely to see that he came second yesterday in the HOYS Mountain and Moorland Working Hunter Pony not exceeding 138 cms at the New Forest Show.

Monday, July 23, 2012

23rd July, 2012 Monday Monday

Back to school for Theoden this morning as we had our lesson with Amanda. Later in the day Amanda and I worked together with Max and Emma.  We are trying to find the optimum moment for a hand over as Emma and I stop working on Max's remedial issues and Amanda starts working on ridden technique. Between these two sessions I worked with the young Arab again and her owner rode her for the second time. She went off the lead rein for the first time and took her first steps using gentle rider aids.

23rd July, 2012 Photo shoot

Yesterday I delivered the IH cheque to HorseWorld and then we spent the day doing a photo-shoot for the IH magazine. I was overwhelmed by the help I got from the other photographers - Jo Monck, Jim Crouch, Jenny Major and Sarah Hollister (who works at HorseWorld), Kayleigh from HorseWorld and the IH students, Yolande and Alice, who came down to volunteer to have their photo taken. Students on the Hands on Horsemanship course also agreed to have their photos taken. Hopefully we have got some great stock shots that will come out in the magazine over the next few editions. 

Ophelia, a four year old Thoroughbred with Yolande.

David gets a kiss from Buddy - horses always like his hair. Later Jenny M and Jenny C started Buddy under saddle at the culmination of the Hands on Horsemanship Course.

23rd July, 2012 Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion

That clever David suggested that we went to see the SS Great Britain when we went to Bristol for the weekend. Little did we know that it was the Harbour Festival weekend. Thousands and thousands of people and loads of boats, bands and entertainment. The SS Great Britain is a fantastic museum. Unlike the Motor Museum where you can't touch anything, visitors to the ship, build 1843 and brought home from the Falklands in 1970, are actively encouraged to touch everything, to get into the bunks and the bath, to go up and down the stairs and in and out of the cabins. Brilliant.

Friday, July 20, 2012

20th July, 2012 Gynaecology is a very hard word to spell

Nelly the Noo hopped on the bus this afternoon to go down to the gynaecology department at The Barn Vets. She seems to have been permanently in season for about ten weeks. I wasn't too worried at first and thought it might be because the stallions were out and she was in and only able to look but not touch. However, since then I have observed her up at the pond at Fritham Plain flirting outrageously but to no avail. Having edited an article I had received from professor Derek Knottenbelt about some of the underlying causes of such problems, I thought it was certainly time to get her checked out by the vet. Fortunately Nelly's James Herriott moment brought only good news as there is nothing sinister going on. The dark patch on the screen is in fact a very healthy follicle and she is just about to be genuinely in season.

It was suggested that I put her on Regumate but as she lives out and appears to be otherwise healthy and not fretting at all, I am just going to monitor her for now and perhaps consider some other route to 'switching her off' again. Incidentally the scan cost me £40.20 which is not a bad price for peace of mind.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

19th July, 2012 Interesting C.V.

Irish Sports Horse Fern has changed home five times in the last couple of years having been imported from Ireland and gone through a couple of dealers and a riding school. Having heard all of that I anticipated that there might be some interesting issues that might need to be resolved. In fact she is a very straightforward, bright and sensitive little mare and a nice blank canvas for her owner. They have already formed a trusting relationship which were able to consolidate with some basic groundwork today. Fern is surrounded by a multitude of other animals including pigs, alpacas and chickens and now has a horse companion too. She was a little ear shy but a brief session of 'touch and move away' technique with the feather duster and then our hands resolved that almost straight away. The good news is that Fern did not react to the movement of the handle on the feather duster, usually a good indication that a horse has not been beaten.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

18th July, 2012 Endurance

Last night David and I went to a talk at the Wessex Classical Riding Group by top endurance rider Pauline Beech and her vet husband Len Beech. From owning a rescued Thoroughbred that wouldn't even walk down the drive, she went to gaining a Gold Award at the Golden Horseshoe Ride n Exmoor when Ben was 21 years old. From then on, endurance riding shaped her life and she went all over the world to compete.

I have a lot to thank endurance for too. Seventeen years ago on Monday, I met David at an endurance ride at Bulbarrow Hill when he was one of the trail riders marking the course and I was one of the marshalls. He was covered in dust and some very fetching motocross trousers and I remember thinking how yummy he looked. Ten years ago today we got married and although he looks almost green with fear, married life has suited us pretty well. I'd never lasted more than ten minutes with anyone before so it's a great achievement for which perhaps we should get a Gold Medal for endurance.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

17th July, 2012 Murphy's Law

Another big boy today, pure Shire, Murphy, He's taller than he looks with his owner because she is tall too. She finds her 'police' hat and his stature very useful when it comes to slowing the traffic down. Just like Duke yesterday, this horse is a sweetheart although he was being driven mad by the flies that had all turned up on our only warm day this summer. Once again we looked at the basic groundwork exercises which can even be useful for horses that are normally calm and benevolent but oh so large and intimidating on those odd occasions when life is going wrong. We suspect that Murphy has been driven before as I was able to whizz through the 'pre-flight' checks and then plod off down the road to take him back to his field.

"Thank you for forwarding me your notes on our work we did with Murphy. He proved to be a star in the end!! I will continue to practise the techniques with Murphy and hopefully our partnership will grow stronger than it already is."AS

Monday, July 16, 2012

16th July, 2012 Your Grace

Duke, an Irish Draught, is one of the most sweet, benevolent and polite horses I have ever met. He works at the Hampshire Riding Therapy Centre, where he is ridden by people of all ages with all kinds of disabilities as well as being a wonderful riding horse his loaner. Today we went through the basic groundwork exercises and he was so attentive and sensitive and all the other superlatives that you can think of.

Note the rug, after all it is only July!!

15th July, 2012 Outlines or putlines?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

15th July, 2012 Tous Shay!

From Bronagh:

"Just to let you know that WE DID IT!! We took Shay out to the forest yesterday and did the route around Fritham.  Shay loaded perfectly on the way out and, other than being a bit excited at the beginning, was brilliant on the ride. Cows are very, very interesting indeed - not scary, just requiring lots of thinking about. I did all the breathing exercises, counted paces, etc and I felt very comfortable letting him walk at his natural pace. I even trotted and cantered and always felt that he was under control. 

We also did some ground work this week and Shay is really quite comfortable with the feather duster now, so will have to move on to the plastic bags (I was less comfortable - I got stung by a bee whilst doing that exercise!)."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

14th July, 2012 Lymington Carnival

Off to Lymington Carnival this evening to meet up with Patrick and Suzanne again and the wonderful Tetua. This time the theme was the Olympics so Patrick carried Olympic flags and I wore an army uniform with a rather apt label on it.

14th July, 2012 Emotional experience

Having being thwarted by a touch of laminitis, a swollen eye and the weather, it has been a while since we have been able to work with Max. Today we reintroduced a rider and then his owner who hasn't been on his back since September last year. It was a very emotional moment for her and for us as her friends. She has worked hard to reach this moment, working with Max on the ground and keeping up her riding skills by having riding lessons.

We have already started work on getting rid of the false outline that he acquired with his last trainer (an outline starts at the tip of the toes of the back feet and runs all the way through to the whiskers on their nose - all too often it is only created at the front end by concertina-ing the neck). 

Friday, July 13, 2012

13th July, 2012 Friday the thirteenth

Slightly luckier with the weather today. Lorraine did more jumping and Linda did more lateral moves (without getting wet through).

Theoden and I also worked on lateral movements in a Western grid. The poles help the horse to work out where he needs to be and to present some boundaries. Theoden really gets this type of work and I only have to think about the 'open door' for him to move his legs over.

Between exercises we went for a rhythmical trot around the school. As soon as he had softened nicely for three strides, I needed to give him a very obvious release. What could be better than letting go altogether?

Back to the grid and a beautifully soft back up and an equally soft cuddle at the end of the session.

Following just our third clicker trained mounting session, Theoden stands stock still for me to get on. He knows his rights and looks round for his treat.

We wound down by riding the two Tolkien brothers, Hobbit and Theoden, out before I took Theoden and Rye home.