Tuesday, September 30, 2014

30th September, 2014 Just Not Cricket

The opening of the cricket pitch on Woodgreen Common following the end of the cricket season is a much anticipated event. The ponies make the most of the sweeter grass and have a veritable poo-fest while they are at it.

But Boris the dog has got the ball...

30th September, 2014 Just Do What You Can

30th September, 2014 The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing but The Truth

I was disturbed at a recent clinic to hear the clinician state that the horse he was working with was sore in his lower back because of they way that his teeth had been rasped. Without looking into the horse’s mouth, he said that the use of power tools meant that he could only eat properly after six months had elapsed since the power tools take off too much of the grinding surface. This was particularly disconcerting for me as I we had the vet out to check and treat our horses’ teeth just a few days before.

More recently there has been an article on Facebook extolling the virtues of leaving the horses’ teeth as they are, after all, wild horses cope don’t they? Well, cope they might but most truly wild horses die through starvation if their teeth go wrong! Many must live with years of discomfort as their teeth deteriorate and their cheeks become ulcerated. They have access to a greater range of foodstuffs and fibre and don’t have to wear a bit or bridle. Watch any wildlife programme and the animals actually endure and suffer, a lot. It’s all about survival. 

I mulled this over for a long time and then decided that I should bite the bullet and go to the very best expert that I know in the field of equine dentistry, Chris Pearce. This is what he told me:
“Power tools with a diamond disc (which we nearly all use now) leave a (microscopically) much more even surface than the rough deep gouges made with hand rasps - and they (power tools) leave what is known as a 'smear layer' over the dentine surface - this is around 100 microns thick and fills in the dentinal tubules that are exposed from rasping making the surface less porous and less painful - also the new breed of tools mean they are incredibly flexible and versatile and can easily and quickly deal with any overgrowths, sharp points etc under visual control (rather than the old fashioned hand rasping in the dark) - this means less trauma, a quicker job so less stress and much more accuracy in reduction in ONLY what needs to be reduced rather than carte blanche rasp everything down with a hand rasp - BUT of course, like a chainsaw in the wrong hands they can be very dangerous - and NO-ONE should be using power tools unless they are trained and qualified - it is a Category 2 procedure and only BAEDT members (or currently WWAED full members) should legally be using them. As a not very good example - most skilled cabinet makers / furniture craftsmen use motorised woodworking instruments - but in my hands they would make an awful mess of a piece of wood as I am not trained in how to use them - so I'd be safer with a small hacksaw and a hand file!!”
Facebook: The Equine Dental Clinic Website: The Equine Dental Clinic Website

It may be that the clinician was basing their comments on some discredited American practices which bear no relation to what happens here. As horse owners we just want the truth and no matter how educated we become, we are all dependent on the advice of experts; it’s about knowing where to place your trust. It’s so easy when watching any horse person to swallow everything they say, hook, line, and power tool.

Monday, September 29, 2014

29th September, 2014 Money Laundering

Just over a week ago I had a rather difficult ride out on Theoden which turned into a long walk home. Twenty minutes into the ride he stopped and refused to move for a few moments before walking on about another fifty strides and doing the same thing again. I recognised this little pattern as being the same one I'd met about three years ago when he found a new saddle I was going to buy uncomfortable. Taking his word for it at that time I asked the saddler to let me have one with a different rigging set up and literally and metaphorically he had not looked back since. So here we were again, some three miles from home, and no real clue as to what was wrong. The only thing that had changed was that I had washed his pad and cinch using my own shampoo and conditioner both of which contained essence of coconut. To make sure, I got off and began to walk home and even then he was stopping every fifty strides. When I got home and took his tack off he seemed to be fine walking around the field but I  took his temperature and observed him for a long time just to make sure.
I struggled to find time to ride last week but made time to rinse the pad and girth again with plain water over and over again.  They took ages to dry but were ready for this morning when I went out with Pat on Petra. I am pleased to say he was perfect so I am not going to need to replace either which would be a vast expense.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

27th September, 2014 In Honour of Julie's Mum

It's quite normal for Forest animals to have several aliases given to them by their various fans. I'm naming this brand new baby donkey Valerie, in honour of Julie's Mum who apparently reads this page nearly every day. Thank you for the loan of your daughter, Valerie. She takes a good photo and she's great company on a Saturday.

It was back to Lenki again today to help him get over his fear of the horsebox and to help him find his way about in there.

The flag is just a boundary to assess how a horse might react to being closed in. R is getting solid ramp gates to go in this horseobx as the ramp itself is pretty short and won't be high enough when closed to keep him in if he thinks about leaving. Nevertheless he was much more comfrotable about staying in this time and became more and more relaxed as we progressed.

Just relaxing in the horsebox before coming out each time. He thinks I can't see the faces he pulls.

Now we're down to two panels and then we don't need them at all anymore.

Looks like he's staying.

Friday, September 26, 2014

26th September, 2014 Horse Spittle

Dove is beginning to settle in to her new home and enjoying some new activites as a diversion from her ridden dressage work. Here she is practising her natural head carriage and listening so carefully to everything she is asked to do. Makes a nice change from circles. She also responded well to clicker training and was persuaded to go over the tarpaulin without any pressure.

Kestrel has graduated to long reining on the Forest being clipped on for any potentially exciting bits. He was calm and collected all the way round even when the wild ponies ran down the hill to the watersplash behind him.

Tigerlily has also graduated to a proper saddle rather than her bareback pad. Caroline has been working all week on getting her used to tightening up the girth.

The only conundrum we're dealing with at the moment is how to stop Tigerlily licking me to death. With my boots wet through from the watersplash and my middle wet through from her licking me I looked as if I had had an encounter with a wallpaper brush. I don't feel like I can ask her not to do it because I don't want to do anything to make her cross or annoy her during this early sit ons and it's easy to fall into the trap of appeasing her. Caroline's next lot of homework is to be more strict (in a nice way) about rewarding for exact tasks and demeanour rather than using food to ask her to co-operate. It's an important distinction.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

25th September, 2014 Don't Tell The Bride

Tracey and I set off across the ocean early this morning to meet up with Jane, David and their three ponies Mollie, Mairie and Pie once again.

Pie has recently been diagnosed with Cushings and so he is having time off until his medication is at the right level. In that case we had M and M, mother and daughter to keep amused. Mollie doesn't find the agility obstacles all that interesting, much preferring to eat the grass. The way to keep her attention is to keep her busy with lots of changes in direction, stops and starts.

She can be quite cuddly but it's her dam that is the real sweetheart. She has only ever been a broodmare and gone to shows until she arrived with Jane. She took to long reining really easily and should have her own tailor made saddle by the time I come back next time. She was backed by a teddy bear last time I was over and will hopefully carry the grandchildren once she is backed again.

 A kiss for teacher.

Later on we took the two girls to see some traffic at the end of the drive. However, it is such a quiet road that nothing came down.

Nothing for it then but to ask Paul, the wedding car chauffeur, to bring the Mercedes down for them to see. Much to the surprise of passing walkers we 'chased' it up the road. "Training event!", I cried cheerfully, as we set off. They'll think we're all mad...

"Thank you so much for another fantastic day’s training. Mollie really extended her world today and took it all in her stride, she seems to love anything new. Will continue to make the agility courses challenging and keep her mind on the task, she really does behave herself when she has to think. Thanks so much for introducing Mairi to long reining, she really is a joy to work with and gave me confidence. And I was so pleased that Tracey used her IH skills and caught Pie, it is good for him to trust other people. Mollie behaved very well when I was working in the paddock after you left  So a big thank you to both you and Tracey for all your time and teaching today. It is always such a pleasure to work with you, looking forward to next time." JB

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

24th September, 2014 Going Straight

Evie loads into a trailer really well and seems to have no concerns about the bars going up and the ramp. However, she does not like being backed out again. There is always the option of the front ramp but sensibly her owner wants to keep all options available.

Left to her own devices, Evie refuses to go backwards at all and when asked to do so turns her head (understandably) to look where she is going and therefore end up crooked on the ramp and more likely to fall off the edges at the side. Her worry becomes self-fulfilling as she doesn't like the sudden drop.

Asked to trust her owner and let her take over the steering, she says that isn't possible and threatens her with her teeth.

However, when Lorraine does take over the steering, using Evie's head and neck as a rudder, Evie is much straighter and only has the little lip at the bottom of the ramp to negotiate. It doesn't take long for her to realise that in fact she can trust Lorraine with her feet. It's early days but it shouldn't be too long before Evie realises that she is in very safe hands indeed.

At last we have found her favourite rubbing spot since she's not all that pleased to be touched at all. She's having all of the physical support that she needs and they are getting to the root of her defensiveness.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

23rd September, 2014 Would I Lie To You?

Drivers might be forgiven for thinking that they've done very well this year having only killed or injured 29 animals by the end of September. Sadly the figures have not been updated for some time and the actual figure is a lot higher.

Only a week ago a mule was hit by two cars one after the other at Latchmoor, near Brockenhurst and even though the first vehicle, an Audi, hit the mule so hard that it left the road it did not stop at the scene and the mule was left dying in the road. The second vehicle, a silver Mercedes type, hit and killed the mule which was in the road struggling to get up. The driver failed to stop and neither driver has reported having had a collision with a Forest animal.

If anyone has any information that might identify the drivers involved in this accident, or noticed damage consistent with striking an animal, to an Audi or silver Mercedes type vehicle, the Verderers would be very pleased to hear from them. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence. A reward of up to £1,000 is payable to anyone providing information which leads to the successful conviction of a driver who fails to report an accident involving Forest livestock.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact either the Police on 101 quoting RMS number 44140336599, Sue Westwood, the Clerk to the Verderers on 023 8028 2052, or email enquiries@verderers.org.uk. road

23rd September, 2014 Light and Shade

An early morning start to prepare for the arrival of five first year students from a local college. Their equine course includes a good deal of Monty Roberts' technique and after Christmas they'll be spending time with Kelly Marks at Hartsop. Meanwhile, I have been asked to run through some of the basic ideas, ideals, and techniques, showing where they are similar to traditional BHS and where they differ. The most notable differences are in catching, leading, and the use of body language more generally.


"I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge and techniques with me and the other KMC students today.  It was a really useful session and great to put the theory into practice with the beautiful Theoden." KMcL

After we had finished, Tracey and I went to find more ponies, as you do, and came upon a large group shading in the trees at Lyndhurst Racecourse where we were keen to drive along The Custards.

Monday, September 22, 2014

22nd September, 2014 Lady Muck

A well earned day off after a really busy week so we checked the ponies' spark plugs and took them out on the Forest. They promised to be sensible...

And then things speeded up...

...refuelling on marsh grass...

...Jack is just a blur...

We counted them out and we counted them in.