Saturday, September 10, 2016

10th September, 2016 Whirligig

I am coming to the end of a whirligig kind of week with another day to go. Highs and lows with Théoden at the vets, Ivy becoming so brave, lovely students coming all the way from Yorkshire to do a course with me and Magic, and one woman deciding it was okay to shove me quite hard while I was bending over backwards to help her; I have never come so close to naming and shaming. When I have loaned out hundreds of pounds worth of equipment at no cost, saving an owner time and therefore money for setting up and taking down that equipment at each visit, enabling her to continue practising safely in the meantime (real saving at least £120) I don't expect them to quibble when I ask for an hour's fee for collecting the equipment especially when she could have taken the opportunity to have an hour's training. Support and empathy has come in from all corners of my area, even Germany and Mallorca, where I have helped people with their horses and always been generous with my time, advice, and equipment.

Fortunately most of my customers are absolutely lovely and appreciative of everything I do to help - including the provision of a comprehensive report, general notes and photographs. One such was my morning customer from today.

Whifflegig is exquisite and I envy any woman who can look good in the rain!
The wonderfully named Arabian Whifflegig was my first rather soggy appointment. Whifflegig took 11 hours to load to come home from a recent endurance ride and the world and his wife offered to help once his owner was at her wits' end. It's a difficult one to get to the bottom of since the horse is clearly fit and well (nowhere vets its horses as often as long distance riding events), travels beautifully, and the owner has thought of absolutely everything when it comes to travel comfort and positioning within a decent lorry.

We've made a start, tidied up his groundwork which was a little erratic, and introduced clickered rewards for coming forward onto the ramp. Rain stopped play after a while and so we ended the session on a good note for today.

The audience had been told it was a black tie event.
Whifflegig thoroughly approved of the introduction of clickered rewards

I worked with him wearing his normal apparel since he apparently travels well in it; I'm not a great fan of thick travelling boots as I think they can cause more trouble than they solve. We'll also be monitoring the effectiveness of the Western halter.

Jo and Debrah have come down from the Scunthorpe area to work with Magic over the weekend. They are in business using Equine Assisted Learning techniques working with people with learning difficulties and those that have encountered abuse. Debrah also has a Warmblood Filly who is quite shy about having her face touched having worn a foal slip for a while - so often grading requirements force people to rush early training which would have benefitted from more time.

Despite the training we have done so far, Magic is still  ambivalent about being touched by a human hand having had who-knows-what experiences in her previous life. Jo and Debrah experimented with different kinds of touch until they found something she really liked...working on the right from the left...

...and the right from the right.

With Julie helping me out today, Tracey and Barbara were taking part in the UK Rescue Organisations' (UKRO) competition in Eastleigh where fire officers from all over the country, including the Animal Rescue Teams, were taking part in their equivalent of the Olympics. Animal Rescue was being showcased for the first time at this event. Tracey and Barbara were to be stranded in a horse drawn carriage with a wheelchair in the back so that firefighters needed to establish just which one of them had a disability.

Barbara adds a dose of absolute reality at these events as her disability is entirely genuine and she needs to be handled with care - by as many firemen as possible!

Tracey's report:
"It was very good, even though our waterproofs did give up the will to be waterproof!! The other organisations had paid professional actors so we were very proud to be asked which drama school we'd attended!! One fireman commented on how someone so disabled could grip, with her fingernails, so hard to the side of a horse box he said "we didn't know what to do"!!!"