Sunday, January 31, 2016

31st January, 2016 Rescue Me!

The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Animal Rescue Team have attended SIX incidents this week involving horses. If you would like to know more about what they do, and fancy an evening out in the company of legendary Firefighter Jim Green, as seen on Real Rescues,  then contact The Barn Veterinary Surgery tomorrow in order to get a ticket for Wednesday evening. You never know when you might need the team, come along and support them. It's donations on the door but you do need to book your seat.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

30th January, 2015 Benny Fits

So far we have worked with Benny on his specific fear of donkeys so it was good today to work on a more general approach to accustoming him to new and novel items. Benny is confident until he is not confident and then he tends to react quite strongly so incremental work like this highlights the point just before he would lose his nerve and enables us to show him that we can be trusted to make sure he is comfortable before moving on. 

Setting a pattern really helps and means that Benny went from a little concern with the feather duster to absolutely no concern for the carriers bags.

He was blasé about the umbrella until it was half up but allowing him to 'chase' it and raising it just a little at a time persuaded him that he was in charge of it...

...and therefore didn't need to worry about it when it was following him.

The tarpaulin was no challenge at all other than it was covering his precious grass!

But he could always try to eat the scarecrow instead.

Lunch and a trip to Waterlooville where we met eight year old gypsy cob, Splash. Yet again a five year old horse in an eight year old suit in terms of her education and experience.

Since buying her just a few weeks ago her owners were worried about her tendency to push her way through people.

We established a few clear boundaries and worked on I walk, you walk, I stop, you stop. Given that this involves no pulling or pushing from me it is little wonder that she didn't feel the need to pull or push either.

Right turns are critical. When I want to turn right I just turn right and the horse should simply move out of my way. Splash was perfect at this.
"The session on Saturday was amazing and Tim and I learnt so much, I can't thank you and Julie enough." LR

Friday, January 29, 2016

29th January, 2016 Evening Classes

After a three week end of term, I wondered whether my goldfish coloured friend would have forgotten everything she has learned. Having worked out how to put herself inside the pen, she showed me that she hasn't forgotten a thing and we started off where we left off last time. She was extremely pleased to find that there was no truth in the news from Lymington Rumour Control that the ginger biscuit factory has been flooded and production stopped.

Off to Winchester next to catch up with Sky news. Her owner and loaner are doing really well with her and she now stands still to be mounted. Although she is no longer frightened of running water, or a pipe, she still wants to avoid the discomfort of running water on her body. When tied up she uses the full 180° available to her to push people out of the way and postpone what they are doing. Whilst we can have sympathy with her point of view, it is important that she learns to accept legs being washed.

With just a very slow trickle coming out of the end of this (rather awkward) hosepipe, I kept the water running down her leg until she stood still and then moved away and then repeated this a good number of times and for each leg. She soon learned to stand still and to quietly accept the water on her legs.

We also worked on leading along the driveway where her primary thought is to get to the grass by pulling or pushing. By turning the handler's hand the other way up ('motorbike') hand we were able to answer her question each time she asked whether it was okay to go and eat the grass. The 'motorbike' hand is stronger when needed and enables you to engage all of the muscles of your arm and your core when necessary.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

28th January, 2016 Jasper Carrott

Jasper excelled his little self this morning by accepting his headcollar, first of all in the yard, and then in the two acre paddock.

Just using the scarf, Nathalie led him around...


It was noticeable that he was experimenting with what would happen if he allowed Nathalie into his right hand side.

Proceedings were being watched very carefully...

Later I went to catch Anna for her elderly owners so that she could have her feet trimmed. She told me off for being three weeks late but when I explained that the farrier's son had broken his leg she forgave me. Or it might have been the hay.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

26th January, 2016 End of the Victor-ian Era

More difficult partings today as we took Victor home and said goodbye. 

A little sit down in the barn after running this morning. Tracey and I go out every other morning and sometimes cycle in between.

Victor's 'Dad' turned up and groomed him for the first time...

...and also enjoyed leading him out on the Forest.

Back to Pennington and unfortunately back to being alone but it is likely that he will be found a loan home or new owner very soon. Now that he is a gelding and is tame this should be a lot easier.

We almost had an unexpected parting from Henrietta as the main gate got left open twice. The 'airlock' stops all of the other horses getting out but Henry can go under the gate. I was rather thrilled and relieved that she deigned to follow a bucket back into the field rather than going off with the wild ponies. It might be something to do with her shared occupation of the field shelter.

Monday, January 25, 2016

25th January, 2016 Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Knowing that you have bred a foal, and a posh foal at that, to sell, does not make it any easier to say goodbye. Today I went to load Holly, one of Beccy's Warmblood foals to go to her new home with Amanda and Tommy, two of the students that came on the Handling the Warmblood Foal Course a fortnight ago. Tommy fell in love with her at first sight and as a budding young show-jumper we have high hopes for their future together.

Holly was very interested in proceedings at first while we set up the trailer for her departure...

...and then she thought she would have a little lie down.

A tough day for any owner, even if it is what you were hoping for.

I'm still using the scarf to lead her. Today was not the day for her to meet a hard pressure if she felt the need to back up a little bit.

A little reassurance at the entrance to the panels. The gates are wide open so that she is funnelled inwards towards the trailer but they are also in an L-shape so that she doesn't have to face a dark cavern.

At the foot of the trailer she is allowed to relax on the ramp, and even back away if she needs to. The gates to the panelled area have been closed quietly beside her so that she is now in the container before the container. She is also on a soft surface.

She loves her food so is asked to follow a bucket...

...and in she goes. She travelled loose and without a head collar because she has never been tied up yet, was travelling for the first time, was alone, and needed to learn how to keep her balance.

Another stable, another door. She will be turned out in a couple of days with her new companion Rory. Since she has been in some of the time at Beccy's there is no sudden change of diet.
"Home safe and sound she travelled like a dream." AS
"Just want to say a huge thank you to Sarah Weston, for the loan of her trailer and her expertise in loading our new foal. It couldn't of been less stressful for little Holly Hocks. Also down to all of the hard work done in the foal handling courses ( thanks everyone). Can highly recommend these courses, what could be better? A day full of foal cuddles." AS
Before we headed home I just had time for a quiet word with Archie and we also weaned Bella, Savannah, and Theo. In an ideal world this would be done gradually but weather conditions, facilities and the fact that two of the mares are pregnant again meant that wasn't possible. However, all three foals are more than seven months old now and can at least go into the stables side by side for company. They had settled very well by the time we left and the mares were happily eating hay in the field and looking rather relieved.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

24th January, 2016 Up and About

Victor appears to be quite well and happy despite his infection. Fortunately he takes his medicine without a murmur, mixed in with his favourite feed. Today I took him for a walk and on the way we met a few characters...

...Henrietta doesn't look as if she is enquiring about his health!

He has learned to socialise politely since he came here and greeted Theoden very calmly.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

23rd January, 2016 Leading Questions

The overriding lesson from training the Warmblood foals is that a a foal is just a foal and a foal is just a horse. We trained these foals using exactly the same method that I would use with a semi-feral New Forest pony. Their needs are exactly the same. On these courses I have three pressures, the pressure from students needing to get as much out of it as possible, pressure from the owner who needs the foals to make as much progress as possible, and the pressure of doing the very best for the horses. The horses take priority and they are my paramount consideration. In total each of these foals has had under six hours training each with me or under my supervision.

At our third Handling the Warmblood Foal Course all of the foals have graduated to leading out on the yard, either on their own or with their Mums. The great thing about working with these foals is that they change in between each visit and continue to progress each time we work with them. Two of them are now fully weaned and the others are due to be weaned in the next few weeks. Once again we had a very high standard of students today all with a leaning towards IH techniques.

Later the 'morning' foals are turned out with their nanny, Sasi.

Finished for the day.

"Wonderful day learning how to handle the cutest baby horsies..." MA
"Great day today on the Foal Handling course Sarah! Very informative and very rewarding as each foal was so different! Thank you x" LW
"Thank you for an educational and enjoyable day.  What beautiful animals. Please thank Beccy. It was lovely to spend time with like minded people" MW
"Seriously busy but enjoyable foal handling day." BH