Thursday, September 14, 2017

14th September, 2017 Fly Me to the Moon

Auntie Joan and the Rottweilers are due to look after the house for a week while David and I travel  to Suffolk for a week where we will be walking, eating, and visiting Karen and lovely, lovely Moon. We also hope to meet up with IHRT Bridget Colson who is based in that direction.

14th September, 2017 Come on Aileen

Despite the tail end of Storm Aileen, it was a lovely day for a ride and always a pleasure when we can take all three riding horses out together. We encounter the more sedate type of tourist at this time of year and it's always lovely to stop and have a chat with people who might be on a walk, or painting the view. Certainly the view from my saddle is always glorious and Théoden's ears are just the best in the world.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

13th September, 2017 Paint My Pony

This beautiful watercolour was painted by artist Claire Martin and is just such an accurate and characterful reflection of Nelly with Juma. It's not the first time that one of my photos has been used as the basis for a painting but I am especially pleased to see one of my own ponies. I'm hoping to get all of my photos onto a stock page shortly.

13th September, 2017 No More Early Mornings

Except that I couldn't sleep because of the howling wind and worrying about acorns....

The 'in' horses were all fine and we're restricting their access to the oak trees to some extent.

The 'out' horses were all fine too and happy to be 'in' ponies for breakfast.

Henrietta was none too keen on getting up...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

12th September, 2017 Back to School

We like to think that our young horses are well educated and with Guy as our farrier they certainly get the very best education in...military history. He told us this fascinating story..."So, long, long ago and far, far away in Abyssinia (that's Ethiopia to you and I) there was king who when he was under siege decided to shoot himself with two ivory handled pistols. As he lay dying he said to his eldest son, who was 11, take care of the family and the family lands. When the British found the boy they could have shot him but instead one of them said, "No, I'll take him home and he can go to Rugby." Which he did. That boy unfortunately died two years later but his younger brother went on to have a son of his own who, after World War II, started to work for Shell who were drilling for oil in Ethiopia. When they were successful, this grandson took Shell to court proving that he owned the land and the court found in his favour. Well played, as they say, well played.

Monday, September 11, 2017

11th September, 2017 That's All Folks

Yesterday came and went in a flash, and it was lovely to see so many people and so many ponies,  all enjoying themselves quietly over some challenging and colourful obstacles. The field looked as if it had been the victim of a paint-ball fight, primary colours everywhere. We raised £450 for the Exmoor Pony Centre.

Meeting up with a horsey lady recently I was reminded that I don't need to be involved anymore when she regaled me with a story about a horse that wouldn't stay still to be mounted. You just need to shout "Stand! so that he can hear you," she said. As I was about to respond I felt David's finger run gently all the way down my back. "Ah yes," I thought, "I could just walk away." So I did.

As a former Recommended Associate with no portfolio, I was pleased to be told that I would now be an IH Ambassador. I've been looking for a hat and a sash.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

7th September, 2017 Gentling Drifting Away

It was Woodgreen Drift yesterday and I just popped up to fetch some of the new car stickers that are now available advising people of the MAXIMUM speed limit on the Forest.

The stickers are available through New Forest Roads Campaign Facebook Page

Inevitably I got talking and therefore saw the first large group of ponies come in at a very gentle place, pursued by just two Commoners...

...who set off again to get some more just as I left.

I returned later by which time the Agisters and Commoners had got quite a few more in along with some foals (all probably by Applewitch Diversity). The mares had their tails cut into the appropriate shape for their area, and the foals were branded prior to being turned back out for another year.

Whatever anyone thinks of hot branding, Andrew is absolutely brilliant at it, always clipping a patch of hair first and then just touching the ponies momentarily with the iron. For now it is a necessary evil for the identification of a substantial mixed group of ponies in mixed ownership. J, left, is recording all of the information needed for the ponies to be passported including the positioning of whorls and any white markings.

This mare, having been released herself, waited dutifully for her old friends before they set off back to the Purlieu.

My own ponies were rather less effort to bring in. Nelly shares her hard feed with Juma but doesn't look too impressed.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

6th September, 2017 Early Morning

Another autumnal morning on the Forest. Orange Girl may have missed the drift but the grey pony has definitely been through. This is the mark for Andrew's part of the Forest.

It was Théoden's turn to be ridden in the Orbitless bit and if I am going to keep him in it I shall need to do a lot more work with him first. He has never been ridden in a noseband never mind received subtle instructions for one and so instinctively went into-pressure the moment he felt a touch on it.

Jack and Jack are still best friends amongst the herd of six.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

5th September, 2017 Walk Right In...

Nothing special about these pictures you might think, it's just that Juma again! As he reached his threemonthiversary he met Rebecca. It's a miracle that she's with us at all since she had an extremely nasty riding accident about nine months ago which left her with several fractures in her pelvis which had to be reconstructed with metal bars, nuts and bolts, and was immobile for three months! Fortunately she is recovering well, walking, and looking after her youngster who has also been on box rest following a stifle problem. Rebecca was wearing an air jacket on the day of her accident - without it she probably wouldn't have lived.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

3rd September, A New Orbit

It's very easy to get caught up in the bitted-v-bit-less debate or the barefoot or shod debate, and I have always tried to keep an open mind about all options. The trouble with marrying an idea is that it is hard to see a way out sometimes and stressful to get a divorce! A long, long time ago, when Petra was originally started, she was ridden bit-less either in her Dually or a Spirit Bridle which was very similar in operation to a Dr Cook. For a while when she was quiet and innocent things went well but after a few mad gallops, and an ill-advised colt-hunt, she got in touch with her racehorse heritage and started to rev up. When she wasn't allowed to run off, she leant on the noseband of the bridle. This pull-pull situation culminated in the over-development of her brachiocephalicus, the muscle under her neck.

When I eventually introduced a bit, it was too late to correct her muscle development, but at least she was under control. No amount of training would teach her to soften to the bit in anything but walk, and she had the stamina to argue about it for miles. I tried all sorts of bits, mouth-pieces, cheek-pieces and materials, before Hilary Vernon steered us quite literally towards a Myler Combination bridle which at least had the courtesy, in Petra's eyes, of asking her nose first and then her poll before putting any pressure on her mouth. Not only that but the sweet-iron tasted nice. Once I felt that she understood what she was being asked, I tried to replace it with a Myler Low Port Comfort snaffle - same mouth-piece on D rings giving a very similar action in the mouth, but she detested it because it was made of stainless steel and not sweet-iron. Back to the drawing board and David altered a Combination bit so that it had no nose-piece and no lower curb ring but no, that wouldn't do either. The full Combination seemed to be the only bit that she was prepared to talk to and which kept me, and her other riders, safe. Nevertheless I hate the thin 'noseband' part of it, and the sharp action that it could give if misused. Fortunately all of her riders have ridden her on a tiny contact and even a loose-rein once the first ten minutes of a ride are over.

Now that we are all getting older, including Petra, who is now 19, I have decided to see whether we can go back to a bit-less since we only tend to plod about the place and certainly don't gallop anywhere. Too many old bones to break and Théoden needs a bit of nurturing too.

I have been concerned about the action of some of the standard hackamores, and despite a lot of strong support for it, the Dr Cook bridle which crosses over under the jaw and therefore asks the wrong side of the head in my opinion. I'm not keen on Scawbrigs as the operate in the underside of the jawbone. This left with me with the Micklem and the Orbitless to try.

Yesterday Petra went out in the Orbitless and looked happy with it from the outset. I have it slightly higher than some of the promotional photos show and I have put sheepskin under the jaw, as well as over, as the leather which is really good quality, is quite hard - some oiling required! Our latest riding acquisition, little Liz, rode her and apart from the Incident with the Heather - you need to answer her question, not her decision! - she went extremely well in it with the same level of contact as normal.

Bella is going well too and is much happier now that she can wear a bonnet. Those nasty midges make her itch.

I shall try Théoden in the Orbit-less next - he seems quite settled and soft in the rather agricultural looking Rocking S snaffle. This again is a sweet-iron bit with a little lozenge in the middle and cheek-pieces that don't affect the bridle cheek pieces when you ask for something. I tend to leave his mouth alone most of the time so a bit-less may work just as well.

For reference: A Rockin S snaffle but this one doesn't have a little French link. The advantage is in the cheek-pieces which when operated don't twist the bridle's cheek-pieces. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

31st August, 2017 Winding Down

A quiet week made up mainly of riding and writing. Today Liz came out with me but Petra has also been ridden by Lorraine and Pat this week.

Théoden is gradually getting over some of his little phobias, helped by Lisa the Laundry, who I primed with barley rings, at the care home.

We always like to go and find Juma who was with his nannies today...

However, by the time we got home, he was in the field.

At the ice-cream van there was a glorious donkey foal.

Meanwhile, David is concentrating on getting Honour ready for the End of an Era party which takes place a week on Sunday.

Monday, August 28, 2017

27th August, 2017 To the Moon and Back

A thoughtful post by Karen...

"Every session with Moon is a learning curve in one way or another, not only for what we are teaching Moon, but those areas she shows me need... a little more workNatasha, my photographer isn't on hand now, as she has fledged from the nest into her own deluxe pad, so the recording of sessions is less than previous, but she came to visit today, so we took advantage of that fact, with the hope in mind I could show Tasha how Moon had been with the headcollar around her neck. Horses always remind us to drop the ego, even though I didn't feel I was 'showing off' to Tasha, my energy was focused around working with the headcollar, Moon soon reminded me to allow her to set the pace and take it back a step to the basics, being a little more nervy around her ears again. We went back to rubbing the nice bits and revisiting the scarf before moving forward with the headcollar. This is only the 3rd time she has experienced the jangling buckles, she has no issue with it at all and I still feel the headcollar is actually my issue, I have this innate fear that I will buckle it around her neck and she will panic, not wanting to come near me and being left with this webbing thing dangling around her neck!! Yet again, she shows me that she really isn't that bothered and actually she can walk away from me with the webbing thing hanging around her neck and tread on the long lace (learning from today to shorten the laces) and not panic and still come back to me, we even had a play with putting the nose band up over her nose.. Our focus now will be on two hands near her head and neck and around her ears..."

Friday, August 25, 2017

25th August 2017 The Drifters

With my ponies tucked away in a field, only turned out at the end of the day, there was no need for me to be stressed about the drift. The Agisters and Commoners on the other hand were hard-pressed to work around all the traffic, human and vehicular, that passed through the area of the drift.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

23rd August, 2017 Slightly Adrift

Yesterday I brought Nelly, Blue and Juma in so that they wouldn't be drifted on Friday. The Fritham Drift tends to be particularly fast, lots of rider taking part, including young Commoners who haven't yet gone back to school and need the experience of drifting ponies. The final section, before the pen that has been used for the last few years, goes straight across the road where ponies can slip easily and end up on the deck. The last time I attended one of the Agisters seems to have acquired a bull whip which he delighted in cracking - that did seem a bit mad and unnecessary to me. With Juma not yet three months old, I prefer him not to go through this. I'm also concerned for the two younger foals that are not yet a month old and I'm hoping that their owner is going to divert them too having seen them hanging about with their mothers outside his farm this morning.

I wish the drifts, especially in our area, were slightly later in the year - the latest ones go into October - so that there was no risk of foals being taken off their mothers when they are too young. It is believed that many behavioural problems with horses stem from early and abrupt weaning.

The drift is an extremely important and necessary part of commoning and the conservation of the Forest, giving the Commoners the chance to look over their wildest mares very carefully and check that they are in good condition. For the foals it is an opportunity to complete their passports, get them microchipped, branded, and separate them from the mare if they are old enough. I'm not keen on abrupt weaning but there are few people with the opportunity to do it the way I do and I only have one foal to contend with. I'd hope that few people would wean their foals when they are only three months old but once the foals are a little older and we start going into winter, it is important to keep condition on the mares. They drop back very quickly and even Nelly, with her fat tummy, is showing signs of loss of condition on her neck and haunches, and her ribs are definitely showing. A few days on some good grass will help her to pick up again.