Tuesday, May 29, 2007

29th May, 2007 Equine Open Day at MGFT

There is going to be an Equine Open Day at the Margaret Green Foundation Trust on Sunday 15th July, 2007 with all entrance fees going direct to the Trust. Hilary Vernon will be running a bitting clinic, The Damory Vets (plus farrier and physio) will be talking about colic, laminitis and back problems and I'm doing a horsemanship demo. There are still horse places available at the bitting clinic.

Friday, May 25, 2007

25th May, 2007 Oh Foot

Probably my busiest week ever until it came to an abrupt end! I have been nursing my poor squashed foot for over a week (or rather trying to ignore it) until it protested so loud that I had to go to hospital. The doctor has now ordered me to put my feet up, literally, for a week. Fortunately I didn't have much on for the next five days anyway - unless you count being filmed by the BBC!! Petra perkins is now much sounder than I am. Some very interesting customers again this week - a couple of loaders and a starter to look at. Duke has worn and accepted his new bit (a 4 1/2" Hanging cheek low port Myler comfort snaffle) and Rushy has been sat on a couple of times (without any tack!). I've got Hilary Venon's Bitting Clinic to look forward to on 3rd June and she is also booked for 15th July when we are doing a joint horse event with Damory veterinary Clinic down at the Margaret Green Foundation Trust. All spectator fees will be going to the Trust.

Friday, May 18, 2007

18th May, 2007 Wrapped in cotton wool

So now both the Perkins and I are lame. Petra has tweaked a tendon somehow - probably cavorting around the field - and I have my squashed foot. This means we will miss two sponsored rides but we will both get a lie in. She is on Nissen Hut rest literally wrapped in cotton wool whilst I have a liberal coating of Arnica cream and the odd painkiller. I was extremely pleased with my new vets (Ruthe from The Barn) when she arrived within 30 minutes of my call and passed the initiative test of finding my place. Tonight I have had my foot up reflecting on how lucky some horses are - having got caught up in a terrible downward spiral, they fall on their feet with the most wonderful owners. Little Dani on Monday who can at last rely on someone to look after him, Millie, the wild New Forest pony on Tuesday who now has a doting owner and the Czechoslovokian warmblood who will at last be allowed to be a baby and to learn at her own pace.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

17th May, 2007 Sober dress and sturdy boots

My life has gone from sober dress to sturdy boots and thank goodness for the sturdy boots. Yesterday Duke stood on my foot and even with the sturdy boots it has gone very black. I sat with it in a bucket of cold rain water for half the afternoon much to the amusement of Duke's owner. I'm not looking forward to putting my boot back on this morning but with a Hanoverian cross in front of me, I think I'd better.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

15th May, 2007 Wild...child

Another curious day. If you received a telephone call from a woman asking whether it was a good idea to get a 10 year old wild New Forest pony for her child to ride you might be tempted to say no. Today I went to see aforesaid pony and it was a dream. With the usual reservations about inexperienced riders being put with inexperienced ponies, I could see no reason why this pony wouldn't turn out as well if not better than a domesticated one. She was quiet, responsive, polite and happy to be handled.

Monday, May 14, 2007

14th May, 2007 In search of the East pole

What an emotional day. I had been called out to help with a two year old pony who was refusing to be caught and has managed to leave a trail of destruction in the last few weeks with his previous owners and now his new ones. Last week he jumped out of the horsebox while the ramp was half closed and managed to break the foot of one of the helpers. I find it hard to believe that a pony can have been so wrecked by the time he reaches this age and I have little doubt that if his present owner hadn't bought him he would have ended up in a tin of pet food. It took quite a while to even get the pony into the field shelter today and we managed it by very slowly closing down electric fencing around him. Fortunately he didn't run through it. The shelter was surrounded by my panels as he had broken out of it at least twice before clearing a five bar gate in the process. Inside the shelter the merest suggestion of a touch was answered with both hind-legs aiming directly for me. I retreated behind my long hand on a stick and eventually reached the stage where I could touch his shoulder without him having a fit. Once this turned into a gentle rub he succumbed and after a while I was able to rub him along his neck, back and bottom with my hands. He was terribly offended by the sight of the headcollar and there was no way I could have put it on him today - I did manage to touch his shoulder with it a number of times and to rub it along his back. His owner was desperate to get him home to her land so later I fetched my trailer and a willing friend and we gently loaded the pony loose into the back. Fortunately he stayed this time and we were able to close him in. He parked his bottom in the corner and didn't move throughout the journey. Finally we were able to let him out into his new stable where he will have a panelled annex and his owner will be able to work on touching him for the next few weeks. Just like me with Piper, she may be in search of the East Pole but at least she can now enjoy the journey. Got back to find an e-mail from Jane to say that he horse was now picking his feet up beautifully. I first met this horse when he was at the vets being sedated to have his feet trimmed. It took two sessions but on Saturday we clicker trained him to pick his feet up and put them in our hands very lightly. Now we need to clicker train the farrier to hold them very lightly.

14th May, 2007 Happy EATer

Horses have two main aims in life - to eat and to reproduce. I couldn't come up with a pneumonic for reproduction so I thought I would stick with EAT. E - explain well - in a language that is as close to the horse's A - ask nicely - using the lightest pressure T - thank graciously - seduce your little horse, make each word and touch the most pleasant that it can be

Friday, May 11, 2007

11th May, 2007 Quiet week

At last a slightly quieter week (although it could get noisier because my new PA system arrived today and I'll need to practise). On Monday I helped out at the New Forest Pony Enthusiasts' Hunter Trials where I was tack checker for the day. Sadly I wasn't allowed to make comments (!) because there were a lot of ponies in big fat bits with their mouths strapped down with flash nosebands and a lot of Dutch Gags. However, there were also a few Mylers floating about and lots of people who clearly loved their horses. It was really well organised and there was a great atmosphere even if it did rain. On Thursday I ran my second Handling the Wild Pony Course, this time at Brockenhurst. We had one yearling and two two year olds to work with and they were all very different. The one below is Crackerjack, mostly New forest with a touch of Welsh Cob. By the end of the session he was picking his feet up beautifully. Both of us were having a bit of a bad hair day.

Monday, May 7, 2007

7th May, 2007 Kelly Demo

There was a real party atmosphere at the Kelly Mark's demo last night. It was great to see so many people I know and to catch up with what has happened lots of horses that I have worked with. Linda and Cathy brought me a picture of Rascal being ridden by a wonderful little girl - apparently he regularly goes out for two hour hacks. When I think of how difficult it was to even scratch your nose when I first rode him. The demo was very relaxed and educating. The starter rodeo-ed with his first saddle but, having accepted that, acccepted his first rider very easily. Kelly's Pie galloped into the round pen to be caught and then made side passes and roll-backs look dead easy (watch out Petra, we have some work to do). Kelly couldn't escape the attentions of the "difficult to catch pony" once she'd proved she wasn't a predator. He was so relieved that he followed her everywhere. The non-loading pony showed the benefits of having another quiet horse around as Pie showed him the way up the ramp. It was a a really special occasion.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

3rd May, 2007 All Quiet on the Weston Front

Oh dear, I do seem to have a lot to say this week.
Here's my message of the year - when you approach your horse approach him like a love affair rather than a war zone. Seduce him with your touch (none of that slappy-patting - why do people do that?) and talk to him in soothing tones. Explore his muscles and stroke his hair. Tell him you love him. Yes, don't let him walk all over you but when he gets it right, tell him.
Professionals - if you don't like what they're doing with your horse ask them to stop. It might be a Britishness thing but it seems to be so hard to do this even though you're paying them. It took me yonks to get rid of my old farrier. Trust your instincts, if it doesn't feel right then it probably isn't. There's a so-called horse whisperer close to where I live who ties horses to a "naughty tree" and sends the horses home underweight with sores on their noses and hind fetlocks. So far I have picked up three of the horses they have wrecked and one of them was beyond help. "Ah yes" I was told "but they have been breaking in horses for 28 years" - well they bloomin' well ought to stop.
And finally....a big thank you to my Doctor. He has persevered with getting me to take anti-depressants (yes I have tried all the alternatives) and in finding the right ones. I am now on a very low dose of Efexor and wake up pleasantly happy every day. I have a lovely life and a lovely husband and it is so nice to see all of this without some sort of filter blurring it.
There, got that lot off my chest. Guess that makes it All Quiet on the Weston Front.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

2nd May, 2007 Joyrider

I had always been vaguely amused if someone told me that they didn't have a problem loading their horse but they did have a problem unloading him. I used to have a horse that so liked the music on the c.d. player in my lorry that she would stay in the horsebox forever (she was I.D. cross and loved U2). Today I met a New Forest pony that was absolutely adamant that he wasn't going to come out of the lorry and I was sorely tested to find something that would work. I tried everything I could think of but he wouldn't even try and eventually I had to back him out with a panel immediately behind me stopping him from coming back in. Once he had done it once he was blase about it and happily went in and out of the box several times but that first step was just too much to ask! It's a beautiful lorry with a perfect ramp and we covered it in straw and old horse poo in the end.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

1st May, 2007 Latest Reviews

Brilliant. Definitely worth him coming to you.

E-mail from HH about Rushy 27.4.07

Did not want to speak too soon but things seem to have turned the corner. T-pony is now long reining at walk, turning and backing. We even walked over a water pipe trench not filled in and with the blue pipe running along the bottom. No tin cans/squeaky toys, only hand and voice signals!

E-mail from C 1.5.07

And..... Fontmell Bold as Brass (Bobby) won the Mountain and Moorland In-Hand Qualifier Championship at the National Pony Society Spring Festival 2007 at Malvern. Picture to follow I hope. This is the beautiful pony that wouldn't be caught in his stable about 6 weeks ago.

1st May, 2007 Expensive Ornaments

Well, this was going to be my alternative birthday as I spent my last one on an aeroplane to Spain but no-one remembered this time either. I should have mentioned the fact that Rushy is for sale or loan. He would make a fabulous birthday present for someone. I long-reined him for the first time today and he just accepted it with his usual alacrity.

It takes a lot to get me cross these days (thank you Mark Rashid for Horsemanship Through Life) but today I met a lovely family that had been sold a Thoroughbred as suitable for their 12 year old daughter. He came to them in an appalling condition so they can hardly send him back but in the meantime they have to make some heartbreaking decisions as to whether to keep him or sell him. He has been there, done that and bought the tee-shirt but he didn't have a good time of any of it so he gets hurt too. He may end up as an expensive ornament (but a beautiful one at that).

Post-script: I received a telephone call on 1st January, 2008 to say that despite the fact that these owners had brought this horse back to peak condition, paid for physiotherapy, bought a well-fitting saddle, he did in fact have arthritis in his hocks and had been retired.