Wednesday, June 11, 2008

11th June, 2008 The plain zebra

For those of you who have been waiting with baited breath (I have received so many supportive e-mails in just one day), there was no great miracle in Fritham today. I suppose there is no real reason why Piper should remember the loving cuddles he got yesterday any more than the vet stabbing him with a needle and perhaps feeling unnaturally woozy all afternoon. I may be mistaken, but I do think his eye had softened towards me and he allows me to get much nearer in the big field than I could ever do before. Once in the barn I got his headcollar on easily and clickered him with his favourite linseed lozenges. I was also able to repeat everything I did yesterday, putting my arm over his neck and stroking him all the way along to his hindquarters. However, it was like having a time bomb under my arm and I could almost hear him going tick tock, tick, tock. So I just did it for old time’s sake and I shall leave him alone again now.

This is what the vet said today: "Glad we managed it in the end! It was a bit like sedating a zebra - but I reckon even he would improve if we did it every week - may get a bit expensive though! Best wishes - and thanks for the wine."

My own horses are perhaps not the best advert for me but by definition I get to keep the most awkward ones. Nelly and Blue are no trouble and little Chello is allowing himself to be touched all over – he especially likes his tummy rubbed. Nell has put on enough weight now to go back out on the Forest tomorrow. Pie seems to like his natural life style and his girlfriend has had another foal that he can pretend to father. Rosie is doing her own thing over at Blissford and her old owners keep an eye out for her and will alert me to any trouble. Petra Perkins is still a conundrum in her own way – she is always on a mission on the way home and quite uncomfortable to ride. She goes out calmly enough but quietly bolts in walk all the way home. I have done all the standard stuff including physio and chiro and having her saddle checked (over and over again). I have tried different bits and have been working with Amanda Barton to try and ride through the problem. We have been working on channelling the energy into a circle whenever Petra “leaves” me and starts to rush home. I have seen this work beautifully with other horses and I have tried to be utterly consistent and fair in its application. Somehow I am not giving her the right message and she hasn’t improved. Today I have started an entirely new tack, clicker training her to do one step towards home for a click and a treat. Hopefully I can extend this so that we can do a number of steps and then any number of steps and I can reward her for stopping when asked. My theory is that she will then be thinking backwards towards me as a rider and have a vested (and positive) interest in staying present. Watch this space…… Of course when I had quite a ploddy horse I used to long for something with a bit of oomph and now I am yearning for ploddy again.