Saturday, April 30, 2011

30th April, 2011 She's got legs and she knows how to use them.

3 for the price of 1 at Marilyn's today. Julie worked with Champ while Jenny and I worked with Beau. Champ has graduated from the Teddybear to the false legs. The hardest part of training Champ to accept a small rider will be convincing him not to barge forward and just go where he wants. Hopefully working like this, taking direction, will help him to give that up. Only then would I want to introduce a bit.

Friday, April 29, 2011

29th April, 2011 Royal Wedding Day

Watched the wedding but missed The Kiss in order to go and work with Guilda. Although we haven't seen her for four weeks, she picked up from where we left off and has forgotten nothing. Jenny reports that Guilda is really responsive to intent and all she has to do is focus on where she wants to go and Guilda goes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

28th April, 2011 Bar work

Since my last visit, Raf's owners have practiced asking him to load and unload on many occasions and his adrenalin levels are much lower. Today it was time to ask him to accept the back and front bars. This 'swimming noodle' is a great way to introduce or reintroduce the concept of bars given that it is warm and flexible to touch. It's important to desensitise the horse to the feel of it away from the box but then it can be used to check a horse's likely reaction to being contained with bars in the trailer itself. A horse that is forced to stay in a box is one that will think about forcing its way out. In any event, once the proper bars are being used, it's a good idea to warmly and securely pad the front ones as they tend to cause bruising to the chest. We suspect that this is why many horses either give up wanting to load or try to jump over the bars. Note also the dock scratch which can reassure horses that you have a friendly intent when they have been hit or herded from behind in the past. It's important to have somewhere to go (behind the partition) if the horse threatens to kick or barge its way out in this situation.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

27th April, 2011 Nelly has packed her trunk?

Kathryn and Jan came over today to 'spend' Kathryn's gift voucher on a long lining session with Petra P. We made a day of it, lunch at the pub before going on safari trying to find Nellynoo who is still missing. This is at the back of my mind every minute of every day especially as she is due to foal any moment. I wish I knew where she was. I'm trying not to panic and hoping that she will turn up safely. Brandy is with her and she is pregnant too. Not only would I like to make sure that they foal okay, I want to get Nelly in before the stallions go out on 14th May. In the meantime I can't work out whether Blue is pregnant or not. It has been four years since her last foal so she has got her figure back and there's just a small bulge. No other signs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

26th April, 2011 A glorious evening

I'm enjoying having an outdoor job at this time of year. I can almost forgive the snow....

26th April, 2011 Freddie wears leather!

Freddie wore his first saddle today and accepted it without a murmur.

26th April, 2011 Not grasping the Nettles

Another very happy day working with untouched New Forest colt, Wellow Nettles. By Limekiln Endeavour (so Freddie's half brother) he has a really nice temperament. I had three wonderful students, Ali who works in conservation, Sally who works with a racehorse trainer and Connemara breeder and Codge who is a member of the Hampshire FRS Animal Rescue Team. They did a great job taking Nettles from untouched to happy to be touched, starting to lead and wearing his headcollar - all of course, without fear of force. Nettles is for sale and I can put people in touch with his owner. He has some of the rarer bloodlines and may be a potential stallion for the Forest.

26th April, 2011 Must and make

It's worth thinking about how many 'musts' and 'makes' you have in your mind or even out loud with your horses. I have one must which is "You must try" but I try to keep it at that. I have a few 'must nots' which include must not bite, barge or overtake. When painful devices such as chifneys, twitches and the whip are used to tell a horse he must or to make him do something, they ultimately lead to a break down in trust which comes to the fore at some stage if not immediately. The horse knows that at a push, and maybe not even a very big one, he'll be forced to accept something and this may be being done in the name of competition or cosmetics; things that he couldn't actually care less about.

The chifney was invented by a jockey called Samuel Chifney as an anti-rear bit. "If one wished to encourage rearing", says Elwyn Hartley Edwards, "this is the bit for the job". They are also known as 'the jaw breaker'. Despite their soporific effect once applied, twitches cause immense pain in order to release the endorphins that sedate the horse and yet some yards seem to apply them as a matter of routine. The horse then becomes frightened about what happens before what happens happens. In a genuine emergency situation, these devices are no doubt useful - at the scene of an accident where the horse has absolutely got to be restrained or a life-saving journey to the vets but not for everyday leading, loading or clipping. It goes back to train now for what you don't need. So, for example, at this time of year you might want to train your horse to wear a rug if he hasn't done so before or to have his legs washed in case he gets mud fever in the winter. It's always a good idea to practice your loading, foot handling and needle-less syringes as you never know when you are going to need to travel somewhere urgently or have an emergency farrier or vet visit.

Monday, April 25, 2011

25th April, 2011 Loading Question

Having loaded Bow to go to her new home with Alessa and Wes, it was lovely to meet their brand new foal. Memphis.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

23rd April, 2011 Blue

I'm not sure whether Blue is pregnant or not. She certainly looks very well. She is sticking to her regular haunt but I still haven't found Nelly.

23rd April, 2011 Freddie, Teddy, Beau

...and Champ. All of the starters are going well including Champ who was ridden by our new recruit, Denver. Denver came from a garage in Salisbury where he was modelling the latest in hat and glove wear. I hope he is going to enjoy his new career.

Friday, April 22, 2011

22nd April, 2011 Can you guess what it is yet?

I hope you are not eating but this is a piece of smegma, approximately 2"x1" that I removed from the end of poor Theoden's penis today. Apprarently it is quite common to find a bean shaped lump of smegma just inside the urethra of male horses which can cause a lot of discomfort. There is a brilliant thread on the Intelligent Horsemanship Discussion Group which explains in great detail how to clean a horse's sheath:

22nd April, 2011 Freddie Star

On only his third working session since he arrived, Freddie has been backed and ridden around bareback.

22nd April, 2011 Back to the (Drawing) Board

Loading training for Alby today. He has been quite worried about even touching the ramp so as an interim, incremental step, we worked on walking in and out of the field shelter over a rubber mat on top of a board. Once in the shelter, he was 'parked' as he would be in the horsebox and the 'ramp' lifted up. After the session he had a good run around the field, matching his sister over the fence.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

21st April, 2011 IH Charity of the Year - Horseworld

Jenny and I have just returned from Horseworld which has just been chosen as the IH Charity of the Year. This means that all the proceeds of the IH Garden Party and other fundraising initiatives will go to Horseworld to assist in the magnificent work they do in bringing horses back from the brink. Today I was there to help them with some training including handling a traumatised Bodmin Moor pony called Indie (top), a pony that can be tricky to catch (Belle) and three horses for loading - Romeo, Prince and Ivor. Helped by glorious weather and enthusiastic staff, the whole day went very well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

20th April, 2011 Mussels comes out of his shell

Mussels has arrived safely in his new home and is now out with Elmo and Welly. He left just as the first crab fly arrived so excellent timing. I am sure he will be extremely happy in his new home where he is already adored. He likes being adored!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

19th April, 2011 Theoden's Display

Theoden didn't think that Freddie ought to be looking over the fence at his wife.

19th April, 2011 Freddie put on his school tie

Freddie and I went out for a walk today. His owner has done groundwork with him and he has also been long reined so we were able to start with lesson 3 straight away. He was such a joy to lead - interested in everything he saw and brave about most things. He wasn't sure at first about getting his feet wet but that's all. Hopefully he will have his first rider on on Friday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

18th April, 2011 It's clicked!

Back to the pony with the aversion to having his legs clipped today. Bearing in mind that he used to have to be sedated, twitched and still have a leg held up AND that before we started work today he had had a visit and a bit of a battle with the vet and the farrier, he settled very quicly to having one row of clipping done at a time. His clever owner has fixed the clicker to the clippers so that she can mark the behaviour that she wants very precisely and my job is to feed him the treats. Still some way to go but it's all looking promising.

"Thanks Sarah, I was very pleased with the calm way we progressed yesterday. I will enlist my husband's help and take it slowly. I will let you know how we get on." JG

18th April, 2011 What's your name? Where you from?

This is Freddie, Fern's brother, who has come in for starting over the next few weeks. It'll be interesting to have a direct comparison with our intermittent starters. Freddie is by Limekiln Endeavour, a stallion with a lovely temperament.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

17th April, 2011 Nelly's Haunt

This is Nelly's usual haunt - a radius of no more than two miles at any point. However if she has gone into any of the inclosures there are plenty of places where she would be hidden. She does come to call and is friendly. The bottom picture shows the bigger one of her two brands (she was originally a Hankinsons' pony). I shall do my best to find her and hope that she finds me first. I've lost count of the number of light bay with dark bay ponies that I have checked out in the last few days. Much as I hate having to have my ponies branded, when they live in mixed herds like this on an area of over 140,000 acres, they could be anywhere and I will need to describe her to people who may be able to help me. Her passport says that she has brown eyes and a whorl mid forehead with white hairs on her muzzle. She has a mealy nose with black nostrils and lips and, save for a few white hairs in her tail, she has no other white markings at all. Fancy trying to find her on that alone? Of course if she was microchipped we could eventually have every plain bay pony that turned up on a drift checked with a reader - so that would be August then (although I'm not sure the agisters actually do have a microchip reader). Branding IS necessary for the welfare of the New Forest pony until someone comes up with a microchip that can be read from a good distance or some sort of tracking device.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

16th April, 2011 Nelly has gone walkabout...

Aaagh! With only 11 days to go before she is due to foal, Nelly and her entourage have gone walkabout. Blue is in a different group near to my fields but the others have just disappeared. I have scoured the inclosures where gates are frequently left open and looked around their normal haunt and a beyond but can find no sign of them anywhere. I am sure I would have heard from the agister if anything awful had befallen them but I am worried that all that weight that I managed to keep on them throughout the winter will have fallen off because of the current drought. I am hoping to get them in immediately after they have foaled so that they don't get pregnant again when the stallions are turned out for a brief period in May. Nelly is a bright bay with two brands - an H in a horseshoe shape on her saddle area and a small LH on her shoulder. Hopefully this would have put anyone off stealing her.

Talking of the drought - grass is precious on the Forest, please park in the car parks NOT on the verge. How would you feel if I parked in your dinner??!!

16th April, 2011 Tough customers

I have worked with three non-loaders in the last two days and have two more to work with next week. These can be some of the hardest horses to work with in one of the most dangerous situations for a trainer. So important to get it right first time for the first time loader and to assess each stage of the training for a remedial horse so that you can spot the point(s) where the problem lies. All too often we are called in when all else has failed and the horse knows more about the loading techniques available than we do! So many horses have been forced to load and forced to stay on board when they were still frightened of being enclosed or, have become frightened by some incident or poor driving when on board. Our Thursday case was a horse that has never walked over anything other than grass in the six years since he was born until he was asked to walk over a carpet and tarpaulin a few weeks ago. Neither has he ever walked up an incline. A naturally cautious horse, he is very concerned to keep his feet safe and available for the purpose of flight. Accordingly he is finding the prospect of stepping onto a ramp very daunting indeed. We have decided to add in an interim step and ask him to walk over a wooden board to see whether we can build his confidence even further before asking him to step on to the ramp. The first horse yesterday had a history of not loading following an incident in which he panicked in a trailer. Since then he has received a lot of training from another RA with his previous owner and was loading consistently but since changing hands he has become more awkward. He loaded intermittently for me yesterday. The last horse was plainly terrified of going in the trailer and shook even when she was on the ramp. Unless surrounded by panels she wouldn't think of loading at all and any pressure whatsoever on her nose resulted in her running backwards or engaging in displacement behaviour. In this situation I would think that it would take a long time for clicker training to work although it would be worth a try. The owner needs to be in for the long haul before she can go for a short haul. I'm hoping to be involved in setting up a survey into trailer safety. It has become a common belief that horses actually prefer travelling facing backwards (rather than forwards or herringbone). The Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are reporting that there appears to be an unusually high incidence of horses jumping over the front bars/partitions of rear facing trailers and horseboxes and this needs to be thoroughly researched if it is going to lead to any changes to design. Once the horse has jumped the partition/ bar it is often very difficult to extricate them quickly and safely because the bars don't drop down easily and the rear doors are made for people not horses. People often get injured trying to save their horses. Instead they would be well advised to get the local Fire Service out who are likely to ask for the horse to be heavily sedated or even anaesthetised in order to effect a rescue without putting the horse at further risk of injury. For more information about this issue please look at Friends of the Hampshire Animal Rescue Team page on Facebook.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

14th April, 2011 Thursday feedback

Another fly spray session this morning, this time with a New Forest pony. Same technique worked beautifully. We also worked on putting fly cream on his ears. When you are trying to kill the flies don't act like your trying to kill your pony!! This is some of the feedback I've had over the last few days... "Sarah, I'm pleased to say that Gromit responded incredibly well to the Dually collar, and after only an hour of training I was able to get him to stand for the farrier who trimmed both front hooves, with Gromit calm and feeding. Next farrier visit to continue the work in June! I'll certainly be recommending the collar to others." GC - Conservation Manager "We wanted to see if Fudge would accept all what he learned on your visit... but tied up.. we started with kids having him in hand, then tied up and he was an angel, the idea being that the kids can now bring him in, groom him and tack him up with such little fuss. Certainly doing 5 brush strokes works very well and he is calm and relaxed and was falling asleep! It doesn't even really take the kids longer to brush him doing it this way, when you compare how long it took with him constantly fidgeting." JH "Shortreining has been a revelation with both boys." NB

14th April, 2011 Veterinary Thermal Imaging

Just before we went away on holiday, I asked Helen Morrell of Veterinary Thermal Imaging to come down and take a thermal image of Chancer's back and legs. The results were fascinating and revealing. Just for a lark, I asked her to take a picture of my foot too - I have been having a lot of pain every time I walk for more than 3/4 hour. As you can see, the circulation to my middle two toes is a lot better than to the other three. I went for an ultrasound on Tuesday and that showed that I have a Morton's Neuroma. That's exciting! Foot specialist next...

To contact Helen (for horsey investigations) There is also a website at .