Saturday, December 28, 2013

28th December, 2013 Racing Joe

Never underestimate the courage and tenacity of the New Forest Pony - and his rider. Jenny and Joey do it again.

28th December, 2013 Reflections

The New Forest sisters were waiting by the gate this morning and have now started to have some hay every day. The yearling, who must be a throwback to an Exmoor somewhere along the line, is still suckling from her mother but she is in good condition and I feed them both along with my own ponies.

In the fields the three youngsters are doing well together, still preferring the grass to the hay.

Today's main job was to work with a pony that was extremely frightened of the clippers. Whether because of a natural instinct, or because he has had a poor experience of being clipped previously,  his owner had to resort to having him sedated when he was clipped earlier in the winter. His first reaction is to back away into the furthest reaches of the stable and, if made to confront his fear to flick his head and to kick. Here he is accepting the hand massager, switched on, for the first time. The only reason I have a lead rein on him is to prevent him turning to kick me, otherwise there is no pressure in the line. To reach this stage I have used gentle advance and retreat with the massager off to begin with and then turned on, coupled with clickered treats.

He progressed to accepting a noisier electric toothbrush against his skin. He is still wary but relaxed once he realised that it was the same old same old.

For the trimmers he was the same and he allowed them to trim his hair and to go right up his neck. I used a single click as an intermediate signal to "keep on doing what he was doing" which was to simply stand still and then I used a triple click to say "well done, you can have a treat for that."

It's always wonderful to hand over to an owner who not only gets what you're trying to achieve but has great timing and a real sense of what she's looking for. She should be able to carry on without me after just one session although she may need me again when she starts to think about clipping his tummy area again. For the rest of this winter one more bib clip should do.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

26th December, 2013 Steaming!

Off across to Aldridge Hill this morning to watch Jenny go off in the New Forest Point to Point. Three miles flat out across Wilverley where they go through the finish. It was great to catch the tension of the moments before each race set off - excitement and fear. All of the ponies and horses taking part are at least part-bred New Forest Ponies. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

24th December, 2013 Christmas TV

5 and 9 p.m. on Christmas Day on Horse and Country TV. Kelly's Angels. If you haven't got Sky you can subscribe to H and C T.V. for £4.99 a month - that's what I've done!

Christmas day: "Another one who really enjoyed this tonight, definitely the best thing on television today! It was lovely to see how quickly the little NF foal progressed, really inspirational. More programmes like this one please!" LP

"Really enjoyed hearing the joy in Rosie's voice when the horse went off her leg and Sarah so calm with Lark, great TV and valuable hint on staying relaxed, pretend you had a late night and keep yawning." L

"Not bad, not bad AT ALL... " TC

"Just a quick note to say I've just watched Kelly's Angels (I recorded > it so I could watch it in peace once the family went home after > Xmas!!) it was fabulous. You were all inspiring to watch so I just wanted to say well done, great show. :-) Happy New Year" Bron x x

"You were brilliant! as you can see Charles thought so too, loved the program" JM

REPEATED Boxing Day at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Monday, December 23, 2013

23rd December, 2013 Mad Hatter's Tea-party

On Saturday I emailed Hilary, Hannah and Vicki to find out whether they wanted to postpone their ridden sessions today given the horrendous weather forecast. They were adamant that they wanted to carry on and who am I to turn them down?! So it was that Tracey and I set off in torrential rain and blustery winds to Compton to see what we would be able to do. Despite the evil weather all of the ponies were brilliant and actually very calm. More resilient than my camera which only stayed out to take picture of Benji, we carried on regardless. 

Hilary needed me to work on asking Benji to stand still for mounting. His fidgeting is due in part to the fact that he has never been taught to stand still for mounting but also because Hilary, like a lot of people, has a tendency to put more pressure on his left rein when asking him to halt than his right. This has the effect of turning her head towards her and his bottom away from her - horses don't actually bend all that much in the middle. We used an old short reining technique to ask him to walk up to the mounting block straight and then maintained that by using just a little extra and light pressure on his right rein. Once this was established in the yard we took him into the grounds and the school to make sure it still worked there.

Email received Christmas Eve: "Had some mounting practice today and Benji had remembered all of yesterday's work- especially he bit where he gets a treat at the end! It's great to be able to get on without any help, now we can be independent." HP

and on Saturday 28th: "Must tell you about Benji's great hack today. First he stood still for mounting, even when a car and trailer suddenly drove through the yard! Then we went out with 3 other horses all larger/ older and he wanted to be in front all the way. Our ride culminated in a canter around a big open field and he kept up with a 16hh showjumper without any fuss. Better still he was happy to stop and walk home- in front of course! Callie also stood well as she [V] got on." HP 

I had been worried that the pigs might have been evicted now that Jack and Nettles had been given access to the barn in order to stay dry. Nonsense! The pigs have just budged up to make room.

Friday, December 20, 2013

20th December, 2013 Renewal Time

My business insurance will shortly be up for renewal again and serves as a reminder that I will be entering my 10th year as an IHRA. I will never forget the day I resigned from my 'proper' job and spend the next three months trying not to grin like a Cheshire Cat every time I adjourned a case until a date after I would have gone. The learning never stops and thank goodness for the world's best teachers...the horses.

On average I work with 100 new horses a year. The horses featured here are Hanah, Angus, Anna, Petra (my own), Murphy in Kenya, Oscar, Dot the zebra and a lovely demo horse at Gleneagles Riding School near Southampton.

20th December, 2013 The Awesome Foursome

Everybody ending in y and me took the four on tour this morning. These pre-school walks with the young ponies do them so much good as they get confidence from each other. They were all so calm and happy.

This innocuous lump of wood has been there since 1963 when it was used for tamping down the surface of the former airfield from the Second World War

They all seem to love natural forest puddle water

Kings Garm inclosure

Bella shows us some more cross country skills

None of them were worried about the traffic

At the end we all went for a well earned drink
Four seems to be the magic number - got this from Annie on the Isle of Wight this evening...

"Hi Sarah - Just a quickie to share with you how well Magnus coped with his annual health check today. The vet was super impressed with the transformation in his behaviour & how amazingly calm & obliging he was! Four years ago, both vet & I were slammed, crunched & crushed into each of the four stable walls.......Today, thanks to you & your teachings the whole event was tranquil, stress-free & injury free! Hoping for good blood test results & it will be three cheers all round Thank you for changing our lives for the better. Wishing you a fantastic Christmas." AD

Thursday, December 19, 2013

19th December, 2013 Looking forward to Christmas Day?

19th December, 2013 Baker's Dozen

Thirteen pictures from the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Animal Rescue Team training with us on 6th December. All by very very very kind permission of Russell Sach.

The fire officers involved are all 'on call', i.e. retained officers and come from the combined team of Basingstoke and Overton. Tracey bumped into two of them in Costa Coffee in Eastleigh when they were waiting for their fire engine to be repaired and they declared that it had been a really good course.

19th December, 2013 Christmas Wrapping

I'm beginning to think I would like one of every make. This little Arabian horse was absolutely super to work with - taking to the groundwork exercises really easily. She wasn't all that keen on being touched by anyone but a simply switch from light touch to deep flat touch worked immediately. Examine your hand shake!

"I so enjoyed the session today, it was something of a revelation! This was the friendliest A has been with me, and the best demonstration that your methods work! Thanks also for the notes, I will certainly practice what we've done today. I can't wait to work with you again!" MB

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

18th December, 2013 Rescue Missions

An interesting little jaunt around the country this morning with the panels in tow. First stop was to drop off enough panels to make a small pen for Sarah to tempt her new Shetland into pending the arrival of the vet. Good news is that a scan of the pony's microchip confirms that this time she has the right pony! Isla (right) is a full sister to Iggy on the left. The other good news is that she wasn't too difficult to catch either and,  once caught is happy with human company.

Then it was off to Longham to catch Brandee for the farrier to trim. Coincidentally another Shetland. Brandee has been consistently caught throughout the summer months but her confidence evaporates in the autumn with the falling leaves, creaking branches and blustery winds and I'm the only one who can catch her.

18th December, 2013 Ripples Never Come Back

This is the view from my window as I write this morning. I've been awake for about an hour mainly fretting about fretting. I'm reading a book called the Power of the Herd by Linda Kohanov and, like everything I see and read about horses and about life, it unfreezes and then re-freezes the framework I have in my head. This book tells me something I have always known, that although we can act calm, act confident around horses, there is no con in confidence. Horses still know if we are frightened, angry, ambivalent. I've a lot more reading to do but I have always believed that we can work a little magic with matter over mind by acting confident, acting calm, evening acting happy. Just being aware that we have emotions can help us to bring them down just one notch and can convince a horse that we are worth sticking with - more so, we are convincing ourselves that we are worth sticking with. As a little aside, I worked with a woman last year (and her horse) who was a newsreader and every time I took a photo of her she just switched on her radiant smile. She told me that it didn't matter if it didn't reach your eyes, you just had to turn it on. I've done this ever since and I swear that I am actually happier.

I read a ditty on Facebook that said that peace didn't come when you had sorted everything out, if you found peace first them everything would sort itself out. Nice thought. I have always been terrified of peace as for me it represents death. As someone who has suffered from misophonia for most of my life, peace translates into silence and then I would be able to hear every irritating sound such as ticking clocks and even people breathing as if amplified through loud speakers. I can only get such peace when I am alone or with a horse. Even my sleep is littered with dreams, good and bad, as my brain processes everything that has gone on the day before.

The problem with being told to have a 'mind like still water', to quote Mark Rashid, is that we imagine that it is a mind that is totally still. Perhaps it is only a mind that is not at odds with itself. I have decided to try re-framing my thoughts about my own fretfulness and instead to applaud my lively brain which can be so creative, full of energy and logical. More of a going with the flow I suppose than a still pond. Of course I may end up at sea!

99% of my work with horses is really about the emotions of their owners. Yesterday I was phoned by a young woman who said that she was panicking and upset because she had bought a new pony and the the wrong one had been delivered. She'd had to get the vet out to scan its microchip and then arrange to have it taken back to the owner all at her own expense, financially and emotionally. By the time I spoke to her for a second time, she had arranged the transport, swapped the ponies over and arranged another vet's visit to make sure that she had got the right one this time (three identical looking ponies in one field!). Far from panicking, it seemed to me that she had been extremely logical and practical and had got everything under control!

My New Year's resolution then will be to embrace my emotions and let them work for me, not against me.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

17th December, 2013 A Thorn Between Two Roses

First appointment of the day, a two year old semi-feral pony called Rose. Rose lives out on the Forest most of the time but is spending the this winter in. Her owner is keen for her to be handled more readily but is hampered by the fact that the pony is terrified of human contact since she was wrestled to the ground to be hot branded. We have set up a large pen under the trees in her field and she has been coming in for a feed every day. This morning the gates were closed behind her and her field companions given piles of hay just outside the pen. I then started work on touching her with the feather duster and in just one hour went from being able to touch her at her hindquarters to being able to touch her just behind her ears. At the moment she only offers her left hand side and her owner will have to go pretty slowly and steadily for the next few sessions.

Second Rosie of the day was Sally's who came out with me, Tracey, Indy and Bella.

 Rosie thought it was unlikely that she could jump over the ditch stream which although narrow is in full flood now.

Bella showed her how....

Sally showed her how...

and then she showed us how!

Logs were no problem at all.

Nor bridges....

Or any other water after that...

...although she did make Sally go through the deep bits.

20th continues with Rosie...

"All is going well. Had Rosie in the pen everyday.Yesterday I could even touch her bottom with my hand.
She was waiting for it, was brilliant !" AS