Monday, June 30, 2014

30th June, 2014 Visiting Ours

Another glorious sunny day at the farm despite the ominous clouds and after riding out with Pat there was a chaos of children. Jack, Indy and especially Nettles love the attention of these kind hands and they also help to sort out the brushes.

Prior to the farrier's visit the riding horses along with Bella had a break out in the top paddock.

Having heard about Guy's the farrier's degree in Military History Barbara decided to search the Guygle engine and asked him for a complete history of shoeing. Apparantly there is little ridden record of when shoeing actually began but there is evidence that the Celts used some sort of hoof protection.

You hear me banging on about time, patience and technique enough times but sometimes just one or two of these will do. It's been some time since I practiced 'farriery' on Jack's feet, imitating Guy with a rasp and so on, although I do pick his feet up and out fairly often. Until today we have only ever been able to trim his left front foot without him panicking and I have been relieved that his feet have always trimmed themselves. Lately his feet have become rather tatty as the ground has not done the job for me and so I asked Guy to see whether Jack would let him trim all of his feet. Success! and a well earned cuddle from Guy.

Time to put the horses back out and to see whether Nettles would allow Barbara to lead him from her scooter. She hasn't got the strongest hands in the world and relies on her right one to accelerate so it was great news that Nettles led from the lightest feel on the rope.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

26th June, 2014 Lady and the Tramper

Ever since Barbara got her '4 x 4'  Tramper scooter I have been dying to get her out with Jack for a walk to see whether it is going to be possible for us all to go for walks together. Having asked Jack to follow Barbara for a while it became clear that he was perfectly happy with the Tramper and she was also confident of driving it around him. He seemed to connect with Barbara too - but then we all do!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

25th June, 2014 Testing the Water

With the summer holidays rapidly approaching and herds of children sweeping majestically across the plain, we thought that Nettles ought to have a bit more riding experience before he carries Charlie's children. He wore his Western saddle for the first time since growing into it and had a lovely ride around the inclosure. 

You couldn't have better weather to train a horse to accept water from a hose pipe. Any horse should appreciate being a little cooler on a boiling hot day even if they are not a fan of cold showers. The difficulty with water is that there is no release because it is impossible to take the water away once it has been applied unless you happen to be using a wet and dry hoover! The art then is to provide a release by changing the sensation by using a lovely rub and removing the excess water. This worked really well with this engaging and engaged mare and she was soon accepting water all over her body. I started with the left hand side of her body and her owner took over for the right.


Afterwards we did some loading practice once again using what I have started to call IH plus. The addition of the clickered treats proved to be incentive enough for this little horse to stay quietly in the trailer rather than backing out as soon as she was in. In this way we could safely put up the back bar and then the ramp.

"Thanks for the great session. I can hardly believe we achieved so much." CB

Email received 2nd July, 2014: "So I opened up the trailer ready, put my bum bag on with pony nuts and just led her in. There was a split second of hesitation until she realised there were nuts. I stood back against the wall and gave her 4-5 nuts then led her out before she could think to do it. Did this 3 times and then led her back to the gate to leave the arena. She planted her feet. She has never expressed a desire to stay in the arena, always wants to get out as fast as possible. So I led her back to the trailer and she was quick to go in, I gave her nuts and led her out ..." CB

and on 12th July, 2014: "Rosa is still keen to go into the trailer even though we have started closing the ramp up and walking away to leave her in there for 5-10mins. I thought I would test a theory – I let her off the lead rope while we were at the gate and she turned and headed for the trailer and went in on her own! I went in through the jockey door to give her a treat. Going to start the engine and go around the arena next time."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

24th June, 2014 Forward Thinking

Off to Shaftesbury to work with a horse that is reluctant to load. He always travels really well and is calm and cool when he gets to his destination. It is as important to work with the owner as it is the horse, especially when the horse's behaviour resolves itself fairly rapidly and you no longer have the horse to practise with! Here I am being the horse.

With a combination of clickered treats and gentle pressure and release Harley was soon going in and out willingly. I am told, sometimes by other IH people, that it isn't possible to use clickered rewards without having a separate session dedicated to that first. I don't find that is the case providing the clickered treats are introduced well before the horse might have experienced a rise in their adrenalin. The object for me is not to break a pattern of behaviour but to divert it. Harley certainly got the idea very quickly and recognised that he was being rewarded for even thinking forwards. The art is in the timing.

Email 4.7.14: "I'd like to thank you very much for your help, we've been practising and he went straight in first time without hesitation. The real test comes tomorrow as we are off to camp for the weekend! But I'm sure he'll be fine." CF

Email received 7.7.14: "Just to let you know we had a wonderful time at camp and he walked straight in the lorry to leave and come back. I couldn't have gone without your help and I can't thank you enough!" CF

Monday, June 23, 2014

23rd June, 2014 Making Allowances

I always allow half an hour to catch Anna before the farrier arrives just in case she regresses badly in the eight week gap between visits. These days she comes up to put her nose in the head collar and ordinarily I would leave an owner to it way before this stage. However, Anna's owners are not so sprightly and like the peace of mind of having me there to catch her. Given the additional time, Tracey and I like to give her a good groom or massage and today we saved her from the relentless horseflies that were plaguing her.

Back out on the Forest, Nelly and Blue have plenty of ponies to choose from for mutual grooming. Nelly's favourite choice of partner is 'Exmoor' the New Forest Pony. She's got fabulous ears.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

21st June, 2014 May The Force Not Be With You

All my friends on Facebook seem to be ponies. Looking over Liz's shoulder, Spirit says: .'Wait a minute!!! I recognise that lady long lining, she came here with a feathery dustery thingy & ran it all over me."

Rumble is sporting his Bath Rugby Team scarf...

...but Willow has an altogether more snazzy looking headcollar.

Three No Fear, No Force ponies.

Postscript 23rd June - Kerrie's done it! Rumble was one of the most sensitive ponies I have seen recently and a lot older than the foals that we usually work with. Having worked with Kerrie that day I knew that if anyone could do it, she could do it. It's a major achievement and all without any force.

21st June, 2014 Base Camp Inspection

Another glorious but glaring day on the Forest. This foal was almost too close to photograph.

Jack, Indy and Nettles had taken sanctuary in the Nissen Hut* where it is cool and dark, whereas Bella was trying out her new hat.

Indy and Jack were certainly fascinated by her fascinator. Is it Ascot?

Tracey and I had our first ride out since I got back. It was great to be reunited with my best orange friend. (I mean Theoden not Tracey!!!)

While I have been away Caroline has reached the foothills of her training with Tigerlily and has been busy setting up her new base camp. With meticulous attention to detail she has been taking Lily out for walks around the local campsite and Forest, desensitised her to children and bicycles, been riding out on another horse and getting ever fitter. She's now well established for striking out for the next stage of her journey. Our session seems to have involved Lily poking her tongue out at the tourists!

We also had time to watch the local wildlife. Some 'intermediate courting behaviour' as the guides would delicately put it out on Whitefield Moor. The stallions were due to come back in on 16th June but this one, Sway Mister Blue Sky, seems to have missed the net and is still enjoying his freedom. Once again we were struck by just how brazen the mares are as they positively mobbed this young colt.

Meanwhile this filly seems to be enjoying cooling her heels in Round Pond at Roundhills.

And who needs ox-peckers?

According to Wikepedia:

Between 16 and 18 April 1916, Major Peter Norman Nissen of the 29th Company Royal Engineers of the British Army began to experiment with hut designs. Nissen, a mining engineer and inventor, constructed three prototype semi-cylindrical huts. The semi-cylindrical shape was derived from the drill-shed roof at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario (collapsed 1896).Nissen’s design was subject to intensive review by his fellow officers, Lieutenant Colonels Shelly, Sewell and McDonald, and General Clive Gerard Liddell, which helped Nissen develop the design. After the third prototype was completed, the design was formalized and the Nissen hut was put into production in August 1916. At least 100,000 were produced in World War I.Nissen patented his invention in the UK in 1916 and patents were taken out later in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia. Nissen received royalties from the British government, not for huts made during the war, but only for their sale after the conflict. Nissen received some £13,000 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
Two factors influenced the design of the hut. First, the building had to be economical in its use of materials, especially considering wartime shortages of building material. Second, the building had to be portable. This was particularly important in view of the wartime shortages of shipping space. This led to a simple form that was prefabricated for ease of erection and removal. The Nissen hut could be packed in a standard Army wagon and erected by six men in four hours. The world record for erection was 1 hour 27 minutes

Friday, June 20, 2014

20th June, 2014 Alfred the Great

Never have I been more delighted to be cancelled for an appointment than this Wednesday morning. The reason? Because Brandee is now being caught from the field! It's taken a long time for this terrified pony to finally accept that she is safe and until now her owners have only been able to catch her intermittently. On days when they really needed her to be caught - when the farrier was due - she could feel the extra energy and pressure of the occasion and I have always been called in. I hope to be able to share pictures with you soon.

That moved Alfie up the batting order and so it was off to Hook to meet him and his owner, Loren. Alfie is a Warmblood cross Cob, not the easiest combination since you get the tenacity of the cob married to the agility of the warmblood. They tend to be all right until they are not all right and then they have the athleticism to move very quickly indeed. Less than sympathetic handling in a previous home means that Alfie is super-sensitive to movement and always very careful. However, it also makes a very intelligent horse beautifully responsive and once he knows he is getting it right he is very keen to engage.

With a liberal coating of fly spray we started off with general groundwork and leading. This is nice straightforward work for horse and handler just asking for his attention. Simple changes to leading position and hand position can make all the difference.

Asking for a step forward by simply moving out of his space means that there is no physical pressure at all. Alfie really got this and it's worth noting that although the exercises seem the same, every horse is different.

So far so good and we move into the shade of the indoor school for the next session.

I always introduce the bags very slowly and incrementally and only once I have shown the horse the way that I work using the feather duster. The aim is not to set off his flight reaction but to keep within his thresholds and show him that it's okay to stand still when he is in the slightest bit worried.

Like most horses Alfie seemed to like chasing the umbrella and was fascinated when it was twirled on the ground.

"Alfie and I had a great day. Thanks for coming up and showing us some really useful techniques that I'm pleased to say he has remembered :-)." LO

Email received 4.7.14: "I’m really pleased with his progress since your visit. He doesn’t seem so spooky coming in from the field and I have been introducing him to new things and situations which I’m pleased to say he has handled really well. Last week we had 3 cross country training days so had 90 + lorries parked in the field outside his field. There was a lot going on with horses being tacked up, loud speakers, quad bikes and parking signs etc. I was so proud of him, he walked through the lorries, past the new signs like a little lamb and I lunged him in the in-door school with horses flying over cross country jumps just behind us. He was relaxed the whole time. We still play our little games with the umbrella and feather duster. He is still cautious with having sun tan lotion on his nose, but is getting a lot better. I use the same technique as the feather duster and let him come to my hand until he lets me gently rest my hand on his nose." LO

Thursday, June 19, 2014

19th June, 2014 Home from Home

Naivasha, and Debbie's house has become a bit of a home for home for us, what with the company, the animals and the lake at the bottom of the garden. The animals are a great bridge between the wild and the woolly.

Kusoko, the parrot, is 45 years old and speaks several languages and a great range of clicks and tocks. He will be training Da Vinci all by himself very soon.

After a final ride up the hills on Fleur's quiet ex-racehorse Zahir, it was time to say goodbye for the final time.

With an overnight flight and plenty of sleep, it was like being in a time warp and soon we were back on the roads of the New Forest...

19th June, 2014 The Non-Marathon Runners' Guide to Buffalo Herding

I haven't been able to run for five weeks, ever since Kitty May helped me to dismount without executing a triple toe loop on the way down. So, it was with some trepidation and even a lack of sleep that I set out running with Craig in Hell's Gate National Park where he had promised me a straightforward 9 kilometre route at a pace dictated by my lack of fitness and his bare feet. This is the man that did the first two thirds of a 90km ultra without shoes. Setting off before sunrise we arrived at Elsa Gate just as dawn broke to be greeted by a giraffe and a hyena. Here the pitter-patter of tiny feet could be the prelude to a buffalo attack so I was hoping that Craig would keep a good look out and indeed we did have a couple of detours to avoid lone males – certainly I couldn't have picked up speed even if my life had depended upon it. With zebra crossing, impala and Thompson's Gazelle it was like running in the garden of Eden and there was even a baboon to urge me on towards the end. It appears that I am back on form even at altitude and I'll be able to hit the ground running as soon as I get home.