Friday, June 30, 2017

30th June, 2017 Madonna Bra

Had some lovely comments from clients past yesterday, some reminding me of the little phrases that I have trotted out for many years. The Madonna Bra has always been handy, as well as "stand like a farmer, not a model". One of my earliest clients was a model, and also an amazing horse rider (I won't mention her law degree -some people have everything!), so it was a phrase that I felt qualified to use.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

29th June, 2017 Dangly Bits

Although Jack has learned to stand and relax around the mounting block, he still had a few misgivings about being mounted. He improved again today but the most astounding breakthrough came when we tried him in the Western saddle. Instead of thinking of moving away, he started to move towards the mounting block, practically asking Suzzanne to get on board.

Email received 30th June: I have fantastic news to report I mounted and rode round the school got on and off 5 times and he lined up perfectly and stood quietly once on board, I managed to can some energy so all was relaxed. A massive thank you from the heart for all you have done for us not only overcoming the mounting issues which is unbelievable in such a short period of time but also our whole relationship is so much stronger. I am so looking forward to exploring the forest together and having lots of fun." ST
Today was the last day that I was officially working as a horse trainer although I already have an unofficial job to do tomorrow and over the weekend! Barney, the British Spotted Pony cross Dartmoor Hill Pony has developed a phobia about dangly things, having taken fright at a fly mask. Subsequently he picked up a headcollar with his teeth and took fright when it apparently followed him, attacking it with his front feet! Since then he has been worried about being caught.  I've started working with him with clicker training and had made a good start before he tired of the feed mix we were using. I am going back tomorrow.

Juma and his mother were up by the road again...

He came up close so that I was able to put my hand on his nose. I'm deliberately not trying to fuss him, I don't want him to be too friendly at this age.

Meanwhile, Karen is continuing to make brilliant progress with Moon and is now able to sit on a chair rather than lying on the floor whilst offering clickered rewards.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

28th June, 2017 Broadening my Horizons

Well over ten years ago I did a demonstration for Wilton RDA bringing in £1,000 for the charity. It felt very apt to be back with the Riding for the Disabled today, this time at Broadlands, giving a demonstration for forty coaches from across Hampshire.
Of course, the horses and ponies they use at Broadlands, a selection of cobs and native ponies, have extra specially kind temperaments and provide a fabulous and therapeutic experience for the children and adults who come to meet and ride them.

Not only that, but the staff and volunteers at Broadlands are a real asset; Suzanne, Jacky, Kit and Adina, to name just four. The horses were beautifully turned out and it was clear that close attention is paid to their physical needs and to make sure that their lives are enriched by a variety of work and rest.

R to L and clockwise: George, Roz, Bracken and Merlin

The stars of our show...

Forty Coaches for the RDA
Always happy with a horse under my arm
Bracken and Adina
And that's why she is a brilliant RDA pony...
Not so sure about the tarpaulin...

How about a ginger biscuit?


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

27th June, 2017 You've Grown

It's difficult to believe that Minstrel is only fourteen months old. She is so tall and so sensible for her age. It's been a while since I saw her, and since then she has been to a stud farm where she was weaned in the company of other lively youngsters. Back at home she has been reunited with her dam and has another yearling to keep her company. Today we worked on a list of six things: leading, tying up, foot handling, acceptance of water and acceptance of fly spray and a fly mask. The key to accepting anything wet is to change the sensation with a lovely rub.


New Forest Pony, Frostie, plays a vital role in Minnie's life - she imposes a bit of discipline!

Back at Fritham I spent time watching Juma sleep.

Monday, June 26, 2017

26th June, 2017 Heart Stopping

Nelly would tell you that it is hard to trust the traffic with your three week old son, especially when you can't avoid crossing the roads to get to water, and he has no hand to hold. Please drive carefully on the Forest. We do care about our ponies but we also provide the best system of conserving the Forest for the general public to enjoy.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

25th June, 2017 Coming to a Standstill

A day off for us today, making plans for Honour the pony skeleton, and generally thinking about what the future holds for my business. Always great to have some time off and spend it watching my own foal learn all about the world.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

24th June, 2017 The Change Masters

An opportunity to prĂ©cis my favourite Gervaise Phin story. As a school inspector in farming country in Yorkshire he listened to a lesson where the teacher was explaining how Jesus was a good shepherd and cared about every one of his flock. She asked, "Why was the lost lamb so important to him?" "Ay," said one lad, "that'll be t'tup."

Leo and t'tup
In the month since I last saw Leo, Melissa has been working hard on all angles of his training; there is even a video of him trotting over poles, loose, beside her. However, she tells me that the moment she changes one aspect of what she is doing, particularly raising a pole at one end, not only does Leo become suspicious, but he loses confidence in doing the things he could do before. Horses are very good at seeing when something has changed, we all know the "That wasn't there yesterday!" conversation, but Leo doesn't like it when it is changed back again either.

Both Leo and Melissa have got to become change masters, welcoming and enjoying change. Today we worked on answering his 'maybe' and the edge of 'no', and building up his confidence over the raised poles. Horses are naturally precious about their legs. We helped him a bit by making sure he was turned into the poles at a distance so that he could organise his legs, and by placing Melissa at the higher end of the pole or where there was the most 'stuff' for reassurance.

Leo's response to the bit is becoming softer as he gives to it rather than leaning. He was concentrating so hard.

Melissa is so close to being able to sit on Leo for the first time (he has been ridden previously) and has done some amazing preparation work.

...but not before the wedding and not in those shoes!

She must be torn about which one to choose.

Friday, June 23, 2017

23rd June, 2017 Lock Down

Jack, the Welsh cob cross New Forest pony continues to do well with his training. His owner has been remarkable in her accuracy and tenacity as this series of photos shows...
Incorrect, click, click, treat

Correct, click, click, treat.

Suzzanne is going to practise this for the next week...

...with a view to being able to do more of this.
It is lovely to see some of the iconic, purebred, registered, New Forest...oh wait, not quite! horses out on the Forest. I am not sure of the breeding of the first, but the second looks like an Ardennes! For clarification, anyone with Commoning rights can turn any breed of mare out, but the stallions have to be pure-bred, registered, inspected and approved.

This is the hardest part of having Juma out on the Forest. At just a fortnight old he is up against traffic that makes no allowance for him, drivers that do not appreciate that he has little or no road sense. I held my breath as these cars went past him and thanked goodness for the precious thread that still holds between him and his mother. He did cross the road at one stage and still the cars sped by while he is clearly separated from his mother. My friend Jo Scott commented that I had must have steel as well as love in my bones.

Although I haven't got a formal diagnosis for Zoe and Zelda as yet, they seemed very bright and happy when I saw the yesterday, day two, albeit that they both had runny noses. The discharge is clear and running freely and they are not coughing. None of the other horses are affected so far.

Day one: things are a little gungy.
In other news...Moon is now accepting food from the hand! Karen has persevered as quietly and sensitively as ever, lying on the floor with food in her hand to see if Moon might approach. She's now achieved a sitting up position.