Saturday, September 30, 2017

30th September, 2017 Wild and woollies

Juma and his unofficial family continue to turn up every day for a meal or two. I have a decision to make shortly about whether he will spend his first winter in ground with his mother but that will mean separating them from the others. Since only one of the others is mine, I can't take them all in.

The Forest Ponies were particularly lively this morning as if they suspected that their might be a drift or a hunt at any moment. They looked particularly beautiful in their autumn colours against the autumnal backdrop.

We have opened up the winter fields and let the horses that were not being ridden through first. They practised their emergency procedures. This is the field that has been muck-spread so we will monitor their weight closely and take worm counts early next year.

That's if they haven't trashed it all within hours!

They had settled down to eat by the time we got back from a very serene ride with Petra and Théoden.

Who felt they had some catching up to do...

Friday, September 29, 2017

29th September, 2017 Off to the Sales?

It's that time of year again when semi-feral foals start to come in off the moors and forest, to be weaned and sold. My book, which is available through my website No Fear, No Force guides you through a safe, practical, and quiet technique for halter training your foal. It covers the use of a scarf, shoe-laces(!) and clicker training if needed, as well as how to establish touch first, head-collar last. It will also help with foals that are naturally nervous or those that have had a head-collar forced on them previously. Much better to halter train than to halter break.

29th September, 2017 Ripples

A beautiful morning on Woodgreen Common yesterday and the day just got better and better...

Juma and his family were halfway down the hill to the Eyeworth track around a newly formed pond.

The grass and the water were refreshing and the ponies spent almost an hour paddling in the pond.

Juma admired himself...

...and spent time with his half-sister...

...and his nanny.

Nanny likes her drinks stirred not shaken.

Juma seems to be a very sensible foal and I wonder if having so many older nannies, uncles and aunties has made him that way. I rarely see him, or any of the other foals, playing.

Following Uncle Blue...

...and practising some synchronisation...

...before pulling on her plaits.

Next I decided to be daring and took Jack and Henrietta out for a walk by myself. There was a risk that she would disappear on the open Forest but she followed me into the inclosure easily enough.

...and came home again afterwards.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

28th September, 2017 Pigture Gallery

Despite extended rest periods, these guys, all gals in fact, were doing a fabulous job of street-cleaning outside my fields yesterday. It's been a horrible year for acorns and we need all the help we can get.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

27th September, 2017 Last Fling!

Last working trip to the Isle of Wight yesterday where Tracey, Jane, Jenny, and I all had a potty but productive day with Jane's Sports Shetlands.

Once again the Hotel lawn became a gymkhana ground (is it ever anything else?) laid out very thoughtfully but looking like a paintball fight.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

24th September, 2017 Good to Be Back

Despite having a wonderful time away, I love coming back to the New Forest and its ponies.

The New Forest Pony in the middle here is one I call Ginger and he has been missing in the area for years, presumably taken off by his owners for some other role in life since he had now reappeared as if he has never been away. He's a nice soul.

Théoden, Henrietta and Bella formed a welcoming committee but I think it was more to see if I had brought them back a present.

Although we saw them out on our ride, Nelly and Juma were home just a short while later and queuing up for a impromptu meal.

It took ginger biscuits to get them back out of the field and I imagine this will be their way of insisting on pudding throughout the winter.

Théoden was a joy to ride. Julie took a video of him accepting his bit and almost missed the moment because it happens so quickly. When I first got him he objected very strongly to the bit, throwing his head and nose into the air and sometimes trying to squash me against the railings. Sometimes it had taken hours for his old owners to get his bit into his mouth and I wasn't prepared to be that patient forever. Instead I used clicker training which soon over-powered all of the 'stuff' that he threw at me, and within a week of starting the training this calmness came out the chaotic mess that had been there before.

I also did a week's worth of training with pigs, taking him to see Dominic the pig at HorseWorld so that they could have breakfast together. He has been fine with pigs ever since but after a long gap I did wonder what he might make of them.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

23rd September, 2017 Suffolkation

Just returned from a week away in Suffolk where we stayed in a cottage on a farm. In the fields outside there was a band of Thoroughbred/Arab mares, some a little old and creaky, but all enjoying the long grass and the warm Indian summer. They live with a Suffolk Black pig and swans.

We went to see Moon a couple of times. Karen can now put a headcollar on her from the right hand side and we began some leading work concentrating on body language that didn't block her movement. 

As well as Karen turning her head in the direction that she wanted to go, she needed to move her legs. As soon as she made this tiny subtle change, Moon was following her with no pressure on the headcollar at all.

We went to visit the Suffolk Punch horses at the Suffolk Horse Trust who took over the care and management of the Colony herd from the prison some fifteen years ago. I would love to know if this was a good or bad thing for the prisoners and for the horses given that horses are known for their therapeutic effect on all kinds of people these days.

Every day we went out for a long walk enjoying the countryside, which smells strongly of earth at this time of year, and the wide river and special light right by the coast.

Most of all we enjoyed the company of friends, Karen, Tasha and John, and fellow IH trainer Bridget Colston who I bump into far too infrequently. With our new love of cooking it was great to invite them round for a Sri Lankan curry and chocolate mint cheesecake with Bourbon biscuit base!

On our way home we stopped off at Auntie Kelly's to drop off some books and a couple of Bar Buffers to sell through the IH shop, and to meet her sister's young horse, Jack.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

14th September, 2017 Fly Me to the Moon

Auntie Joan and the Rottweilers are due to look after the house for a week while David and I travel  to Suffolk where we will be walking, eating, and visiting Karen and lovely, lovely Moon. We also hope to meet up with IHRT Bridget Colson who is based in that direction.

14th September, 2017 Come on Aileen

Despite the tail end of Storm Aileen, it was a lovely day for a ride and always a pleasure when we can take all three riding horses out together. We encounter the more sedate type of tourist at this time of year and it's always lovely to stop and have a chat with people who might be on a walk, or painting the view. Certainly the view from my saddle is always glorious and Théoden's ears are just the best in the world.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

13th September, 2017 Paint My Pony

This beautiful watercolour was painted by artist Claire Martin and is just such an accurate and characterful reflection of Nelly with Juma. It's not the first time that one of my photos has been used as the basis for a painting but I am especially pleased to see one of my own ponies. I'm hoping to get all of my photos onto a stock page shortly.