Welcome to my blog about horsey life in the North East - the good bits, bad bits, endless coffees and plenty of mud!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Guest Interview 'Good things can become amazing'

To keep things fresh I've decided to interview horse owners every now and again. Georgina Bird lives in Nottingham with her four horses. I've picked on her because her lovely neddies are a little bit tricky and I'm always keen to hear how people deal with their less straightforward horses - mainly so I can use their advice on Cady Monster! Anyway, here goes:

Can you tell us a little bit about your horses?

I'm extremely lucky to have four horses - we just love to collect! Neeve is a 13.1hh Connemara cross who I've had for nearly five years. 
She's always been a bit of a cow if I'm honest but she has taught me everything,as she was very naughty on both the ground and riding. I remember being at a pony club rally where I tried untacking her myself and she dragged me across a huge field in front of everyone. Sonnie is a Welsh cob cross who sadly didn't have the best start in life. Me and my mum were the first people he really trusted. Sonnie's the sort that tricks everyone by being a donkey on the ground but as soon as he feels one foot in the stirrup he acts like a 17.2hh stallion/racehorse/Grand Prix dressage horse. Sophie is the sweetest pony ever and a Connemara cross. We bought her as a four-year-old  and ever since then shes shown an endless amount of talent.She is my main competition pony who I do everything on from showjumping to dressage to eventing.She's just like Sonnie though - acts like a donkey on the flat and as soon as there's a fence up she's tanking you all over the place! Finally my big brown beast Paddy! Paddy is a 16.3 KWPN.He was a showjumper who we brought to turn into a dressage horsey, but he'd rather stand on his back legs all the time! He's definitely a horse to watch now he's found that the lorry isn't so scary. 

Georgina with Sophie and Sonnie

What's been the highlight of this year for you and them?

Like horsey people know, everything is up and down with them. Sadly its all downs for me! The only high for me this year was finally having my horses at home with our own school and stables!

Any low points or specific problems you've had to overcome? If so, how did you do it?

Oh dear, I would be here for days if I mentioned all of them! My problems have included bucking, napping, dragging, lack of trust, bolting, rearing, leaping and not wanting to load. The only answer is being patient and taking your time.

I try to ignore the bad and praise the good. A problem I constantly have is comparing myself with other riders, which means I sometimes forget how amazing and talented my horses are. 
Lately it's really been making riding less enjoyable so I have decided just to block it out and focus on every little thing they do well. Then I try to remember that good things can become amazing. 

What is your favourite part of the horsey routine? (I like checking them early in the morning before work when they're still a bit sleepy)

I enjoy waking up, looking out my window and seeing them graze in the fields or with their heads  stuck over the stable door. I also love it when they walk over to say hello or neigh at me. It really puts a smile on my face.

What piece of horse sense has stuck in your head - who said it to you or where did you read it? 

Everything Carl Hester says, he's the guy I really look up to. Richard Maxwell once told me a joke "How many show jumpers does it take to fix a light bulb? None, because they don't need one - the  light shines from their arse!" 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Early morning checks

What can we do when our horses get hurt?

What can we do when our horses are ill or injured?

Obviously the first step is to do the necessary: call the vet, clean them up, patch their wounds, bring them in for a night, whatever is needed.

Which is tricky enough. I have spent more hours hanging onto hind legs trying to disinfect wounds without getting kicked than I want to think about.

My right shoulder reminds me constantly of that horrible moment when you've got to get that dressing on while they lurch away from you, determined to get away from the stinging sensation. and why do I always forget to have a spare hair elastic to tie their tail out of the way? Cady chooses to whip me in the face with her tail whenever I'm trying to sort her out - dirty dreadlocks in your mouth makes a stinky job worse!

But worse than the logistics of treating an injured horse is the feeling you have to confront when you drive home having done all you can for that day. I would rather apply a hundred bandages than face that sinking feeling, that knot of uncertainty which includes a a raft of questions - When will they get better? Will they get better? Should I get the vet out again? What state will they be in tomorrow?

It's an exhausting state, and the only thing that satisfies those questions is time. And even when we get the answers, they're not always the ones we want.

Being a horseowner means facing uncertainty head on. So little is guaranteed and so much can go wrong. If there are riders who've never experienced this, I've never met them - most of us have experience (s) of things not working out.

So what we can do to get through the times when it all goes wrong?

1) Start at the start. Whatever practical care needs to be done, do it and do it well. That way you know you've done your best to aid a full recovery. No one wants to look back on these times and think 'if only'. Also, having a good first aid kit at the yard will help you to act faster and reduce your stress levels. Until recently I kept mine at home, until Cady came in covered in kicks and I realised my hibiscrub was a fat lot of good eight miles away.

2) Look after yourself too. When you've done all you can it's best to go home, get a bath and some food and go to sleep. I used to read pony books where the heroine would stay up all night with her wounded horse. Ok, sometimes that might be necessary, but most of the time it's just going to wear you out faster. And if your horse is sick for a long time you need to avoid burn-out. Take care of yourself when handling a sick or recovering horse too. If they're on box rest and you need to walk them out, hats and gloves are a must. Don't wait till they're rearing and boxing at your head to remember.

3) Accept the misery. When Harvey was sick and I knew he was going to be put down, I let myself feel awful. A good cry helps us come to terms with a horrible reality.

4) Distract yourself. You've done all you can and now it's just a waiting game. If your horse is ill for a long time and the stress is getting to you, go and visit your friends, go and see a film, go out in the world and remind yourself that there is life beyond the stable yard. I think this rule also applies to times when you're going through a bad schooling patch, a behavioural problem, a stroppy phase or a tough run at competitions. You might think everyone else is having a great time while you struggle on but this often isn't the case. Reconnecting with other people is the quickest way to realise this.

How do you handle your horse being ill or injured? If you'd like to share your story please get in touch alison.goulding@yahoo.com

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The month of madness

Cady rounded off her spectacular spell of misfortune on Saturday by jumping out of her field in search of friends, snapping the top wire on the fence and slicing the bulb of her heel open.

She's now living with the quiet mares and looks both knackered and relieved. 

I've patched her up wound powder, a bandage, Vetrap and masking tape and now she's wandering around with a giant alien foot. 

It's been a testing few weeks [and actually a year filled with good, bad and plain disaster] as far as the horses are concerned, so I'm ready for a bit of happy fortune.

The positive is that me and Cady are getting on well. I'm trying, once again, to rush less and be kinder and it does genuinely seem to make for a better bond.

While riding is off the menu I'm keeping myself good by catching up with horsey brilliance on the internet. This loading video by Emma Massingale is gorgeous - funny and beautiful.

And don't tell the bf but I've already started some hypothetical Christmas shopping. These winter woollies Scarves might make nice stocking fillers for someone....I can't think who?! Hint, hint...

Feel free to join me in drawing up wishlists  Houghton  Country

Thursday, 4 October 2012


I literally cannot handle the drama any more - Cady is determined to turn my hair grey. 

We were absolutely knackered after work yesterday so decided to abandon riding and just walk down to check on her and give her a feed.

She was lying down fast asleep and even waggling a feed bucket at her didn't prompt much enthusiasm.

She ate her tea lying down while I joyfully assumed her new magnesium supplement must be chilling her right out.

Cady: 'Mum, I am literally, on death's door. Love me.'

Eventually we did decide to make her get up at which point we realised one of her back legs was a big fat pudding that she wouldn't put her weight on. 

"Oh right let's walk her up and get the vet," I said, while inside my thoughts were "Sh*t, Sh^t, Sh*t!!!!!!!!!"

We waited for the vet till it was pitch black and then decided we may as well wait till the morning since she had managed to eat a haynet and showed no signs of dying.

Which was a mistake because I spent the whole night thinking about burst tendons and snapped ligaments.

Turns out she has an infection, caused by her kick wounds from the last fortnight.

So for Christmas she has antibiotics. I'm hoping her gift to me will be some peace and quiet.

* From this I have learned that it is always wise to make your horse get up, even if they just look like they're having a snooze.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Ahhh! (Better than Blurgh)

Cady is mended, more or less, so tonight I'm planning a ride.

She was lovely over the weekend and enjoyed the Bugs Bunny carrots my boyf got for her, complete with green fluffy tops.

Here is a picture of her being sweet: