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

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

New book, new plan, tired feet!

Last night was interesting. Rodney has dispatched his leather head collar and after three hours of trying to catch him I went home and got in the lovely hot bath Phil had run for me.

It feels safe to say that the plan isn't working. Pursuing him and trying to tire him out is just tiring me out and he's getting locked in this hypnotic trot that I think could go on indefinitely.

Thankfully, I arrived home to find this waiting for me - and one of the first stories was about a horse who wasn't keen on being caught.

I like this bit:

"He didn't try to force a different idea on the colt. Instead he showed him that there could be a way out - if he wanted it...I guess he just figured that sometimes the less you do, the more you can accomplish."

My plan now is to have a few days off from trying to force the issue, rest my blistered feet and then try again. I'm hoping we can move Rodney's friends to the next field and then encourage him to walk himself into the little pen in between where I may be able to put a headcollar on?

I'll keep you posted of course!

Monday, 29 April 2013

I was really proud of Cady on Sunday. We had a lesson with Sam Brown and she tried so hard. It was windy and rainy but she was relaxed and working in a lovely trot. I really enjoyed the lesson because Sam makes me think for myself instead of spoon-feeding me. I am definitely over reliant on direction from my instructor, see more below. 

Things to work on:

Having a plan - this is a big weakness for me. Many instructors have told me to have a lesson plan when I school and this is the year I'm going to crack it. Transitions are the way forward for both my horses. As soon as my focus improves, Cady's does too, so this is going to be key.  

Elastic contact - another big challenge for me! I let my hands get too high when Cady's head goes up and need to work on softening my wrists, lowering and relaxing my arms and not joining in when she has a bit of a fuss about.

There are lots of other things to work on - staying forward, canter transitions, rhythm and timing! I can't wait to ride again ...

Poor Rodney, he's in the wars at the moment. All the hair is coming out of his face. I think this could be one of a few things: sweatiness (when he's bad to catch we're just tiring him out and he's pretty hot and bothered after a bit) some kind of fungal infection, lice? Seems unlikely but I'm going to work through each one. It may also be the crazy up and down weather, a quick search on the internet showed a few people having similar issues this time last year.

I did get to ride him over the weekend but he's pretty tired by the time we catch him so I've kept it quite gentle. A wise woman told me once that you don't know a horse until you've owned him/her through four seasons - spring is definitely a bit harder for Rodney as he has to overcome his greedy, cheeky Welshy streak! That said, it's not getting me down which seems to suggest I'm getting a bit more resilient to the ups and downs. At one time there might have been weeping, not so much these days!

Tonight I'm going to give his head a really good clean down with hibiscrub and anti dandruff shampoo. I've also swapped his fieldsafe headcollar for an improvised leather slip which I've made really soft with lots of leather feed.

If there's no improvement soon or it gets dramatically worse I'll call the vet. If anyone has encountered anything similar please feel free to comment - all suggestions welcome!

Happy horsing everyone x

Friday, 26 April 2013

A bit of faith is useful

I'm testing a theory at the moment - that a bit of faith can go a long way. As I tip tap away at this post Mr Rodney is munching away in his pasture WITH NO HEADCOLLAR ON.

It's the first time all week he's been placed in a position of trust - mainly because all the hair on his face is falling out from wearing his fieldsafe and I'd rather have a horse I can't catch than one that's bald.

Since he was a very good boy to catch last night I made the choice to let go a bit and trust that he will be caught again. I'm enforcing my trust with a big bag of carrots naturally - I wasn't born yesterday and clearly neither was Rodney.

Yesterday they both had a day off while we did family visits but today it's back to the job in hand and I am looking forward to the working day being over and the horsey day beginning.

I've already been to check on Cady Pops. Her eyes have been runny from all the wind so she's been Optrex'd this morning. I also stuck some baby wipes up her nose to clean out the inch thick compost she's been storing up there which she did not love.

Happy horsing everyone, I promise to get some decent pics this weekend x 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Cannot get enough of this blog at the moment A Year with Horses

There's plenty on there if you're like me, wanting to improve and often frustrated with own limitations!

Gold star for Cady

Bf thinks Cady has been stolen and replaced. Last night was day five of getting us back into work and she's been a treat.
We seem to have turned a corner and stopped bickering and confidence on both sides is growing.

She had a canter on the lunge which is looking way more balanced and comfortable and then we just played about with transitions with me on board.

A massive step to improving things has been giving her a slightly longer rein instead of trying to jam her into a contact. She's got a de gogue on to give her some consistency and I'm working hard to keep hands still and elbows relaxed.

Today they're both having a day off as we have a family birthday and then it's back to it. This weekend I need to find a field safe headcollar that's much softer as Rodders is losing hair on his face from rubbing.

Happy horsing everyone x

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

"The simplicity of it was joyful. If he kept going forward, he would of course arrive."

Starting this post with a quote from the book I'm reading because I think it's very relevant to our horsey journeys.

This morning I'm really happy. Rode both last night and they were really good, despite the busy old wind kicking up a racket.

We're working on getting Cady relaxed and listening in the school so I tried this last night Riding the hind legs and was very impressed.

My usual attempts involve hanging onto her mouth and kicking like fury to hold her together - as a result she is totally confused and unbalanced. But when I concentrated on working her inside hindleg, no steering issues and no spooking. I'll keep pursuing this and post regular updates.

Rodney enjoyed a hack around the fields, though at one point he got the fright of his life when one of the mares on the other side of the hedge who was nibbling through the fence suddenly shot backwards like a champagne cork and made a noise like 18 squirrels fighting in a sack.

Once we'd recovered it became funny and now when we walk along that track I'm going to shout to let the mares know I'm there so they don't get a shock!

Happy horsing everyone x

Ps - the book is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (I found the title off putting but it's a good read)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Something extra

This is a great post. Read it! Especially love the bit about letting go of your 'stories' concerning each horse you ride.

Ride all your horses the same

Lambs and lessons

Cady was very good on the lunge last night. Our arena is next to a little dell which currently has a dozen lambs running in and out of it every few seconds.

She had a couple of spooks and settled down so we had a ride too. She's like a plank of wood after her winter off but I was pleased that she was trying hard.

I do notice such a massive difference between her and Rodders. He's got loads of power coming through from behind whereas she swings her hips from side to side and lets her weight fall over her front feet.

Schooling and hacking consistently should improve this but my initial task is to build her confidence and attention levels.

Rodney is a pain to catch at the moment. Not impossible, but he's way more interested in the acres of green grass than in me waggling a carrot.

I'm riding him every other day so he knows it's not always about work. My catching strategy is to tempt him over for a bit of carrot and then walk a step away and repeat so he's following me rather than me trying to catch up with him. He's very smart because he knows when there's one carrot and when there's a whole bag and strong mints are a poor relation all together!

Our next lesson is booked for Sunday and if I can't catch him then I'll ride Cady. With horses, a plan B is ESSENTIAL!

Happy horsing everyone x

Monday, 22 April 2013

Our trip down South

So we are freshly returned from Gatwick with a new addition...

My friend collected her new boy, the gorgeous Ice, on Saturday, and I went along too for the craic.

She very kindly furnished me with my favourite crisps, Cheesy Puffs, and we had a hoot.

Ice came from a fab yard near Gatwick and as it was an overnight trip we had tea with the lady selling him.

She proved to be one of those great characters of the horsey world with lots of knowledge and a sound, sensible approach but with that loopy charm that horses seem to gravitate towards.

Icey Pops

Icey Pops (as I call him) travelled very well and was totally not arsed by the whole thing. After seven hours in the trailer he pootled off and started eating his haynet. I sense he is going to be a great favourite.

On Saturday Cady came out of retirement (she had to go on her fainting couch when she saw her saddle waiting on the fence) and on Sunday, with the help of the dear bf, we got them both ridden in fine style and minimal time.

Rodney did lovely canters and Cady got some confidence from having him in the arena at the same time. She was a very good girl and looked extremely happy afterwards.

We were stewards at Chopwell Woods Pleasure Ride on Sunday morning and I saw some old friends from years ago which was great. The wind chill was less brilliant and I had to improvise a wee behind the car but that's life.

Happy horsing everyone xx

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Lessons and sunshine

I had a lovely lesson on lovely Rodney on Easter Sunday. He was a really good boy and I feel like we are starting to gel a lot more.

We've been working hard on our transitions and though there's much more to do, we're on the right road. This is why I've missed lessons so much - they really give you something to focus on and work towards. I've had two now from Samantha Brown from Leamside Equestrian and am thoroughly enjoying it.

The other major plus is Rodney's gorgeous nature and good working attitude - he is a dream come true after four years of pretty limited success with my darling Cady Monster. I'm having a good think about her next step and will keep you posted of course!

The change in the weather is very welcome. Gallops in the sunshine are just good for your soul and a great way to get me and Rodders a bit fitter. I need to pack in some decent cardio so I'm not wheezing after one 20m circle of canter - I'm only 30 for God's sake, when did that happen?

Happy horsing, make the most of the sunshine if you're lucky enough to be sharing it :)