Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hard Work for an unfit nana clip clop

Thrilled with the way his flatwork is coming on, but he is incredibly hard work.

At canter he is very difficult to keep going, particularly on the right rein, although as he becomes better balanced and stronger it should get easier, however the 'go' button is on mute so I am working three times as hard as I should be.

The lack of impulsion shows through, particularly jumping. Did some more baby jumps today and he totally wore me out.
The steering is not always the best (and hey, why not cock your jaw and go round them), but it is the 'go' that is noticeably lacking. We trot into them almost going nowhere which then results in the humungous leap which is not the easiest to stay with.
I tried cantering in, but simply could not keep him in lots and lots of flat work I guess will be needed.

I would have liked to have done some bigger jumps, but feel I really need to get more established and going forward into the baby ones first.

Getting on continues to be a problem.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First Jump!

Had my first few jumps on the new pony today.
Just little cross bars, but WOW, he nearly fired me off at the first jump!
Came in at a sedate trot and out of nowhere came this massive big launch. The rest of the little jumps (X's with baby fillers) I knew a little more what to expect and was able to just go with him. He has tremendous power behind, and has a very comfortable jump, although did become a little strong.

Photos courtesy of Mum who at 85 has quite a bit of trouble trying to take photos - so they were initially tiny weeny dots in the distance which have been cropped.

The one jumping pic she actually somehow managed to video it on her camera and I took a still off, so pretty poor quality - but hey, its a photo!
Not his best attempt as he was starting to just pop over at that stage, rather than launch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Best Laid Plans

Today I had planned on doing some work on the mounting problem, a short schooling session and pole work finishing with a few baby jumps. However turns out the little mare (sexy wee beasty that she thinks she is right now) and her paddock friend had broken the tape and so all the horses were in together. The new pony and she were very pally wally - very much in love. I have never seen the mare act like this before: she obviously likes her men tall!

The skies then opened. I put the escapees back where they were supposed to be, and decided it might be sensible to put the little mare in the orchard a further fence away from the new pony; who immediately became distressed at his girlfriend being taken away - but WOW what a trot he is capable of! (Had had Mum in tow with camera, but she went home when the rain came)

I thought that today was probably not the right time to do some work on the mounting problem, let alone any schooling. And so decided to simply feed everyone. I was very relieved to find that the new pony was waiting to be let into his little feeding area (out of sight of the sexy beastie) and so love took second place to his tummy.

To recap however....

rode the new pony in the paddock (everyone else safely ensconced out of our way behind tape). First real schooling session and very impressed to find that he took both canter leads without problem, and for a big horse is really quite well balanced, albeit hard work to keep up together and going forward at canter. Very impressed with the feel of his trot, and quite excited about what he might be capable of. He is a little stiff to the right at all gaits, so did some flexing work which he very quickly cottoned on to. Was very pleased to find that all in all he seems to work in a pretty good frame and doesnt feel at all on his forehand, which most young horses seem to.

He is also, already, becoming lighter to the leg aids and understanding of what I am asking. (Initially there was basically little or no reaction to the leg)

I also did some turn on forehand, and beginnings of leg yeild and was blown away by how quickly he worked out what I wanted. Willie took literally weeks before the penny dropped with leg yielding, but then he used to worry if he didnt understand. This guy thinks about it, hesitantly started to move (at which he got made a big fuss of) and then 'had' it.

Yesterday however, took him and Willie to WEC. Was his first time in the sand arena there, and there were others riding and jumping, but nothing too exciting I thought. But I simply could not get on him. He would stand at the mounting block and when I got up on it he moved away. After an hour of quietly trying, someone came and gave me a hand holding him while I mounted.

Then came some rather interesting movements!

He was absolutely hell bent on returning to where his friend was (in typical young horse fashion) and so we got the leaping sideways, slow round the top of the circle, then some more sideways....although he did start off cantery leaping. Thank goodness he is super comfortable and his antics were not in the least unseating! - (so far)

However, he gradually became more accepting, and so after we had done a couple of relatively relaxed circles I got off, and got TOWED back to Willie: although he was fairly polite while I ran up his stirrups.

Next trip to the centre I may leave his paddock mate at home?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Schooling Commences

Started working on trot circles, serpentines and figure eights today, with a few transitions thrown in for good measure.

Of course the green-ness and his size means that one has to steer rather as one would a car that badly understeers. We did however manage to avoid actually banging into anything, so that's a bonus.

I was very pleased to find that he is already becoming softer and more consistent in his contact, and at times is working in a lovely frame. The leg aids are, it would seem, starting to make more sense to him as well.

I finished off with a couple of canters on each rein, with only one incorrect strike off (immediately followed by a flying change!), and a free walk on a long rein.

Now keen to try and organise some baby jumping exercises before the end of the week, although of course I will need to arrange to have someone here just in case I go splat, so hopefully that will be on the agenda within the next few days.

I am however, getting a wee bit concerned about how one actually manages a 20m circle within the confines of a dressage arena - even at a trot, let alone a canter!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Took the pony to WEC again today, not quite as much happening, but Western riding event still on with plenty of trucks, floats and horses around.

He was a lot more relaxed, and despite being in a yard all by himself (no horses at all in that set of yards) was pretty good when I went away for a ride on Willie - walked around with his head up, but certainly nothing more than Willie himself would have done in that situation.

Oh, and he seems quite sensible if things go wrong too. For instance.... when the buckle of your headcollar gets snared in your haynet, and the whole yard rail that haynet is attached to becomes detached from the post and is hanging free effectively being supported by the buckle of your headcollar, there is not much you can do other then either wait to be rescued, or panic. Thankfully, he chose the first option. A photo of his expression would have been classic.

Geared him up and hopped straight on today. Walked and trotted him around carpark, weaving in and out of trucks, and apart from a good look at a few things he really didnt put a foot wrong. So I would have to say that playing it quietly yesterday paid off today.

Then there is the saga of Sox - who thinks he is just gorgeous, and I think it's mutual. Her paddock friend Kit, I dont think really has too much idea that she is being a little t@rt however, and is just concerned that his best friend is more interested in the big boys.

Aren't I gorgeous - you know you want me!

Hang on - what you doing talking to MY friend

Ooooooh; hello Boys

Argh; you two are boring....."Come back pretty girl"......

Peace restored.

Friday, October 17, 2008

First Outing

Today the new pony had his first outing since he last raced.
I didnt however venture to clamber aboard - I'm old and crusty, but not yet senile!

Took him to the WEC where they had a Western show on as well as a dressage competition so lots of trucks, floats and horses. It would probably have been his first time out of the paddock since his last race so goodness knows what was going through his head.

Left him in the yard while I worked Willie, and someone very kindly put their horse in next to him to keep him company while I was riding. He didnt seem too wound up in his yard (apart from when I first left him all ALONE).

Brushed, booted him up and saddled him, then put his bridle on. All good.
I (rather stupidly I now realise) thought I would simply lead him over to the competition areas, lead him around a bit, and then climb on.

I didnt actually even take him all the way over to the competition area - it was 'interesting' enough just in the car park. I think my shoulder and arm will be out of joint for a week now. He didnt leap around, or dance or anything, but he grew to at least 25 hands, and found it very difficult to stand still. Thankfully he didnt actually 'do' anything!
He then changed from a very slow walking boy, to marching along at a great pace of knots - I simply could not keep up with him.

I think he was also quite concerned to be leaving his new best friend (Willie), so I would lead him around for a bit (re-phrase: he would tow me around for a bit), then back to his 'safe' zone, then off we would go again. He did get a heck of a fright from something flapping, but I managed to hold on to him.

Given that he does seem rather a laid back boy, albeit anxious about some things, I rather under-estimated how 'exciting' it would be for him to be out and about. But then thinking logically, there is so much new for him to see and think about, and he also needs time to realise that life is no longer about racing.

Weather permitting, I will take him down again tomorrow and hopefully will actually get on him; even if only in the car park. There will still be the western riding event going, but hopefully it will be slightly less exciting for him (and me!).

It should all be old hat by tomorrow: shouldnt it?

Monday, October 13, 2008

First Canter

This time with breastplate!

He uses himself a lot more at the trot and I almost felt 'left behind' at times - going to have to get a wee bit fitter for this guy (losing weight would also help, and I am sure make the whole picture a lot more aesthetically pleasing)

However, I can see that in time he is going to look quite nice under saddle, particularly once he puts on some weight and develops some muscle.

I even felt brave enough to have a wee canter - lovely long lollopy strides (surprising that, given his height!)

I can see also that I am still tilting, so will have to pay some attention to my riding. But for now getting quite excited about the wee boy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Green Horses

Not having ridden one for six years (when I got Willie) I had forgotten just what green horses are like: the strange steering, hanging to the other horses, creeping away, tanking back, not always effective brakes, and of course the reactions to things one tends to take for granted on schooled horses particularly when you know them so well.

Beautiful day for another ride, this time with no 'watcher'.

Two tips for future rides.
1. Do not have the two dogs anywhere near, particularly given their propensity to noisily fight (quite upsetting to a young green horse, especially when they are behind you)
2. When one has a figure somewhat resembling a greyhound, it is a very good idea to use a breastplate.

So I guess I can safely say today's ride was more exciting than yesterdays, but how I wish I had had a photographer for the trot work - I want to know if his trot looks as good as it feels. Bonus -he felt totally sound trotting on the left rein!

We did have some interesting moments, when the cows on the other side of the trees started playing, and when they broke some branches, resulting in some interesting skeedaddling sideways - but it was the dogs playing and fighting behind him that really upset him. I was not sure if he was going to take off, or explode bucking after his initial escape reaction. Having managed to dismount I think that the fact the saddle and girth were sitting precariously close to reaching the point of no return may also have contributed to the anxiety levels (mine as well had I but realised!).

Put everything back in place, got back on and decided enough of this walking lark, onto trot and he was a very good boy. The trouble with walking is that you go from SLOW to GO or skeedaddle in an instant.

Hopefully will be able to get him shod this week and start venturing out - eeeeek

First Ride

Unfortunately no photos as I had nobody to take them, and I am not sure mum's eyesight would be good enough ??
Poor old mum drove down to the shed so there would at least be someone present in case of disaster. Given that I have neither seen him ridden or sat on him myself, I guess it was sensible to be cautious at this stage.

Tacked him up and led him out to my mounting block (old sawhorse) , stood up on it with one foot in the stirrup to which there was no reaction - not even a moment of tension. So I simply got on, and sat down....still not even the slightest sign of any anxiety, so off we went.

What a dude!

He just quietly walked around the paddock, so although he was still sore I couldnt resist a few trot strides just to see. He is obviously Very green and as he has been very lame I didnt push him, and he did feel a little 'off', but am definitely now itching for him to be sound enough to get some shoes on him and really start playing.

Let us hope he continues to behave in such an obliging manner.
- He even puts his head down so you can put his bridle on and off - which is probably just as well!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Spit & Polish

Ok, well as the weather was not really conducive to the first 'clamber on and see what happens', and Mum tells me I should have someone else there when I do, I thought I would bring the pony in and just spend some time grooming & fussing over him.

What a novelty it is to have a horse with a thick (read bushy) mane and tail! ... and the tail is still thick even though it had been seriously thinned just before I got him - shame as I had been looking forward to shaping it - oh well, it'll grow.
Yes; the pony has a tail (although I should have made him stand up straight for his photo)

Spent a bit of time fiddling with his mane, but it is so thick it needs some serious thinning, and as the wee boy was quite anxious and not in a standing still frame of mind, I decided to leave that for a later date. He was however marvelous to do his bridle path, putting his head down for me.
Short thick bushy mane desperately in need of thinning now its been trimmed up a bit.

He seems to have rather a lot of little bits out of him, and picky places, and so I washed him in vetadine, which did not impress him whatsoever and I found myself continually on the move. He was actually quite worried about it all for some reason, and I did unfortunately find that he had had a cover rub on his wither which was almost healed - until I pulled at that flakey bit of skin I could see - WHOOPS ; which is how I found it. On with ointment, cotton padding and a rather skimpy (OS) vest. So hopefully it'll heal pretty quickly.

So despite his anxiety today, we managed to give him a bit of a tidy up, and hopefully he will be starting to realise that I really am not going to do anything (intentional) to hurt him.

Took some photos of his new haircut, and his tail - which I can see from the pics actually needs trimming at the bottom!

Also him in his miniskirt nightshirt. (Believe it or not it is a 5'6")

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It jumps!

Well; had separated the three boys out while someone came to try Sox (who was most certainly on her worst behaviour - worst I have seen of her), then forgot to put the tape back up behind them.

All three came to talk to Sox who was acting like she needed 'it' NOW (which is also very unusual for her) talking to the new pony and posing for him like he is a stallion.

OK, time to get them back where they should be - only nobody wanted to go. The new pony was near the corner under the trees, Jackson coming at him on one side, Willie on the other. Two canter strides and a nice wee pop out over the tape, while ducking to miss the low hanging tree branches. Very impressive - and he obviously thought so too celebrating with a buck and a leap, and then all three hooning down to the far end (despite the new pony and willie having their new boots on over their poultices). Although I must admit it was nice to see the two of them doing something other than hobbling about at the walk.

All then settled, so we started to walk back to the house. Nope; not finished yet...flat out gallop by the two big 'lame' guys with Jackson wobbling along behind. Jackson and Willie stopping at the tape with the new pony jumping it beautifully.

Also turns out that whoever had dealt with his foot before he came (after he trod on his shoe nail) has been rather over zealous, and been far too invasive cutting into the sole and exposing flesh - so that's going to take some special care and will be a while before it properly grows out.

However, poulticing a pony in the middle of the paddock in the howling wind and rain the other day without even putting a head collar on him, says a lot for his temperament. Possibly not to be recommended for OTTB's!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Getting Impatient

Although it was not the nicest of weather, I had decided that I would have a wee sit on the new pony today. However, he is still a bit sore at the walk so canned that idea, bringing him in for a bit of a brush and putting some clothes on him instead. Having looked at the photos, I can quite clearly see that the mane should have had a bit of attention too....oh well, tomorrow's another day.

He is proving to be very easy, coming through the tape for me without catching him, and the same when putting him back with the others after dinner. He also appears to be totally non aggressive in the paddock, but also prepared to stick up for himself - which is a relief after the bullying Willie was subjected to initially.

When I brought him in today, he was a little worried to start with but soon settled even though he couldnt see his friends. When he heard Sox come GALLOPING up when Saarin called her, although he grew a hand, he didnt move AT ALL, so that's all good.

Unfortunately, it is looking like Willie's boots are not going to fit him, and he was quite funny when I first put them on; lifting his feet right up in the air, and doing some very strange things with his backs. But a few moments of leading him around and he soon relaxed.

I wonder if he has at some stage had problems with saddle fit, or perhaps cover rub on the wither, as he was very anxious being saddled. So I simply put it on and off a few times till he relaxed, then did up the girth quietly, again leading him around to relax him.

Of course I couldnt resist trying a bridle on him too. Thankfully he fits a normal Hack bridle (not even on the last holes), unlike Willie who is in an OS. The new pony was also very polite to put the bridle on and off too, so another point scored in his favour. The reins however look far too short, so I may have to try and get some extra long ones - if that is possible.

Can't wait till he is sound enough to be shod and we can start really playing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The New Pony arrives - 02.10.09

Hello all; here I am-but where is here?

I have to say that I was for once relieved when a horse turned out NOT to be quite as big as I had thought it was.

Hmmmm; not sure of those chicken sounds

Obviously must have been in a slight hollow the other day, as on level ground he looked almost normal sized. We did measure him as soon as we got him home, and can now say that he is 17.2 ( easily). Whew!

Saarin caught him, and loaded him and then unloaded him when we got home, so despite his size she obviously felt comfortable handling him. Then we quickly dressed his foot, wormed him and let him go in the paddock to enjoy the sun on his back.

Of course the others had to come and introduce themselves, but no squealing or arguments (so far!). Jackson seemed to approve, and Willie was just furious cos the new pony totally ignored him and stayed just out of reach for a proper introduction.

surveying the new realm

I will give it a day or so before letting him in with the others. I have no doubt that Willie will be most un-impressed.

Left him to it for the day, but did wonder what I had let myself in for when I was unable to catch him to put his cover on. He simply kept walking away and staying just out of reach - hopefully that will change as he gets to know us (it usually does) but in the meantime perhaps I should resort to a little bit of bait.

Ooooh: Hello! will you be my new friend? (Jackson is actually about 16.2 at the wither - but much smaller to sit on - and wider!)

However, later became rather annoyed when my partner announced that he thought the new pony suited the name "Johnson". Then was told he didnt like oddfellows, but had enjoyed a good rub all over. Hmmmph, I couldnt catch the blighter and non horsey partner walked right up to him and made a fuss of him!

Come here and say hello, Goddamit!

Blacksmith here first thing in the morning to give the new pony a pedicure, and hopefully find the root of Willies lameness.