Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Bun fight at the OK Corral

Horses are such jokers...especially at 6am!!

Got up to the field this morning...10 minutes behind schedule as I'd had a sneaky snooze (oops!)

No sign of the horses...

So I wander up along the fence line calling and rattling my nuts bucket, get suddenly confronted by all five thundering towards me in the dark and we have a mad dash down to the gate of the corral so I can grab the feeds...and shut the gate!

Of course as it's all been going so well I didn't have my headcollars, so there was a bit of a melee as I'm trying to get Bally and Dee in the corral and keep Bonita and the boys out.
Finally mission accomplished and Dee and Bally settle down to their breakfast...or not.

Bally decides Dee's looks better and we then have five minutes of to-ing and fro-ing between buckets with no eating going on until I actually park the damned things right next to each other and they settle down. I get to do my hands on daily check for any overnight lumps or bumps and I'm very pleased to find nothing, both all fine and dandy.

So then B decides she wants to have a wander and explore the corral, so off she trots, tail up...the frosty morning really has her on her toes! D meanwhile continues to stuff her face lol!

I pop in the barn to get B's headcollar so I can curtail her antics and she sticks two hooves up me kicks her heels up in the air and does her amazing passagy show off trot back down to the gate. OK...out you go and I open it.....nah only kidding says B and wheels off back into the corral taking Dee with her this time who thinks this is a great game now.

And of course as my back is turned Bonita and the boys let them selves in the corral too because numpty here left the gate open!!

ARGH!!

It's now 6.40am I'm late and I have the whole pack of jokers careering round the corral having a right old ball. It's so cold I'm puffing, wheezing and coughing at the overdose of extremely fresh air as I'm pegging it after them to herd them all back through the gate, pick up the buckets and make sure there's no collisions.

Finally with bucking, farting and snorting a plenty (and that's them not me!) I herd every last one out back into the wild blue yonder and as one they hoon off up the field delighted at giving me plenty of exercise to start the day

*sigh*

Horses don't you just love them LOL!

Monday, 14 December 2009

The Big Move

So we were all set for operation moving yards and it was all a bit of an almighty faff in the end! Nothing is ever simple!!

When we'd been up to see the field and meet P & R a couple of weeks ago they'd shown me the barn (full of crap) pointed out the knackered fencing and gate down in the corral. The field had basically been left to go to rack and ruin which was a shame because it really is wonderful!

Once we'd set the date for all the youngsters to arrive they promised to have the work done....made slightly difficult by the fact they were only moving house & horses to the yard themselves the day before...best laid plans and all that ;-)
So I did B in the morning and left her in, packed up all the feed stuff and bits and bobs going with her and drove it up to the field....only to find fencing still down, barn still full of crap and lane full of cars as there was a football match on at the little ground next door :-o
No answer on Rachel's phone so we dumped everything and drove up to the yard = Poor Paul was just loading the fencing into his van - hugely apologetic, they'd had problem after problem and just hadn't been able to get everything done, but they were on the case.

Drove back down to the yard to find B going mental as all the others in her block had been turned out. Nettie had tried bringing B's neighbour Button back in but she was so upset that didn't work. I got there to see her sweating, shaking and attempting to take chunks out of anyone going past...poor stressed baby!! I went straight in and popped her headcollar on, talked to her and quietly stroked and brushed her...she calmed down straight away....which was a bit of lump in throat moment - she has so much trust in me now and that's really humbling.

I wasn't going to leave her in any longer so as we weren't going to be able to go anywhere for a couple of hours I put her out in her paddock for one last mooch (i.e gallop up and down to make it resemble the Somme just a little bit more :-o )

Finally got the call to say lane was clear, barn done, gates and fencing all fixed and Bonita arriving any minute so we could make our way over.

Gi arrived like the cavalry in Bessie Horsebus and B was brought in and I popped her straight on the box and off we went. I travelled next to her in the living just to keep my eye on her and offer her support. She still hasn't quite got the hang of this balancing lark, but she travelled really well considering we were off down some seriously little winding lanes. I'm so proud of her!

Got to the lane and had to park in a layby to unload, all absolutely fine till someone roared out of the carpark past us just as she was backing off, she slipped and nearly fell then clattered off the back of the box. I felt sick to my stomach - all that patient hard work and it could be ruined in a split second. Thank goodness she didn't hurt herself, she was a little shaky, but calmly walked up the lane to the gate.

In we went and I introduced her to Bonita in the corral, after five minutes of them having a sniff and a squeal as we wondered in awe at what P & R had acheived - barn spotless, all my stuff put away nicely, gate up, fencing done..blimey!!!, we let them out into the big field where they said hello to the other three...not too much argy bargy, but boss mare and Bally exchanged a few warning kicks and B & B went off to graze.
Then Little D arrived with Becky and Steph. I popped on the trailer to unload her and she walked down the ramp cool as a cucumber and I led her into the field. We had a little bit of excited baby jogging, but she halted and backed up when I asked her to. None of the others came over to investigate so we let her off.....

And Boss mare promptly detached herself from the two oldies and flew across the grass straight at Dee :-o Dee hot footed it out the way, then realising her bestest buddy George wasn't off the trailer set up screaming for him...cue George on the trailer yelling back and oh lord!!

Becky had to go to keep George calm and went...One very confused Dee ran around screaming for him as they drove away. Bally and Bonita kept approaching her and trying to stay with her and after five minutes of running to the gate she stopped a couple of times to snatch some grass...phew...another minute and she was happily grazing with them.

We left them to it and took the box back and then I popped back up to check and feed them. Happily the three Musketeers were off grazing a small way away from the Olds and both groups were studiously ignoring each other.

B & D were happy to be caught and led in to the corral where I stood with them whilst I fed them. Then after checking for lumps and bumps and finding none I let them back out to explore their fab new home!

I've been up again this morning and again it worked fine, they were waiting down near the corral, in, feed, scratches, check over and breakfast...done!

Tonight...no sign, but a couple of calls and shaking some grass nuts in a bucket got them over - unfortunately as I'm there at 6am and 5 pm in the week it's pitch dark..thank the lord for head torches lol!! Pleased to report that everyone seemed just fine and my girls wolfed their food down, had a little brush and some nice quality time before I let them out.

I'll try and get some piccies this weekend so you can check out their des res ;-)

Phew glad that's all over though!!!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Ch..Ch...Changes

Well I can finally update my blog and let the cat out of the bag :-)

There have been changes afoot in B's world, first of which has been a winding down of the work - we've had a couple of walks out and done some inhand work just to check we both still had the right idea, but today she officially started her winter holiday...oh and moved...and met my new horse :-o

The holiday is three months off to let her grow into herself, mentally I think she'd have been happy to keep working, but as the next thing to do is back her and she's still not quite there physically as that lovely peachy bum of hers is still considerably higher than her withers, so no pressure on that delicate back for a wee while yet!
My YO had offered me a space at her other farm - an 8 acre field where she keeps her old pair and the two currently broken hunters...but then changed her mind. B couldn't stay where she was as our paddocks are too small and not sheltered so I was on the look out.
Managed to hit the jackpot through a post on the Horse and Hound Forum and was introduced to a couple just taking over my favourite yard in the whole area......oh and they also had a an old meadow....a 20 acre old meadow full of trees and natural hedging, lots of ups and downs and a spring fed watering hole..a barn and stable on site for storage and emergencies and a seperate corral to feed your horse in.....my idea of horse heaven!!!! They were looking for a couple of other horses to add to the four already there.

So who's the new horse????????

Well I'm now also looking after a rather lovely little part bred yearling Luso filly Determinada :-)

Dee was bought by my friend and instructor Becky's Mum Steph when Becky brought her Luso boys Ambar and Violino as she felt so desperately sorry for her. She'd been born prematurely out of a purebred mare that the owners hadn't realised was in foal and had been in work until a loss of form prompted a vet visit and a very late pregnancy diagnosis. Dee was born very weak and twisted and not expected to survive... but against the odds she did and showed such a spark and love for life that her name just fitted her perfectly :-) A very special little girl!
She stayed in Portugal until she was deemed strong enough to cope with the journey and arrived in the UK a couple of months ago looking a little the worse for wear bless her.

As Steph got to know me and my love for young Luso girlies she asked if I'd like to take her on. I went, I saw, I fell in love with this super friendly sparky little lass - very elegant, but going through a little bit of a fugly phase...sweet!
I'm not really ready to take the plunge and buy another horse after Safi, but as Steph isn't really looking to sell her and wants only for her to have a great start with someone who likes playing with youngsters..especially girlie Luso ones it was agreed that she'd come and live with me and we'll see where we go in future :-)

So today was the big day, both girls and another yearling Bonita - owned by Claire the fab lady who introduced me to Paul & Rachel the new yard owners made the journey and arrived at Perry Field...........

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about it, I think we've had enough excitement for today lol!!!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Monumental

I'm so sorry for the lack of updates, life has been completely tied up with moving my elderly and disabled mum from her home of 25 years in London into a warden assisted retirement flat closer to us.

Long time coming and it's taken months of preparation, there have been some seriously upsetting moments and scary bits along the way - particularly this week!!!! But she's in, she's settling there and seems reasonably happy which is a better result than I dared dream of. Huge thanks must go to Superhubby who has supported me above and beyond the call of duty..much love!!

So on to the star of the show, the wonderful, amazing, lovely Little B..what have we been up to???

Well we've still kept up with our inhand work in the school and had a few lunging, loose and long lining sessions. Usually short ones due to the rather waterlogged state of the school *rolleyes*
Bally has been working beautifully, we're now geting half halts on voice command, no lary behaviour..work is work and play is play, so rewarding!!
I'd also had Bessie Horsebus serviced and MOT'd so when I had the opportunity I'd actually been able to practice loading and standing on with the engine running which was almost an anticlimax as B paid no attention at all and just loaded and stood on no differently to normal lol!

But today was a special day in all sorts of ways!

Firstly we had our first Becky Holden lesson - I wasn't 100% sure I was getting the close inhand work 100% correct as B found this the hardest part of out training to do, so as she was coming down to do a clinic locally I snaffled her for a lesson ;-)

Becky is brilliant, a true master at classical in hand work, but so lovely to be around too - She stayed over last night and together with my dressage instructor and friend Becky Ewart we had a great evening talking dressage, horses and dogs!

I knew that she used to work for Peggy Litton at Asoka Classical stud...who bred Bally's Mum Maravilha!!..and yes she not only knew her well, but her grand dam also!!! It was fascinating to hear about the history of her lineage.

So onto the lesson - Becky wanted to see how I was working her and what we could do, so I showed her our inhand stuff...great news is I just needed a few gaps filling in - my body positioning and contact are spot on (chuffed!!) I needed a little help on correction work - so that if B becomes at all heavy I give a lift with my inside hand to raise her poll and at the same time take the outside rein and give a "leg" aid with the whip. I'd tended to give her a little too much leeway as I was concerned about being heavy on her mouth, but with a clear "up" aid the pressure is actually taken off her bars and tongue and works only on the corners of her mouth..lightbulb moment!

We had some amazingly soft work - just like riding when you get the correct flow of energy from back to front on a soft relaxed contact it just flows and feels great. Lots of lovely stretches interspersed with good work and quickly feeling when to correct her if she was silly or tried to lean and make me support her meant a very worthwhile session - made all the more amazing by the fact that B had never worked first thing in the morning before and was having to concentrate when she could hear all the horses being turned out. Clever B!

I then drove over to Becky E's yard where Becky H helped her with Ambar & George - fabulous to watch and so very, very useful!

Back home and I roped Gi in to take the last small but all important step in the box training of Little B.....going for a journey!!

She loaded as she always does, slowly, carefully and at her own pace, then with the box running Gi did the gates and popped the ramp up. I stayed on with Bally for reassurance and to keep a close eye on her reaction....and there wasn't one!!! She had a little wobble and moved her feet to balance as we set off around the farm, but she kept completely calm throughout the five minute journey, alert and looking around her but no hint of panic, or tap dancing.

Once we'd stopped she unloaded (still backwards) and when I asked her to step back on the ramp did so!

I was almost in tears I was so happy - all that patience and calm methodical training paid off :-)

Happy Day!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Thank goodness for the Lovely B

I have had a horrendous day, tensions at work have got so bad three of us would quite happily have walked out today....some idiots should never ever be allowed to manage people }-(

I also had the most ridiculously upsetting call from a researcher on behalf of Rossdales vet hospital who wanted to ask me some questions as Safi had received spinal xrays there.
Researcher "Could you spare some time to answer a few questions?"
Moi "Um, yes that should be OK"
"So could you update me on how your horse is now"
"....um...well...actually she's been PTS"
"Oh yes, well looking at the report and seeing the xrays I was expecting you'd say that"
"...stunned silence......"
"So you don't want to answer any questions then?"
"..um...no..."

Gutting

I got home and there in the post was a cheque from the insurers for the loss of Safi, I had actually thought that it being such a bad day I couldn't feel any worse, but wow that was a proper knife in the guts......I know it is ridiculous but I felt like Judas receiving my thirty pieces of silver.

So after some wailing and weeping I went to see the delightful Bailarina for some equine therapy. That lovely sleek little diamond you saw pictures of a few weeks ago is now a proper hairy, muddy, filthy beastie! Bless her she knew straight away I was feeling down. She glued her nose to my back as I walked around and poo picked the paddock, no naughty nibbling, just a touch and a connection the whole way up the field...such a precious feeling

I brought her in and took her into the school for a play, just a single line and her headcollar, some raised poles and a mini pheasant feeder jump, no pressure, not really 'work' just a play in walk. Thinking exercise, obedience, stretching and most of all relaxing and enjoying

B was her usual fun, inquisitive self. After a walk round with circles and changes of rein to warm up I asked her to walk over the raised poles...our first approach was met with incredulity by B who wasn't sure she could raise and lower her legs in the gaps provided...I led the way and she merrily followed, daintily making sure she didn't touch a single one.

We popped over them a few times each way and B very kindly followed exactly what the text books say, stretched her neck down and out and lifted those legs to have a lovely whole back and shoulder workout!!

We had a bit more wandering / circle / straight work and then I led her over to the 12" high mini pheasant feeder jump...."oh my LORD" went B with a snort Lol!

She tried to duck out to the side so I just walked her back and then up to it again. Bally very bravely took her life in her hands and popped straight over it second time of asking and received loads of praise

We had a few goes playing over it and after only a couple I could ask her to walk over (oh look at those leg lifts!!) or trot and pop it as a jump, what a good girl!

I let her off the rein after this so she could have a free wander about as I cleared our playground away and then we wandered back to the stable and tucked her up for the night as none of the ponies were out tonight.

A brush down..well more of a scrape off, tea and bed...

Bally just makes me smile.....therapy indeed x

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

So - About last night...

In the grand scheme of things it wasn't much, just a 1/2 hour single line lunging session in the school, but Bally's work ethic, her intelligence and willingness to try her socks off for me just makes me feel so humbled and privileged to have such a special little mare in my life

We did our usual in hand walk around the school to warm up, making sure B is with me, attentive and watching for cues and relaxed enough to be able to pay attention.

Then it was on to walk work, starting with 10 metres circles and then back to going down the long side - all it takes now is for me to change the way I hold my lunge whip and B changes from straight to circle and back again - she just does it...seamlessly, effortlessly...Wow!
We worked at this on both reins and she's just so much better and settled, The idea that walk means walk and listen, stop when I say stop has taken root.

Then I introduced some poles - a set at walk distance and a raised set for trot - now this wasn't quite so perfect - despite the fact that she's been over through and round them a couple of times Bally took one look at the walk poles and said (quite politely lol) "No thank you!" So I just led her in hand over the first time, praised like mad and then popped her on a 10m circle to work it out herself. She needed the support of me framing the circle or she would do the first two and cut across towards me, so we worked on keeping her softly bent out on the circle and by go four she'd got it like a pro!

I then asked for freer and forwards at trot on a 20m circle to loosen her out, then for the first time I started asking for a verbal half halt - a "steady" cue to slow, relax and rebalance then straight on into working trot again - She just did it absolutely foot perfectly - I was stunned!! :-o

Back to the little walk / pole circle on the right rein and she did it with no hesitation, but still needed me to remind her to stay straight throughout the circle and then on to the large circle for the trot lunge work with half halts, walk and halt transitions, all done with no fuss whatsoever
* Yay *

I wanted to work on the trot poles next and this was just asking for B a short repeat of the same thing we'd done with the walk poles, but keeping a steady rhythm and stretching her neck and back over the three poles. Yet again she wanted my support to keep the circle, but after one uh-oh legs everywhere whizz over them I was able to ask her to steady, concentrate and step really well over them on both reins a couple of times - as if she'd been doing this for years :-)

Loads of praise and scratches - what a brilliant effort!

I let Baby B off to wander, relax and warm down whilst I put the poles away, then we just had a lovely sociable wander round the school together and then back up to the yard

So there you go, we aren't talking Grand Prix superstar dressage, just basic, nursery school stuff, but after only a few sessions Bailarina is working like a horse who has been doing this for years - she is just a joy to work with and it is so rewarding to see my efforts pay off!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Catching up on progress

Well Friday was hack out on the long lines day and B was great..still a bit nervy going down the road, but before that we were just going down the drive to get onto it when I heard the sound of something very large and agricultural approaching, we carried on and then suddenly I realised it was Chris in his huge crop spraying thing..and he was turning and coming up the drive! Hmm ok let B see what it was and then we nice and calmly walked up the drive with the Big Yellow chunterer behind us, stopped by the field gate and I turned her so she could see, well she didn't bat an eye, even when it rumbled past!!

So back off down the drive and onto the road and like I said she was a bit tense (had the horrors about some discarded flowers in a bush would you believe!!) but not too silly. No problems with two cars passing us from behind.

Once on the bridleway it was long lines time and B was just great, nicely forward, one teeny plant at passing the first footbridge, but no attempts to turn back and walked on past it nice and smartly when I asked her to. No issues at all about spooky corner..in fact she walked up to and around it like she'd never dreamed of having an issue with it!!

Saturday was box training time, and Bally stood totally calmly right next to the ramp as we dropped it, but was quite hesitant about going on, even with the clicker - I know that it's never going to be her favourite thing, but she wasn't impressed with the proceedings - maybe we need to push things on as she just isn't seeing the point of climbing onto the shaky box just to get off it again..hhhmmm..one to ponder!

Anyway once on and standing tied, it was gates shut and ramp up with no problems. I then asked Gi to walk round and open the grooms door and the walk through, all done with a small snort but no panic *phew* I then popped through into the little living bit and on and off the box a few times. B was just great - a bit nonplussed I think!
After ten minutes of hanging around it was everything undone and backing off, went for a little walk round and then asked her to pop back on. Again she didn't exactly throw herself up the ramp, but she was on in about five minutes of me just standing and rewarding forward movement from her. It's quite funny - once she touches the ramp with a back foot that's it she's straight on with no messing, but it takes her a while to think about getting that far lol!

Tied her up , got off and did the gates and left her to stand again. Little Princess was not overly amused by this and had a couple of scrapes at the floor to which she got a growl! She settled herself down and after another five minutes I led her off. Really pleased with her progress!

Well Bessie the Horsebus is in at the mechanics tomorrow for her MOT, service and a new battery so all being well (touch wood!) we'll be starting the starting so to speak...repeating all the work we've done so far but with the addition of the engine running...then it's trip time -eek!

I'm going to post about tonight's session tomorrow - I was stunned, absolutely astounded at the quality of the work she gave me in the school and I think that it deserves a post of it's own :-)

Till tomorrow then....

Thursday, 29 October 2009

..And even lovelier longlining!

I'd had a teeny flicker of concern when I got her from the paddock tonight - She'd come in feeling a bit warm, but she wasn't blowy or tucked up, she had good gut sounds, no runny nose or eyes and her temp and respiratory rate were spot on normal...have to put it down to the unseasonably warm day we had. A couple of the other liveries had said their neds came in the same (and one was positively sweaty), so maybe there was a bit of illicit hoolying going on before we turned up...hmmmm!

Let B have a munch on some hay (no appetite problems either lol!) whilst I brushed her off, then popped her roller and bridle on and we pootled up to the school.

Did our usual of leading around for five minutes, adding some walk/halt/walk transitions, change of rein across the diagonal and a four loop serpentine in as we warmed up. (all good practise for school figures being ridden ;-) ) I wanted to see how she was in herself and , well, absolutely fine was the answer thank goodness!

So I popped the two long lines on and off we went - and suddenly it seems so easy! B was attentive and very locked on to my direction change cues. The blind leading the blind seem to have turned into a passable in-tune duo!! Safi never took to it and the pair of us used to end up in a tangle every single time, but B seems to be taking to it really well - especially now that there is a real flow to our work.

We did quite a few circle, baby leg yield to fence and along the long side manoeuvres, some nice changes of rein, some nice reinback and the pièce de résistance was doing a few nice neat figure of 8s around some jumps left up from yesterdays showjumping clinic...most impressive!!

I still need to concentrate on keeping a steadier contact - Far from being harsh... I'm guilty of letting the reins get a bit baggy (remember to work into that outside rein Mrs!!) We're still working off the rein attached jointly to B's headcollar and bit rings to minimise any chances of putting too much pressure on her mouth, but if she keeps on improving and being so good and settled in her work then I can't see any reason not to start working her directly from the bit.

Finished with a couple of short trots and then we walked off on a nice loose rein so B could have a good stretch down and then we walked back to the stable, both feeling very smiley!

Another super nights work from Brilliant Little B :-)

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Lovely lunging

No chance of walking Bally out after work now, it's just too dark, so it's time to brush up on the school work...keeping the sessions short and inventive to make sure they are positive :-)

So tonight I wanted to work on the lunge and I was looking for obedience, calm, straight and forwards from B. She was in one of her lovely amenable moods, so a great night to really make some progress with her. She'd had a few whoopees that last couple of times she's been on the lunge and I wanted to male sure there was none of that...free schooling is whoopee time if she needs to let off steam - If I'm attached it's a no-no.

In we went and I started off leading her, working off 10ft of line and walking to her inside, using body language and the lunge whip to keep her to the outside track and then after a circuit or two cue her to make small circles at chosen markers, then back on to the track again. I wanted all of this in a nice steady walk....and that's exactly what I got!
Left rein first and B was absolutely super..pretty much foot perfect, What a good girl!!!

Right rein is her worst / fizziest and she gave me a little evasion with a couple of jogs if I pointed the whip at her shoulder to move her out, so I used nice steady vocals and blocked her forwards by coming in front of her shoulder, then letting her walk on as soon as she half halted and praising her walk on so she could figure out what I wanted, she picked this up nicely. Once I'd got a good circuit with six circles we stopped again and Bally got loads of scratches as a reward.

Then it was in for a close up and asking for some lateral crossing by putting her on a 10m circle asking for her front feet to come in on a smaller circle so she is in effect leg yielding. The key with this is to keep the walk very slow and only ask for a few steps at a time. As soon as I could get a few steps with her soft in the hand and crossing nicely we stopped.
Soon as We'd done this on the left rein I pushed her out on a large circle and asked for a nice trot out to get her thinking forwards again. Bailarina gave me a lovely steady trot, nicely tracking up and working herself low to stretch.

So repeated the close work on the right rein and she was pretty much as good straight away which was nice, so again once I knew she'd got it I popped her out and trotted her off on a 20m circle, just a couple of circles and that was plenty enough. I was so pleased with how she'd worked :-)

Gave her five minutes loose to let her stretch her legs as a reward for working so well...and she certainly gave them a kick out and a stretch lol!

Was able to bring her back down to earth without an issue and that was us done. We stood at the gate for a few minutes chatting to my friend Di and B was patient, no fidgeting, just happily waiting to go in..all good stuff

In for a good brush and her tea, then off out into the paddock..great night!!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Short and very sweet!

Just back from a fabulous weekend in York, a much needed battery recharge for both Gi and I :-)

First thing we did was pile down to the yard, with my daughter Jen and grand daughter Faith..who has inherited the horse gene it would seem! With her little toddler sized brush in hand Faithy asked if she could see "Ballyrina", so we did and she gave her a lovely brush off.

Later on Gi and I went back down so he could help me with Boxing B.

So I popped her head collar and long line on , we walked round to the box, B stood completely calmly whilst we undid the ramp and opened the gates. Popped her on with a couple of stops to think and tied her up whilst Gi shut the gates. This time I stayed on with B so I could just see exactly how she was coping with the new steps we were taking. As she seemed nicely settled today I asked Gi to take that last huge step

So he put the ramp up...yup ramp up, all the way - completely closed and no tap dancing, no snorting, a little bit of tension held in her body, but outwardly calm.

And so we stood calmly and happily on the box, tied up, closed in. Wow

Might not mean a lot, but for B it was a huge leap -such a difference from the last time!

Ramp undone with much squeaking from the springs (might have been Gi actually lol!) and still no reaction from B, so I gently backed her off took her for a little wander, came back to box and she popped back up the ramp and onto the box again. :-) I stayed on jut long enough for a click and a treat then let her back off again.

Phase one complete, one happy pony and one very, very happy me *Yay*

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Pony progress and a wheee!

Finished work late tonight so didn't have much daylight left, but quickly grabbed Bally, my clicker bumbag and a teeny net of very nice haylege and headed off round to Bessie Horsebus. I don't think I mentioned that I'm bringing clicker back into the training equation...mainly to stop her being muggy about food - odd as it sounds there is definite method to that particular brand of madness lol!

Won't be able practise loading for a couple of days so going all out at it this week to take a teeny step further each time we try this (B willing of course)

Bally was in a jolly mood tonight, pretty much matched by my own - it's been a tough week at work and I was damn glad it was over! So we got to the box and I popped the net on the ground and undid the ramp next to her - again accompanied by a couple of snorts, but with no pressure on the line at all B stayed put and didn't even move a hoof backwards!

I popped on and tied the net up and B followed to the bottom of the ramp. She took a click for two feet on, then another for inching up, but then stopped. I let her think about it and after a minute or two and a look around outside she took the rest of the ramp in one go earning herself a jackpot!

Tied her up and I noticed she was far more settled - happy to move about but no quivering at all tonight, bit snorty and still obviously tense but loads happier for some reason...bizarre!

After a while chilling out whilst B snacked I popped off the box and shut the loading gates, had a wander round the box and then went to the ramp.

Well I got the ramp and lifted it and lowered it a couple of times up to about 7/8's shut..and apart from a bit of a snort at the squeaky springs we had no reaction - no tap dancing at all!

I won't actually shut it for the first time until Superhubby is manning the ramp and I'm onboard to monitor her, but that is the next step after a couple more sessions like tonight....I can't believe we're here already. But under no illusions she's ready to take to the road yet...we've got to start from scratch with the engine running. Bessie is booked in for new battery, MOT and full service in November so it gives us a couple of weeks of practise with the ramp first :-)

Anyhoo after hoiking the ramp up and down a few times I undid everything and backed B off the box, took her for a wander and brought her back to load again - exact repeat performance of first loading, but this time we just stood for a minute and I backed her off again...with masses of praise!!!!!

Still had a little light left so I thought we'd go for a nice wander around the yard, but as the school was free and there were some jumps left up in the manege from yesterday's clinic we popped in there for a play instead. We had a wander round and then I put them down to a couple of 18" x poles and with Bally on the longline just walked up to them...bless her she had a good sniff, looked at as if to say "what?" and popped over the first one neat as you like! :-)

So suitably in the mood we had a pootle round and popped them in both directions, singly and in the pair - B didn't put a hoof wrong...and more importantly didn't fizz up at all just approached every time completely calmly in walk - even when I had her loose! She'd canter a stride or two on landing but as I clicked to signal well done she walked back to me for her reward.

We then had a lovely loose trot around the school and lead on back up to the barn, both grinning ear to ear *YAY*

Groom, scratches and tea then I left in her in her box whilst I went to pooh pick in the extreme twilight (think I might have missed one or two lol!!) then off out she went to join Button - last two left out at night on the yard - what a shame, lovely mild night as well!!

All in all, great effort from the delectable Princess, Brilliant fun and much chuffedness going on!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A Funny Five Minutes and other stories

I know, I know, I'm terrible at this keeping up to date lark, but to be honest we haven't been up to a great deal this week.

The funny five minutes was Sunday morning, and oh lord Bailerina had me in stitches :-) She started charging and dodging the wheelbarrow as I was pooh picking and it eventually prompted an all out hoolie up down and around and round the field - I was treated to extended trots, canter serpentines with perfect flying changes on each bend, some beautifully cadenced collected trot, some gallopy bucks, some hand stands, some buck rear spin combos and a fair bit of flat out whooooohooooo gallopy gallopy (me with hands over my eyes as she executed sliding stops approaching the fence :-o )
Someone was feeling particularly well lol!
Once she'd had her blowout she stopped and wandered over to me and started grazing calm as you like...funny girl

I've missed being able to practice box work for the last few weeks as someone had parked a car right close up to the back of my box and it took me a while to figure out who owned it, then after I'd asked if they could move it they forgot, so it was only Monday night I got hold of them and they very apologetically and sheepishly moved it for me.

I brought B round and with her on a long line actually opened the ramp whilst she was there so she could hear the noise of the springs, she had a little snort and a jump, but walked straight up for a sniff once it was down
And then refused to go on it...*sigh*
It took me 15 minutes of gentle persuasion in pressure / release mode to get both front feet on, Bally was just planting like she did right back at the start. I was setting myself up for a long haul when a chappy at one of the industrial units suddenly pulled his metal shutter down....well you've never seen a horse go up a ramp so quick :-o
Once on I tied her up and let her have a nibble of feed, then shut the loading gates, all good. B was still nervous - she doesn't sweat up but I can feel her tiny tremors and her eyes are a bit worried, but bless her she let me move her around the box without any panic at the movement. After five minutes I backed her off , gave her a minute to chill and asked again
Not much better, she was still quite sticky, but eventually wandered up the ramp and I let her back off straight away with loads of praise.
Third time lucky and a much better effort, B took maybe 2 minutes after getting her front feet on and fair motored on up the ramp. This time I tied her and shut the gates...and walked off the box for a minute or two for the first time!!! B watched me without showing a hint of panic - nervous and tense still, but no tap dancing *YAY*

I let her straight off after that to huge praise!!

So on to tonight and straight back to another box session as I really want to try and move things on a step each time (B willing of course!) So again I undid the ramp and lowered it whilst she was on the longline behind me - better, still a bit of a snort and a step back but again as soon as it was down she walked straight up to it..banged a hoof and put both front feet on. What a good girl..I asked for another step and...she walked straight on the box in one go!!!

This time I tied her up, did the gates, stayed with her for a couple of minutes and let myself off. Again she was nervous but steady. I got back on and off a couple of times without provoking any kind of reaction...so keeping a light chatter up I lifted the ramp up half way and nothing but a snort. So I lifted it a little more, but Bally thought that was a step too far and had a shuffle so I brought it back down to half way and kept chattering to her and she stood nice and steady again. Gave it a minute (I must have arms like popeye) and then lifted it again - just a snort this time so I lowered it again, undid the gates and popped on the box to give her lots of scratches and a cuddle. She was still a bit quivery and it's a testament to her wonderful character that she can be so obviously worried and still try her heart out to be brave abut this - quite humbling!

I gently backed her off and gave her loads of scratches and praise and walked her round to the stable where she had a quiet five minutes and her tea. She's perfectly settled in her box even when she's in the barn on her own which is a big improvement :-)

All those little baby steps are really starting to add up to quite a journey!

Friday, 16 October 2009

When she was good she was very, very good.......

...And when she bad she was horrid..... an absolute minx!!

Went to work Bally on Wednesday evening and the school was booked solid so I thought I'd work her out in the hay field. All well and good, she was a little on her toes - a bit feisty and not really focussed...
Well any hint of focus went out of the window as Holly and Button headed out on a hack off down the path at the side of where we were working...oh dear!! B was going with them same as she had the night before...well no she wasn't, but she seemed to think she could and got just a little bit frustrated when I wouldn't let her.

When I say a little - we had an attempt to take off across the field, followed by leapy, bucking head shaking and general frustrated stroppiness as I firmly held my ground.
B really doesn't do heavy handed, she's way too sensitive and new to the feel of contact on her mouth (reins are still attached via the headcollar rings on to the bit) so I had to balance taking a hold to keep her with me and releasing the second I had any kind of response down the rein and get her on a circle ASAP :-o
So we had a minute or two of legs everywhere whizzing with B really diving onto the reins and trying to lean into the bit and I just kept myself still and calm and repeated asking her verbally and with body and rein cues to slow down, calm down and listen.

Eventually started to get some sense and managed a bit of nice big long lining shapes...until Chris & his daughter Rosie came out from behind the hedge and rode along the edge of the field on their horses...argh!!!!
Cue another take off in their direction and a repeat of the plunging and a leaping accompanied by head throwing when I stopped and blocked her...so back onto a circle and lots of G & R play with the reins.

It worked thank goodness and pretty soon I was able to get some really nice longreining in walk, doing lots and lots of changes of direction and figure of 8s to keep her brain as busy as I could!

Bally was showing me that she needed to stretch down to release the tension she'd developed by bracing, so I encouraged nice soft stretches down in walk and halt, then adding a slight bend to the side in the stretch - B liked this, think it felt good!

Finished on that good note!

Well I learnt that B needs a lot more work on keeping her focus on the task in hand in the face of distraction and I need to do a lot more close in hand work on getting a calm happy acceptance of a contact from B - I'm not liking the diving onto it I was getting from her.

Chatted to Dawn (YO) about how it had been going and she said she could tell that I really love the challenge of working with youngsters - which I do, it's such a bloody great buzz when it all comes together , knowing that it could all go so horribly wrong if you don't get the right approach...so - slow, calm, steady, sensitivity and conviction is what I'm aiming for...oh and a good sense of humour helps lol!!

Which brings me on to tonight :-)

Bally came in really happy after giving me a huge neigh hello when I came round the corner.
She was chilled but alert and on the right side of cheeky - just exuding a good feeling!

Gave her a nice brush and popped her lunge cavesson & bridle on - B has only had the cavesson on a couple of times and isn't too keen on the feeling of having jangly stuff on her nose yet...well her happy go lucky mood seemed a good basis to work from, so I figured we could have a change of tack and concentrate on calm acceptance of the bit and noseband.

Once we got in the school I just walked around with B on a loose lead - she had a couple of little scoot moments accompanied by chucking her head about when she felt the pressure on her nose from the noseband, but as she realised it was her putting pressure on herself this stopped..clever girly.

I put out three blocks in a circle and two individual poles in the top corners of the school and just quietly attached the reins and long lined her around and about and over, again working on the fact she had to concentrate and listen to what I was asking and not be distracted. Of course we had a few moments of steering failure when I wasn't clear or quick enough in my directions but all in all I was really chuffed as B was trying so hard - a marked difference from Wednesday night *YAY*

Then just popped her on one rein and did a couple of minutes each way on the lunge - I was after a good slow steady walk with B going exactly where I wanted her and on as light a contact as possible...and got it!!

I let her off to have a good stretch and had a very quick walk around the blocks and over the poles loose, I love doing that with her - think she gets chuffed that she's so clever too!

Great way to end the week :-)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Out with the big girls again!

Fabulous long reining hack out with Michelle on Holly and Nettie on Button tonight :-) We're all making the most of the last few weeks of actually being able to hack out in the evening before it gets too dark and as much as I like making sure B is completely OK hacking out on her own, it is lovely to have company sometimes :-)

All of us were decked out like Christmas trees in our Hi Vis gear - not taking any chances on this route as it's all lanes apart from the last bit. We were doing the reverse route of the last group hack we did, so technically another first (amazes me that you can still have sooo many firsts!)

Part one was down screeching car lane and we were back markers so I had some trepidation, but B was marching out so well I only led her the first couple of hundred metres then we were straight onto the long lines. I forgot to mention that as she's been so consistently good on the lines the last few times I'm now attaching them to the bit and headcollar side rings together, so she's learning all about working into the contact in a safer steadier way...almost grown up!

We'd been passed by two cars from behind already at this point. Bally was a bit eek about the first and had a mini tap dancing session at the side of the road as I'd moved her over and halted her - I think that was as much about my tension as hers, but the second time I just kept leading her and following the others and she was much better - a teeny bit tense but acceptably so.

On the lines she was great, we had a few more cars in both directions and bless her she was super going past them from then on, I could feel her confidence growing and her becoming at ease with the situation, so I just pushed her on from behind still long lining and B just kept on a marching past them.

We also had to contend with a couple out on bikes, a Landy haring across the fields to the side of us, a woman walking her dogs behind us (B was craning her neck and wobbling all over the road trying to keep peering behind her to have a nosey lol!) The most scary bit of all was passing a garden full of young boys yelling and leaping around on a trampoline, despite asking them to be quiet for a minute as all three ponies pranced past with eyes on stalks the temptation to make the horses go clattery whee down the lane past them was too great *sigh* Still I got to experience Bailarina's wonderful dragon snorting passage again lol ;-)

On down the bridleway and through B's nemesis field where she's had a proper paddy each time we've gone down the path through it ....and......nowt, she walked through on a nice stretchy long rein without a hint of trouble whoohoo!

All the way back down the flitch way now it was properly dusky and on to the yard with no problems at all, brush off and cuddle, dinner and out into her paddock

Bloody brilliant!!!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Nice and Easy

Really lovely day yesterday Bally had the wind up her in the morning and was having a whale of a time following me and the wheelbarrow then scooting off at high speed a snorting and a leaping. Gi had brought the dogs down and she seemed to find their presence quite provocative - a good excuse for a headshake and a hoolie!!
It's been good having rain over the last week, the fields needed it so desperately, but that wonderful sleek babe you saw in the photos last week has been replaced by the dreadlocked bog pony :-o

Brought her in and brushed her off then tacked up for a walk out / long line. I did take her back out down the lane where we had the car incident and she was hesitant and wary (understandably) and wanted me to lead her all the way down that part of the lane for security. I don't have a problem with that.

Rather than come off onto the bridleway I took her down another extremely quiet little lane and unhitched the lines so she could exercise her brain as well as her body and she was super - one of the houses down there is a bit spooky at the best of times, but it's now adorned with scaffolding so doubly scary. B had a look and gave it a fairly wide berth, but walked right on past it without a hint of a start or attempt to turn...brill!

We then joined the bridleway at the end and longlined all the way back by the side of the stream with me asking her to leg yield from side to side by changing my body and the rope positioning, she's picking that up really well.
One eek whassat anchors on moment when a bird few out in front her but again, no attempts at turning or running which is such a big improvement from when we first started this. Her confidence has blossomed and she really seems to enjoy going out and about taking the lead.

She still had a sticky moment at the corner of the hayfield onto the path between the fields though but this is now down to walking a very wobbly line as she evades to the side and I catch her and push her on instead of frantic circles and planting :-)

Gave her some treat stretches and a brush off once we got into her stable and wandered out with her hay and dinner with the intention of having a quick loading refresher. We passed Dawn's box with the ramp down on the yard and B made a beeline for it!! Ok says I, on you go and blow me down she did - gave the ramp a sniff and walked herself onto it! I backed her straight off and then we went around to the car park only to find someone had parked right across the back of my lorry so I could use it anyway grrrr...ah well at least we had a bit of a practise and a very good one at that!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Downs & Ups

Sorry for not posting, had a BAD day Wednesday, really knocked my confidence and just needed a day or two to get my head around the whys and wherefores.....

I took Bally in the school as I didn't get to the yard until late, she came in wired, very very jumpy and tense. The intention was to lead her around get her to focus and listen and relax....as the school is next to both the drive and the road it was also a good opportunity of having cars go past her in a safe secure environment.

Well we managed 1/2 a lap of the school before we had the first panic stricken, leap, barge and spin as a car went past on the lane as we were at the road end of the school, closely followed by several more leaps for no reason I could see - B was actually shaking she was so fired up with adrenaline.
So we stopped and we stood and then I worked on lowering her head and moving her feet, just tiny little asks, keeping my own energy very low, completely calm, never upping the pressure just remaining very flat.

This worked OK, to the point that although she tensed, we were able to remain standing still when the next car went past with nothing more than a jump on her part.

I tried a little inhand work with her but she found the pressure too much, holding her close on her face just made her brace her head and neck and I couldn't get any poll flexion as she was too tense. If we tried walking forwards she was worse - just planted or barged through the aids and I had another couple of leaps and spins to contend with so I just very softly asked for stretches down in halt which I was able to get with a small vibration and a leading hand.

I stopped it there as I knew I wasn't going to get much better than that.

Popped her back in the stable whilst I sorted her hay out for the field and she just box walked and pooped..poor babe :-(

I felt really disheartened as I thought this was all a bit extreme considering how well she'd long lined the night before once she got off the road.

Made matters worse as when I got home I caught sight of some Safi pictures on the computer - a couple from just a few days before she was pts and her eyes, oh god the look in her eyes: just said she'd had enough and seeing them along with some from when she wasn't much older than Bally is now..her future bright and clear ahead of her it just made me weep my heart out....as I said, it really was a BAD day.

I had a think about the whole Scary B situation and the only thing I could think of that had been any different for Bally was the addition of haylege to her hay ration over the past week. Thinking back she'd been jumpier on Monday when she had her feet done too...then the big reaction to the car on Tuesday, only one thing to do - cut it out again, and go back on to plain hay in the field

Gave her yesterday off to let her chill and went tonight with a fresh head and a hope for a better day!

Well Bally boo was waiting for me at the gate, walked in on a loose rein, tied up in the stable, stood loose in the stable whilst I sorted her tack out..hmmmmmm much better!

I took her into the school again and let her loose as I put a few poles out in a fan, then attached double lunge lines and off we went....

Well Bally was lovely to work with, had one tense up and little jump at a car, but otherwise she walked and trotted and halted when asked, happily let me move her about the whole school doing figure of 8's, lunged and long lined over the poles on each rein...she was like a different horse - back to the sweet fun happy to try little mare I've got to know and love Thank GOODNESS!! I let her off to loose school and she happily and calmly used the whole school even the lane end, no leaping, no silliness...Yay!!

So something may have completely freaked her out in the field, but I'm hoping it was just the haylage that was too much for her, time will tell I guess, but I was absolutely relieved that she was such a good girl again tonight..phew!!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

So Bloody Angry!

Lovely blowy evening, B was quite on her toes when I brought her in...funny though, she's passaging up the path past the other horses on a loose lead but no attempts to shoot off - we like that kind of hoolying!

She was nice and calm in the stable though, had a brush of her muddy bits, then I kitted up ready for a long lining hack out. Although I had already got a fluorescent sheet for her and a jacket for me, I'd been out at the weekend and bought some Hi-Vis leg wraps, a neckband and a tail guard as well to make sure we were easily visible in the darker evenings if we are on the road...hahaha might as well have saved my money!

We walked out of the yard and on to the lane, B was nicely marching on in hand. We'd only been out a couple of minutes when I noticed a car approaching back along the lane, I watched to see if it was going to go into the yard, but no it continued so I walked B along to a bit of road where she could stand at the side to let it pass...now this car took a good minute to get close, so I'd seen it from ages away......unfortunately said car was being driven by some idiotic blind arse that shouldn't be allowed on the road..... I'd already halted B so I stood out to the side and waved my arm to slow the driver down...nothing...till she was almost on us ...and suddenly must have seen us, slammed her brakes on so hard they squealed and locked and the car started skidding towards us...what a complete and utter F***ing IDIOT !!!!
Poor B was terrified and clattered about in the road as I tried to calm her down. The girl got out of the car and her first words were "I didn't see you"
Words fail me...well actually they didn't, I went ballistic, absolutely mental yelling at her because I'd not only seen her all the way along the road, but done everything I could to keep us safe and her utter stupidity had almost caused a serious accident. Yup, despite being decked from top to toe in bright yellow fluorescent gear she didn't see us!!! I was running on adrenaline from the shock and I know I was really abusive but I make no apologies for it - she needed a bloody wake up call - what if I'd been a kid on a bike?? (which incidentally there was about 5 mins down the road!)

After she'd gone I just stood shaking as much as B was and chatted to her and stroked her to calm us both down. Of course Bally was on edge after this, but coped admirably with a couple of cyclists and a car coming towards her I just stopped her asked them to slow and gave her heaps of praise as she stood and watched them pass. She did however get panicky when another car approached from behind. This driver was kind enough to slow right down and creep past, but poor B was still far tenser than she had been :-(

I was glad to get off the lane and on to the bridleway, where I unhitched her lead and set up the long lines. I was a bit concerned she might be too flighty to cope with taking the lead, but no, it seemed to focus her and help her to settle right down.
Bailarina excelled herself and we long lined all the way home along the bendy path by the stream, not a flicker of interest in the scary bridge or that corner that she had issues with before, never once did she try and turn back.

All the way we went around the hay field where she had a little plant as we approached the path back to the yard, but it took barely any persuasion to get her walking forwards again...a million times better that the last couple of attempts!!

I actually got her to lead all the way back onto the yard and the entrance to the barn...BRILLIANT!!!!!

I met my YO as she was coming out from finishing her horses off and she asked if we'd had a spot of bother - apparently back on the yard they'd heard the screeching car...and my ranting!!! She said they'd fully expected to see B galloping back onto the yard on her own, but she was really impressed that not only had we carried on but had actually managed a really great session.

I gave Bally a really good scritchy scratchy groom and a couple of treats to stretch for before her tea. She walked back down the yard to her paddock like a lamb, so hopefully the good outweighed the bad in her mind.

I'll take her back over to the bridge over the dual carriageway where she can see and hear the traffic without it coming near her again the next few times we go out, hopefully that'll help to desensitise her again..poor baby!!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Glamour girl!



Superhubby got a new camera and lens and as he was going to come down to the yard yesterday, he asked me to get Bally to strut her rather wonderful stuff so he could take piccies :-) All of them are thumbnails so if you click on them you'll get the bigger picture

So he took some in the field..saying hello!

And putting her headcollar on.

Then we went out and did some mounting block work...B was her usual extremely well behaved self and let me lollop about all over her This was B getting a telling off - look at her face!!

Off into the school where I just baby lunged off the headcollar - not asking for anything other than forward movement..preferably when and in the pace I asked for.......She showed off her stunning trot ....



Oh and And her amazingly uphill...um whoopee... er...canter / leap/buck combo (unasked for I might add!)



Once she'd calmed down and we got some sensible walk and trot work I let her off and
We played with the blocks off the lead ...and she happily wandered around completely loose

So it wasn't a fluke!!!

Then off to Bessie Horsebus to have our weekly loading training.....

B went on OK, let me move her around..then with some trepidation I got Gi to bring the gate across...and I clipped her onto the leadrope in the box, so she was tied in for the first time!!



She was brilliant, no bother at all. We even got the second gate shut whilst we were there, but for safety sake Gi was on standby to open them in case she wasn't happy...but as you can see she remained calm and relaxed throughout!!

All in all we had a lovely and very successful day, B looked gorgeous and loves showing off for the camera...as one so very beautiful (who knows it) should!!!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Just lovely!

I'd been feeling increasingly poorly today -felt like a cold creeping up on me, but felt awfully tired and a bit zonked out with it.

I'd pretty much decided just to bring Bally in for a nice groom, but on the way I saw that whoever had been in the school last had left loads of poles and a few blocks out...never one to turn down the opportunity for a bit of fun I though we could make some obstacles and have a play :-)

Had a wander up there, B in just a head collar and I took 1 lunge line. I gave her a little bit of a lunge first and someone was feeling far better than I was - she had a proper funny five minutes kicking up her heels and larking about - never trying to pull away though (thank goodness I don't think I had the strength to do anything about it!)
She settled really nicely and I gave her a go on both reins followed by a little in hand refresher work which went well.

I then walked her over a couple of single poles - I say walked - the first one taken with a massive leap and a wheyhey whoopee buck! I halted her, had a word (lol along the lines of "how RUDE!") and then we tried again...much better! Once I could walk her calmly over both poles on either rein on a loose line I let her off to have a sniff about whilst I made some shapes with the poles.

We had an L shaped corridor to which I added a single pole at 45 degree angle to make a fan on the internal corner....on the longline we walked through the straight part of the corridor then I asked her to back up, interspersed with walking over the poles like a maze to make her think about where she was putting her feet because the distances between them were all different. We actually managed to work up to backing up all the way along it even managing the corner without putting a single hoofer over the poles!!! She was so focused and trying really hard.

Then we moved on to doing clover leaf patterns and figures of 8 round three blocks I'd put out..more great fun. We were really having a great time B was loving having to think about what I was asking and was chuffed to bits at getting it all right

And then.....

we did it all over again

at liberty!!!!!!

I unhitched the line with the idea that we were done and went to put the poles away and Bally just followed me so I went through the maze..she kept her nose at my shoulder and followed me through, then along the corridor, over to the blocks and round each one changing the rein to the next....she was just BRILLIANT! I couldn't believe it, what an absolute SUPERSTAR!!!!

Back to the stable for a groom and dinner, then we pootled to the field where I sat down after putting her hay out and she came over and grazed around my feet, having her ears rubbed and her face stroked - today was one of those days when I felt truly honoured to be sharing my life with such a wonderful little mare (and wishing to high heaven that superhubby had been there to capture our little success on video ;-) )

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Out and about again

B came in today with two more splits in her front feet, she's growing the walls like mad and where we're growing out the bits of flare it doesn't take much to get a crack to form.. Ellie is out to trim her next week but I rasped the splits out tonight and tidied everything up - she's also exfoliating sole like mad leaving really nice concavity...lovely little hoofers!!

Popped B's long-lining tack on, plaited her up (so pretty!) and just in case of shenanigans with the lines put a set of sports boots on ;-)

Attached the lines and hitched them up - here's a pic of how I do it Claire, not sure if that makes it any clearer tbh?! Once I undo the tab through the ring it all shakes free in a second so not too much of a faff

Off out we went stopping off at the mounting block for a good standing still /stroking /leaning practise and she was brilliant, walked straight up, kept walking as I climbed the steps and stopped when I did, didn't move a step until I asked her to walk on. My friend Shirley had been sitting in her car watching and said how absolutely brilliantly she thought we were getting on and how gorgeous B was ..aww!

Off round the back where we had to stop and wait next to a parked car as a transit van with a smashed up car on a trailer came past...Bally didn't stress at all so looks like no harm done on Monday Yay!!!

As soon as we got onto the set aside I unhitched the lines and set off we had a lovely little session again working on transitions and just keeping her nice and forwards. We negotiated a couple of tricky corners OK so the steering is getting a bit better (it couldn't have got worse!) I tried to get a bit of video on my phone but it became apparent pretty quickly that I can't video , walk and long rein at the same time hahaha , but did get a sweet shot of her, shame it's a bit dark though.

Once we got back round to the hay field I asked her to trot on out across it, it's got such good springy grass cover it's about the only place we can whilst the ground is so shocking.
Well B didn't need asking twice and launched into power trot mode, cue me leaping along, laughing my head off as she then kicked up her heels and had a little canter, she was having a ball and I was laughing so much trying to keep up, great fun :-)
We only had the one sticky moment (and a little temper tantrum :-o ) as I wanted her to long line right to the end of the field and up the path...I've always led her this bit, but she knows it well so I figured it wasn't too much of an ask.
Well we had a bit of sideways leaping, some planting, head shaking, trotting off etc, etc, to which I'd just put her straight on a circle and make her work then ask for a walk on in the direction I wanted her to go in..got a few more foot stomping little paddy moments, but she did it!!

She went all the way up the path until we got to the fields with YO's horses in and I led her from there - what a good girl!
Had a lovely groom and a cuddle when we got back to the yard I think we were both as pleased as each other :-)
Bally led back out to the paddock like a lamb on a completely loose lead as I'm lugging the wheelbarrow full of hay bless her and followed me round whilst I poo picked getting scratches and cuddles....She's such a sweetie x

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The good, the bad and the downright infuriating!

Lots to report...bad me as usual for not taking the time to update, so this is a long one!

Had an interesting long reining session on Friday, we went off down the flitch and the aim was to do the slightly shortened version of the hack out we'd done with the other horses

As it turned out we had a very shortened version as Little Miss B had a proper full on waaaaaaaah moment along the bridleway through the ploughed field and we weren't going anywhere till I'd untangled her, me and calmed the pair of us down. It had all being going really well, she hadn't been hesitant till we got into this field and then she'd had a bit of a moment turning the corner into it (a bit of sideyways threatening to drop her shoulder and turn back)

Got her forwards again and then wallop, she full on dropped her shoulder and plunged off into the plough argh! I gave a strong hold to which she went up skywards and span, getting the reins around her front legs..cue much praying from me and lots of "steady" pleading...luckily she's not one to panic when she feels the lines and I managed to pull her up before she fell flat on her face.

Horrible moment...once again I'm glad we're still doing this on the rope halter!

Got us back on track and she excelled herself by carrying on up to the scarecrow, turning in the lane and coming back with no problems...until we got back into this bloody field again and she blew again!! This time I was better prepared and stopped her dead, calmed her down, hitched up the lines and led her through...no chance of a repeat performance!
I really have no idea what's setting her off but she wasn't happy - may have been something in the ditch???
At the weekend we had another box session accompanied by Gi. Again she was hesitant to get on, but walked up without too much in the way of persuasion with one step back off the ramp and she stood warily but happily as Gi shut the loading gate. We we stood on for a good ten minutes and had the gate opened and then shut again - no accompanying tap dancing at all which is great.
We'll repeat this a couple more times and if she remains calm enough I'll take the huge step of doing the ramp next!!

Last night we had a great session - I took her off down the lane, but much further than she's been before and in the opposite direction to normal. I just led her in hand with the reins hitched up. She was a little tense and hesitant, but this just meant she walked slowly and carefully with a watchful eye on everything around.
We were passed by a car from behind and B didn't give it a flicker of interest. 5 minutes later and I saw another car approaching at speed behind us - I waved him to slow down and he didn't - so I put my hand up to ask him to stop and the bugger just drove past us like he didn't even see us!!! (I'm in a big fluorescent jacket and Bally has a fluorescent exercise sheet on so unless he was too blind to be on the road it was just sheer ignorance!) Thank goodness she didn't react at all, just stopped and watched...phew!
Then we had cars from both directions at once so we stopped, waved the one in front past, and then the one from behind and again she was just brilliant, so pleased!

Off onto a bit of bridleway I hadn't taken her down before and I just unhitched the reins and longlined her...and she was an absolute star - foot perfect!! Walked, trotted and halted when asked went round a wiggly bend without too much steering difficulty..just fantastic!!

She had a bit of a wibbly in the corner approaching the farm (she'd had an issue here before) so I just asked her to stand, then asked for a reinback, a couple of steps forward and then I took the lead and led her past. Soon as we were round the corner I long reined her back up to the hay field...such a good girl, I was absolutely chuffed to bits!

Back on the yard and we had a real setback - she was walking towards a bus with it's engine running - first time she's dealt with this, so she was quite wary but I was just leading her calmly and letting her know it was OK...well the stupid Bliddy bus driver let the air brakes off when we were literally 10 feet away just about to walk past...poor B was scared witless and even I jumped! Cue panicky clattering and me getting jumped on...oh my lord the air was blue as I told the stupid man what I thought of him. They're normally brilliant but this guy didn't have a clue it seems.
So right back where we started traffic wise, I hope that a few sessions taking a step back and just letting her see them around the yard again will reassure her.
Back in the stable I gave Bally really good grooming and we did some stretches for treats to take her mind off the idiot bus, pleased to say she walked back down the yard completely calmly when I was taking her back to the field so I hope it hasn't affected her too much

So a few up and down days...let's hope for better!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A bit of this and that

Wowsers Little B was in an odd mood last night, she came in completely wired, very jumpy and tense to the point where I quickly abandondened all thoughts of taking her out down the lane for a walk.

In the stable she was very unsettled and as Button was taken out for a ride she became pretty agitated. So I just worked on calming her and asking her to stand still where I put her...just quietly and repeatedly putting her back in the position she was when I tied her up if she jumped about or tried to swing round.
There is absolutely no force involved in this - I keep my own energy levels very low, I don't speak, no waving of arms or telling off just keep everything I do slow, steady and pretty monotonous. It seems to work like a charm with her

Once she had a slightly more sensible head on I gave her a good brush and conditioned her mane, then plaited her up - such a pretty girl!

I took her out to the mounting block and we spent a nice 15 minutes there, I'd lead her up and ask her to stand and once she was get up on it and stroke her ears, neck and sides, lean over her to stroke the other side - once again if she moved I just turned her and put her back and started again so a nice easy continuation of the work in the stable.
I worked up to rattling and flapping the side reins on her roller and actually putting a bit of weight into my lean and after a couple of goes where there was movement backwards or a fidget she quite happily stood and let me get on with it...loads of praise and scratches. Oh forgot to mention...whilst this was going on there was a farmhand whizzing about the car park on a quad with two of the yard dogs running after it barking and a big red van stopped next to us and and asked me for directions to one of the units.......all good stuff lol!!

Then we toodled into the school for a quick five minute lunge practise. Just in walk, I wanted to have nice crisp transitions up and down and get her really watching my body language and whip for instructions (big circle, small circle, go large)
She was super tried a half hearted nap to the gate a couple of times but was easily corrected..and every halt was a lovely square one too, what a bonus!

Finished off with a wander up to the hay field for a trot in hand where she can really open up and worked on trot / halt / trot, again she was really nice and receptive..and she completely ignored all the lads out at the top end of the field haring around on the quads and mini motos :-)

Back in the yard and I put her back in her stable as Button went back out to the paddock but once she heard me sorting out her evening feed she forgot any thoughts of being worried because her pal had gone..funny girl

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Pondering

Bailarina had a day off yesterday as she'd had quite a workout for a baby on Monday, and to keep me occupied I'd arranged to meet up with my friend to go out for a hack on one of hers. I hadn't been to her new yard or seen her horses for nearly six months, so long overdue

Well I rode out on hunky Hercules - a 15.2 cob / friesian / trotter cross. Not the handsomest chap, but sensitive, willing and honest - a real sweetheart. She'd got him in to sell on and wanted to know what I thought of him

We walked and trotted round lanes, jumped a couple of fallen logs and a ditch, went over the dual carriageway, under the dual carriageway, had a gallop across a stubble field, went into the river for a paddle, down through one of the villages where Hercules had to give the other two horses a lead past a skip with tape flapping around out of it. - He was a dream to ride, completely sensible but responsive off the leg, stopped on a seat aid..just a delight.

I was singing his praises when we got back to the yard and was completely floored to be told he had only been backed three WEEKS before.

They just got him in, popped a saddle on him, her son worked him in the field to get a bit of steering and brakes then took him straight out hacking. He'd had his first set of shoes just before I turned up!!
They're not cruel or heavy handed - their horses are happy - living out most of the year, their own two boys come to call and walk on to the yard like puppies - no lead ropes required, it's just that they work on the premise that the horse is in to learn a job and he'll learn the job whilst doing it, so get on and get on with it!

It really made me think about the way I'm doing things, the slow, steady approach building everything up gradually...am I just faffing about uneccesarily?? I like to think not - the horses temperament has to be considered and this chap is a saint in horse fur, nothing like a hot headed little Luso lol!

I can't see that I'll change my way of doing things or speed things up - Once B's brought back into work in the Spring she will be learning to cope with more being asked of her - but She will aslo continue to be worked in hand etc and do things at a steady pace with new stuff introduced gradually. This is the way I was taught and it's worked tremendously well on all the babies I've been lucky enough to be involved with.
Yesterday did make me see that there is another way.....another way that certainly effective but it's not a path I chose to follow.

Interesting!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Out with the grown ups!

Another fantastic new experience for Bailarina tonight...this is what I LOVE about working with youngsters :-)

Three of my friends on the yard were going out for a hack this evening and as I'd already planned to have a walk out with B I asked on the offchance if we could tag along for her first experience out and about in the company of other horses.

B was a little excited by the prospect to start with as we made our way onto the Flitch - we were at the rear and we had a few jogs, a little head tossing and a couple of 'ooops mum is that your space' wandering straight into me moments. She was still a bit silly as we walked past a field with a couple of ponies in and had a reminder tug or two on the rope ask her to mind herself and her manners, but as we ventured off onto a bridleway she hadn't been on before she settled down and started to enjoy the walk and the new sights and sounds.

She very bravely made it past Sunflower House with the beautifully well dressed Sally Scarecrow with just a little start and a snort, but then paid no heed as she walked past.

Off onto one of the local lanes past house after house with wheelie bins outside with no bother, passed by a couple of cars without even stopping to acknowledge their presence. B was a superstar.

We even had a couple of little trots, she was great in hand: slowed when asked, trotted if I wanted her to, no getting ahead of herself or pulling.

She had a stop and a look at a couple of things without being too silly about it and wasn't bothered in the slightest if the other horses got ahead of her, just happily and steadily trotted on to catch up if needed.

We did quite a big circuit with a variety of paths, bridleways and lanes and came back along the road where we had a few more cars and a van come past again without a flicker of interest.

Back round to the yard where she blotted her copy book by doing a monster spook at the cones to the side of the entrance. One of those real comedy la la la WAAAAAAH moments as she suddenly caught sight of them and teleported 6 ft backwards in a single snorty leap. So she left the yard highly excited and arrived back the same way, but the important bit in the middle was a great effort from B - with such a lot to take in, new company & new route - she did brilliantly.

Shirley, Nettie and Michelle all said how impressed they were that she'd taken it all in her stride so well

What a good girl, so proud of her - all that work getting her out and about on her own has really been paying dividends!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Boxing..progress!

Thought it was time to push the boundaries a little with Bailarina's box training. She was now completely comfortable with the loading, standing on and being moved about and reversing off.

So next step was to tackle the part that had sent her into orbit when she travelled down - gates / partitions.

I don't use the partition in my box, but have the two side loading wings that have to be closed up before the ramp can be lifted and I wanted to gently and slowly add these to the mix.

I needed the help of superhubby Gi, so duly press-ganged into service he came down to the yard this evening ;-)

Loading went well, Bally took her time but moved on up the ramp when asked and straight on. Once she was settled I asked Gi to start moving the first gate across. As soon as B heard it and sensed it coming across behind her she had a slight tap dancing moment, but calmed down enough to stand still but tense and wary. I got Gi to move it back to release the pressure on her, lots of praise, then across again until it was almost closed behind her.

Another tap dance, but minimal, and Bally calmed down as I stroked and talked to her - again she was still tense and wary, but once she stood nice and still I got Gi to open it completely. I gave B loads of praise and let her stand with no pressure again for a few minutes.

I wanted to try again, but this time I moved B across the box at more of an angle and let her turn her head to see what Gi was doing to see if that gave her a little more confidence to deal with the situation.
Again she just gave a little start as he began to move it and the gate squeaked a bit (a case for some WD40!) but this time she was happier to watch him close it completely behind her...success!!! I can see that just as we've slowly acclimatised her to being on the box and accepting the strange feeling of movement whilst still we need to repeat this stage several times until it's just another accepted part of the process.

I'd actually prepped Gi as to what to do / expect if she found it too much and made a run for it, so we were prepared for the worst but bless her Baby B was less tense / stressed with this new step than she was over the initial standing on the box and feeling it move as she moved, so I'm hoping this slow patient approach really will pay dividends when we have to take the big leap of actually moving!! (not to mention the rather huge one of closing the ramp)

Going by how well it went today and her acceptance of feeling closed in on the box I'm feeling more confident that we'll crack it eventually.

Onwards and upwards with those little baby steps

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Saddle up!

Just fancied a bit of a play with Little B tonight so I thought I'd see what she thought about being saddled for the first time

Got my Fhoenix out with one of my lovely scrummy lambskin pads and just let B have a good sniff, decided enough was enough when Bally actually started licking the seat though!

So with her just loose in the stable I sat it on her back, attached the girth, fastened it, tightened it, wiggled the saddle....and nope, no response at all :-o
Bailarina did what Bailarina always does and acted as if it was the millionth time she'd been saddled up.

I popped her bridle and cavesson on and took her for a wander down to the school, thought it was safer just in case there were any shenanigans!
But no, B happily did a couple of circuits in walk on the lunge each way, then had a little trot with absolutely no drama whatsoever ;-)

So I let her off to have a wander around and she had a lovely free trot, did hump her back once, but no broncing - even when one of my stirrup leathers fell off...she just stopped and went back to have a good sniff at it lol.

I put a couple of poles out and we played follow my leader through, round and over them and B and I had a whale of a time ...especially when I raised them - B made a sterling job of walking over them

All done we went back to her stable for a nice brush down and her dinner, well deserved!!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Back to School

Not been in the school for ages, so thought it was about time we had a little refresher last night.

Just very simple close in hand work a la Becky H, followed by a little long reining.

I just started us off with a good march around the school, walking at her side very gently holding on to the inside rein - more of a feel than a hold, just to ask her to keep with me and follow...felt really nice and light, not forced - we did a few circuits, changed the rein up and down the centre line, did a few serpentines..nice work! Any hesitation was dealt with by a whip waggle to the side of her, she's got the hang of this now.
Then on to the right rein for some work from inside aid to outside hand - really good, I was able to easily control the pace and bend and got some lovely baby lateral steps :-)

Onto the left rein and she was fussier in her head, it must be something to do with my contact I think. I know my right hand is my dominant one..but conversely means it's more sensitive so when that hand is at her head she's steadier.
It wasn't horrendously bad on the left, but she gave me a few shakes of her head to say she wasn't entirely comfortable. I released the contact shook out my hands and arms to make sure I wasn't tensing and holding and then asked again - better. I'll really have to moniter me very carefully as Bally appears to be a very good mirror of tension!

On to a spot of the same sort of work but on the longlines, poor B, it's like the blind leading the blind - I had issues with my positioning on the left rein again, I keep getting too far in front of her shoulder causing her to make little circles or grind to a halt and then when I ask for the move into the outside rein to straighten I forget to change my whip position....... my steering went to pot entirely then! I actually think I'm not being positive enough in the outside rein contact - I'm not working her into anything but the black hole of my baggy contact which is compounded by the wrong body language.... hence the lack of steering
Still on a positive note the entire session was in a lovely calm walk, no rushing or trotting, she was listening and attentive...all good!!

I finished off working at halt and using the whip as a pointer to move her feet individually when touched...a precursor to jambette and Spanish Walk - also good for ensuring a square halt or standing up for showing.
Well, she's certainly desensitised to the stick and has no fear of it ....um there was absolutely no response to stroking, tickling, flapping or tapping anywhere on her legs. Bally just looked at me with a bored expression lol! I may have to be a bit more inventive (back to the clicker!)!!

Night off tonight, I'm out backstepping in the carriage with Di & Prince :-)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Naughty Bad Blogger!

Whoops, where does the time go??

We've had a fun week, mostly just having a wander about chilling and having fun whilst going out and about seeing new things. (always working on voice commands, transitions etc at the same time ;-) )

We've been down the lane a little more, with cars approaching and coming past us...we even had a a 4 x4 and trailer pass us..very pleased to say B paid no heed whatsoever and just carried on walking * clever girl*
The bridge over the dual carriageway has been well and truly conquered, I took Bally for a nice long wander over the bridleways at the other side on Friday evening and after I let her stand and watch the traffic she quite happily walked across like it was the most normal thing in the world
There was lots of new stuff to see, a couple of our famous Essex ditches to go through...dealt with in usual Bailarina fashion...
"oh look big hole in the ground..is it ok?".
.."yes, come on, lets have a go"
"ooh ok down we go then"
No panicky leaping, she just quite happily walked into and back out of them with a little jump at the bottom! We also walked over some fallen logs in the woods, went under some low branches, all very low key and just such great training for when she starts hacking next year

We've also done some more box practise, not the best loading - it did take her all of a minute this time with two stops to have a think about it ;-)
On the box I was able to ask her to move about a little, forwards and back and a step to the side all making the box move and not a hint of tap dancing!! No panic at all this time, so excellent progress.
I need to get superhubby to give me hand for the next bit and try closing the gate behind her whilst I hold her....watching very carefully for a hint of a reaction. Once we've got that without any panic it'll be time to try closing the ramp - I don't have any definite time frame to work to but I'm hoping we'll be able to try that in a month or so.
Of course then we have to start all over again with the box running! Slow but steady, I know we'll get there.

Bally has also been learning a bit of standing still and patience...next to our mounting block :-o
Within a couple of tries I could lead her and stand her up against it either side, climb on to it and stand over/ above her, stroking and scratching both sides of her body and even just leaning a little bit of weight as I did it.
It's the sort of thing that I'll just throw into the mix now and again, no drama, just another thing we *do*