Friday, 31 July 2009

By Jove she's got it!!

Lunging that is, only baby steps still, but we clicked with it yesterday

I thought Bally could do with a spell in the school as it's been quite a while since her last session in there, so bridle and rope halter on with a single lunge line.....I prefer to double lunge / long line, but at this stage in the proceedings I think 1 line is safer - at least until they've got the idea of it....much less to get tangled up in or drop lol!!

Started as usual with a walk in hand around the perimeter of the school to familiarise her with it and then added a change of rein, all good
Then I changed my position and added a 10 metre circle once on each side as we went along. This is similar stuff to what we've done out in the field, but now in the constraints of the school..a little more precision required lol!

I then sent her out onto a bigger circle - a little stop start and not very circular, but she was getting the idea! Her trot was still a bit rushed but I think she was just unsure at the lack of direct contact.

After a circle or two she really got the idea and we had a nice steady trot on a circle with a great walk and halt transition.

On to her left rein and again a similar start, unsure and wibbly wobbly - more so on this rein so I shortened the line and went out to her to give her some support - better!!!
So I gradually increased the distance again and bingo! Let her have a couple of circles at a nice steady trot with lots of praise and asked her to nope...steady...a I just repeated the waaaaaaallllk and brought my own energy level right down and it worked - Yay!
On to a good halt right on the button and we stopped for a big cuddle and loads of praise, what a good girl

And that was it end of session

Tonight I wasn't feeling too great, bad day generally :-( so definitely not a night to be working a baby, even such a good girl as little B. So she just came in for a brush and a little foot trim practice, a good brush and a feed, all good, bless!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Bailarina is back in business

Poor little B had a bit of a raw deal over the last few weeks, I'd been in such a state there was no way I could work her, but she was, as always, generous with her hugs and snuffles as I spent time just sitting with her.

My friend Di did a sterling job of looking after her whilst I was away (am I allowed to be secretly chuffed that she wouldn't let Di approach to cuddle her when she was lying down and always got up...I feel honoured having had some lovely cuddles from her as she piggy snuffles in her sleep!!!)

I was a bit down when we got home from our lovely surprise holiday in Corfu - it was exactly what I'd needed and we had such an amazing time, being in a completely different setting so far removed from reality lulled me into a bit of a false sense of feeling OK....but as soon as we got home and I saw the empty paddock I was sunk...and opening the post to see the vet bill for Safi's euthanasia finished me off.....

But life does go on and I have the amazing Bailarina to keep my mind occupied now - Bless her little soft nose! We went straight down to the yard yesterday afternoon
and she whinnied and came over as soon as she spotted us which cheered me up no end :-) The fact that she hung around in the gateway as we went convinced me that someone was missing having things to occupy that bright as a button brain too!

So on to today and we were getting back to work with a vengeance. I brought her in for a good groom and noticed she had a bit of a split in her right front hoof that needed tidying before it grew and caused a problem, she was a little diamond and spent five minutes nuzzling me as I rasped it out.

Then it was bridle and rope halter on, roller done up and off for a workout!!

We went out down the path and practised our halt, walk on and backwards to voice and body cues she was a little reticent to start but soon clicked into concentration mode

Then it was into the big open field for an inhand / baby lunge session which I'm chuffed to say she remembered really well and was super!

At this stage all I want is her going freely forwards from my cues and (despite the fact she's in a wide open space) remembering that I'm on the end of the line and she needs to watch what I'm doing / asking for lol!

She gave me some lovely trot work, but alas we didn't get a really good shot on Gi's i-phone.

We did however get this that's what I call an uphill canter depart yeeehaaaaaa!!!!!!

Great fun and a fab effort from Little B, she'd taken on board everything we'd done before the break in work and given me all I'd asked for and then some :-)

We finished our walk around the back of the fields and came into the yard from the back where there were some rather large puddles to negotiate..aha something new, I had no idea if she'd be brave about water.......I really should have known lol

It posed no problem whatsoever, except me discovering that I had leaky boots...yuk!

Off back to the yard for a brush down and a small feed, with lots of praise to let her know just what a superstar she'd been tonight.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings :-)

(ps...if you have eyesight like mine and you can't see the teeny pics I think you can click on them and make 'em for me!!)

Friday, 17 July 2009

For Safira

Bailarina's blog is written today in memoriam for her big sister Safira

So many people, some across the world, sent her their thoughts, healing and Reiki over the last few days and I know without a doubt that they helped my beautiful girl on her way this morning

It had been raining all morning to match my misery, until just before 10am when unbelievably the sun came out for the only time all day and stayed shining until we left her.

Safi was Safi till the very end - I'd groomed her and plaited her mane up and as soon as I'd done and stood back to tell her how beautiful she looked she promptly flopped on one side and had a roll. Even Andre laughed when he got here to see one side of her gleaming and the other plastered in mud.

I wanted to let her go before the van came to collect her body as I knew that seeing a horse box would stress her (and me) so after Andre had come and said hello again to Safi and explained everything to us about what he would do we took her over into the front paddock where Andre sedated her. Safi didn't bat an eye, she'd had so many injections from her Uncle Andre that she knew he wouldn't hurt her.

She had a few more nibbles of grass then as she got wobbly she lifted her head and rested her nose on my chest as I held her whilst he administered the last two syringes. I had time to stroke and kiss her face, tell her how loved she was and then say my last goodbye as she sighed a couple of times... then Safi went so peacefully and calmly.. she just dropped to the grass with another sigh and lay still.

Gi and I just sat with her for a while until Andre came back over and checked her heart and confirmed she'd gone - finally pain free after so long. We hugged her, gave her all our love and left her poor broken body - her spirit won't ever leave us

I know I made the right choices about the who, how and where and she couldn't have have a more peaceful send off. It hurts like hell and I need time to grieve her loss - I'm staring out of the window through my tears and no matter how hard I look she isn't there anymore, but there isn't one single part of me that regrets what I've done or how it went.

After she'd been through so much in the last 14 months I desperately prayed that her end would be a good one - and it was, seems funny to say it, but it was. To share her life to her last moments was an honour and a privilege I will be forever thankful for

God speed you on your way my darling Safi xxxx

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Little Update

Sorry for the lack of updates - As most of you know I've been a bit preoccupied with making the arrangements for saying my last goodbye to Safi next Friday.
Everything is sorted now, booked and paid for. My vets have been amazing, taking over all the arrangements as I've been a complete emotional wreck over the whole thing and completely incapable of dealing with any of it. Low point was going in to pick up my last box of Danilon from the office and just howling like a banshee and running out of the door when Jane asked if I was ok...sorry Jane

I'm just in a limbo now counting down the days and trying to enjoy every last precious moment with her. She's moving back into her favourite front paddock tonight where there is some really nice grass so she can have a week of happily stuffing her lovely face. I'm going to take her out down the bridleway at the back of the house a few times for a little wander too - change of scenery and all that .

Little B has been taking her job as clown and chief cheerer up very seriously and never fails to raise a smile, bless her.
I had a whole apple for her the other night and she was taking little bites, then took the whole thing realised it was too big and flapped her lips about, dropped the apple into the wheel barrow then jumped when it thunked, had a little scoot away, shook her head at it a la Naomi Campbell having a strop and looked at me as if to say "Oi slave fetch my apple out of that there sh*tty barrow" I was in fits - the look on her face was hilarious!
I've brought her in every evening, just for a groom and to keep working on acclimatising her to the stable, she's doing really well on that score. Also keep working on the ground tying / not fidgeting when I ask her to stand...I need the patience of a saint for this one lol!
Other than having a mooch around the back of the fields to make sure she's leading properly and not lagging behind or walking into my space (her favourite little testing the boundaries trick at the moment) we aren't doing any "work" but she's learning all the time and all in a positive way.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Ups and Downs

Had an interesting day yesterday with some really great stuff and some really not so great stuff.....

Started really well, I brought B in and we went straight to the horse box for our daily stand around - she marched up to the the ramp as usual and then spent a couple of minutes hammering the ramp with alternate front feet - the banging was getting a little too much so I asked her to move forwards and she did - both feet up on the ramp!! We stood like that for a little while and I gave her loads of scritchy scratches.
Unfortunately she then backed off - I specifically wanted the back up to come from me - So After a minute of just chilling I asked her to get on the ramp again, cue a couple more bangs and bingo she stepped on with both feet...and then actually moved her back feet towards the ramp as well!! lots more praise and scritches and I walked down past her and asked her to come off - her face was a picture..."er I thought you wanted me on the damn thing"

In to the stable and I thought we could go for a nice walk and if all went well try the long lining again. So all kitted up in her roller and bridle with halter over the top to attach the long lines to.
I changed her bit as well and popped my NS starter in to see if it was the straight bar of the baby bit she didn't like - she was still very mouthy in it but she actually seemed to settle quite well...although she wanted it quite high in her mouth...I'll monitor this closely.

Off we went just for a mooch around the perimeter of the livery fields and as she was marching foward from the word go I slipped in behind her and on we went. Once we were in the hay field I asked her to circle me in the long lines and again, she did a great job, just one circle each way and she was listening to my voice commands really well, clever girlie!!

So then off down the back track we went....All was going smoothly until something spooked her and quick as lightning she whipped round and flattened me!
I have no idea what it was but Little B was really upset, broke out in a sweat and was tense and quivering, She didn't want to walk on at all and went to whip round into me again - So I had to move damn sharpish and hang on as this time she was off in no uncertain terms. Luckily she stopped at the pressure from the halter!
We had a shaky five minutes whilst both of us calmed down and I asked her move around me and back up to get her listening and respecting my space again then I walked her back to the yard with me leading although she was still tense and very jumpy
Got back and I took her into her box to chill out - she's still a little wary in there so I just went and sat on the back of her bed and talked to her. She had a bit of a walk around and a jumpy snort, but then stopped and grabbed some hay, came over to me, walked off and repeated this a few times...then she finally came over sighed and snorted and then popped her head down for scritchy scratchies and a lovely cuddle...phew, all still well between us!!
After we'd had a nice mutual grooming session and I'd checked her legs to make sure the long lines hadn't caught her anywhere when she went doolally I took her straight back out to her field and she led just fine.

Checked her over this morning and she was spark out asleep when I got to the yard at silly O'clock.
Bally opened her eyes and rolled up onto her side as I approached so I sat with her and stroked and cuddled her until she flopped back down to continue her beauty sleep and she let me check her legs all over again..even stretched them out for me and wiggled her nose whilst I was doing it - I've never ever known a horse so comfortable around people!!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

So where were we...

I've not been having the best of weeks for me personally and I firmly believe that there is no point in working a horse when you aren't in the right frame of Bally has been cuddled profusely instead ;-)

I've still brought her in each day, but have deliberately taken a few steps back in her training just to consolidate our basics and check we have everything in place and then we can move forwards again...what am I wittering on about......???
Well - leading in - making sure she's with me and at the tempo I'm setting, not dawdling behind or looking at the sky / trees / other horses.... tying up and standing where she's put, not fidgeting, standing still whilst we chat to other liveries..and not fidgeting. Being sprinkled in the wash box and enjoying it - that sort of thing :-)
We've also said hello to the scary horsebox every day which involves us trundling up to it and me going up the ramp and seeing what Little B thinks - well she's now completely voluntarily putting both front feet on the ramp - admittedly one single one on at a time, but this is done with no ask and no pressure from me, it's entirely her decision.

Now I know she's completely comfortable with it at some point next week I'll set her up to ask for a little more from her and I'm using clicker target training to help with this - no surprises that Bally as taken to this like a duck to water! Today she actually came across the field to hit my hand as the target, I'm so chuffed she's enjoying this as it's a very useful tool with a horse like Little B who really seems to need a reason for doing it to want to do some things.

I had to laugh the other night - I was just taking her back down to the field and approaching the corner I could hear someone on a mini moto coming up the path around the corner - I stuck my head and arm round it and waved him he screeched to a halt spraying gravel everywhere which Bally found a teeny bit challenging and gave it her best eyes on stalks snort!
he very kindly turned the engine off and well - Bally took it upon herself to march straight up to the bike and start giving it a sniff all over - wowsers!
Then I couldn't believe it from behind us came the sound of another blummin one. Luckily Tom saw us, stopped and turned his engine off as he saw B was tense...well around she turned to give this one the once over too - unbelievable!!
As part of her traffic training the guys have agreed to help me by slowly but surely introducing the bikes whilst they're running, building up to approaching us on the yard at a distance and hopefully getting to a stage where they can ride past - Pauline I hope to be handing back a thoroughly bomb proof young lady at the end of the day - well actually she's almost there all ready having seen tractors, buses, fork lifts, lorries, cars and vans on the yard already lol!

Let's see what tomorrow brings, I'm really looking forward to it :-)

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Skool daze

I love the fact that Little B is coming right up to the gate every evening ready to come in and have a play!
She still likes to stop and have a think about things on the way in which is fine when there's a fair bit of stuff going on around her.
We did our usual wander up to the horsebox and I don't even have to lead her now, she's straight there, head down having a good snuffle up the ramp- she actually lifted her foot up against it tonight but then plonked it back down, it'll come, I'm not in a desperate rush... I want her to want to go up and I'll know when the time is right
I decided to work a little more on introducing the idea that I don't need to be next to her to direct things - making her start to work out what I want out from a distance, but still pay attention and watch me, so I took her into the school kitted up in her roller, bridle and rope halter and I brought along my long lunge whip so I could start to get her used to an aid being applied through that.
Quite a lot to ask tonight, so I tried to break it down into little steps for her - firstly with the whip.
We started just standing nice and relaxed as I held it to each side and then I placed it on her back - she wasn't sure about this and had a little dance and a wiggle. So I lifted it, halted and relaxed her then tried again - better! Still a little tense, with her ears going every which way but at least standing.
I then asked her to move her quarters using the whip as an extension of my arm so backing it up with a move towards her and she got this straight away on both sides - clever girl.

Then it was on to asking her to walk on, just in hand as we've already practised, but with me holding the whip in a "driving" position - to the side and ready to ask for forwards if needed which she managed really well - not phased by the aid and moving forwards nicely from a wave or a gentle touch on her quarters - obviously always backing this up with voice commands and body language as she has already learnt these.
This is so important - that she accepts the whip as an extension of me and not something to be scared of - and I think we made a great start with this.

On to me moving away from her but keeping a connection to start the idea of lunging and long reining, we had a couple of quite sticky moments with this with her deciding to pull away - naughty! I just held firm and moved myself behind her to push her forwards again which worked - we then had plenty forwards...maybe a leeetle bit too much lol as her little paddy set off Quest who was in the paddock next to the school so I had the pair of them going wheee for a couple of seconds

Brought her back to me and started again, just gradually distancing myself to the side by about 10 ft but keeping in time with her and it was much better second time around - we had a lovely soft calm walk in a circle and a straight line so finished the session there.

Gave her another nice hose down once we'd done - she's really getting the idea now and still likes to have the spray gun in her mouth and flap water all over me - can't say I mind too much ;-)

Day off tomorrow, she'll just come in for a groom and a cuddle :-)