Monday, 20 September 2010

Pilgrim's Progress 19.07.10

Had a good session yesterday, did what will be our regular Sunday hike up the road to the school, the mile and a half (currently in hand) is a great way to warm her up, prepare for the fact that we have a schooling session and keeps me fitter!

Loads and loads of cars out as the gardens at the big house were open so good traffic training on the way ...all ignored completely!

Got to the school and discovered all of the C end under water with the sprinkers on full whack...cue much eye popping and snorting, but I lead her down and we walked around for a few minutes just out of reach so she could see and hear the sprinkler but wasn't going to get an impromptu soaking! I find that If I remain completely workmanlike and ignore stuff she's generally picking up and that and taking confidence from it :-)
She was much better about the mounting block this time, but she's still not happy about it - odd when she's so good every where else :-$
Anyway hopped on and B was very forwards so popped her straight up into trot and worked on big shapes - changing the rein, serpentines and big circles. Have to watch her escaping out of her right shoulder!

Only had a few minor steering failures and some wibbly long sides...but discovered that she responds far better to a leg aid on the girth to straighten, than taking my leg back to move her was quite a dramatic difference! I could also use the same aid to ask for a couple of steps of leg yield back to the track. To change the aid for a turn around the inside leg I deepen and lengthen my leg with a defininite rock forwards of my inner seatbone

Again I have to be very mindful of using my legs evenly in transitions - a couple of times B reacted to my stronger right leg and skewed off to the left. But we didn't have any pawing, when I asked for halt that was what I got!

I'm have a major wibble about contact though. I'm very conscious of keeping my arms connected to my body and keeping elbows and wrists loose and moving with her to let her take it forwards, but she doesn't - at the minute we're getting some nice moments, but there's a lot of fussing / head moving and it's very hard to reward the good moments as they are followed by a curl or her head going up. I know it's a balance issue on her part....but I wonder if by always following her movement I'm not being constant and offering enough of a steady contact to reach into, so it's a vicious circle of wobbliness...does that make sense?

Don't get me wrong I'm not asking for any kind of outline, just for her to stay between my hand and leg as quietly as she can at this stage and to take a stretch down to release her back when asked

Becky E is coming down to give us a couple of short lessons, so hopefully she can give me some pointers.

Thought we'd finish off by just asking for a hop up into canter from trot on each rein to see what we got and although she ran into it a little (note to not drop the contact forwards!!!) she gave me a lovely steady few strides with a correct strike off both times and nicely back down :-D Until she's stronger that's pretty much all I'll be asking of her in the school. The majority of any ridden canter work will be out hacking.

Walked her off and stood her over by the mounting block whilst I had a drink and she stood like a lamb bless her!
The we hacked back down the road and she was good...another wibble at the same gateway as last week, but she let me pop her quarters back in and walked past without much of a fuss.

All in all really pleased with her progress, but really looking forward to a lesson so I can check we're on the right track!!

Hacked Off 16.07.10

Well we went out hacking completely solo yesterday (in a howling gale again lol!!)

I did the first 15 minutes just hand walking with her, up the lane, past the scary fishing lakes and then got on her from a random fence as we turned onto the cricketfield bridleway (have treeless will mount from anything I can stand on...or get horse to stand in!)

Bally was nicely forwards and although a little looky at things she wasn't overly spooky which was great considering we hadn't been down that particular bridleway before
Had a lovely trot and she came back nicely without any bother, then we got slightly lost and ended up in a lightly harrowed bit that used to be a pathway...and had a lovely lovely canter along the edge where the ground was softest.
Ended up in a bit of a dead end and had to turn back and sadly when we got back onto the bridleway and headed for home Bally blotted her copybook a bit!

She tried to jog off so I halted her with my seat, asked for walk on...jog...halt...sideways evasion.... HALT with neck rope and seat...walk on..jog. HALT..foot throwing, re-applied halt aids and ooops up she went :-o

Cracked her once on the backside to get her forward as I simply will not tolerate that antsy tantrum behaviour then asked her to halt again. This went on for about ten minutes and it was extremely hard not to to be tempted in to take a pull on the reins and just keep my halt from body into a steady hand, although we did have a one rein circle at one stage as she was flinging her head at me and bouncing up again :-$

It was a bit of a battle of wills and I'm actually quite chuffed that I stuck to my guns, remained calm and just repeated my halt, walk on, halts everytime she did anything other than what I was asking for and didn't let her get to me...her frustration was understandable but not acceptable and I just wasn't going to get into an escalating fight about it

It worked thank goodness and she gracefully walked on, accepted a couple more walk, halt, walk transitions (with much less aiding applied) calmly and so on we pootled.

Stayed on her and rode onto the lane and presented her with the challenge of walking up the lane between the scary lakes, past a car disgorging a couple of excited children feeding the ducks.
She stopped and baulked a little and I let her have a breather and take it in then asked her to walk on, then trot past and she did, nicely straight no spooking what a good girl!!! YAY

Back onto our little lane and I let her take the rein a little longer, then hopped off half way down so we in hand walked the last five minutes to let her have a wind down.

So a good ride despite the shenanigans, nice to know that we can deal with them and move on as I'm sure there'll be plenty more!

Little schooling session 14.07.10

Really nice short ridden session last night. Just in the corral but with saddle and bridle (and hat if hubby is reading!) I used the drop noseband (no headcollar) and B was happy in her mouth, nicely mouthing and steady.

Started with a bit of flexion work ....or boot nibbling if we get a good side stretch lol then on just to work in walk at me getting my positioning, seat and aiding clear so B can respond easily and correctly - aiming for softness.

I think we worked really well. B is now starting to reach for the bit and take it forwards so long I'm asking from my leg and keeping a strong flexible core. It's blatantly obvious when that strong core becomes a tense leg or seat though as Bally just grinds to a halt underneath me (oops!)

Much better turns and circles last night with the occasional flash of harmony as I got the aiding spot on and we glided around on just a seat aid!

We worked on getting good square halts without any sideways wibbling and she got it best if I concentrate on remaining central, straight and even when I put my legs on....then I lighten my seat and bingo up she steps beautifully square :-D

So what did we learn...well I cannot get away with any sloppy riding for a start lol!! and if I'm clear in my body and mind what we want...we generally get...hey she's bright that girl

Proper schooling 12.7.10

It's been far too hot to subject the pair of us to a three mile round walk, plus schooling time but it was much nicer and breezier yesterday afternoon so we trundled off up the road for a session.

B was in a lovely mood and nicely marched out with me as we made our way up the lane (on foot at this stage) I'd gone back bridle and headcollar with reins attached to both for stability and B was happy with this arrangement.

Met Gi on his bicycle and B was happy to walk along with the bike at her side which bodes well for bigger hacks out.
Got to the school and she had a bit of a hissy at the mounting block. Odd as she stands pefectly happily next to fences and gates for me to plonk myself on from. She was a bit rude at one point and kicked out at the whip as I asked her move her quarters over from the ground as she'd swung away from the block as I stepped on it, so she got growled at!

After a bit of groundwork I got her where she should be and she stood nicely so I could get on :-D

Interesting session, I rode for about 20 minutes in all doing nice big shapes to change direction and bend and getting transitions on markers. We still had some banana issues, but had more success asking for a little flexion, then straight and repeating.
There was little issue at the top end of the school with birds flapping in the hedge and initially B was a bit tense and spooky up there, but I worked on ignoring it completely and B was able to take a lead from that

Bally was super in her mouth, no signs of irritability or discomfort at all so I do think it's a support issue and that a drop is going to the best place to start, then try a different bit if that doesn't suit.

She was also very nicely off my leg with good crisp transitions. One halt was a bit of a disaster and was down to me not being straight...I sat up and closed my legs on and suddenly found myself leg yielding across the school :-o

I wasn't 100% happy with her trot work, we seemed to veer between a rushed choppy trot and a slug impression as Bally struggled to find her balance within the pace. So I worked on getting her forward, then introducing the idea of using my seat to slow and lengthen and gave her a longer rein to reach forward to. Had a couple of nice circles with a much better rythmn.

Stopped there as pleased with how well Bally had worked and hacked her back all the way down to the field with Gi following on the bike to keep an eye on us
Had one moment of uh-oh as she took a bit of an exception to a driveway and crabbed sideways bum out into the lane. I turned her around and walked her back to it where she had a bit of a dither and I just sat until she relaxed then asked her to walk on and she did YAY!!

I felt her tense right up as we approached the big house as they were having a rather noisy game of tennis behind the hedge, but again just gave B a scratch and vocal reassurance and she walked past no bother, clever girly!!

Best bit of all, we had a little trot on the big raised verge on the little lane, I gave her an extra nudge and we had our first canter :-D

It was as lovely as I thought it would be, only a few strides, but she came back immediately when asked and she was beautifully light and balanced which bodes well for the future!!

In-Handy Stuff 07.07.10 pt 2

Repeated similar work last night but altered the height of the bit in her mouth first..actually put it UP and popped my drop noseband on her, loose in case she is sore and so that she can still mouth (able to get three fingers under easily, but adjusted so that it could give a small amount of support to the bit.

Came to the conclusion that Bally really objects to me working her inhand directly from the bit but is much happier if I put myself further back and hold the reins as if I'm riding...and is even happier on longlines. If I was being really hamfisted I'd have thought it would be the other way round??

Anyway she was steadier in her mouth, not great, but nothing like as irritated as she was before, so a small step in the right direction.

Walked her up to the corral and popped on her again. Did a little work on reinback from a legs back / lighten seat aid accompanied by the verbal clunk I use on the ground and lot's of praise when she moved her weight back

She got it straight away :-D

Then we just did five minutes of working on walking straight with halt transtions added, trying to keep her channelled straight throughout.B was much better with her mouth and head ridden, I just tried to keep a soft elastic even contact and she took it forwards and was settled by it. I'm obviously doing something seriously wrong inhand!

We ground to a halt a couple of times as I got grippy with my thighs, entirely my fault and good in a way because at least I know my holding aid to step up into halt works.

I'll walk her up to the school tomorrow night to see how we get on on a nice surface rather than rutty potholed grass....I'm hoping I'll be even more pleasantly surprised by her.

She's such a lovely willing calm girl who really seems to be enjoying her work, but I worry she's not thinking forwards enough which is imperative at this stage, so lot's more hacking out on the cards

In-Handy Stuff 07.07.10 pt1

Bally had Monday off after all the fun on Sunday - it was quite a long day for her - I was up at the field at 7, walked her home along the bridleways, bathed, plaited, loaded hung around and wandered about the showground, did a class, went for a ride around the showground and then back home by 2pm...phew!

Still her behaviour was exemplary and you really can't ask for more than that :-D

In an odd mood last night because of the sad news about my lovely girl Leyna, went up to the field and ended up having a good weep. Bally, Dee and Bonita stood with me, then over me as I sat and bawled my eyes out and gently whiffled my hair and nuzzled my shoulders. Bless them

Decided to do a little bit of in hand flexion work with B. Very unsettled with any sort of contact and I had to be almost whisper like to get her to mouth and not yaw at the bit or throw her head around.
I'm going to have to either rethink bitting / noseband or go bitless for a wee while as she's teething. She's much happier and steadier when the reins are attached to the bit ring and the headcollar so it feels more stable in her mouth (I use a Neue Schule loose ring bit) so if she's happy with the mouthpiece she may need a drop noseband just to support the bit & hold it steady in her mouth of maybe go for something like a half / full cheek..... Not sure will probably have a play and see what she's happiest with.

Well after I'd manage to get some nice calm and soft in hand work I walked B up to the corral and popped on her for a little bit of ridden walk work

Bareback :-O

There aren't many just backed babies I'd even think about doing this with but B has been so like Safi in her fabulous attitude to being ridden (and maybe I'm feeling a bit fatalistic atm due to recent body protector or hat either :-$)

She was lovely, definitely better with flexing to the left after working her inhand, although still has a tendency to banana to the right whilst going straight - seems to be her default position and something I have to be very clear on correcting every time she starts it

One teeny nap by the fence where the rest of the gang had grandstand seats..she didn't move straight off my leg when asked to walk on from a got a double nudge and a voice command...then a tickle from the whip which did the trick.

I've been holding off riding her on my own and only actually sitting on her once a week when I could get Gi or Jen to help me, but after her being so wonderfully amenable tonight I think we'll be fine so, as long as I can keep her comfortable in her mouth, we can crack on and start hacking out a bit more and have at least one school session a week on top.

I really have missed riding!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Show Time!! 04.07.10

Took Bally to a local show today..turned out to be much busier than I envisaged as not only was there a horse show, but also a dog show, and EBG 12 mile ride setting off all day and a big driving competition on site so masses to see and a really buzzy atmosphere :-o

B was just brilliant, took it all in her stride and was very chilled, so decided what the heck and entered her into a was choice of Riding Club horse / pony or prettiest mare :-$

Well we went into the RC horse class as I didn't want to deprive all the pig-tailed little girls and their doe eyed ponies and she was like an old pro, totally calm, stood up when asked without a hint of a fidget, walked out in the lead for the whole class, didn't flicker an eye at some behaviour issues from the mare behind her. Did a lovely individual show, trotted out beautifully around the ring and was just an absolute delight to work with.

Competition was stiff as there were two winners and a couple of second placers from previous classes in the ring with us, plus three of us the judge hadn't seen before.

Well blow me down we were pulled in second behind a stunning and immaculately turned out pony YAY!!!!!!

Afterwards I tacked B up and we had a ride around the showground. Got Superhubby to lead us through the lorry park for safety sake as I could feel Bally was on her toes a bit, but we went up into the showground proper where the rings were and other horses were working in and rode her around - just a bit of walk and trot and she was so good - no napping or silliness, but a very apparent lack of left bend when not in the confines of an arena! (homework ahoy!!)

Back to the box and we still had a couple of hours to wait for the inhand championship we'd qualified for and I decided to forgo our place and come home as I didn't want to make Bally stale and spoil the fabulous day we'd had.

I LUFF my gorgeous girl :-D

Lots of photos in this album

Going solo with video evidence! 27.06.10

The whole gang are all happily back together now, and seem to have slotted back into herd like perfectly amenably

Well once again Ballyboo has been an absolute star today, she is just so laid back about this being ridden lark and she's such a joy to ride

I took her on her first proper solo / off lead hack, in fact she was never on the lead, Gi and Spuddy dog came with us and were supposed to be leading, but in the end she was so chilled out I kept a hold of it in case it was needed but nope, the girl was going solo with a vengeance

She stood stock still as I threw myself at her off the fence and we went out the gate and off up the lane for about half a mile, past the fishing lake, the (thankfully parked up) diggers doing the car park there, the wheely bins and then turned down the woody bridleway. She was a teeny bit cat creepy to start but as well as using my legs in time with hers I used my whip on my boot as a back up which worked really well. Once she got the idea she marched out wonderfully :-D

Once we got to the bit where the bridleway goes into the village I turned back as didn't feel quite ready for the main road just yet !!! Then we had a few little trots and she was nicely off my leg and easy to bring back down too, clever girl. One tiny baby stroplet when I asked her to stop and wait for a minute before moving on again, this brought on a minor fit of the Kevins in the form of foot scraping ..norty!!!

Happily pootled on when I asked her to, back on to the lane and home again, no fuss, no bother and big, BIG grins all round

On the move - 24.06.10

Finally the girls are back down road at the 20 acre.

Got left in the lurch and ended up walking the pair of them the mile and a half down the road by myself.... Not something I would contemplate normally, but I just wanted to get them back out of the incredibly lush pasture as it was really damaging their feet!!

Popped every bit of hi viz gear I possessed on the three of us and just got on with it. Couple of spooky moments from the little one, and 3/4 of the way down the road she decided she'd absolutely walked far enough Thank you and wasn't taking another step :-o
Took some pressure / release work and a bit of wheedling to get Little Donkey Dee moving again lol

Bally was a star and just got on with it...she's definitely taking life as a grown up very seriously!!

Got them settled in and then Polly and Bonita magically appeared today, not sure why the boys haven't come down, but the girls were all getting on quite happily together...phew!!!

Rasp Ahoy 22.06.10

Bally had her teeth done this morning and she was a superstar

Brought her up on the the yard and let her have a good sniff at Gary's tools, the she pootled behind me into a box (first time in one since December and no hint of the panic she had when she first came to me and I put her in her new stable! )
Gary made his introductions to her and put her and me completely at ease then got on with having a good look, Bally was so calm and accepting of the whole process, nothing more than a bit of eye rolling at the rasp and popped her head higher when she had the gag fitted, but a little tweak on the rope and she relaxed and lowered it again.

She had a good tidy up and four baby teeth / caps taken off all on a loose rope with no sedation, what a brilliant first time !!

He's recommended that she has her wolf teeth out as he rightly assessed that she's unsteady on the contact. He said to see how she is now she's been rasped as that might be enough to make her more comfortable, but he did think they'd need to come out at some point, especially if I ever wanted her to have a bit seat.

A far cry from the last dentist I used who almost left the yard with his rasps up his doodah he was such an arrogant unfeeling and abusive G*t and the vet who sedates them if they so much as flicker an eyelash

Highly recommended !!

We measured B for the first time yesterday too....I chased a snorty Bally in a few circles until she realised the pokey stick thing wasn't going to kill her...and .....first measurement was over 15.2, which I refused to believe and next was just shy of 15.2 :-o
My old YO always maintained she'd make 16hh but I couldn't see it at first...when I first saw her last year my first thought was OMG she's looking well lol...closely followed by OMG she's really diddy!!) Safi kept growing till she was 8, so I think B's got a fair bit of growing to do still!!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Back in the saddle

Decided I was riding Bally today come hell or high water after her wangling 10 days off with scraped legs, a teeny new splint and a split hoof!!!!!

....and as usual we had to contend with some interesting distractions......

Set off down to the school and two of the kids on the yard came clattering down the path by the lane on their whizzy little ponies, went to go trotting past Bally which understandably wound her up a bit so I asked them not to scoot past, ten seconds later their ponies have planted as someone is making a commotion in one of the houses we pass and Gi, Bally and I have to give them a lead lol!

Discover that they are putting jumps up and having a short jumping I'm all for introducing Bally to things going on, but I'm wondering if watching two PC ponies charging around leaping fences is maybe something to save for a ride when we're a leeeetle bit more established! ;-o

We had a ride round the school whilst they warmed up and before Mum turns up to put up the fences. B was a bit unsettled but as her steering was Ok I got Gi to let us off the lead pretty much straight away and Bally was really good considering. Tried a bit of a nap back to the ponies a couple of times but I just made semaphore size turning aids to get her back on track, then loads of praise when she went where I wanted her to. :-D

Transitions to halt good and nice crisp walk ons to follow. We managed a nice circle of trot on each rein - first time we've trotted off the line and by this point Gi had actually wandered off to the mounting block so I really was in charge and flying solo :-o

By this point jump wings were being dragged into the school so we had a nice walk down past all that and past the ponies, Bally got a big good girl for being totally unfussed!!

We walked off out the school and decided to have a 10 minute hack down the road. Bally had a couple of hesitant moments, but responded really well to me using the lead rope I was carrying as a Wip wop and suddenly discovered her forwards button lol
She was nice and calm as we had cars pass her from in front and behind (although I asked Gi to actually walk right by the side of her for support this time) and even gave me a little leg yield across the road after wandering off line a little
We also had a really good little trot and then turned around and walked back to the yard, past all the scary stuff..B had an eek about a mound of gravel, but happily went back to investigate it when asked.

All in all I was really pleased with her - what was that, fourth time I've sat on her???? Superstar girly (wub)

Monday, 7 June 2010

Making Progress

It's been a good week to follow on from the great start :-D

Had another ride midweek - it's hard trying to rope people in to man the longline when we start, hopefully not be needed for too much longer. Gi came over after work and we only had a short session and I stayed on the line throughout this time, just moving her about the school in walk and halting at markers for accuracy.

Had a fab longline hack on Friday - what a beautiful evening!! Little bit of a wibbly start as B seemed to take exception to every leaf, so we had a couple of turntails and stampy feet moments before we'd even got on the bridleway :-o, but as soon as we turned off onto the track out of the woods she was brilliant.

Bally was super forwards, but still light in my hand. We practiced steering, straight lines, leg yields and some lovely crisp transitions. She was so good she even stayed in the lead through the scary yard and barns that I had to stop and lead her through the time before!!! No problem this time :-)

Well rode again yesterday afternoon and she was brilliant!!!

We went up to the school and before I'd even got on we heard some thunderclaps, looked over and saw the sky was looking rather dark and ominous...ah what the hell I thought, that's the benefit of having horses that live out 24/7, they really don't tend to be fussed about working in odd weather! After I'd given Bally a bit of a lunge warm up we wandered down so I could get on. She spooked away from the mounting block first time so just got walked straight back, then I leant over the once, leg over and on, sort out stirrups and off we went - on the line first of all for about ten minutes, but I made Gi stay about 15 ft away so all the steering and commands came from me.

Then we had some lovely trot work and I thought I was going to get a canter as she gave a little jump up into one of the trot transitions!! Came off the circle and opened her up down the long side (just to make Gi run hehehe ) and she trotted out beautifully *big grin*

Undid the line and we did some nice big shapes, circles, changes of rein and halt walk transitions with Gi staying reasonably close. Will definitely progress to trot next time too as she actually felt better off the line than on.

After B had had a lovely stretchy walk to finish the schooling session we made our way back to the gate and as she felt so good I thought what the hell and decided to stay on board for the walk back down the lane to the yard

B was a little hesitant but going forwards - she sort of creeps like a cat vereee, vereee carefully when she's worried about what's ahead, but she was willingly taking me forwards without any leg aids, so we continued. Good halt as we turned into the lane proper and stopped to check for cars and then down the lane we pootled, having a good look at the killer bush, the car with the cover on it, past the barky dog, and all to the accompaniment of whinnies from her oldy mates Cossack and Polly from the 20 acre who are in the front paddock at the yard for a bit and who could hear her coming, bless.

I hopped off as we got to the yard entrance as she's madly in season and Cossack was trumpeting away at his young lady...better to be safe than sorry, although in the end she barely flicked an ear at the old codger Lol!!

Clever girlie and here's a video to show just how clever!!!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Backing Bailarina

BIG Baby Step!!

Well we did it!! And what a superstar Bally was. All the prep work we've been doing over the last 12 months paid off and B took to her first ridden experience like a duck to water.

Picked a ridiculously windy day, but hey-ho, we never let weather dictate what we're going to do...well unless it's absolutely peeing it down lol!

As you can see B was a superstar!

Today was if anything even better!!

Jen came with me for ground support and we started the session same as we did before, up to the mounting block, correct any movement, wait till she's standing and lean over. Got Jen to lead us a few steps and then slid off and walked her back to the block.
Then I got on her properly and slowly sat up, let her get used to the weight again and then off we went into the school with her on the lunge line - this time I'd attached stirrups..although they were set at "potentially whizzy baby" length - i.e not far off a jockeys ;-)

After we'd done a circuit each way I then asked for some big circles and changed the rein across the diagonal each way. Bally was really attentive and getting the turning aids clear so I asked Jen to let us loose, but still walk near us and so we went SOLO !!!

Bally was just fab, she'd got the idea of the steering from the long lining and working into the outside rein from the inhand work. She was fine with me giving seat and leg aids to turn, so it all flowed really beautifully :-D We used the whole school and lots of changes of rein and circles with odd halt walk transitions thrown in, she stretched down when I asked her to and gave no resistance when I collected the reins

I asked Jen to pop her on the line again just to be safe, went onto a 20 metre circle at B and asked Bally to trot on...which she did and she was lovely!! Bit wobbly to start, but we soon found a nice rhythm so did a couple of circles, came down to walk, changed the rein and did the same on the right, her transitions were great each way

Asked her to stretch and let her walk off on a long rein to finish.

I'm still grinning...although my hips and thighs are a bit ooyah lol!

Just noticed that the skinny blog interface cuts the right hand side of the video off grrrrr

Link to the whole thing is now in a seperate post.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Back in Business....2...

Have had another fabby couple of days with Bally, she's settled right down in the new surroundings and was a superstar in the school on Thursday night. Had to share it again with a rather naughty horse who was giving his rider a bit of a tough time...I'd liked to have given her some pointers about how she was blocking him and maybe contributing to some of the problems she was experiencing but didn't know her from Adam ...felt a bit mean tbh, but was worried she might be offended if I marched up and said things - It's hard when you're the new girl

Any way we just went over our lunging and inhand work and B was attentive, soft and willing (although she still had a couple of cheeky yeehaa's). Where she'd been quite resistant in the close inhand work the time before, this time she was really trying and the steps just flowed
Giravolta then change the bend out to half pass onto the fence and change again to shoulder in along tjhe fence line (which has caused her some bother before)....she gave me everything I asked for, what a good girl. I was grinning like a cheshire cat :-D

Paul the YO had given me a bit of eye rolling before, because I'd asked if it was ok if I lunged / did inhand stuff in the big school rather than the lunge pen because I need the straight lines and freedom of the big school to school her properly...he was very "oh right you know how to lunge then" (he's actually a very highly qualified and experienced horseman) and I was a bit ...well ;-)
Well he came over to the school whilst I was working B and saw her in action and gave us a nod and a wink, then asked when I was going to stop fannying around and just get on her

Answer my friends is very soon .....hope to have news on that front shortly

Last night we went and had a lovely long line hack. I tacked her up and led Bally out of the yard as we had to negotiate the path with the scary roller and harrow just lying in wait to eat her, the lunge pen and walk past the field with the mental gelding before we got to the bridleway. Mental gelding went yippeee-i-yay as we went past, so that was a good call to lead her first!!

Popped the longlines on and off we went...for a whole hour, for the first time in ages and down a path that B's only ever been on part of once...going the other way!! She was just brilliant, happily took the lead and was mindful of my steering requests, we did a fair few transitions and had a trot and she was happily powering along in my hand doing everything like an old pro!!
I was so pleased with her
One minor wibble as we approached some industrial units, so rather than let her get wound up I hitched the reins up and just took the lead to help her past the scary bit, no fuss or drama and a good lesson learnt... then put her back in front on the lines and on we walked up the lane and back onto the yard.

I was absolutely thrilled to bits with how brave and forwards and willing she was - superstar girly

It's nearly a year since Beautiful Bally came into my life and she's made fab progress at a pace that's suited both of us...hopefully I'll be able to back her soon and it's onwards and upwards from there.

Back in Business....

Sorry ......I have been hugely naughty in not updating the blog, but in my defence I have been a bit preoccupied with life.

It's been an odd couple of months really, major family crisis, getting Ardiente, losing Merlin, Bally been off work with her sore back, then a growth spurt, then teething and then her popping a splint - there was also the sadness over Little Dee.....

As I'd been getting on so well with Dee and tbh fallen completely in love with her I decided to get my own vet Andre (the guy that saw me through poor Safi's nightmare from start to finish and that I trust implicitly when it comes to legs!) to give me a third and final opinion on her forelegs - after much walking and trotting up the road and a gold star for behaviour from Uncle Andre he gave me the devastating news that he wouldn't even want to pass Dee as a prospective light hack. In his opinion because of her extravagant movement and the carpal deviations from her knees and fetlocks she'd not stay sound (although she's completely sound and not shown a hint of lameness to date) and would certainly not be able to cope with the level of work I'd want to be doing.
He was hugely sympathetic as he remarked on what a fabulous natured and super little filly she was, but he said I really didn't need to potentially be putting myself through more worry after the nightmare of Saf.
Had a long chat with her owner Steph and we decided she could stay with me indefinitely on a livery basis and we'll just let her grow up slowly without pressure and see how she gets on. She's such a plucky little fighter I just can't help feeling sure she'll come right in the end

So what have we actually been up to......

Still done a bit of pootling about with Bally although cut right back over the last few weeks as she had a small splint come up (ARGH!!!!) I'm stuffing her full of comfrey and also rubbing comfrey oil on it directly, so hopefully it'll reduce itself down in time. She's not at all sore on it - in fact it seemed to come up overnight cold and hard and hasn't given her a hint of just paranoid about legs....

We've just moved the entire herd from the 20 acre up to the yard so that the farmer can do some was a bit like the travelling circus :-D
The oldies Polly & Cossack went first, then two of the yard staff took Bonita and an hour later Gi and I along with three yard girls took Bally, Dee and the lovely new 2 yr old gelding up the lane - it's 1.5 miles and the big country house we pass on the way had an open garden day so quite a few cars.

Bally and I led the way as she's been up and down the lane loads so we hoped we could rely on her being sensible (hahaha) followed by Dee with new boy bringing up the rear. There were a couple of moments of skittery baby OMG from Dee & NB as cars went past, so I took Dee instead of Bally and she settled down, after five minutes she was like an old pro not batting an eye at anything driving past
Once we'd got them onto the yard they were all happily reunited and hooned around their new, much smaller home for the time being.

Great thing about being on the yard is that I can use the 20 x 60 school onsite without a 3 mile round walk .. So Bally and I have been in there nearly every night.

First time she had the horrors even walking up there - new place, new noises, lots of reverting back to refusing to move. Got her in there eventually and just led her round, tried a bit of lunging which was ok...but as I'd managed to lose half of my lunge whip not great and then some very unsuccessful close in hand work (leapy jumpy tense spinning hoohah a plenty) So just eased off the pressure and walked around in hand doing basic shapes and halt walk halt transitions.

Second night was much better, still a bit hesitant coming up onto the yard, but went to the school and worked whilst another girl was cantering her pony around - B was super fine about that and didn't bother when she left (the great benefit of always working on her own)

Got some really good focussed lunge work out of her - 10 metre circles in walk and straight between the markers, good half halts, halts and transitions (with a couple of reminders about what halt means when she suddenly went deaf) Got some nice steps of big trot- after a couple of yeehaaaa whoopee responses to me asking lol
Finished off with ten minutes of long lining to check our steering which was terrible after so long, but she was soft to the contact, not yawing or pulling which was good and we had a nice play with changes of rein and circles and finished with that as she was really trying hard.

Next update to follow....

Sunday, 18 April 2010

I am SO Naughty!

Poor Bally has been working her socks off in preparation for backing her shortly and I've not been on here to brag about it...very remiss of me! In my defence I was ill for nearly three weeks, but it affected my throat not my fingers lol!!

Her work is coming on well, she's in hand hacking out here, there and everywhere and doing brilliantly - doesn't bother at all with any of the traffic. She still has the odd stop and look, but she's done it since the day she arrived, so it's obviously her thing...we can work round it :-)

Her inhand classical work is good - she does prefer me to hold the rein a little longer than is the norm, but either my contact is steadier that way or it's more comfortable for her. Lunging is good and her long reining coming on nicely - would help to have a school for figure work though.

We've been regularly picking Bally up in the box from the field and driving her home then I'll walk her back round the variety of bridleways we have - hopefully she'll be a dab hand at hacking once I get on!

That's been put back a bit - she seems to be growing like a weed and looks very lean and lanky all of a sudden - Can't shovel too much food in her because of the grass coming through so she looks like a gangly baby again bless her.

Today Bally went to her very first party - just a little local RC show, but always really well attended. Everything is nicely spread out though so not too overwhelming for a newbie. Well she was just amazing, stepped off the box and strutted around the showground like she'd been doing it all her life! She was happy to stand around and watch, had horses warming up around and past her, stood and watched some jumping and some carriage trial driving. She had a ball and loved every minute

I sneaked her into the lovely new indoor dressage arena they have there and she wasn't bothered - we practised running up to prepare us for indoor shows - she was foot perfect but oh god do I need to get fit!!

Even when I popped her back on the box after we'd seen everything and had a good mooch she happily popped on and stood and munched her haylage - I can't WAIT to start doing this for real with her - we had so many admiring glances!

Gi took loads of fantastic pictures which are all on this album way too many to post them all on here :-D

As well as having a fab time with Bally, Dee's been a poppet as always - had a funny Kevin the teenager moment last week, but they've all been a bit wheyhey with Spring fever - she does a very funny line in head shaking foot stomping I shan't - cracked me up completely!
She has also developed a great line in hippo impersonation - she actually gets right in the watering hole and rolls - plastering herself in wet mud, filthy little Moo!! Mind you once the mud is scraped off she's got the most unusual coat colour whilst she's shedding - her head and legs are black, her neck and shoulders are grizzled reddy brown and her back and quarters are white with red flecks and a black dorsal stripe - from a distance she looks like a blanket spot Appaloosa - I call her my little appa-luso ;-)

Anyway I'm promising faithfully to keep up with the blog from now on :-D

Oh and before I other news........ I bought a 3/4 bred Andalusian Colt yesterday.......... :-o

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Playing catch up

Sorry! We have been working honest, I've just been rubbish at blogging lol!

After going to the Heather Moffett clinic last weekend I have been fired with enthusiasm and I'm itching to ride....whoa there lady ;-) Even watching the ridden work gave me loads of stuff to work on with B and really helped get some contact issues clear in my mind which will come in very handy once B is backed

During the week we've had a couple of inhand / lunging sessions with much more emphasis on working from the bit and learning feel and contact. We start by having a little play at gentle flexions to make sure B is soft in her jaw and relaxed about the whole thing and then work on a circle asking for a little inside bend (and me constantly reminding myself to use the outside rein!)
We're now getting a nice transition from straight on the circle to leg yielding and shoulder in. I picked up the importance of slowing this lateral work right down, so that each step is precise, with energy and really doing some good by mobilising her shoulders and inside hind leg making her use herself correctly. We only manage a few steps at a time and even now we still get in the occasional muddle, but all in all I'm pleased with our progess.

Yesterday we ventured off out on a lovely long hack - one of those quick walks that just kept going because we were going so well! Bally was a bit looky, but I think she always will be when faced with something new - we just have to work on seeing as much new stuff as possible! Only slightly eek moment was getting over the bridge past the big duck pond. This is a congregating point for people to fed the ducks, geese and swans and you can imagine the racket! We had a lot of stop start dragon snorting and B went to whip round but I was more than ready for her, gave her a sharp correction and immediately asked for a back step then lowered her head and gave her loads of praise. As the road itself was quiet I let her stand for a minute just to look and then tweaked the lead for forwards and got it so on we went albeit a little shakily.

We ended up going all the way down the Easton road to the main road through the village itself, and walked along it til we got to the pub and then up the bridleway to make a circuit of about two miles

Bally was absolutely brilliant in the traffic, never turned a hair as we had cars in both directions, some slower than others, but all giving us a nice wide berth - I was almost hoarse from thanking people (daft I know but I always say it even to people cocooned in their cars)
Back to the field both tired but happy :-) I untacked B and popped some Hi Viz gear and the rope halter on Little Dee just for a pootle up the lane to the house - about 100 yards.

Well its always humbling to see your "lead anywhere" filly suddenly showing holes in all your training when the situation is different!

First thing I noticed is just how enormous her walk is for such a diddy little 'un - her stride is miles bigger than Bally's :-o, which then became a "er ..oh rude one, whilst it's wonderful that you are so bold, we do NOT got hoofing it up the road ahead of me" (well only when we progress to long lining lol!) A bit of a headshaking tussle ensued as she was enjoying herself far too much to appreciate the finer points of good manners and being told off, so Little Miss D got taken into the big layby and we had a five minute reminder of if I say stand I mean stand and back means back. No rope slapping or head beating here though eh Mrs Parelli, I can get control of an excited baby out in the open with voice commands and a bit of body language....maybe I should market that eh??

Back down the road and Dee was now responding to a half halt from a "uh huh" and stopping on a whistle and even when she had a little moment of forgetting herself - the BB and Bally galloping down the field alongside us was too much of a temptation, she immediately came back to a check and a voice cue. We then stood in the layby opposite the gate. I wanted her standing still and attentive, took a bit of work to keep those itchy baby feet still lol! But it didn't take long to have her standing nice and relaxed and then back in we went.
Really pleased with both my girls!

Went to the seaside today with my luffly Hubstar and Spud, walked miles along the beach blowing away the cobwebs...then had another wonderful session with the girlies...what a fantastic day ......will update tomorrow :-)

Friday, 26 February 2010


As ever not happy with myself and my own performance affecting B's on the inhand work we had a reprise last night to see if I could find some progress.
I brought both the girls in, put B in her bridle and rope halter (...never mentioned that she has completely outgrown the headcollar she came down to me in, proper grown up girlie now!) And left Dee in the corral with a pile of hay. As Bally and I ventured out into the field Dee came over to the gate once then happily went back to being enclosed on her own and ate her that's blummin progress!!

Gave B a few minutes circle work off the halter and then popped the reins onto the bit and tried again...Success!!
Not sure whether my attitude and feel were better or Bally was more accepting - probably a mixture, but things were much improved!! Although she was very mouthy to the contact it was a soft mouthing with a steady head and neck and I was easily able to direct her shoulders because everything was soft and flowing.
She was able to keep this feeling for a few minutes at a time, so got plenty of reward and praise. I found that standing further back than I had been seemed to help her and it was much easier to get a soft flexion of her neck. Must revisit my video of the session with Becky to check back what she was doing and compare positioning.
We even managed to get some really good slow sideways steps on each rein too *yay*

Let B have a good stretch out and then lengthened the reins and asked for two small circles on each rein with a fluid change of bend at a semi longlining distance...and got them as well!!!!

Stopped there as I was really pleased and I could see Bally was chuffed with herself too

Thursday, 25 February 2010

One step at a time

Bit of an up and down day yesterday. It was raining heavily so wanted to work Bally but leave her rug on...inhand was the perfect choice!

Once again B was generous enough to stand loose in the field whilst I popped her bridle and cavesson on :-D Dee most definitely wanted to get in on the act though and walked up bold as brass and started mouthing the whip and my reins

Led Bally out on to our flat and thankfully not too soggy schooling bit (with Dee still following closely behind! ) To start I'd attached my reins to the cavesson and passed them through the bit rings so she'd get a feel on the bit but not a direct contact. B was good, nicely forward and attentive and softening to pulses on the rein. Managed some passable inside flexion and a little leg yield on the circle Once we'd done about 15 minutes I thought I'd try a little close up long lining (me at hip / bum level) and got some really good circles and changes of direction from her...once or twice B thought about pulling away but as she was on the cavesson I could give a firmer "no!!" on the outside rein, release it and immediately bring the inside rein out and fowards to put her on a circle so she wasn't going anywhere *whistle*

Once I'd had another couple of good circles and 8's I gave her a good stretch and a break whilst I put the reins directly on the bit for a very short..this is OK it won't hurt you..session.
Straight away she was tenser and fussier as I asked her to walk on, so we had a minute or two of standing and me just gently vibrating the bit ring until she relaxed her jaw, then releasing as a reward. Went back to a few minutes of work from the bit...defintely a very slow work in progress as she remained unsettled. I have to be very, VERY careful not to fix my hand against her tension - I caught myself a couple of times - very bad habit. Bally made her displeasure instantly clear and threw her head about. She also felt a lot heavier on her inside shoulder throughout the bitted work than she does on the cavesson - definitely not working with me. As this is such an imperative stage of her training I will taking this contact issue very slowly and may well back her bitless...we'll see how we get on over the next six weeks or so.

Whilst pondering this we suddenly had a lot of commotion, bored by wandering around Dee and the BB decided to took off and galloped right past us :-o
Bally - understandably upset by this had a bit of a tap dance, I dropped the rein contact and held the cavesson and the front of her rug and brought her straight onto a small circle again. She did really well not to lose the plot as the naughty pair of so & so's then span round and galloped right back at us, wheeling around and bucking as they went past!!!!
Thankfully they galloped off again and although I attached the reins to the cavesson (taking no chances) I couldn't get any softness and Bally remained in giraffe mode :-( I worked for a couple more minutes until I at least had some semblance of attention and then stopped and led her in.

But...on the positive side she coped with a major distraction and I was able to keep her with there is some benefit to working in the field with naughty babies - between Dee, the BB and football matches working in at dressage should be a breeze

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Sunday was a Dee day!

I led her in from the field through a couple of streams and a monster puddle - this little filly leads better than any other youngster I've ever known...although under pressure she can be as "get awaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!" as the best of them lol!
In to the corral and all good, no panic from her as she realised she was in on her own without Bally....well until Bally and BB had a squealing faceoff at the gate and both beggared off up the field at high speed a bucking and a farting all the way *sigh* She went to pull away, gave me a headshake and brought her forelegs off the ground when she met with firm resistance, to which I just verbally reprimanded her and backed her up, then asked her forwards....calm and good manners restored!

I wanted to do some very baby basic circle / start of distance work with a bit of desensitisation thrown in. We were staying in the corral for safety!

Started with basic leading and checking we had a good reaction to following my body language / vocal cue to make turns in and away, halting and backing. Then I just asked for the same work but about 5 ft away from her and she seemed to pick it up really well...until she had a big nap over towards the gate - we had a repeat of her earlier frustration when I stopped her and treated it the same way...and I moved her even further away from the gate lol!

We then moved on to standing still and increasing my distance away from her, it took a few goes for her to pick up what I wanted. Each move forwards was dealt with by me simply backing her straight back to where I'd put commands, but a "good girl" only when she was stationary.

I then played with touching her all over with the line - she's already excellent at being touched all over now (far, far better with her poll and ears than she was yay!!), tolerates leg straps and is happy being brushed everywhere you can run a brush ;-) so we didn't have too much of an issue with this. Then I introduced the lunge whip....ooooh now that was scary!

I tied the lash up and first of all let her sniff it and moved it around in front and to the side of her - she was watchful, but not too concerned, so standing to the side I rested it on her back...

And wheeeeee off she went!

I just asked her to steady and stand and as soon as she did I lifted the whip, after a couple of repeats I was able to stroke the whip along her back and down her legs with her attention on it, but standing still. I repeated this from the other side and straight away she accepted me touching her with it.

I gave her a little break at this point and let her off the lead for a munch on her haynet.

Back to work and she happily let me touch her with the whip again and even stood as I stroked it up her neck. She ducked her head as I brought it over her ears (going by her reaction to being touched here initially I expected fireworks!) and as I just repeated it slowly and quietly she lowered her head and accepted it! Lots of praise and scratches for being such a good girl.
I upped the ante at this point and unfurled the lash and just had a play wiggling it about and draping it over Dee. She had a scoot twice, but again just waited until she stopped, praised and lifted the pressure.

I ended up being able to gently wave it about over our heads with no reaction...couldn't really ask for much more than that so called it a day!

At this stage I'll probably only do one work / play session a week with Dee. Mainly desensitisation stuff - making sure leading is absolutely 100% over, under and through things and have the odd wander up the lane. This is on top of being led in every day and having her feet / rugs etc done. Plenty enough for baby!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Working and Walking out

Couple of days to catch up on.....

Friday - lunging!

I had thought I'd have to go right back to the start again with Bally and the lunging, but should have known she's far too smart for that *rolleyes*
Led her in with no shenanigans, tacked her up and out into the field we went. Started with a nice marching walk on a large circle and then using the whip and my position in relation to hers added small circles, straight lines and corners (have to use my imagination as to where the markers would be...not many to hand out in the wild yonder of this field lol) Bally was like an old pro and did everything on the button Yay!!

On to transitions and half halts and as usual her left rein were sharper than her right, so she had a couple of corrections on the rein to remind her that halt means halt, not slowly creep another five steps and turn in!
Nicely warmed up I popped the running reins on (again very loose and not holding her anywhere, just for the feel of the rein on the bit) and we did some trot work, mirroring what we'd done in the walk, well again she was fabby. Great on her easy left rein... A bit rushed on the right so I added the half halts and smaller circles almost straight away to get her think and it worked a treat :-)

Finished off with some nice long stretchy walk work and then did a quick couple of minutes in hand work off the cavesson. Got some really really brilliant leg yield, just five or six steps on the circle, but she was so soft and flowing I was just *yahoo!!!!!*

BTW Dee wandered over and got in the way a few times, but obviously decided that B could do all the work Lol ;-)

On to today and I took Bally out for a lovely hack

First off I had to say hello to a very sleepy Little Dee

Like Bally she had no problem with me coming up and saying hello for a scratch whilst she snoozed in the sun...I am blessed with the looking after the loveliest girls!!

Anyway Bally and I wandered in and I tacked her up with her hacking tack...saddle, bridle and loads and loads of fluorescent gubbins. She didn't bat an eye at having her saddle on (first time in..yonks!) Popped her rope halter and long line on and off we went.

Much, much more forwards - yet far calmer this time, we went up the lane again. One moment of absolute heart failure on Bally's part about five minutes in. There are some beautifully landscaped fishing lakes across the lane from us and B took enormous exception to a chap sitting in his chair about fifty feet away completely minding his own business...this caused a full on, anchor slam giraffe necked dragon snorting meltdown
I had to coax her past as she did her very best Ayrab impression PMSL
On we went once calm was restored, we met cars coming both ways and were managing to just completely ignore them and keep walking which is a big step I think
We turned and went up the hill towards the yard, past some big signs advertising the garden opening (approach, sniff, click, treat *big Grin*) she saw horses in the distance and stayed calm and with me, she said hello to some decorative boulders..but had to be persuaded as they were obviously out to get her .....

She even paid no attention to a couple flying a model airplane that was buzzing around in the sky above her. She looked at it a few times as it swooped about and just walked on unconcerned

We turned around after about 20 minutes and made our way back down the hill uneventfully

Here's gorgeous girl back on the lane approaching home

And this one really brings home why it's imperative to wear fluoro gear - this was lunchtime on a bright winters a car you'd barely see her next to the trees until it was too late :-$

Thursday, 18 February 2010

A little lunging

In hand and lunging session last the field (I obviously haven't learnt my lesson yet)

Tacked Bally up in the field rather than drag her through the muddy gateway - totally fine with her bridle - she was standing completely loose so could have left at any point in the proceedings

I worked from reins on her portuguese cavesson and she was fabby - flexing, soft and very much with me. I was really pleased with this. We even had a little play at leg yield both on a circle and straight and she had a lovely try. I only asked for a few steps then clicked and treated but I'm sure we can build this up!
On to the lunging and It was just a short session to re-establish working on a line in the field with her calm, steady and listening. Well she didn't put a hoof wrong !!!! All her transitions were soft and she had a lovely forwards seeking the contact frame. We could have done with a touch more energy to get her to actually work herself, but for this session I was keeping everything quite deliberately steady.

I popped some running reins on for a couple of circuits each way just so she could feel the weight of the rein on her mouth and again she was quiet and accepting, mouthing gently as she got the feel on her mouth, but no hint of panic or soreness..yay!!

What did make me chuckle was the fact that Little Dee obviously felt she was missing out on all the fun, so she wandered over to us then tucked herself in behind Bally and followed her around the circle
Then she came over to the middle to say hello so I sent her out and she just followed B round again...if she keeps this up she'll be ready made at three! :-)

All done - I was really pleased with how well the session had gone so untacked B and gave the girls their evening feed. Once they were done I opened the gate and went to lead them out well the BB charged through the gate into the corral and set about winding Bally & Dee up to the point I had three of them galloping about, making great divots and skids in the grass, refusing to be herded out the gate ARGH!!
Eventually got both my girls out (they were actually quite meek about it once I caught them) but that Bloody Buckskin refused point blank to let me near and kept up a wall of death gallop around and around. I resorted to propping the gate open and waving a longline and cracking my lungewhip at her in the end :-o
Not my favourite pony at the moment!!

Monday, 15 February 2010


Roped in Superhubby as chief car watcher yesterday so I could take Bally for her first in hand hack from the new field. Just wanted an extra pair of hands on the ground as it had been quite a long time since her last hack, out down a new road...and she'd still been a bit flustered about cars approaching her when we were working last year - since she time the idiot woman nearly skidded into us (grrr!)

She came in OK, planted in the gateway as she realised Dee wasn't coming dinner wasn't immediately in the offing! Bit of nifty feet moving and we were in.
Tied B up with haynet and got all the gear out (we have fluorescent EVERYthing) along with the clicker bag - specifically to help with the bridling...but Bally was really good, held her head a touch high but lowered it when asked and then accepted the bit without too much asking, no hint of panic this time thank goodness!

All togged up and off we went, plan was just to go to the end of the lane and back. Good start - we hadn't gone 50 yards before a lovely chap in a white van with ladders on the roof came round the corner, he pulled right in for us and I just kept Bally walking and although a little looky, she didn't try to speed up..yay!

She was on high alert though and wouldn't take food reward after clicking, always a sign she's finding what we are doing challenging. So I worked on keeping her calm, letting her have a look at things and praising quiet behaviour.

Passed by another couple of cars and again B was great, a look nothing more :-)

Got to the end of the lane and she could see a couple of horses hacking out up on the horizon which made her go into I'm not listening la-la giraffe mode, so as I had the opportunity and the coast was clear I asked for head lowering and feet moving to get her attention back on the task in hand - it did take a minute or two which is a bit concerning when we were by the side of a road - we won't always have that luxury! So long as I always keep my approach exactly the same when she does this (calm, low energy and focussed on what I want) then I'm sure we'll be able to keep a lid on her sometimes OTT reactions.
She'll be coming across lots of new scary situations again this year and I want to make each one a good learning experience, not a stressful one. I would use the clicker - and always try to, but I don't think she'll let me in those situations where we need it the most (just a bit frustrating!)...well time and lots more practice with it at home will help I hope!

Anyway around we turned once order had been restored and we walked and trotted back up the road, passing another car, all good - we even got up close and personal with a wheelie bin (good associations - I keep my chaff in one so as far as B is concerned they are full of goodies not monsters!)
On past the field and back down the lane to the gate where B did really well to contain herself as B B, Bonita and Little Dee all bucked and yee-haa'd and larked about as we came by.
Plan is to take her out for a wander at least twice, if not three times a week gradually building up the distance as it gets lighter in the evenings and exploring new routes, so that as soon as it's time to back her there'll be no surprises about where we're going :-)

Saturday, 13 February 2010

....Followed by some Lows and Highs!

Designated today as a spook busting training day for Bally!

Idea came to me as when I arrived at the field this morning they were just starting a football training session - it was the very littles - about 5-6 years old, so lots of running around and squealing and yelling (and that was just the coaches ...pmsl)

The girls led in just fine, tied up on the fence at the back of the goal they were using and contentedly munched away with the occasional head lift to check out the entertainment over the fence! Superstar ponies!

Obviously as crowd training going so well I had to up the ante slightly so planned a fun session for this afternoon, incorporating clicker work.

It didn't start very well :-(

Brought Bally in and she was hyped as soon as she realised she was in and Dee wasn't. So even walking her from the gate to the barn she was tense. I just insisted on forwards thinking every time she stopped and thought backwards... so keeping her feet moving, asking her to lower her head and getting attention and focus...well I got her up to the barn and tied up with a haynet.
I'd already decided to go back to the way we'd been working before the break - bridle on every session whether it's going to be used or not, and I felt it was quite important to tackle this asap as I thought she might be a bit hesitant about it after what happened on Tuesday.

A bit hesitant doesn't even come soon as I lifted it towards her she reared and span, snapping the metal clasp on her rope and the top spar of the gate she was tied to.

Major issue to get round! I let her run herself down in the corral and just waited till she became calmer, got my long line, caught her and brought her back round to the barn.

.....And got the clicker straight out to work on changing her focus....

B worked really well through each step - bridle in front of her, stay standing....touch it with her nose....let me lift it and touch her, let me hold it close and touch her ears..then her mouth, right through in about 20 minutes to letting me put it on.


Then with me working from a long line on her rope halter we just had a nice easy walk around the paddock working on halts, turning, backing etc on a nice loose lead...easy peasy stuff to build her confidence and trust back up.

Bally was back to her lovely sunny self now so I thought I'd give her a challenge and do some clicker work with spooky things like crinkly noisy flappy plastic food sacks to get her thinking and working out what behaviours to offer to get her reward.

We had the best session EVER! It really was the first time I think I really, truly realised the potential of the clicker with a horse of her nature - Bally is so sensitive and reactive and this makes her stop and think and most important of all try to figure out what to do rather than just slam the anchors on or run.

First off I dragged the sacks out, spread them around the corral and worked on clicking for her approaching and touching, and wasn't long before she was moving them about with her nose and merrily walking past, then onto and over them, and finally wearing them as I upped the ante to get the treat.

Bally was having a ball, completely relaxed and working so hard, so as I had about 15 treats left I got my pop up umbrella out and we worked through touching it closed, standing still and watching it open, walking with me carrying it up and finally letting me move it in an arc from in front of her, over head and back down to in front of her with her quietly standing head lowered and watching it.

I was running out of treats so stopped, used the last couple to get her bridle off quietly and calmly then gave her a jackpot (...her dinner) and taking the bumbag off ended the session there!
Bless her she really wanted to work and she worked so hard, but seemed to enjoy it tremendously...I know I did :-)

Thursday, 11 February 2010

More Highs and Lows

I checked Bally thoroughly yesterday morning, she wouldn't come over to me and my heart sank, but she let me approach her and pop her headcollar on, then led in nicely and tucked into her breakfast whilst I looked her over and she was fine, thank goodness!

I know everyone will think I am completely mad, but last night when I went up I put on her rope halter and a lunge line and walked her out to the spot in the field where we'd had the accident and asked her to work with me

She was very tense, not helped by Dee and the bloody buckskin (as it will henceforth be known) charging about bucking and kicking and generally looning around. But I felt it was crucial to have some attentive, quiet compliance out there. To know that I can get and hold her attention with distractions around, get her to listen and to remain or become calm even when she's on high alert and ready to run.

We did it!!!!!

I just worked on some head lowering, asking her to back on a light aid, using the rope to yield her quarters and then asking her to walk on a circle...
I'll be honest it took quite a bit of doing - B was very tense and nervy to start, but by keeping my energy very low and keeping my focus on exactly what I wanted from her - keeping my asks very, very small and quiet...making sure everything was an ask not a pressure inducing demand we built up to it and after ten minutes work I was able to get her to walk, trot and halt with her relaxed and stretching and feeling like she was happily with me.

We then had a lovely loose lead wander back across to the corral where the others were and she had a groom and her tea. I was so pleased with her for trying so hard and beating her demons

It would have been a lovely end to the day ....But, well as this week seems determined to be as crappy as possible, I then proceeded to have a car accident on an icy road when I was going to take my Daughter and Granddaughter shopping. Lost control on a hill where several cars had already left the road - one badly wrapped around a tree, and went into the back of someone.

If I wasn't already suffering because of being trampled and dragged on Tuesday I am now. I'm aching all over and feeling very stiff and fed up!!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

And what comes after pride....

A bloody crashing great fall.

As I said on FB I'm not sure what's broken the most, my confidence, Bally's trust in me, my thumb, my groin or my bloody Bvlgari glasses, but all are dented in a major fashion.

So what happened today? To be honest I'm not sure why it all went so catastrophically wrong today, over confidence, bad timing, no planning and poor judgement I guess.

Anyway I decided to re-introduce a little long lining for Bally and brought her in - she was a touch spooky, jumped and pulled back when she caught sight of her gear hung over the barn post (helloooooo clue number 1!!!)
I moved her feet to the side and asked for forwards and she walked in no problem, tucked into a haynet whilst I brushed and tacked her up. I did a bit of inhand work with her and she was fine, then proceeded to lead then long line her around the corral and as it was going so well thought she could do 10 minutes around the edge of the field (Yes in a field with 5 other loose horses *rolleyes* )
We started off fine Bally was nicely forwards and watching for my rein and body cues to keep her on track, I was feeling quite chuffed we pootled along. I asked for some halt transitions and she was quite antsy and a bit head tossy, not halting from my voice at all, so I brought her onto a circle, made it smaller and halted her off the head collar then asked for some backwards steps

All good again and on we went, a bit of a moment when the buckskin filly came screaming up the field, bucking and whinnying. I just halted B after a bit of a tap dance from her being a bit dithery and once filly cleared off, asked B to walk on.

Now as I was longlining from my lunge lines I had them dragging out behind me and what I'm pretty sure happened was that Buckskin filly had wheeled round, caught sight of the lines and started following...then trod hard on one and caught it...Bally still moving forwards got socked in the mouth and exploded!
She jumped and rammed her head down, pulling me off balance, then in a split second leapt, kicked out and span back towards me. She hit me as I was trying to get out of the way and the pair of us got tangled in the lines. I'd hit the dirt by this point shoulder first then got pulled onto my back as my right hand and I think my leg too was caught in the line so I got pulled. Completely tangled up - she'd even got one of the lines in her mouth :'-( Bally had tumbled over too and as I tried to get up she was flailing around on her back. I admit screaming and bursting into tears at this point.
I managed to scramble up and got over to her as she managed to find her feet and get up. The pair of us were shaking from head to foot. Bless her Bally stood stock still as I felt over her legs and untangled and completely untacked her where we stood. Thankfully she just seemed shaken, no rope burns from the line. I'm sure she'll be sore tomorrow (I'll pop her a Danilon in her breakfast) and I hate to think how long it'll be before she'll happily accept a bit again.
So there we go what a, excuse my language, fecking disaster.

After several Ibuprofen, wine, a hot bath and comfort food courtesy of my lovely husband, I'm sporting a wrenched shoulder and groin and a very bruised right hand and swollen thumb...oh and a completely snapped pair of glasses

Serves me right for my stupidity.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Tipping the balance

So What did Diddy Dee Dee get up to yesterday?

Well I did mention that whilst Bally was having kittens over approaching the screaming hordes to come in Dee was merrily wandering along the fence line sticking her head over to say hello to people!

She's a proper monkey and doesn't seem fazed by much...except being manhandled by male vets, or being in a stable (and I can safely state that on the two occasions I've experienced her being manhandled by male vets IN a stable has just about seen WW3 breaking was um hairy to say the least!) She has an absolutely super sweet nature, but like all youngsters by golly lets you know when she isn't happy...usually by going straight over or straight through you :-o

So we've been gently working on things she not keen on, using advance and retreat and the old calm, patient persistence with lots of reward for tries on her part.

Having seen her going vertical over having her head touched (she had a nasty cut on her forehead when she was younger that needed vet can imagine the rest!!) I can now pop her headcollar on and off over her ears like a bridle, touch all over her head, stroke her ears and I'm just working on being able to stroke around her mouth with the intended goal of being able to check in her mouth with her remaining happy and relaxed about it. She's absolutely fine to be stroked, brushed and scratched everywhere else, even notoriously tickly bits!

Other things I'm working on are her being happy about going into enclosed spaces...which now means I can't keep her OUT of the feed room lol! Tying up and remaining standing without trying to tie herself in knots (she's now tied up every feed and we've progressed to tying up and then bringing the feed out and remaining tied when she's finished...although this is definitely a work in progress.
We also need lots of practice at being foot perfect about hoof picking out and trimming.....So every day I pick her feet out and every weekend I "do" her feet - holding them up for longer at trimming height, holding her legs between my legs and resting her hooves up on my knees and using my rasp. I'm hopeful that when Ellie comes back in six weeks she'll notice a massive difference in Dee's ability to cope with all the palaver!
Her leading manners are excellent - I can walk , trot and reinback with minimal aiding, she's cracking the turn away whilst walking & trotting and she's 100% good to catch (helps in our situation!!)

So yesterday afternoon after Bally had been out on her road trip, I brought both girls in and tied them up opposite each other - Dee in the open barn (with the gate /bar across) and Bally on the fence by the road (good for getting her used to cars going swooshing past...I pretty much don't do anything without finding a training benefit / angle these days lol!!)
Then I gave them their dinner and a small haynet. Once Dee had finished her feed and was tucking into her haynet I started her trim practice....without thinking I went for her left fore first as it was closest (she's had a previous injury on this leg and can be a little sticky with it). Well she snapped it up and let me hold it, but as I put it down and changed to face the front then lifted it up onto my knee she went vertical and came down on top of the bar :-o So she was stuck - left foreleg over it and right just about on the ground with all her weight on the ominously creaking gate...eeek!
Thankfully she was completely calm about the situation and stood stock still whilst I gently manouevered her leg off the bar......oh boy was that a scary moment! But I kept a lid on my panic as best I could and calmly and quietly moved her back and lifted her foot again. Ok this time thank goodness and I was able to finish when I wanted.

I was able to work round OK and only had one other sticky moment, right hind this time when she pulled it away and rather than pull it out and put it down in a loss of balance which is fine...she cow kicked - and this time she got a real growling at and I backed her up sharpish - that's one I won't tolerate!

Leading her out she was still a little antsy and pushy as I think she was quite rattled, and not "with" me, so I did some feet moving - forwards & back and asking her to move her quarters, then asking for a flex side to side and a head lower with gentle rhythmical asks, praising for each soft try...and bingo, my sweet natured happy little filly was back...and why? I think her loss of control and her sensing my panic subtly changed her perception of the balance in the relationship and this was enough to either upset and unsettled her or push her to challenge me....interesting thought!!

I let her loose and she was super relaxed about me removing the headcollar, so we had a scratchy session and I stroked her face and around her muzzle...good stuff!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Bloody Fantastic

Oh what a brilliant day!!!

It was great to have such a positive start back into training schedule on Friday and Bally seems to be really happy to be back doing things to make her think...and there's always the huge amount of praise she keeps earning herself ;-)

So this morning was a perfect opportunity to start crowd training as the pitches in the corner of the field had three lots of matches on - Loads of lads running around playing, balls flying everywhere, flags fluttering and parents and coaches yelling their heads off....perfect!
Well Bally didn't think so to start.....
I opened the gate to the corral and called the girls whilst I made the morning feeds up. Now what happened was fascinating to watch. B herded the babies up and they started to make their way over, but then as she got closer to the crowds I could see her struggling, wanting to come in, but very wary of the noise.

I called again and she milled about obviously worried about coming in towards all the fuss and shouting. Now I must point out at this stage Dee had already made her way right up to the fence line not 10 feet from the pitch and made the acquaintance of a couple of little girls watching their brothers play, what a cheeky monkey!
I went out to give Bally a hand, popped her headcollar on and she led in pretty well, tense and wary, but happy for the offer of leadership.

Once she had her face in her bucket of breakfast she forgot all about the crowd, so I gradually moved her bucket around so she was nearer the fence and the pitches. She had the odd start as we were behind the goal and the ball flew around a couple of times, but happily went back to her food.
When she'd finished I walked her around by the fence and I could see her growing in confidence as I kept completely calm & quiet. Now came the really important part..keeping her focus on me with all the distractions and asking for some work at the same time. So we tried a couple of circuits of semi lunging, me walking with her on a long lead asking for her attention with half halts and halts. Then I halted her a few feet away from the fence and did a couple of direct rein disengaging her quarters moves..all done really well by Little Miss B!

I was really pleased with how well she was doing so led her along the fence line and out into the main field. Then after a couple of circuits in walk on a 15m circle with her again nicely attentive I halted her and let her off the lad but stayed where I was and stroked and scratched her, telling her very effusively what a brilliantly good girly I thought she was!!!
So there we were 10 ft from the fence with hordes of screaming boys and yelling parents, B completely at liberty to beggar off and she stood happily and calmly with me having a scratch and watching what was going on...blummin FANTASTIC!

Funnily enough all we'd actually got planned for today was a small trip out in Bessie Horsebus as it was two months since Bally had even seen the box on her trip up to the field and on top of that we had an incredibly useful training session!

So this afternoon Gi brought the box over and I caught B, walked out the gate and across the lane to the lay-by to see how she'd load. Well considering the time lapse and the fact that she'd pretty much fallen down the ramp last time when she was spooked by a car as she unloaded I think she did brilliantly. Nice and calmly I gave small asks with minimal pressure on the rope - just enough to ask rather than demand a movement, then release and praise for each try. It worked a treat and 5 minutes later with only one slight pull back, but no reversing, Bally walked up the ramp and on the box.

We just took her for a 10 minute drive down through the village and circled back to the field. She had a minor heart attack over the branches scraping the side of the box - almost went into tap dancing full on paddy mode the first time, but as I remained completely calm, she relaxed a little more each time it happened till it only garnered the response of a slight twitch and eye roll in the direction of the noise.
Bally managed really well considering the fact we were on very small bendy up and down lanes, she still feels the need to move her feet to keep her balance, but it's done quietly and deliberately with no panic and she'll learn to balance better with time and practice.

She was very careful backing down the ramp, I could feel her tension and again just kept my own energy level very low and quiet to give her confidence. She stepped off nice and steadily and with no drama...couldn't ask for any more :-)

I have an update on Little Dee too, but that can wait until tomorrow :-)

Back to Basics

So, a little earlier than planned, but pleased to say that I've started gently working with Bally again.

Of course even during daily handling we are always learning (about manners and more importantly each other) but this is "work" with purpose and goals.

I've been reading an awful lot during the break and mulling things over - mainly about me, how I approach things, how the way I'm feeling, how I react and what I want from a session can make or break it. Generally I don't think I'm too far from where I want to be ....and more importantly Bally needs me to be - I think we have each other fairly well sussed now. But It's absolutely vital that I keep myself grounded, calm and clear in my vision every single session. And if I'm not then don't even start one. There is no race, no time limit and there is always another day.

For all her perceived bravado Bailarina is incredibly sensitive and in the new herd has a position of responsibility which doesn't always sit easy with her. It's an incredible feeling to realise that she looks to me to guide her - most humbling to have that trust and scary as hell to have the responsibility myself!

Anyway enough waffling about esoterics!

First lesson on Friday was just a re-introduction to her working tack. Bridle, rope halter or lunge cavesson a long line, in hand reins, pad and roller. All put on, played with and taken off without a hint of anxiousness. Settling with the bridle, cavesson, pad and roller I asked her on to a 12m circle around me at walk, being very mindful of keeping her attention, and keeping her from dropping her right shoulder and falling in (discovering my timing is pants in the process and needs sharpening up big time!!)

I popped in a couple of halt / walk transitions and asked for a gentle upwards transition to trot and back down after a couple of strides.
We had to work on the halt transition on the right rein as B appeared to have forgotten how to stop on a whistle (despite being foot perfect on her left rein lol!)

I wanted to move onto a very short close in-hand session, and started straight from a direct contact on the rein / bit as she was completely amenable to me asking for a small relax and flex directly (last year we finished with it being fingers on headcollar and bit)

She was super, steady in my hand with no head tossing. She stretched out and down when asked as a reward, Halted on the button, reinbacked as soon as I changed my weight and walked off smartly on command. We literally did two circuits of the corral with a circle on each rein and stopped as she'd been such a good girl!

Back to the barn and she stood (with only one attempt to wander) loose as I untacked her, so she remembers the ground tying...actually the fact that I do her feet and rug loose in the field already means she should have this task perfect!

I'm going to update a little later on today's sessions...both of them ;-)

It's great to be back!!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Being Big Sister!

The girls were due for their trim and unfortunately Ellie could only do them on Sunday...issue is that the Footy ground in the corner of the field is invaded by hordes of screaming children and rowdy parents...will be great for crowd training, but not great for bringing Dee in for her first trim with me...and I think even Bally might have had an issue being in the corral right next to the mob.

We decided to do them out in the field, but as I was bringing the girls down to the gate B bit D on the bum, who then walloped into me, so B kicked out at D....who proceeded to completely flatten me this time. Reader I tried to hold on to the two upset gallivanting Luso's but at risk of actually having my arms dislocated I did let go of one and ended up with a very prancy Dee dancing around me whilst I'm flat on my arse in front of a crowd of people. (repeat to self I Love Horses..Hmph)
Order was restored as I managed to tow Dee back up the field as a slightly shamefaced Bally made her way back down towards me.
Did Bally's feet first and pleased to report she was an absolute Angel. Foot perfect and the couple of months off work hasn't caused any issues with an excess of flaring. Still a little patch of separation on her right fore, but it's a small stone that's been trapped not an infection, so it'll tighten up itself. It was funny, we just expected her to behave because she's the eldest and suddenly she does!
Dee...well all that practise picking up and holding up her feet counted for precisely zero, because she took exception to being asked by Ellie. I could make my kiss noise and touch her leg and up her foot came.. but she kept refusing to do it for her! Persistance and patience paid off, even with a couple of rears, one body slam into me (I'm thinking of investing in body armour) and one cow kick at Ellie as she gave her left hind back we got all four feet trimmed both in hand and on the stand and given back when Ellie decided not Dee.
I had been hoping she'd behave impeccably but as she's been antsy being handled by both the vets first time when she feels pressured, it was no great surprise. It was important to get the job done, but safely and with as little stress and as much praise as possible which we achieved in the end.

What did make me laugh was the fact that Bally stayed around us and on the couple of occasions when Dee was "naughty" Bally snaked in and threatened her - she was looking out for me and putting Dee in her place! Suddenly she's the grown up mature one!!

Ellie said in her opinion Dee's Carpal valgus was very mild and the deviation in her movement was minimal, certainly better that the other Luso she does and he's supposedly clean limbed. We just have to be very sharp to keep her lateral balance spot on to alleviate any twist as she places her forefeet. She did say that she thought she moved really nicely - very elegant and cadenced

So that's two trimmers and my own vet not being able to fathom why her legs are enough of an issue for Chris Harris to fail her...that along with Steph's assurances that if I buy her she will enter into a written agreement agreeing to buy her back and offer her a home for life if her legs mean she can't be ridden, well I haven't changed my mind just yet, but something tells me it might not be too long before a certain someones passport will be sent back for a change of ownership *whistles*

*Sensible head on* We'll see how this year pans out ;-)

Enough of all that - I decided for all our sakes to start the clicker work with Dee in earnest - she is completely food orientated and quick to learn so it will be a very useful tool for things like standing still / holding feet up and to re-introduce it to Bally as I want to use it in combination with her foray into ridden work.

Will report back on progress........

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Photo Blog

Got some lovely shots from the field today thanks to superhubby and thought I'd share them

The girls are either really pleased to see me...or really want their dinner Lol!!

Some nice head shots...well except mine being missing

Sharing a moment with Little Dee

Took this one for Clare, Bonita's owner...Showoff!!

Beautiful Bailarina

Love this one of Determinada, she's really starting to blossom

Sharing the last of Dee's dinner...not sure she meant that to happen lol!

A bid for Freedom...yeeehaaaaaa

The Three Musketeers waiting patiently for chief slave to break the ice in the water bucket...they do have access to a natural spring, but I obviously need the exercise