Friday, 5 November 2010

We survived our first hack! (Well, eventually...)

So, after another hectic month i finally return with progress reports. Sadly the plan to get out and about this month doesn't look like it's going to happen. Lola isn't quite ready and i'm stuck for transport :-( Aiming for just after Christmas now though so fingers crossed! On the plus side, she is coming along nicely. We've been for our 1st proper hack out alone this morning which was pretty much a success! The 1st hack was also attempted last weekend but we never actually managed to get off the yard so that doesn't count. The little madam decided that as soon as my bum touched the saddle she'd shoot off, tanking through the yard (which thankfully was very quiet as it was 8am on sunday morning) and only stopping when she spooked at the muck heap. After much growling on my part i got her past the muck heap only for her to spook again at the fence and start rapidly reversing up the drive towards the YO's house. At this point i lost my patience and gave up, jumped off and dragged her round to the school where we did just under an hour of solid schooling. By the end i bet she was wishing she'd behaved and gone out on a nice quick hack round the block! Anyway, she's redeemed herself today by being a little star and keeping me in one piece! We had a brief moment when the dogs jumped up the neighbours fence at her but she didnt run off or panic so it's all good. Awww i do love my little spotty beast sometimes! :-D

I've also started Gem again this last 2 weeks. We're only lunging at the moment because of the whole cold backed issue i need to get sorted, although the more i speak to my vet the more i'm convinced it's behavioural rather than physical. She definitley knows her job though. She's quite happy to walk, trot and canter from voice aids alone and knows exactly what i'm asking for. If anyone's read my 1st posts about them you'll know that i have no idea of what she's done in the past, i'm finding everything out as we go along so i'm very optimistic. We've also done a few sessions loose jumping and have so far cleared 1.20m with a 1.15m spread, and still have room to spare. After seeing the enthusiasm she has for jumping, and the scope she shows i'm highly doubtful there's a physical problem and it just makes me want to get on and ride even more.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

At last i get to ride the baby pony!!

Well, kick is all healed, swelling has gone down and finally i get to ride Lola! We've had 2 lessons now, and lots of riding inbetween and so far so good, she's been a little superstar! Ok, so our 1st lesson didn't go all that well but sometimes i think i forget she's only 4 and expect too much of her. She was going really well, turning is much better now and basic figures were all coming together nicley- then we tried our first trot... We managed 4/5 nice strides before she realised trotting was far too much like hard work and rooted herself to the spot! After several minutes of persuasion i got her to go forward and tried again, queue more rooting! I finally managed to get the lazy little buggar to do a full lap of the school then we called it a day and went back to working in walk. Again, i think i probably expected too much of her, but she's so mature in everything she does i dont think thats such a bad thing? The trot we did was lovley, even my instructor commented on how balanced and free her trot was, especially considering it was only the 2nd time she'd been ridden under saddle. I think thats part of the problem, everything she does feels like you're riding a much older horse rather that a youngster.

Well, we practiced lots during the week and went on our 1st hack out (on the lead rein, after freaking out at horses galloping around the next field and attempting a mini rear by bottle flew out of the window and i insisted the lead rein went back on. Big wimp i know!) and she improved no end. No more rooting to the spot and trot work is coming along a treat. It's almost like the first time i ask her to do something she does it, then has to think about it, then comes back a few days later and goes 'it's ok, i know what to do now' and just does it from then on. She amazes me more and more every day :-D

Second lesson was much, much better! Bev (my wonderful instructor) was very impressed with how much she'd come on in a week and even let us attempt our first trotting poles. I've jumped her on the lunge so didnt expect many problems, and i was correct. She had a quick look the first time we walked over but went over perfectly 2nd time, and then in trot too. We shall be working on that in coming weeks and hopefully introducing crosspoles too. ( Pics to follow!)

After another week of schooling we are now trotting school figures, changes of rein etc... and her walk is improving no end. She's really beginning to take a contact now, and starting to work through her back properly. Transitions are much better too, sharp and (almost) precise. Lots of work long and low is paying off and she's becoming a really nice ride already. We're doing our first InterDressage test this month and hoping to get out to our first proper show in november. It's only a walk & trot test but it will be her first time at a show too so i'm hoping the party atmosphere doesn't go straight to her head!

Friday, 24 September 2010

An eventful few weeks...


And finally we're on the verge of another weekend (a much needed one at that!) Have been meaning to update for a while now but various things have cropped up and time has seemed to be at a premium during the past few weeks. Anywayyy...

Saddler was due out on the 10th Sept to fit Lola with her first saddle but ended up having to cancel after problems with his supplier. He's now booked to come out tomorrow (yeyyy!!) so with any luck i can finally start riding properly! As it turns out, i'm quite glad he cancelled the first appointment as she was kicked out in the field the following day and i wouldn't have been able to ride anyway. With Lo being the big drama queen she is it turned out to be far worse than 'just a kick'. One of her (no longer) fieldmates cornered her as i was trying to get her out of the field and double-barrelled her in the stomach, then kicked out again and caught the top of her hind leg :-( She was wearing a rug so i didnt think the first one made much of an impact. Took her back to her stable, trotted her up and she seemed fine, so i jumped on bareback & took her in the school. We did about 10 minutes then she started being silly so jumped off and was going to do some in hand work. It wasn't until i got off that i noticed a big, nasty looking lump had appeared where the first kick had landed. It would have been about 5 inches back from where my leg would have been and must have been really sore, so it was no wonder she was playing up really.

I called my vet out to have a look and turned out to be a haematoma, about 4 inches in diameter. Had painkillers & anti-inflamatories & vet went off on his way. He warned me that there could be further issues but didn't think it was too likely, and to call him if she seemed at all unwell/unusual. Left her that evening quite happily munching on her haynets and looking right as rain. Found her the next morning, bed all over the place, pawing the ground and rolling a lot. Vet came straight back out on sunday morning and diagnosed impacted colic. She colicked all day sunday and was still not right on monday, so vet came out again to scan her & see if there was any internal damage. Thankfully all organs were intact and last rib looked fine (no break or anything, which he was concerned about) She was still quite all day monday but improved in leaps and bounds when i turned her out for a few hours on tuesday and has been fine ever since (touch wood!) Two weeks on, most of the swelling has gone and she's back out in the big field with Gem.


On top of sick horses i finally have a new job :-D Have managed to get out of that God-awful kitchen and i'm now working with horses again. Conveniently, it happens to be on the same livery yard i keep the girls at so life has suddenly got much easier. I'd forgotten how it feels to wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work. It's fantastic!


Last weekend also saw the Marriage of 2 of my best friends (and me in a dress!) As hard as i tried to get her to allow me to wear a suit she said there was no way her Maid of Honour was wearing a suit so i relented and wore a dress. Anyone who knows me would know how unusual this is, especially as said dress was also pink (my least favourite colour ever) There is photographic evidence in existance but that's being kept under very close wraps until i can examine the photos for myself!

Hopefully the next few weeks won't be as eventful as the past few have been but we shall see. I'm just excited to be able to ride the baby pony soon!!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Gem's Story

Gem- well she's a mystery. We don't even know her real name! The dealer thought she was 10/11 years but the dentist thinks 12 so we've gone with that. No-one knows what breed she is for sure but we (inc. vet, farrier & physio) are pretty sure she's full TB, although there may be a bit of something else in there... who knows! There was absolutley no history whatsoever for her, and her name whan i brought her was 'Number 6'. As you could see from earlier photos, she looked like a toast rack and she was the one i never intended to buy but couldn't say no to.

In the early days she was incredibly aggressive and defensive over food. I used to have to throw her breakfast & dinner over the stable door in the first few weeks as the minute she knew food was on the way she would come over the door at you, all teeth baring. This gradually lessened and as i got used to her faces and insecurities i just began to ignore her. She's quite happy to let me in now, and backs away from the door when i walk in but those ears still go right back and she attacks the bucket like it's done something to offend her. Silly horsey! I think it stems from not knowing when her next meal was coming, so as soon as the bucket hits the floor she's in there before anyone can take it away but i may be wrong. As i said earlier, who knows!

To those who don't know Gem, she can be quite intimidating. Especially if you are nervous around her. She picks up on nerves very quickly and doesn't appreciate it. For as bold and brash as she makes herself out to be she's quite a sensitive soul really and any nervousness on her part tends to show itself as aggression. She's also a proper face puller! It makes me laugh no end! When i first had her i was a bit unsure if the faces and leg twitches would be followed up with actual bites or kicks but not once has she ever done anything and now i just think it's part of her character. She's just a grumpy madam, like her mother really!

The real issue i have with Gem is how cold backed she is. Now i've rode a few cold backed horses in my time but i can honestly say she is one of the worst i've met. I've owned her 8 months now and still haven't rode her. We're making progress, but it's painfully slow. She's still having physical conditions ruled out too so until i know it's definitley a remembered type pain rather that there being an actual physical cause no-one will be getting on her. I'm convinced she's had very badly fitting tack in the past as she has 2 white patches either side of her withers and the same in the girth area, so i'm hoping she's just expecting the saddle to pinch & rub and there's no underlying physical cause but we'll see. I've got to the point where she will have a saddlecloth over her back secured with a surcingle and will happily eat her breakfast wearing this. I can also lean over her back in the school and she doesn't seem concerned by this either, it's just when the saddle goes on, and the girth is done up that the real problems start! I put it on her once, tightened the girth gradually and she was fine until i did it up a bit tighter, then she went bucking and plunging around the yard. Not huge rodeo type bucks, and if a rider had been on they would have been able to sit to them, but nevertheless she wasn't a happy horse! The one thing i do know is that she was definitley rode the summer before i had her. A friend of mine's instructor rode her whilst she was at the dealers yard and said she did exactly the same thing to her for the first few minutes then settled down and hacked out very nicley with no other problems. Maybe there's hope for us yet!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Lola's Story

I first met Lola in October 2009 as a 3 1/2 year old. She had lived on the same yard she was bred up until June 2009, then brought by a dealer and moved to his yard until i brought her on New Years Day 2010. She was practically unhandled, would have a headcollar on but that's about it. I began doing groundwork with her late October time and gradually started to build things up, starting from scratch with most things you would take for granted with a 3 year old such as picking up feet, having a rug on, leading in hand etc... Lola is a particularly fast learner though and it wasn't long before most things weren't a problem. Our only major issue has been loading.

Having never travelled before, and then going from breeders yard to dealers yard untied in a metal cattle trailer she was understandably scared. The dealer had already previously admitted to hitting her with a blue pipe until she loaded as she wasn't sure about going up the ramp! During the summer we began to practice loading. After trying all of the more 'traditional' ways of loading (feed, placing feet on ramp, putting another horse in first, lunge lines etc...) nothing was working so one day, while we were alone at the yard, i spend almost 3 1/2 hours standing with her at the bottom of the ramp on a lunge line. If she tried to turn away i was backing her up and presenting her at the ramp again. I stood half way up the ramp and just waited. After about 2 hours she's plucked up the courage to put her front feet on the ramp so i gave her a scratch (she loves being scratched- even better than a food reward!) and waited again. She backed down the ramp a few times but as she was on a lunge line i didn't move and waited for her to come to me again. It was a very long afternoon but eventually she just walked right up the ramp to me and that was that. We practiced tying up and shutting the partition for the next few days and i'm very happy to say she's not been a problem since. Sometimes i think you just need to give them the time to make the decision to enter the box of their own accord rather than under force or bribery.

After a few months playing with the other babies at my friends yard she was moved to her current yard to be back with Gem. She loaded perfectly to be moved (hurrah!) and arrived very chilled and happily munching away on her hay, looking completely unfazed by the journey. I turned her out with Gem that day, they said hello & had a squeal then walked off together to graze and have been inseperable again ever since.

The first few days were all very new and quite scary as there are lots of monsters on this new yard that Lola had never encountered before. They're building a new house on there at the moment so there are lots of big lorries, cement mixers, flappy plastic bags and lots of noise going on! She also met her first tractor and quad bike within a few days of being there and apart from the odd spook & shooting forward she was remarkably well behaved, especially for a 4 year old that's seen very little of the world.

She had been there about 8 weeks now and is very chilled & settled. She's working well on the lunge, and has been for lots of 'experience walks' around our hacking routes with Beauty (my friends mare) She's also been backed now which was a major step forward, i'm just waiting for my new saddle to arrive now & then the work really well begin!

So, that's Lola's story so far. Not bad for a horse that had only been handled a few times up until October last year huh?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

First Post- A (not so brief) Introduction

Ok, so here goes. Allow me to introduce my girls : Gem (Gemini), a 12 year old dark bay TB and Lola (no show name as of yet- all ideas welcome as i'm struggling), a 4 year old 3/4 TB 1/4 Appaloosa. I first met them in October 2009 and finally purchased them on New Years Day 2010 and we haven't looked back since. It's been a long road back to health, for Gem in particular, but we're getting there now.

Firstly, some pictures of when i brought them:



Both were brought from a particularly unscrupulous dealer who had practically left them to starve. By the time the above photos had been taken Lola had started to put weight back on, i'm quite greatful i don't have any of her at her worse as she really was a sorry sight. The intention was only ever to buy Lola, but Gem was her field companion and the last one said dealer had to sell of their latest 'batch'. Their words were "I'm moving fields next week, if she doesn't sell by then i'll leave her here. She won't fetch anything for meat." Now i know they probably said that thinking i'd buy her, and it worked, but i couldn't have left her in that field on her own. They were sold to me with the names 'Number 6' and 'Number 7', which just about sums up how much they cared about their horses.

I moved Gem to her current yard on Jan 16th 2010, and Lola went to my friends yard to play with the other babies for a few months before coming into work. They are both back together now, on a wonderful yard a few miles from home and are as happy as pigs in poo! Gem has put so much weight back on and is looking quite good again, although still lacks a lot of muscle and top line as she's still not ready to come back into work. Lola also looks well, has gone from 14.1hh last October when i first saw her to 15.3hh today, and finally looks more like a 4 year old than a skinny, bedragled yearling.

And now for some up-to-date photos:

Gem: (not the best, can't find any nice recent ones, she always looks like a donkey in photos!)


and finally:

So, thats the story of how i aquired my girls. I shall post more about their individual stories in the next few days as there's so much more to tell.
Oh, and if anybody recognises Gem or even thinks they may know her, please get in touch. I would love to know her history, what she's done in the past, where she came from etc... You may not know her as Gem as the dealer didn't even know her real name, but if anyone can shed any light on her past it would help lots. She has several issues, both mental and physical that i think would be much easier to overcome if i knew more of her past...