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...