Friday, 27 February 2009

Dogs, transitions and the dreaded green car

Yesterday I decided it would be a good idea to take my dog up to the lunge arena with Holly and (hopefully ) get him to lie sensibly by the fence while she worked. If I could do this it would at least cut out one of the episodes of running to the house depositing dog etc.
The problem with the dog is that he is clingy and gets separation anxiety and starts chewing himself when he's away from me for any time. Basically he's Emo Puppy !
So he was thrilled to come with me but also would not lie by the fence - he had to sit inside the circle with me ( as had alrready been predicted he would do). He was pretty good and Holly couldn't have cared any less than she did about him being there apart from giving him some very dirty looks when he couldn't resist the urge to sniff her hocks.
What is it with dogs and horse's hocks ?
I did make a discovery early on and that was that Holly is either very bad at transitions or selectively deaf. I spotted a stone on the track and called her to walk so I could go out and move it but she just kept trotting - eventually I had to walk out to her to get her to stop. You can guess what the focus of the rest of the session was !
Neo went into the house while I dealt with Harvey ( just in case of any shenanigans) but Harvey turned out to be 100% better than Holly. We finished off with the walk along the private road again and when we got to the end he was all for turning around and going straight back - hmm, okay, so we did a couple of circles there and then stood and watched traffic for a bit first.
My morning's ride was once again haunted with text messages and phone calls and a flying spook at a ( OMG!) green car that we have seen a billion times before. I probably confused the hell out of the old lady at the bus stop by turning multiple circles in the road with Fally snorting and huffing at this parked car untill he finally decided it was really a boring car and was stopping him from going home. It was just after this that my phone rang and I snapped "Hello" into in a rather impatient way. It was Craig telling me I could collect my computer ( oops - don't want to upset him).
I did apologise to him later when I went into the shop to finally collect my long-absent machine. It cost less than he'd quoted too so I can forgive him for phoning at inappropriate times.
Today I have decided is a day off as far as working horses is concerned. There's far too much other stuff going on. Also it rained which means that the ramp and arena are slippery and I don't have to feel guilty about grooming and turning them all out.
Today the farrier is coming, I have to shop ( vast amounts of dog food etc) and I'll be visiting my grandson. The farrier called to say he'll be late - about 2 instead of the usual 11, this messed things up some until my daughter and her sometimes-kinda-wannabe-boyfriend volunteered to step in and see to that for me as it just so happens to be their day off.
This helps me out a lot - so why am I feeling resentment ? Why do I suddenly feel like I'm sharing something I don't want to share ??
Also my tendency to micro-manage stepped in, they are both perfectly capable of bringing in and hosing off 3 horses, they know the farriers and they know where everything is so then why did I suddenly have to start explaining everything in minute detail including telling her multiple times NOT to tie Harvey ?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Today ( Wednesday)

Back on my own again and no fog.
I took the precaution of closing all gates, wearing hat, gloves and toetectors ( of course) and making sure that someone knew where I was and what I was doing.
All I can say is Wow, despite starting off by peeing on the track as soon as we got in there ( nice one Harv!) He lunged even better than yesterday and I finished off by taking him for a walk staight to the end of the private road and back. No problems there even though we were followed all the way back up by a van which was trying to deliver a washing machine to one of the neighbours ! He even behaved when the delivery men stopped me by the gate to ask directions.
Once Harv was away I went out on Fally and had an interesting time recieving multiple phone calls and text messages (and dirty looks - apparently it's not the done thing to trot past someone with the Dr Who theme tune playing in your pocket !)

Harvey on the lunge

Another experiment

Yesterday was Gemma's day off - that means "horse therapy", company and gossip. In this case the gossip came first because it was foggy and we were hanging around the kitchen drinking coffee and wondering if it would go away. It's not that we mind riding in the fog as such - no, what we mind is being invisible to traffic. One big problem with riding here in England is that just about every outing involves roadwork in order to actually get to the bridlepaths. In our case we also have to cross a major road and we're on a bus route. So, on that note we wussed and drank coffee and gossiped and smoked and drank more coffee and finally decided that the fog was here to stay.
One good thing about the fog is that it ( and the addition of a second horse-wise person) meant that I could try out lunging Harvey. The lunging area is on a hill and has a wonderful panoramic view - and the last thing I wanted was Harvey being so distracted by the view that he fell over his own feet spooking at stuff that's 3 miles away.

Gemma took a turn at lunging Holly and then we got down to business. I have a spare Harvey-bridle, it's fitted with a dutch gag - didn't fancy the idea of trying to lunge in that so I investigated the collection of bits on the wall and came up with a cheltenham gag - basically an eggbutt snaffle with sliding cheekpieces - so the cheekpieces came off and the bit became, to all intents and purposes, an egbutt snaffle.
The cavesson doesn't fit - it only ever fit the pony so I now have "X-full lunge cavesson" on my wish-list. we're lunging using the lead around the poll method - not perfect but better than nothing. Harvey was dodgy about having this lead put behind his ears - it made him grow very tall and the walk up to the arena seemed very long. Gemma had the camera and settled back to watch.
Stunner ! He was extremely good ! I'm impressed - he was concentrating, listening and didn't trip once. Obviously I'll be doing more of this........

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Muck, luck and thoughts on discretion

February is muck spreading time around here, we are late. Somehow we are always late - late with the muck, late with the spraying and late with the haymaking. There is, however, one great advantage to being late and that is that since everyone else has already done it they don't mind lending gear to a neighbour. In this way we got loan of a Macormick MTX something and a fair sized slurry tanker ( along with as much free slurry as we could shift) this did the job in far less time than our little Fordson Major would have managed and gave my daughter the engineering student the opportunity to play with the big toys.

Today was another story, they say that discretion is the better part of valour - well I looked at the weather today and decided that any attempt to lunge, walk or ride anything would probably not end well. 14 mile an hour winds gusting to 32, a lunging arena on top of a hill and in close proximity to my flappy-sheeted haystack - hmmm doesn't really bode well.
Harvey tied up okay but was very distracted by next door's trees, kids and just about anything going. He kept doing his pull back routine and we had to have a slight discussion about that ( I don't want any more broken headcollars, ropes or tying up rings) and in the end I was able to leave him tied while I mucked out his stable so we finished on a good note at any rate.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

On the subject of bedding

Sawdust is apparently in short supply thanks to the credit crunch and we have been grubbing around getting it from here and there and adding in chopped straw as needed ( except Fally who thinks chopped straw is just yummy)
I have heard of farms using "burned paper" (??) for cows - apparently that's pretty vile but the latest has me cringing - chopped up plasterboard has just been delivered to a local farm for use as cow bedding. That has got to be totally disgusting - if it comes down to a choice of that or nothing then mine are going to be coping with rubber mats and I'll worry about washing the rugs later.

Thoughts, plans and a little bit of guilt

So, it's been a fairly odd week here. For a start it's half term and the kids are home, secondly my friend has been off work for half of it.
Now, the kids being home would normally be a time to get things done and do a fair bit of riding but, since the pony died at Christmas, there is a very definate lack of interest in that direction. Kind of leaves me in an odd position as there was never any way I would have taken all this on if I didn't have my helpers. So now I'm left with a horse I can't ride, a horse I can't ride unaccompanied and Fally plus stables, bales etc etc. Home is now the place of teenage romance and drama, late nights and hiding out in the bedroom all day. Great.
Luckily I have Gemma around for the first half of the week and she feels the need for "horse therapy".
I had been playing with the idea of lunging Holly or something but honestly that was about as far as I'd got - thinking about it - well Gemma took it to the next level, comandeered part of the garden and set to work. So Holly was lunged several days in a row ( which probably came as quite a shock to her since she's done practically nothing since Christmas - 3 rides don't really count for much) and we rode the other 2.
This brings me to Wednesday. Gemma back at work and I'm at the yard on my own ( again) okay so I decided to go for it - what the hell, why not ? I lunged Holly and then took Fally out for a hack around the roads. It's charity collection day and the roads are infested with green bags. Obviously these contain gremlins and have to be snorted at and given the evil eye. We went on the pavement at one point to get past a place that was having the drive done. Interesting - a truck full of hardcore being unloaded by a minidigger isn't as scary as a small rockery against someone's garden fence - maybe the gremlins were in there as well. Anyway, we had a nice wander around and went back to the yard. Then I looked at Harvey.
Well there is a problem. This is the horse that can't be ridden alone, 18.2hh of pure wussiness and worry and he's standing there in the stable looking at me.
I have to do something.
Now here is where the guilt bit comes in, I knew he was a wuss -that he wouldn't go out alone and that he wouldn't tie up when I got him ( gift from the local riding school which was "downsizing" ). So really I should have done something about it by now, however I was stuck in my happy bubble with my "helpers" and a horse that won't tie is no big problem when you have an enclosed yard and there's always someone at hand to hold him, ditto not going out alone is also no problem if there is usually someone to ride with. You see where I'm going here ?
Happy little bubble has apparently popped so now something needs to be sorted.
So, okay, I bring him out with a headcollar, tie and groom - no big deal. He keeps craning his neck around and checking where I am just in case I've left him on his own ( real security problem here) but I'm going in and out of the tack room getting brushes and stuff and he's never alone for more than a few seconds. So I counted that as a good start and grabbed a lead rope - we're going for a walk.
The fun started as soon as I closed the gate behind me. He's no longer 18.2 - I think he's somewhere in the region of 22 hands with bugging out eyes and flaring nostrils. We're walking in a kind of oval in the private road outside the yard with him snorting and blowing and looking over the ( 6 foot-odd) wall to check that the others are still in the stables. They are eating and don't care in the slightest. I'm glad I'm wearing toetectors but I'm wondering why I didn't grab hat and gloves as well and actually tell someone what I was doing. This horse is just rigid and very worried but we keep walking and I'm talking garbage to him and finally his head is coming lower and he's paying attention to me and staying off my feet. So we halt, back up and he gets a scratch round the ears and a "good lad" and we go back in - he wants to go straight into his stable but I'm not doing that, he gets to stand by the gate while his rug is put back on and then I turn all 3 out into the field and get the yard cleaned up.
So that was my Wednesday, if there's any suggestions as what I could do differently feel free to make them.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Silly photo

Here's Holly pulling her favourite "I'm so bright" pose.

Monday, 16 February 2009

A Spring in your step ?

So today is Monday and for a change the weather is not too bad - actually starting to feel like Spring is finally on it's way. The mud is starting to dry up and everything looks so much better with a bit of sunlight on it.
I went out for a quick ride this morning - nothing exciting, just some nice roadwork but for once I got back and could still feel my toes !
The horses all fell over as soon as they got into the field and I was treated to the sight of 12 legs all waving in the air as they scrubbed their heads in the mud before they leapt up and went cantering and bucking off.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Blog The First

Okay, so I am sick to death of all the negativity flying around the horse forums and sites and I think it's just about time that we all kick back and look at what we are doing. We are supposed to be having fun here people - not endlessly bemoaning what is wrong.
There will always be something wrong somewhere - let's try celebrating what's right and good for a change.
This is your chance to talk about what makes you smile about your horse-life, about the good things that happened today and why it's all so worthwhile......