Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Never Forgotten


Wombat was my first pony. I got him when I was 12 years old. I have no idea how old he was then, but he still had some dappling on his bum that first summer, so I think below 15 yo. He was a little 14.1hh, flea bitten grey arab welsh cross. He taught me everything. He taught me about love, about trust. He taught me how to sit a buck, a rear, how to pull up a bolting horse. He taught me how to jump (he would pop over anything I had the guts to point him at). He taught me how to fall off, and how to get straight back on again. He gave me the confidence I have today. He gave me my sanity when the kids at school were being particularly cruel to me. He was my 'Pom', my boy, and it broke my heart when he died.




Six months or so after Pom died (put down due to colic), I went to look at a free OTTB. He was a friend of a friend of a friend's horse. His name was Gus. He was fat, had a chewed-out tail, and looked HUGE to me. He was 14 years old, and 16hh. I thought Pom was athletic, but Beckham (I re-named him of course), once he was fit, he was something else! Loved a good gallop, could pop over jumps (although I needed to hold him together and it wasn't something he enjoyed too much). He taught me what it meant to get a lazy, downhill TB to go in a frame, to step under, to give to the bit. He taught me that it is not always love at first sight with a horse, that it can take a while to form a bond with your horse. But once that bond was formed, it was very strong. I loved loved loved that horse. He had plenty of problems, from cancer on the third eye lid (which he went in to the clinic to have surgically removed), to repeated bouts of anemia, and too many colic episodes to count. He taught me what to look for in a colic, what a light gassy colic was, what a heavy-bubbly-guts colic was, when to call the vet and when to wait it out. Becks is the reason I listen to gut sounds almost every night after they have eaten their dinner. Just in case.
One of the best moments we had together was not long before he died, on our last ride out. We were cantering along the trail (we were by ourselves), and Becks as per usual, was being a bit herd-bound on our way back, being very strong. I was half halting, and then.... click. We connected, he became so light in the forehand and his ears flipped back to listen to me. It was that fairy-tale rocking horse canter you always hear people boasting about. It was perfect. I will always remember that moment when all the schooling, all the hours of coaxing him into a frame just came together, finally.
He was a horse that loved a quiet moment. I would be busy tacking up or brushing or something, and he would turn his head to me and put his nose right where I would cuddle it. And he would stay there, for minutes sometimes, seeming to stall me, prolong the moment. God I miss him. I lost him (put down due to colic, anyone see a pattern here?) in March this year.


Roughly six months after Becks died, I got Allie. Which was only about a month ago. She is quickly shaping up to be a very lovely horse. She is very loving, like Becks, always ready for a snuggle. :)

I will never forget my boys.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Lessons

When should I start lessons with Allie? We are just starting to canter under saddle now, albeit very awkwardly. I think I want stop, walk, trot and canter solid before I take her anywhere. I get the feeling that I look terrible on her at the moment. I guess this will improve as she becomes more balanced.

We set up a little 20x40m arena at the back of our property (where it is mostly sand) with dressage letters. I bought the cones with the letters from the saddlery, then we needed extra cones to mark out the corners and one long side (that is not next to the fence line). So we went and bought cheap plastic plant pots from Bunnings, then spray-painted them white, then used tent pegs to secure all the 'cones' into the ground. All up, cost me about $80. It helps so much with schooling, just because there is a track and we can concentrate on the horse and not so much where we will be going next. You should have seen the two of them snorting, shying and carrying on when we first rode them in the arena though! They got used to it quite quickly, and it was mainly Allie who was doing the shying. Nearly had me off a couple of times.

Allie is very very stiff to the right. When doing little exercises to loosen her up (small circles, playing 'noodle-horse' where I ask her to give to the bit to the right then the left and follow with her body like doing mini bending poles, serpentines, etc..) she is fine to the left, but is resistant to the right. She does this funny thing where she does a little skip, like she wants to go into trot, but she doesn't break gait, when going to the right. I guess that is her telling me 'it's too hard Mum!!!'. Yesterday I just persisted with it, and she did improve quite dramatically towards the end of the schooling session. I have worked with her every day this week while I have been on leave, she has been good. I did have to up both their feeds though.

Gracie is doing well too, she is starting to really give to the bit and step under herself well. It's nice to see some progress there, because she can be a massive handful. She is the brave one though. Gracie is the one who goes first when there is something scary. I think that is because she is curious, and we have encouraged it. Allie will be brave one day too, I just have to cultivate it in her.

So, any suggestions on exercises to help my one-sided green horse?

And when should I start lessons with a dressage trainer with her?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Goals

I read a blog called Eventing-A-Gogo! and Andrea sets herself horse related goals each month. I think that is a fantastic idea, because it keeps her on track and she goes back at the end of each month to recap, writing a little sentence or two about how she did/did not reach that goal in that particular month and what could be done better etc. I am totally stealing her idea right now.


I think goals are important, and traditionally I have gone about goal setting ina very vague sort of way - "I want to event", "I hope to take Becks out to SIEC again one day", "In 12 months time Gracie will go off to the dressage trainer". You get my drift. I think, now with Allie who is only 4 and still hasn't has a proper canter under saddle yet, I need to set definite goals and stick to them as best I can. I shall do about 5 per month for Allie, and Nat should do 5 for Gracie too. We may combine goals too, seeing as they are at relatively the same stage.



OK, December month goals for Allie:


1. Get a dressage saddle that fits us both.

2. Borrow the neighbour's float and do some float practise with both of them.

3. Ride/work her on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday.

4. Get her cantering under saddle confidently.

5. Take both girls out on a trail ride in the bush around my house.


There. Goals set! Wish me luck... it has been POURING here for about a week - I have found it very hard to get on her at all. I've cut both their feeds back by half because they are getting fat on all the grass. They are sharing a biscuit of meadow/rye hay in the morning and one scoop lucerne, one and a half scoops oaten, and half a scoop pellets at night with their suppliments. Next step is removing the pellets! Fatties. But it is nice to have a good doer for once.




Piccies for the patient ones:

















































:) So happy...

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Allie

Meet Ballymount Alleycat - Allie:






4yo Anglo Arab x Hanoverian mare. I am in love... :)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Well!

I just looked over our last post and it was over 5 months ago! Since then Savanna went home, we had an arab gelding here as company for Gracie and a mount for me (I only rode him about 5 times though...) and he has been sold on too. I got married, went to Hawaii and came back, and now I am looking at buying my very first competition horse. I have had a bit of a look around, seen 3 horses, and have been a bit lazy about the whole thing. HOWEVER I am going to see two very nice mares on the 13th November, so wish me luck. They are both by the stallion Gwaihir Aubusson, and one is out of a TB mare, the other out of a warmblood mare. More on that after I see them I think, trying not to set myself any expectations or get my hopes up.


Gracie is officially a horse now! She can walk, trot AND canter under saddle, plus she has had a couple of rides out in the bush and on the roads, at walk, trot and canter, with cars and dogs and other horses and deer and pigs and kangaroos and baby emus and push bikes! She nearly had me off with a weird stressy-kicky-pigroot-mini-buck thing, but I righted myself and pushed her on and it was all fine.

She had a short schooling session the other night, concentrating on her giving to the bit and encouraging her to step under herself a little bit more. We are lucky that she has plenty of natural impulsion, so it's a matter of getting her soft in the mouth and jaw. She sort of got it, and we could tell it was making her concentrate. I was surprised that she didn't get shitty about it to be honest, I expected at least a little bit more than passive resistance, but I think she actually enjoyed it because she is a very very quick learner and gets bored far too easily. She is one we will have to keep on her toes always looking at new things.

She is all alone at the moment with no paddock mate in with her, but to be honest, she needed it... she was starting to get clingy with the gelding we had here, and it was causing problems with catching her and trying to work her away from him. She seems fine, even grazes up the back far away from the horsey neighbors she has across the road.

Also, she is loving popping over small logs, creeks, ditches etc. I think she will enjoy a career with jumping involved, she has a nice tuck and even does that little kick with a tail swish as her hinds go over the jump if it's a bigger log. Too cute.

She's doing really well. After this summer, we are probably going to send her away for dressage training for about a month, then Nat will have some lessons with that trainer on her, and then take her out next summer to dressage days and ARC and stuff like that. Should be fun, especially as I will be doing the same with my new horsey. :)

And lastly, some trail riding pics (not many):

Monday, 31 May 2010

Shiny and New

So we bought Gracie a new bit on Saturday. I felt that her current bit that we used to mouth her was not the best bit for her, as we have come to a bit of a plateau with her mouthing, and she is starting to show signs of resistance maybe due to her being uncomfortable.
Pictured above is Gracie's current bit, a tom thumb. I was using this bit mainly because it doesn't get pulled through the mouth, or pinch the sides. The loose rings helped her be able to move the bit around her mouth to play with it (an eggbutt holds it in place more) and I wanted her to mouth the bit and get used to it.

I have been on the look out for a eggbutt bit that looks like a french link but with a bean in the middle instead of a flat piece. (I'm madly googling for a picture, hang on).
Ok, apparently it's called an oval link eggbutt snaffle (I bought the one by JP Korsteel):



So, I have chosen this bit because:
  • The oval link in the middle negates the snaffle 'nutcracker' action, and does not have effect on the upper palate (roof of the mouth) and lips.
  • The D's on the side still help to keep the bit from pulling through (important in a young green horse still figuring out what some bit pressure means)
  • I prefer the oval 'bean' link as I feel the flat one would pinch the tounge
  • I like the curve that follows the line of the horse's mouth
I have put the bit in her mouth and tied her up to have a chew for about 5 minutes so far, but that is it. I haven't ridden in it yet. I will probably do a couple of short re-mouthing sessions before I hop on so she is used to the new feel and understands what I am asking of her.

My only hesitation is maybe I should not be changing bits on her this early in her training? If she doesn't like her current bit, she needs a new one, but is changing sooner rather than later a better option?

She also got a new rug, her very first combo. We had to take it off her as she went a bit crazy with Savanna (her paddock mate to replace Becks) and they both ran around like crazy ponies. Which they are, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised...

Peektures:




Lese.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Update!

Gracie is doing well.

What we can now do:
  • Walk and trot both ways under saddle
  • Figure 8 under saddle, walk and trot
  • Halt
  • Back (sort of in a bit, very well in a halter)
  • Walk and trot bareback
  • Shy, gallop off and pull up without bucking or dumping the rider (yay, I think?)
  • Understand what support leg means in relation to directional aids
  • Not move our feet when having a plastic bag tied to a whip flapped about all over our body and head
  • Have a tarp put over her entire body
She is doing very well. Such a mare, cheeky, bratty but very sweet and loves learning.

In case anyone wasn't aware, Becks passed away. I don't really want to talk about it, it was a few weeks ago now, I'll write an entire blog on it when I feel I can do it justice.

But for now, crappy phone pics and videos from tonight.


video



video

Thursday, 11 March 2010

So much has changed.

Lisa here.







So, Becks and Grace now live with me, Andrew, Chakra & Eddie the dogs, and Evan the cat, on 5 acres at Castlereagh, NSW. I know, right? It's awesome. The days are long, I get up before the sun does, but to have them here at home with me is a dream come true. Natalie comes over maybe twice during the week and then every Saturday and sometimes Sunday too. We have ridden Grace two more times since we got here (taking it very very slowly), and we have taken her out on the roads in hand or ponying off Beckham quite a few times now too, to expose her to traffic and dogs and pushbikes and trucks and rivers and other horses running along fence lines and goats and trails and motorbikes.... she deals with everything really well, super proud of her. She is so funny... when push or motor bikes go down our street, Grace runs to the front paddock and chases them along the fence line like a dog! She is just shy of 15hh at the wither now. (15.1hh at the hip, she's quite bum high!)
Beckham is doing really well too. He LOVES sharing a paddock with Gracie and grazing all day long. There are acres and acres of trails surrounding our property, plus quiet roads and a river close by. Becks doesn't mind going out by himself too much (He still neighs his head off for Grace though). The other day I was cantering down a trail on him on our way back home and he was so connected, so light in my hands and under me, he was totally off the forehand, I have never felt him move that way before - impulsion, self carriage, hocks underneath him... just amazing. I never get that out of him during schooling. He was just so happy.

We have kangaroos that visit our back paddock and try to jump in front of our cars at night. I was out on a trail ride and I saw about 30 of them all grazing in the back paddock of the motor bike race track around the corner. They all started to hop away together (thank God Becks is so quiet!) and it was just so graceful.

Even the puppy dogs love it here. They need to be locked away in their dog pen for long periods of time during the day when we are at work and at night (bush full of ticks and snakes on one side, giant bull mastiffs on the other and very little vet-bill finances) but they come out every morning for about an hour and they stay out for about 3 or 4 hours at night. Lucky they are old, disabled dogs, otherwise they would go stir crazy.

The cat has become an indoor cat, only going out for short periods of time to chase and eat bugs. He's on a diet right now as he got too fat!

So horses are wonderful. Funny that I still don't ride anywhere near as much as I want to though, even though they are right there.

More pictures? Ok.


(If only she had grown a longer neck...)

(Cutie pops!!)

(Not long after he first arrived - the move was hard on him as Grace came 2 weeks later and he lost a bit of weight. He wouldn't drink for 5 days! I was forcing the water down using the hose in his mouth, and soaking his feed. We had to borrow a pony for company for him.)