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


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


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...