Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Plan

Above is our plan for New Years Eve tonight. Specifically, avoiding what happened last year.

This year, the girls will be locked up in their stables (where they have spent the night for the last week), sedated, and out of sight of the fireworks thanks to our nifty blue tarps. They will also have some loud music playing from the radio to help drown out the noise.

We can not go through what we went through last year ever again. This will be my NYE every year for the rest of my life. Overkill? Maybe. But it is not worth the risk. Not one bit.

The neighbours had a couple of fireworks last night (maybe 3?) but they were over very quickly. The girls were already stabled away and they were fine. But that loud booming noise - it makes Nat and I feel like throwing up everywhere. I got physically sick and felt exactly like I did last year when we heard them last night.

Last year when we drove in the driveway and saw the fences down, was the absolute worst moment of my entire life up until that point. Then it just got worse and worse as the night drew on. We stumbled through the spider riddled bush looking for any sign of them. Calling, screaming, hearing hooves and soft neighs in our heads but thinking it was real. I even remember thinking "even if we find them dead, at least I know where they are".

When there was a car accident around the corner from my house about a half hour after we got home that night and I thought the horses caused it - cop cars everywhere and the cop I spoke to couldn't tell me what was going on. I swore I heard screaming horses and I envisioned my girls trapped between a car and a tree. It was really just the cop car radios distorting voices but it was all I could do to stop myself from pushing past them and running to see.

Hours of trudging through the bush, calling to them, praying to God, bargaining to just help us find them. Many many friends coming to help us look, some with their horses, some people I had never even met before, in over 40 degree (104 Fahrenheit) heat, all helping to find our mares.

And then the relief, when I thought all was lost, the relief when Andrew called me in hysterics telling me he had found them and they were safe (albeit cut up, thirsty and hungry).

Never ever ever ever again.

Friday, 30 December 2011

A little less sticky

A little update on the Allie cantering issue - we have right canter under saddle now. Just. I am working my butt off with her on this. Natalie has been lunging me while on Allie so she at least understands what it is I am asking of her - this seems to have done the trick. We have had a couple of off lead under saddle canter circles too. She picks up the correct lead to the right about 90% of the time.

Her left canter is depart is lovely and the left canter itself is pretty good too - balanced and light.

We are getting there. :)

Saturday, 24 December 2011


We have a sticky right canter people. And a big lug of a rider who is not helping the situation at all!

Pretty pony likes to tilt her head. : /

The lesson with Linda at the local indoor went well until we tried to canter right. I tried and tried and tried and tried. She just would not pick up the right lead. We had hissy fits, spins, leaping and disunited canter, all which ended up with me being so tired that I didn't have the strength to give aids anymore.

So this is what happens when Allie is over it and  'checks out'.

I was asking for canter right. Note how we are facing left.

Allie was pooped, I was pooped. Linda couldn't figure out what was going wrong from the ground.

Tired yet Allie?

Eventually, Linda got on and sorted her out. She got her cantering right a couple of times, but not without a fight. (Which made me feel a little better about it all).

Getting a feel for her.

Screen shot of the canter video. Win!
It was a good day really - even though we had problems with canter, it is something to work on now.

There are more photos and video, but to be perfectly honest, I look too fat and the videos of me trying to canter look so horrific and I'm so tired that my hands are bouncing around like no body's business so you are not seeing them.

That day has prompted me to start getting myself fitter - I can't expect my horse to be this fit athlete if all I do is sit around all day getting fatter. All this week I have gotten up early to exercise (not much yet, but it is getting me in the habit of it). I'm trying to cut out as much sugar and junk food as I can. I rode today for about an hour and a half (more canter disaster, see below) and we had two canter lunging sessions earlier in the week. The brat of a horse has almost no problem cantering right on the lunge, even on a small circle. So the problem is obviously me.

The disaster today was my horse chucking more fits because the pressure was on. I concentrated on my balance, position and having quiet hands but still, Allie got offended and did her spins and her leaps and I just couldn't get the canter again. Plus she unsettled me and I was not as tough on her as I should have been. :(

I have the next two weeks off work. Guess what Allie and I will be practising?

Sorry for this shitty downer of a post. Hopefully in a fortnight I can look back on this and think "Ha, problems with canter! So last month...". I can only hope.

Monday, 19 December 2011

My horse has leprosy.

Far out - it NEVER ends with my pets!!! Can't I catch a break?!?!

She is itchy, and the skin is flaky and coming off two spots (pictured below). Dr Google diagnoses ringworm.

I have never dealt with ringworm before and I have NO IDEA where the hell she picked it up from. So I am off to the saddlery tomorrow to get an anti fungal treatment to see if I can avoid another freaking vet bill treat it quickly.

We shall see. Harumph.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ok, so during our blogging hiatus, quite a bit has happened with Allie's schooling. While I haven't ridden much (rain, rain, rain),  I have had a couple of lessons with Linda, and something has just clicked. If you remember my last riding videos, everything was a bit loose, very messy. She was blowing through my outside rein and falling out through the shoulder. If there wasn't a wall there, I couldn't turn her without this happening. I tried using a low, firm inside hand to turn her. This does not work people! She was also rushing, a lot and I encouraged it. Whoops.

So, what changed? My outside rein became a wall. A wall that I pushed her shoulder over with. This was a VERY HARD concept for me to grasp. How can I turn my horse to the right by taking a (firm!) contact with the left rein? I didn't get it, but I trusted Linda and it started working and now I got it. I can move that mare's shoulders wherever I want to. Whenever I want. That first lesson though, Allie and I had major words. A bit of tough love from me, firmer contact, and no more grey areas. We are doing this NOW! Not in two or three strides, not when you feel good and ready, now. Face please... No? FACE NOW! Ok, good girl. Now turn... TURN NOW! Good girl.... You get the idea.

I am SO unfit. During the first lesson, Linda asked if it was Allie huffing and puffing so loud but it was ME! Oh dear...

We also changed her bridle set up a little bit. I didn't want to put a flash nose band on her. I believe that your horse opens her mouth because your hands are not light and it is painful. But Linda asked me to try it, and to be honest, Allie has been much happier with it. It is like she has one less option to try before she gets the right one. She hasn't reared since I put it on her. I don't fight with her for her mouth anymore.She just gives, and is actually reaching out for a firmer contact now. So the flash stays for now. This one is a hard one for me to swallow, but the proof is in the pudding, isn't it?

So a few photos from a ride the other day. She is more 'there' in the bridle for me. Reaching for contact, instead of sucking back all the time.

I have another lesson with Linda tomorrow at the local indoor. I'm pretty excited to see how we go!

On another note, Allie is blooming with health (finally) and they are both looking super-duper cute.

Check out those dapples!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A loving gift for Nat from Gracie

It's seems this mare is determine to send me broke.

She was running around like a maniac this afternoon, and she was headed for the gate, so I pushed it closed and by the time she got to it she tried to go through and caught herself on the latch.

She ended up bluntly ripping the skin on her off side shoulder.

Another vet bill to end the year (just the way 2011 started). Merry Christmas to you too Gracie!


I could not contain my outrage when I read this article that a Facebook friend posted.

Every Equestrian's Worst Nightmare

Very very upsetting! Poor Blas. :(

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Saving Argus

I have been following a blog for a long time - I can't remember how I found it, but it is about a rescue horse called Argus and his new owner's efforts in giving him everything he deserves in life after spending I think 14 years in a tiny prison. It was one of the very first blogs that I followed. Katie hasn't been posting much of late, but when she does I enjoy hearing about Argus and his quiet, horsey life.

Today though, a post about not only Argus' death, but the death of her other horse too, Ridge. On the same day. One after the other.

I am totally heartbroken for her. To loose not one, but two horses? To go through that pain and grief and tragedy but twofold? I can not begin to process that kind of pain.

Please head over and leave a few kind words for Katie. For all of us when we go through that dark time, when the kindness of strangers means the world.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


SO MUCH to catch up on, so little time to write a catch up post!!

Most important update - look what we got the horses for Christmas:

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


I have read a couple of posts lately where the author has said it was their 100th post. Which made me go to check how many posts we have and lo and behold our post count was at 99!

To commemorate this event I thought I would go through all the posts we have posted over the course of the blog with some commentary.

Enjoy a walk down the last few years of our lives!

The whole reason we started the blog - Gracie arrives!
19 September 2008

In the next month, we manage to get a halter on Gracie. She learns to be led and be handled a little (with help from the lunge whip).

Beckham turns 18!
18 October 2008

December 2008 - Gracie has her first visit from the dentist and we make progress with her training.

January 2009 - Gracie escapes and goes missing on new years day (for the first and not the only time). She manages to get herself a corneal ulcer and spends a couple of weeks in a stable. Once recovered she also gets a saddle put on her back for the first time!  Becks gets over his floating issues (finally) and Gracie has her first altercation with the float.
Locked away in the stable.

One of Gracie's New Years day injuries (after a few weeks)

Linda gets on Beckham and sorts him out
Pretty boy.

April 2008 - Gracie learns to lunge both ways.She also tries a variety of new tricks -  tries to bully people at feed time, she develops a fear of clicking electric fences and rushes past them and she starts an infuriating bad habit of throwing her head way up in the air when we slip her halter off. This took a lot of patience and reinforcement on our behalf to get her out of the haltering thing! (looking back, this is all just her trying to test everyone!)

May 2008 - Gracie has a person on her back for the first time. Just a few minutes of wandering around the small yard bareback with a halter. Other agisters hassle me to break her in properly to help with her attitude and I post a rant about how I don't think breaking in a (probably) 2 year old that is as physically immature as Gracie is the right thing to do. Gracie's rug size is 5'3". Becks gets a pair of Easyboot Edges for Lisa's birthday

POLE! Lookout!

I have an audience for her first backing.
July 2008 - Lisa falls off Gracie. Twice. Gracie's udder swellings turn up and they have stuck around to this day. She has a vet visit to have her teeth done again and to look at the lumps. The vet shrugs his shoulders and tells us they are just fatty tissue and not to worry about it. Gracie comes out on rides on the 1000 acreage behind the agistment property with us (being led from the ground or being ponied from Becks of course!!).

We don't post for a long time. Nothing in between August 2009 and Feb 2010.

March 2010 - HOWEVER so much changes. Lisa moves to 5 acres and we bring the horses home. We continue to break Gracie in and Beckham is taken on lots of trail and road rides by himself. Gracie is ponied off Becks (or led) on trail and road rides too. Life is good. For a short while.

Looking back, I can remember kissing Beckham every night and asking him to stay with me, don't leave me. I think I knew that he was winding down, that it was coming to the end. He looked pretty crappy (to me) and started to be a poor keeper again. I am so glad that I got to keep him at home with me those last few months, and that I was there when he died. I did not blog about it, I was too sad at the time. I should go finish his 'in memory' page. He died of colic, about 3 hours after I last rode him. There was no other warning than a little sweat in a strange area the day before on his rump. That was the only thing out of the ordinary.

April 2010 - Gracie continues to go well under saddle. She is by herself since Beckham died and she is starting to have an attitude adjustment towards actually wanting to be with people on terms other than her own.

May 2010 - Gracie changes from a tom thumb bit to an oval double link eggbutt snaffle and she gets a new rug - a 5'6". She also gets a babysitter, Savanna!

Again we don't blog for a long time. Gracie can now walk, trot and canter under saddle. Lisa is organising her wedding, Gracie is ridden a little bit out on the trails and Lisa has not much time to ride at all. But once the wedding is over and we return from the honeymoon, the search is on for a new horse for Lisa. A search that leads us to Allie.

First ride together!

First day at home.

Out on the trail before we got Allie.

The blog name is changed from 'Becks and Gracie' to 'Gracie and Allie'. I know. Super original.

December 2010 - Lisa and Allie get to know each other. Gracie continues to get better under saddle, goals are set, but it rains and rains and rains so not much can be done about that. Allie starts rearing under saddle, but is otherwise fun to ride. 2011 looks to be a good year from December 2010!

January 2011 - The girls escape from the paddock due to fireworks on New Years. You will note that this is Gracie's second time! We find them the next day safe and mosly sound but we will never ever leave them on NYE ever ever again. Never. Goals are partially completed and Savanna comes back to babysit the girls as they do.not.settle. after the whole traumatic NYE thing. No riding happens due to injuries and heat and rain and shit. 2011 looks like a crap year from here.

Fence down. Where ARE they?

This is what they do most of January.

This is what I do most of January.


Ah, that's better. 1 month later...

February 2011 - The girls start back under saddle, have a trail ride with a friend and we borrow a float to do some float training with them. I fall off Allie for the first time (bareback) which prompts me to finally buy a saddle for her. (also, blogger is a bitch when posts get too long and there are too many photos. Sorry!)


March 2011 - We move house! Goodbye crappy tiny caravan-like 'house'. Hello pretty fencing, stables, tack room, entertainment area, bathtub and most of all happy husband!

Ah, real fencing

Savanna thinks stables are BORING!
 April 2011 - Not much happens other than settling into the new place. We school them a little bit, just playing around. They also get their teeth done. Life is good again.

<3 this one. So cute.

Equine tooth smoke, don't breathe this!

May 2011 - We borrow a float for three days and take the girls out and about!

June 2011 - Allie's breeder sends me some foal photos. Allie and I have our first dressage lesson! We don't ride much other than that as the day is short and the rain won't go away! Chakra has her first vet visit that leads to her cancer diagnosis.


Ok, fine.

July 2011 - It is cold. It is wet. It is winter and it sucks. I slice my finger tip nearly clean off and earn myself a couple of weeks out of the saddle (if I ever want my finger to look normal again). Absolutely nothing else happens.

August 2011 - Chakra is diagnosed with cancer and is given two months to live. I get very depressed about it and looking back, I think that sadness leached into the rest of my life, mostly at work. We get even more rain. How can this be?! We do manage to borrow a float again and it finally clicks to me how to reverse the bloody thing around a corner. We take the girls to a hoof trimming clinic and then on a suburban ride with friends of ours the following day. It all went off without a hitch.

We desperately need one of our own. Seriously.

Pooped after a four hour ride.

September 2011 - Spring is here! Days get longer. Rugs get lighter. The rain, however, continues. Lisa goes away with her husband for their wedding anniversary and Nat holds the fort. The ponies look pretty. We learn that Allie can jump! She also turns 5. We look forward to summer riding.

Birthday cuddles from Dad.

And from Aunty Nat!

October 2011 - Two words - Daylight savings. Can I just say, how do we survive the winter without it? We get more schooling done, we start riding out on the 'Chain-O-Ponds' loop (i.e. we ride around the block). My friend takes Allie and I for a trail ride and Allie develops a problem with getting on the float. Chakra is still enjoying life, but a bigger lump appears on her belly. The vet prescribes palliative care drugs to keep her comfy. Gracie has Natalie off with a violent rear/plunge move AND apparently this is the month for lumps on animals and vet bills because Gracie is diagnosed with sarciods and we begin treating them.

Sipping water from the bottle. Yes, really.

Sarcoids. Ugly things...
November 2011 - Chakra is put to sleep. Gracie's sarcoids start to scab up and drop off. We borrow a float again and take the girls to the local indoor and to Badgery's Creek (our old agistment) again. I have a lesson from Linda (upcoming posts!). We have 100 posts now with 24 followers. Life is looking up again after the stress and grief of Chakra's cancer. I miss her like crazy and am sad about the whole thing but there is a part of me that is relived and is ready to move on from being haunted by it.

Wow. This post took me hours. I hope you enjoyed getting up to speed!