Monday, 28 April 2008
Sunday, 27 April 2008
Felix, Charlie and Bailey were all hunting on Friday, our last day of the season, and it was a great day, with a field full of visitors - most of whom were intrigued by our lack of shoes :-) All our horses were on good form, and Felix in particular sparkled all day - he really hates it when the season is over, although the odd day XC usually cheers him up...
The weather this week has been much more Spring-like, and the warm weather has brought the grass on as well, so we are being careful...so far no feet have fallen off ;-) Ponies have all been doing lots of sunbathing and the unclipped ones are shedding fur like yetis...
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
He has really been a bit of an angel since he arrived, and seems to have enjoyed broadening his horizons by going out and about on the moor and round the farm, and even hunting a couple of times.
Today was a typical day for him - he went out with Dexter, and we decided that we would take them down through our back fields, which are very steep, and test most horses' balance and confidence the first time they go down. Usually they are like Ghost and Bailey, and flatly refuse to go down the first time, napping and standing on their back legs, as its obviously impossible for anything except goats.
I rode Dex, and led him down the hill, as I had to get off for gates anyway, but Andy was on Jack, who carefully stomped right the way down, without putting a foot wrong. We made much fuss of both of them at the bottom :-)
The next test was some boggy ground, with 3 narrow gates and an awkward track to negotiate, but again both Dex and Jack were absolutely fine, and told us they were more than able to cope, can we crack on please?
On up the hill, through more boggy ground and thick fir trees..Jack was fine 'cos he was out in front, but Dex thought something might come out of the woods and grab him if he didn't stick close to Jack ;-)
Finally, up over the hill, round some fields and back through our neighbours farm. Andy's comment "Jack is practically a perfect horse. He is so willing and honest and his confidence is growing every day" :-) He went everywhere, on a loose rein and with his ears forward, not putting a foot wrong, no matter what the ground. Not bad for a horse who was supposed to be dangerous :-)
Dex was super cool, apart from wondering what was in the wood about to bite his ankles...but then Dex (as he keeps telling us) is an eventer, who has seen it all before, darling.... :-)
What good boys :-)
Saturday, 19 April 2008
Although he is a star, and I knew he would behave well, I was still a bit nervous on the way to the meet...but then I switched on the radio, and the Beeb were playing "Barefootin'" on Radio 2 :-) I couldn't have asked for a better omen ;-)
There were lots of visitors at the meet, down from Cheshire, Ledbury, Newmarket - all over the place - and as usual there were lots of comments about the fact that our horses had no shoes on, and comments like "So, you just don't bother with shoes then?" Sometimes you just feel that there is not enough time to explain all about natural hoofcare, so on those occasions I just smile and say that the horses seem to cope really well without them.... :-)
The weather was pretty evil, with a biting east wind and horrible sleety showers, which Charlie hated, especially when it was in his face - well, who could blame him? I wasn't enjoying it either...We had a good day, overall, though, and most importantly, Felix and his new rider hit it off brilliantly. I'll hope to take some photos next time!
Thursday, 17 April 2008
He has been getting fitter, as we have been able to start canter work with him over the last few weeks, and our hills are sufficiently steep that even walk and trot are reasonably hard work :-)
Dex was terrifically pleased with himself, and quite right too, since only a few months ago he was too lame to work.
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
All this provides the horses here with excellent opportunities to demonstrate their impeccable manners, as they have to pass the building works to go out up the lane...(!)
Over the last few days I have been scoring them on their behaviour, and giving them extra points if there are extenuating circumstances:
Dexter: flawless manners, bombproof, 10 points; bonus points as he is a relatively new arrival (5 points) and goes past just as well on his own (5 points): Total: 20
Ghost: rushes slightly, and would think about spooking if something happened dramatically; nevertheless good to go past; 8 points. Deduct 3 penalty points as he is 24 and should know better. Total: 5 points
Charlie: holds it together, slightly worried, but goes. 8 points. Bonus 3 points as he is genuinely worried and trying hard. Total 11 points
Lucy: Perfect - brave and willing: 10 points; bonus as she is newly in work (5 points) and just as good on her own (5 points): Total 20
Jack: Bombproof about the building works, but can be reluctant to go past, especially if its nearly teatime and could be more fun to stay at home: 7 points. Bonus as he is green, but genuine: 5 points. Total 12
Felix: Confident and why should building work worry anyone? 10 points. No bonus as he is too cocky already :-)
Bill: Perfect gentleman. 10 points. Bonus as he has only been here just over a week (5 points) and is trying his heart out, whether on his own or in company: 5 points. Total: 20
Con: Bombproof, lovely manners: 10 points. Bonus because he is the most long-suffering of all the horses here! 5 points. Total 15
Bailey: Minx. Spooks and shies, whether alone or in company. Had to have one-to-one tuition on how to pass the digger...Did eventually stop being so melodramatic, so 3 points. Deductions as she has seen all the kit many times before: 3 points. However is in season, so no doubt Andy will say she should have a bonus 5 points for being able to even get up in the mornings...!
Saturday, 12 April 2008
He is like a mountain goat across the moor, up and down the steepest terrain, and unlike Bailey he is never melodramatic (!)
There was a photographer from the Telegraph out as well, so look out for pictures of the pair of them on the front page ;-)
Saturday, 5 April 2008
She is losing winter coat at a rate of knots, so I am hoping that the forecast hail doesn't actually materialise, as she is looking rather smart in the bits where she has summer coat, and I want to encourage it :-)
She won't be doing anything but walking for a good while yet, so we've plenty of time.
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
He has been doing quite a bit of roadwork over the last couple of weeks and so is more than capable of striding along on the lanes, but it was nice for his owner to feel for herself that he is improving, and feeling so happy in himself. It would have been nice if it had been a bit less foggy, and then we might even have been able to see where we were going...
We talked about Dex, and the fact that the only thing he is really lacking at the moment (and it will come with time and work) is really good shock absorption in the back of his foot. He is getting better every day, but he still has a realtively weak digital cushion, compared to a long-term barefoot horse.
This afternoon however a local journalist, who is interested in natural hoofcare and barefoot horses, came up to see us, and we took Charlie and Felix out for a stomp across the moor. She had not ridden barefoot horses on stony track before, and came up with the brilliant description that it was like having "air suspension" :-)
This perfectly fits - Charlie and Felix are hardworking barefoot horses who go over all terrain, and they have fantastic digital cushions, which provide them with perfect shock absorption (this is what Dex is still working on!), so riding them is like being in a pair of Nike Air trainers after wearing your Green Flash daps :-)