Thursday, 30 September 2010

That's Better!

What a difference from yesterday! Here is Bennachie in the distance as I walked the dog:

Despite starting my day by uncovering an orgy of earwigs under a gate catch (they all wriggled out, I'll admit I shrieked and piaffed, all before brekkie too!), today was horsey bliss. Once the sun was up a couple of hours it was very cosy indeed. I cleared the field, bar one barrowful, in the afternoon sun with the boys hoovering away the grass around me. Very relaxing way to work up an appetite for dinner :) I've cleaned both the dressage saddles too.

Because it was such a fine day, and because I've seen the impending weather forecast (boo!), I made the very most of the blue skies and worked both the boys. Fin accompanied me on a bijou road hack. We were only out about half an hour but I'm keen not to venture too far on my own just yet. He was, of course, great company. Just along the road there are some llamas or alpacas (I think they're the former?):

Kate had warned me they are there but said Fin is used to things like llamas since he lives with Quadi *lol* I think the second photo is easily mistaken for my Drama Llama. The head and neckset, the splayed legs...the first guy, the brown and white, marched towards us all imposing-like. I can understand why people have them around their stock, they seem very territorial!

Once back I swapped ponies in the field, Quadi stood loose on the yard as I groomed him in the sun. I wanted to take him out along the road but felt in-hand would be a little too light. However, I'm not sure he's been across the threshold yet so didn't want to ride him out and end up having a tussle on my hands. I plumped for long-reining :) He was just super! Had to steer/yield him off someone's garden (lucky he's not shod!) but he was forwards and didn't imagine any 'mawnsters' or draw and imaginary lines he could not cross, nor did he have a fit because I wouldn't let him chat to the neighbour's horses. I played a little with some light flexions/bend and asked him not to gawk and pay attention to my contact. Nothing exciting or taxing, we were only out for 10-15 minutes, but I daren't overwhelm him and give myself months of rehab/conditioning because I've pushed him into his 'No More Questions' mode. For today, he was very onward bound and obviously keen!

Because tomorrow I know there will be grey skies, I took some phone snaps this afternoon of our nudey ponies under clear skies :)

Everyone trying to groom one another, 3 is NOT a magic number:

Quadi being coarse to The Baby:

All our duckies in a row :) Coffee looking very tall, especially his back end!

And again, Quadi being a bully:

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

5 Good Things About Winter

Have to say I was rather grumpy as I mucked out in sideways rain and galeforce winds, which was blowing directly into two of the stables to boot. I hope I don't have to shut their top doors overnight but at the same time I'm quite sure they won't want another night of sodden bedding! My comments on Claire's blog the other day were ringing in my ears as I had to slip-slide my way to the muck heap with a heaving barrow, soaked to my knickers and the wind is driving the cold rain into my ears *lol*

To snap myself out of my foul humour, I managed to find 5 reasons why winter will be good:

1. Quadi is now out of his nosenet, so we can enjoy a winter without headshaking and I'll have a little less tack to clean. I prefer the aesthetics of no noseband, and presently this suits us training-wise too.

2. No crawlies and flies, which means no flyspray and facemasks.

3. Whilst there is always a risk of laminitis from frost and snow, I'm glad to see the back of the summer grass, Quadi is far easier to regulate on hay.

4. The horses will be rugged so they'll always be clean which saves grooming time. I know that's shallow but with thenights fair drawing in, time is limited!

5. If we get lots of powdery snow again this year, it'll give us great footing to ride in the field. And it keeps our horses' hooves clean and bug-free.

You'll gather the weather is too foul today for anything but basic chores. I even neglected to sweep out in front of the stables. Only once over the course of the day have I seen any of the horses not grazing, they've had their butts to the wind the whole time :)

Hopefully this weekend half of our winter hay supply will be delivered, weather permitting. 100 bales for me to shift, I may have to rope in some helpers in exchange for a cooked meal and copious cups of tea/bottles of beer!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Today's weather is best described as mizzle. The sort of opacity you get from lots of drizzle. It's not cold though :)

This afternoon there was still lots of moisture in the air, and it's very grey, but the wind subsided some and it wasn't rainy. I mucked out and swept up, and started to think about tidying/arranging the tack room. I wigged out at least a dozen times at 'forkytails'...earwigs! They give me the shivers, I really hate them. Spiders and beetles and bees are always welcome, in factI don't have a problem with bugs in general. But forkytails are, to my irrational mind, hideous and I admit without much shame I stomp on 'em. I apologise if that offends, I do try to respect all creatures but I really really hate these things and my blood runs cold at the thought of one nipping me. When I'm in the stable block and, for example, a tag on my top is bugging me, I'm now worrying perhaps one of the little blighters is in my clothes jabbing me! So I spent a good while last night and today flamenco-dancing on them. And squawking like a prodded parrot every time I happened across yet another one.

Virtuously, I also poo-picked the boys' old paddock and took a good heaped barrowful out of their current paddock. It'll take a lot more to clear it but in a couple of days I'll be back to clean grazing. I'm won't do any work with them tonight but I have brought in some of their gear to wash, and all the bridles are in the house to be cleaned tonight.

Have to say, I'm a little miffed about Quadi. I wonder if he's feeling 100%? This morning his stable only had one poop in it. He had peed too, it wasn't terribly smelly, and he's obviously eaten some of his hay, but there was a good bit left. I've been leaving their feeds in overnight since no-one's super-hungry at teatime, I only stay until I know they've eaten their omeprazole which I heap at the top of the feed so it is definitely consumed and not wasted.

It's just not like him to not have an appetite and I can only assume the grass in the field is really doing it for everyone, therefore they're not ravenous when they come in. But the lack of droppings is unusual for Quadi, he did stop once when we were working last night and then there was one in the stable, which is low output for him, so to speak. I turned him out as normal and checked him every half hour for a few hours, don't think he's stopped eating all day and he seems well in himself, tummy noises are normal and he's not distended or in any discomfort.

I'll take his temperature tonight and check it in the morning. I am aware of my back tonight, presumably from the today's barrow-wielding. Perhaps Quadi and I have swapped appetites, I can't stop stuffing my face *lol* I was quite happy to burn a few calories in the field today!

Monday, 27 September 2010

I Won't Be Greedy

The rain I was anticipating never came today, so in between walking the dog and cooking dinner, I rode two horses in the field! one at a time of course...

Fin first. He was a very good boy, apart from two bucking instances. Very rude! I pushed him up to trot and when I saw his forelegs start to dish I knew what would happen next. Just as well I made a deliberate effort to allow more weight down through my stirrup as we went into trot, as I thought he would buck in the transition. He bucked very high but I surprised even myself by asked him on, which I felt as a better solution than allowing him to continue to coil under me. He did it again in similar circumstance, and again we worked on as if it didn't happen. Luckily my butt never left the saddle to unseat me! He's just immense fun to be on and very pliable, I played with all sorts of bendy lateral work, and focused on being straight and not nagging with my right hand. Again, like yesterday on Quadi, I felt a little 'handsy' but he didn't curl behind so I guess it was the right strategy to contain the tickle in his toes.

Quadi, well, he stood in the yard loose whilst I groomed and tacked him. I guess he does have some redeeming features ;)

We started by doing some figure 8s, loops and serpentines on the grazed part of the paddock, which sits on a hill. not very far in I was aware of his breathing. I find hill work vital but have been frustrated by the lack of varied ground at our previous locations. I aim to be clever with the slopes of the paddock in our schooling work.

We moved onto our usual checks and balances of circling, maintaining softness through bend and transitions in and out of halt. he was a little more equal in both reins, which on reflection means he was more resistant in his left rein than usual. We worked through it as we leg-yielded in and out of our circles, trying out some shoulder-in and quarters-in too. When I asked him up into trot he didn't felt backward and threw his head up. I asked him down and to flex with big, babyish, inviting rein aids. They wouldn't have been pretty but they were sensitive despite appearances, I concentrated on my hands being of a fair height where the bit would be acting on his lips and not the bars of his gums. He tried to run through my hands, flung his head up Drama Llama-style and flicked a big buck. Not big compared to the much taller and much more lithe Fin of course ;)

After that though, he really knuckled down and yielded some great soft moments, peppered with gawping at the cows and protests that he shan't, can't and won't. As soon as he gave to me, we came back to walk and he got lots of verbal praise. We worked some more in walk and it was much softer. Of course I ask myself why we need to have this fight but he hasn't settled in here so I expected him to revert to type. Is he mentally settled enough for me to be asking him to trot in the field? Well, whether I was right or wrong, I ended on a great note before he was tired and starting to sour.

I only rode for 20 minutes so had he been fit we would have just been warmed up for proper work, but he tired physically and mentally. I gave him a long rein and walked him off, and called it a day.

Both boys were warm and a smidge damp under their girths after only 20 minutes of work. The girths are synthetic so it's partly that, but also a combination of lack of fitness and hairy bellies. Some clipping needs to happen soon!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Back To School

Man, I'm beat. I had to partake in a Sunday Sofa Siesta this afternoon.

I have a few horsey chores outstanding but i guess my travels are catching up with me. in fact, I know this is the case, because i'm grumpy and sore and tired! My first day mucking out took a toll on my unexercised muscles, having been sedentary for the best part of two months.

I did ride both boys tonight. Fin and I went along the road in the bright dusk light, fully geared in high-viz of course. He was lovely and relaxed on the way out, checking out his new surroundings. On the way back he was a little more curled, the cows were looking at him funny, or something *lol*

Fin was duly turned out after his leg stretch and I collected Quadi. The other two helpfully bounced and bucked and bronced as Quadi stood transfixed in the yard. They'd been quiet all day of course, sometimes I'm sure the Spanishees conspire against me! Quadi didn't seem keen on work but it's hard to read with him if he's just being pissy.

Either way, we set about the field. I've checked it over for rabbit holes, I know there are rabbits but don't want any broken fetlocks.

He was really very good indeed. As soon as my bum touched the saddle i had a huge grin on my face, it was great to be back on board. For the first few strides it was apparent he was more interested in his field-mates So i asked for his attention and some relaxation. This meant some vert big and open rein gestures. I did feel i was being rather 'handsy' with him, not strong or abrupt but I was aware i was overdoing the asks on the rein. None of this was in the vein of what i have been taught, nor what has been right for Quadi. But in the circumstances of a brand new yard, next to his fieldmates, in an open field, and my not having ridden for two months, I felt this kept us safe.

The open reins were great to establish bend and to stop giraffing and snooping around. I have to say, his attitude impressed me. He cracked on with our work without quibble or tantrum. I did feel him leaden in my right hand and fragile in my left, but he responded to my every aid.

I didn't want to ride for a long time. This is his new home and him being settled here is of prime importance, so I wasn't to be greedy and push for too much from Quadi, he is a delicate chap. I got about 20 minutes in but every one of those minutes was good :) Would i have been saying that a few months ago?! in any case, he's not fit so we're back to muscle-building basics.

i started out just asking for a slight flexion either left or right with the correspondingly correct carriage (ie. not star-gazing!), moving out in an active rhythm. Then we moved onto circling and shoulder-in, all the while i tried to give him room to lift his back. I didn't have it the whole time but a good proportion of our session, i'm pretty pleased! We also played a little with leg-yielding in and out on a circle, i switched between the two every few strides to keep Quadi from starting to lean on the hand. Weight in the right-rein aside, he was wonderfully responsive. i also schooled him a bit through the jumps set up in the field, and up and down the slope of the paddock.

He had a little moment when Fin and Coffee tried to rile him from the fenceline with their antics. He slowed, threw his head up and took a couple of steps sideways. I halted him and stroked his neck until the naughty PREs settled. Have to say how pleased i am at how he responded to me, I told him how good he was for standing still for me. Happy days with my handsome horse :)

I teased him into his stable, unheadcollared, with a small handful of The Baby's balancer. He came right in, so it can't be too scary. It's the biggest stable and just the same as the others. I wonder if perhaps he wind blows in differently or the view from the door casts a blind spot which makes him nervous? I hope in the next couple of weeks I can teach him it's a fine stable for him and a positive place to be.

Today we had sun and no wind, i don't think we'll be quite so lucky for the next few days!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Playing Ponies

For the next three weeks I'm house-, horse- and dog-sitting. So in addition to spending every day with Quadi, i'll be enjoying the company of Kate's horses and dog whilst she heads for more tropical climes :)

Today was a lazy day in that I wasn't going to ride, but I was busy.

Upon arrival and for the past week or two, the gang were on restricted grazing, a big concern was an attack of laminitis or a colic because of too much new grass. They've gradually strip-grazed their way to a reasonably-sized paddock but today was the day to give them a whole fresh paddock. So I busied myself with electric fencing for a couple of hours, then mucking out. It was windy and rainy which initially irked me, and then I reminded myself I was desperate to be home to do this *lol*

They were most dull in that they had their faces in the grasses as soon as I removed their headcollars, but surfaced a little later to oblige my need to take cameraphone snaps:

I laughed when I took the last one, he was looking very alert and pretty, and I managed to catch him with his eyes closed :)

I'll be up at 7am every day to punt the boys out. My PJ bottoms were on under my jeans this morning, couldn't bear to change properly for the sake of turnout *lol* I had a vague idea I might lunge Quadi this evening but I didn't have the energy to do it properly.

Everyone was fussy about their dinners, not surprising given they'd had a brand new part of the field to graze through. Well, The Baby finished his, good lad! I left the grown-up boys with theirs, I'm sure they'll pick at them overnight. Annoyingly, their daily feeds contain their omperazole. But this is heaped at the top of the feed rather than stirred through so I think they ate the bulk of their meds immediately.

My Prima Ballerina Drama Llama Extraordinaire, however, has apparently been picking at his dinners of late anyway. Anyone ever lucky or unlucky enough to make my horse's acquaintance will know this is outrageous! One of his many monikers is Noo-Noo after the slurpy hoover-thing in Teletubbies which noisily cleans up spilled food :)

I thought i might start giving him sugarbeet now that we're out of summer and Quadi will need to build muscle and have energy for work. But given that he's just moved paddocks I didn't feel an increase in feed would be wise. Sugarbeet would have been ideal to encourage him to eat. I tried adding mint. That was enticing for a second. Then I tried adding a smidgeon of the yearling's balancer (which in retrospect was probably worse than adding the sugarbeet but it was immediately available!). This sort of worked but even still he stopped eating way before I left them in darkness.

Quadi also has a problem with the stable he's been giving, I'm rolling my eyes as I type this...he won't tell me if it's a question of feng shui, dimensions, furnishings, light sources, etc, but I'll try and find out tomorrow ;)

Friday, 24 September 2010

There's No Place Like Home

I made it, and without too much of a delay. Flight times were changed but no extra journeys or routes, lucky me! I did get very wet feet crossing the tarmac in flip-flops, and I'm a little wonky and crumpled, but it's bliss to be home :D Even if it is 26C cooler here than Rio *lol*

Tonight I'll see The Boys, very excited about that!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Never Make Plans

It would seem they always have a habit of being scuppered!

There is some species of strike happening in France on Thursday (which is when I arrive in Paris) which may prevent me from getting home on my planned flight. Air France are operating their long-haul as planned but there are supposed to be disruptions to short- and medium-haul. Who knows when I'll get home and by what means?! *lol*

This, of course, has nothing to do with either mine nor Quadi's Broken Body :) Although it's worth mentioning I've been on a vessel with free access to all manner of sugary treats and have not seen the inside of the gym since I had my induction seven weeks ago! I suspect my horse may feel the difference when I finally managed to scramble onboard...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

One Week

One more week and I'm home, 7 weeks offshore is plenty for anyone I think, looking forward to getting home and back to real life!

Word on The Boys is that life is slowly settling down, they're all having their little princess dramas in turn but nothing exceedingly dramatic. Quadi continues to broaden out a little over his back and has crept up to 485kg on the weight tape.

Fingers crossed I am home in time for lunch next Thursday :)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Here He Is

Thanks to Kate's OH for this gorgeous photo of Quadrado

There were a couple more headshots but that's it for the moment. I think this was taken as he waited for the other two boys to arrive, glad to see he wasn't so stressed he couldn't eat :)

All is well so far, save some high jinx from the three of them whilst rules and manners are established at taking-in time. The stables look over the paddocks so everyone's keen to get in for tea when it gets to that time. Once they know the routine they'll be back to their amenable selves.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Three Horses + Five Acres = Two Happy Owners

Bleurgh, 12 hours of pipeline processing is leaving me bog-eyed at the end of my shifts. Sadly this means I haven't the time nor energy to comment on blogs, I'm reduced to communicating with my colleagues in clicks, whistles and grunts! But I'm still reading everyone's entries, your blogs are keeping me sane and I'm learning lots as always :)

Last update from home was that the boys moved safe and well. Quadi loaded just with a little beet bribery and a special treat to tease his back feet in...a little taste of The Baby's balancer *lol* I expect we'll have to take some backward steps and reiterate loading practice post-move, but that's to be expected.

Everyone's settling in well and Quadi's general health is under close monitor. I'm very lucky to have a friend whom I trust to treat my horse as if he were her very own :) I hope to be able to post next week with some photos!

Part of Quadi's last schooling session was continuing the good canter work, practice and reward will breed more and more of this pleasing progress...I hope Kate won't mind reproducing a small part of her email to me:

I schooled Quadi last night, who was a very good boy again. We did some canter work again, and got a great uphill canter on the left. Not quite so nice on the right as he seemed to think he couldn’t bend and canter at the same time, so kept losing it and trying to motorbike on the short sides. We got some nice moments though when he did bend, and we did make it round the short side without motorbiking once, plus a circle in the middle (where somehow it was easier to bend, probably the lack of necessity!).

Whilst there is obviously room for practice and improvement, it's so encouraging that he is steadily developing flexibility and strength. I guess it helps having a balanced rider! I also hear he is carrying a little more healthy condition and his back is looking a little broader. Although probably not so good for Kate who is far narrower in the pelvis than me!