View Full Version : Down at the Barn
7th March 2011, 02:59 PM
Down at the Barn. Sammie’s day is made.
Sammie is a little 15h2 cob gelding. Some might say he is part Welsh Cob, other might suggest Irish Cob. Personally I think he has some special genes running through his veins on account of his silky coat. Maybe some fancy stallion got together with a good quality Welsh mare. Who knows. His passport doesn’t give any clues to his breeding but, there again, does it really matter.
He is owned by a very successful business lady who earns mega dosh for a salary from a world renowned company. She travels the world and is a busy lady to say the least. On top of her work and family commitments she doesn’t really have time for Sammie and for much of the time he is left out in the field.
Actually he lacks for nothing. He has his own stable, he has his own pasture. He is fed with a small breakfast and a small tea every day during the winter months. He has been vetted and innoculated, and his shoes are changed regularly. More importantly he is always under the careful eye of our leader. What he lacks in life is a rider. His owner rarely appears. I don’t have to ask her why she never rides, I know. Horses cost money but in fact the biggest cost is in time. His owner doesn’t have time to spend, most of her daylight hours are alreadycommitted, even though she has the luxury of working from home.
It is surprising that Sammie hasn’t put on weight. Maybe the ownderhas got his diet about right. He gets a little work out a couple of times a week but for a horse like him, that is not enough. Whenever I go down to the yard, I make sure I give him some attention. As my car draws up in the drive, invariably his head looks up and stares straight at me from a hundred yards or so. DiDi, in the adjoining field, just carries on grazing but I suspect she is well aware of my arrival. She just won’t show it. But Sammie goes to the gate of his paddock and stares impatiently. He knows I have to pass by him to get to DiDi.
That always presents me with a problem because Fancy Knickers sees me as hers and if I deviate from the path of keeping her in the No 1 slot she will pay me back. So what I do is to slip a couple of horse biscuits into my pocket and as I go past Sammie, I talk with him, give him the treats and tell him that I shall be coming back for him later. Meanwhile DiDi is watching very carefully, especially for the bikkie trick. She is no dummie.
As I enter her paddock, she will continue to munch until I start to walk over to her, then she’ll look up. So I stop walking towards her. Then she starts to walk over to me; so I walk over to her. It is almost like the military protocol between the South and North Koreans. I then give her one biscuit; so she drops her nose to allow me to fit the head collar. Meanwhile Sammie has move down to the fence line between his paddock ad DiDi’s paddock, watching both man and mare carefully. This unspoken dialogue is now ingrained in the process of collecting the horse. As I go to lead DiDi up the track towards the yard, so Sammie will follow on his side of the fence. When I get to the corner, he‘ll stop and I have to tell him that I‘ll see him later. DiDi makes sure to keep her head high whilst she strides out towards the stable yard. By now the passions will have eased.
Sadly, of late Sammie‘s owner has been thinking to sell him. She even put the advert in the trade magazines. As luck would have it, she asked for too much money in today's market, so there was minimal response, merely a couple of phone calls. Sammie is nothing special. He is a good looking, friendly, family pet. He‘ll carry every member of the family who can ride, when he is being good. He‘ll dump any member who he thinks can’t ride, when he is being naughty. He loves riding club games From a man‘s point of view he has an uncomfortable short length trot until one gets used to it. But the redeeming about him is that he likes humans. He even prefers them to horses.
He certainly like me. Over the months I have got over some of his mischievous tricks and we now have our relationship sussed out.. I groom him thoroughly. I then play with him, which he likes. I am not supposed to ride him, so I don’t. He doesn’t care, as long as we do things together. If he was a dog, I’d throw him a ball. We play with poles, and dustbins and plastic bags and anything I can find which might worry him one day whilst out on a hack. We do walking in hand and stopping and starting and turning and standing. All the work is on the ground or on a lunge line. I thought he might get bored, but Sammie seems to love the sessions. It is his platime with me, his human.
Of course he did not know he was for sale. I certainly did not tell him because he would have been very upset. So the other day when the news came through that his owner had decided not to sell him after all, everyone was happy. Me especially. Sammie was now safe again for the time being. It would be nice if we could persuade his owner to let him be ridden by someone competent but that might take a few months. SHe is not the sort of person to share her possessions.
In the meantime I’ll carry on playing with him. He’ll like that.
7th March 2011, 05:17 PM
Down at the Barn Hilly comes to Stay
I spent a few hours today with the mare we rescued a few weeks ago. When we collected her she had been living out alone up on high ground with only a thin waterproof blanket as cover. The blanket obviously had not been taken off for weeks and the hairs on the horse’s chest and her rump had been rubbed away by friction. Her unshod feet were in poor condition but our farrier soon trimmed them up. What was not sure was how long she had been without water because there was no ice free water butt in the field. It would have be necessary to bring fresh water into the field in buckets and I doubt very much if that had happened.
The bitter woman in charge of the so called ‘livery’ yard where the mare had been kept insisted that the horse had been well cared for. It is amazing to me how ignorant some people are about how horses should be looked after. We did not argue with this harriden of the horse world and quickly loaded the mare up and brought her back to our yard. When we arrived and took the blanket off we were utterly appalled at her condition. Her ribs, her backbone and her hips protruded. Not even the meat man would have bought her, she was so thin.
There was no free stable so we wrapped her up in layers of clothing, gave her some warm bran mash and carried extra hay for the night out into the paddock. She seemed comfortable when we left her for the night. In the morning the other horses would be nearby in their paddocks to give her some company.
The following day, she seemed to be OK but we noticed that she weaved from foot to foot and this vice might account for the rub marks on her chest. She had eaten all the hay. Colic and laminitis were the things to worry about with this frail creature. Over the next few days she seemed to settle down happily enough into a routine. She quickly made friends with my own horse, DiDi over the fence.
During the intervening weeks, she’s been looked over by a back specialist and her teeth have been checked and rasped. She’s been vaccinated and given a brief check over by the vet. We’ve been feeding her up and she is beginning to put on weight. She’s got unlimited hay and a bucket of food each morning and each evening. Unfortunately it is necessary to leave her out as we do not have an empty stable so at the moment but she is actually wearing four layers of blankets. She is now warm even on the coldest of nights. We’ve found some so called magical horse hair restorer. It is expensive but at least we feel we are doing our best.
Today for the first time we brought her in and up to the yard to see how we might work her. She needed a little trim but instantly the clippers were turned on the mare went into panic mode. Suddenly it became clear that someone had tried to clip her at some time in the past but in doing so they had cut her ear. Then we noticed the marks on her nose. At some time she has been twitched. The idea of making her look neat and tidy was quickly given up and we tried to get her used to the sound of the clippers but eventually we gave that idea up too. Whatever we did the mare had stood there trembling and pawing the ground. We hadn’t expected this reaction but getting her calm took half an hour or so with my standing there feeding her treats and stroking her neck and face. I decided to bring up into the yard my horse DiDi with whom the mare had formed some attachment. The little horse seemed to draw some comfort from the presence of another horse. Eventually she calmed down sufficiently for us to strip her down and give her a gentle grooming.
We took this opportunity to inspect her more closely and she appears to be putting on weight. By this time my wife was lunging DiDi in the arena, so I led the mare out to watch. Soon I was leading her in hand and getting her used to being in training, Very quickly she calmed down and she seemed to enjoy her gentle work out. We will do it all again. And again And again.
The mare is a good looking, half Welsh/half Standard bred. She’s very fragile and prone to startle. But there is no obvious aggression in her and her sharp reactions are no doubt out of fear and nervousness. At this stage the question remains as to whether the neglect for which she is an obvious victim of, have left an indelible scar.
Within just a couple of weeks she has stopped eating revenously. But often she will stand restlessly by the entrance to her paddock, weaving from foot to foot. The next step will be to try leaving her out with another mare in the same paddock. Pretty Girl is the obvious choice for companion. She is a steady, intelligent, gentle young mare who has never been neglected.
Only time and careful husbandry will tell how much damage has been done to this little mare.
10th March 2011, 08:08 AM
Re-the catching routine, its so funny isn't it- my W/cob will never come to me,so i give his little companion a treat THEN he nickers and looks but untill then he is quite happy for me to walk to the top of the hill of the 6 acre field- the little horror
My friend has rescues sometimes and its amazing how with time and patience the poor things gradually learn to trust again.Keep up the good works!!
10th March 2011, 10:44 AM
I love reading your threads Barry. Hope Sammie gets a rider xxx
10th March 2011, 11:04 AM
Sounds like you are doing those two horses the world of good and giving them what they need. Good for you and I hope they both have happy endings.
10th March 2011, 01:35 PM
The latest arrival at the Barn, is giving cause for concern. She is being fed as best we can without running the risk of laminitis or colic. However it is very apparent that as fast as we put food in one end, she loses any benefit of nutrition by expending energy in bouts of fretful hyper activity. She does not lack for food. She has almost an acre of paddock to herself and the Spring grass is coming through. There is usually a small mound of uneaten hay just by where her feed bucket is usually placed. Neither is she exposed to the elements which I must admit can be pretty harsh hereabouts. Yet again the other night we recorded a temperature of -6 deg C. Anyway there is a high hedge running all the way round her paddock under which she can shelter against the wind, not that she has been seen to take shelter. The soil in the field remains firm despite the rain except for the one big bare patch by the gate which the mare has churned up whilst fretting.
At times she will stand by the gate and for an hour or so she move obsessively from one front foot to the other. It is very similar to weaving in a stable except that it is not the neck moving rather is it the chest. The fit comes and goes. She’ll do it even if DiDi and the geldings are nearby in the adjoining paddocks. From watching her fretting one can see that the rub marks on either side of the chest were undoubtedly created by her day rug as a result of this movement. The owner is applying some fancy oil to promote hair growth over the bald patches but my guess is that until the day rugs are no longer necessary then as fast as the hair grows, it will be rubbed off.
However last evening she started some new vice. She now will run up and down the fence by the gate. She’ll go from extended walk, to trot to canter in the face of twenty feet then at the corner she’ll spin round and come back along the fence in the same style. Yesterday she did it over several episodes during the day and finally towards dusk one bout of fence pacing actually lasted for well over an hour. Worryingly when the owner arrived back on the yard early the following morning, there was the horse pounding up and down as though she had never stopped from the previous evening.
At first we thought that it was to do with the other horses coming in for the night. Unfortunately there is not a spare stable for her who according to our information has not previously been kept in for the winter. Generally speaking over a British winter it is not necessary to bring in a Welsh Cob at night, so long as the horse has a protective blanket or two. We are worried anyway that if we did bring her in, then within a day or so, if she did start to fret on the yard, then she might discover weaving - if she hasn’t already. Of course the big question is why is she exhibiting these vices? Was this undoubted anxiety inherited with the genes at birth or was it induced by humans? Mostly deviant behaviour by horses as a result of abuse will largely disappear when the abuse is removed. Yes, horses have a long memories but with time and considerate treatment most settle down.
In the pasture which adjoins the mare's, my mare DiDi keeps an eye on her. I am sure she looks over at her when she is reacting in one of her hissy fits and says to herself “What a silly bitch”. I have yet to detect the doting mother in My Girl‘s psyche.
The other gelding'sattitude is much the same. He is the tallest horse in the herd he was the first to take up residence on the yard, he is the highest graded in dressage and he represents the twinkle in the owner's eye. He has undoubtedly got the choice of mare why should he bother with this neurotic newcomer?
Sammie’s paddock is the one closest to the stable block and Daniel’s is just over the other side of the track. Neither gelding is close by the mare's and these two eye up the third mare, a very spectacular 4 yo warm blood cross.
When fully grown Pretty Girl will be a flashy, tall, dark bay mare with a kind temperament. Already when one goes to put a head collar on her, she looks down imperiously at the handler. Pretty Girl is of good breeding and she learns very quickly. Compared with the mare, Pretty Girl is an absolute sweetie who is almost ready to be passed on to a knowledgeable owner. No wonder the geldings chase after her.
The mare is the complete opposite to PG ‘Tips‘. From what I personally have seen over the last few weeks, she is going to call for the patience of Job. If she were a human, I’d think she was hankering after her joy juice. With the benefit of hindsight I am beginning to wonder whether the harriden owner of the livery yard from where we collected her, knew that we were in for problems in trying to rescue this horse. Normally unless a horse is acting aggressively towards humans, the idea of putting a horse down is abhorrent to me except for quality of life issues. Even though the mare has no health issues which cannot be rectified in time, I do wonder if mentally she has gone over the edge. Is the damage irreversible? The idea has arisen to find her a field companion, but what will happen when we take her out of sight of the companion? None of our horses are suitable as a permanent companion for her.
In truth, the full history of the mare has yet to be revealed but we have not been told the whole truth about this creature. When she does eventually put on some more weight, she will look good and once she is taught to respond to the aids, her trot alone will make her look spectacular but will anybody want to ride what might be a very neurotic mare. In the interim. we look for clues as to what to do for the best for this disturbed little horse.
26th March 2011, 10:47 AM
Good news about the little rescued mare.
The owner decided to put a saddle on her the other day and she rode her in the arena. Surprisingly she was well behaved and quiet - if anything a little too quiet- for the owner. Walk and trot went fine. So at least we now know there is something to build upon. If there is Trotter in her blood, as we believe there might be, then this would account for the quietness. I wasn’t there so I can’t comment much - all I do know is that once the thorobred mare has found a home, and she is being advertised for sale this week, then more attention can be paid to the Welshie.
Yesterday I decided to see for myself and when I was alone at the yard I went and brought her in. I must admit that compared with most of the other horses she was a delight to handle. She didn’t fight or pull, she just walked quietly in hand back to the yard. Previously I had watched her from the top of the track. She was moving from foot to foot for a couple of movements only but otherwise she was calm. In no way was she stressed. As I walked down the track towards her she had waited patiently by the gate, almost as if saying: ‘It’s my turn now’.
I groomed her and wiped her over. She has a very fine coat with very little under coat. Sammie the cob gelding is moulting something shocking but this little girl has no surplus coat to shed. She stood patiently without fluffing about as the others had done. If she were mine I might think of handling her untied in one of the stables.
When we had finished with the grooming shenannikins, I led her by her head collar and lead rope only down into the arena. We did some walking, stopping, starting and turning. She was a bit startled at the jump which had been set up in the middle of the arena but by the time we had finished she was walking right by the side of it. By the feel of her she’s not been walked in hand much before. However she’s got to learn the lingo so in hand work is a must.
When no one is looking I’ll us the Western training halter on her but both of the women in my stable life don’t approve since it works on the poll. But I shall be careful in how I use it. I sense that the lightest of pressure will be sufficient and that‘s what I want from her - sensitivity to the aids.
By the end of our little session I had the distinct impression that this is a nice little horse. She’s a bit skinny still but if she does eventually fatten up she’ll be very good looking. Her hips still stick out but most of the hair loss from the rubbing of the old field blanket has now gone.
What I am pleased about is that there has not been another session of running up and down the fence line. If she is not doing it when she is left alone, then that bad incident a few weeks ago must have been for some other reason as yet undefined.
The horse seems to want to be one of the herd. If the other horses get worked, then she wants to be worked. Well they are all out 24/7 now, the Spring has come, so she will never be left alone in the paddocks again. If I see her distressed at any time, then I’ll go and get her and do something with her, just to break the spell. But let us hope that whatever set her off is now in the past. I have seen enough to know she is not past redemption and I'll see her stress as a handling issue. This little horse will need handling wearing some kid gloves.
DiDi had been watching me play with the horse. She came up to the fence line as I took the mare back to the paddock, It was almost as if she was jealous of my giving attention to another huzzy. Maybe she was.
26th March 2011, 04:49 PM
You really know how to write,don't you? Iove reading these threads!
It sounds like Hilly has settled in the last couple of weeks!!
26th March 2011, 11:29 PM
I am becoming a worried about young Sammie. There is only me who really appreciates him. He is a bit too unpredictable for my wife and he has no obvious competitive ability, yet to me he is in some ways quite loveable. Whenever he hears my footsteps through the gravel leading to his paddock, he looks up. If he thinks it is me, then he will walk over to the gate in the hope that I have come for him. Sometimes I have. He looks at me and tilts his head down for the head collar - after I’ve given him his biscuit, of course. Then together we walk up to the yard. He’ll tug to see if he can get a nibble from the grassy verge but it is only in play. A little resistance on my part is all that is needed to stop him being naughty. It is all part of our games together.
He loves a grooming and his natural coat is unusually thick and is invariably infested with dandruff. He needs to be thoroughly washed on a regular basis. Then we have a little tussle because he doesn’t like the cold water, but we are getting over his resistance. He’ll pick his feet up and I can get very close into him. He’d be mortified if he accidentally hurt me. After the grooming, it will be time for a little work.
In my opinion, as he is, he’s not fit for riding out. He is too nervy especially if he hears another pair of horse shoes clipping along the lane. On a recent occasion I fixed a lunge line onto his head collar and led him down to the arena. As we entered so he exploded into hyper activity. He immediately went into a bolt around and around the arena accompanied by a buck or two. At one stage I was hanging on for grim death but he seemed to be having fun even if it was not what I had planned. At that moment the ladies came back and I had to stop, because seeing the other two horses freaked him out. Anyway, the owner wants him being worked in an outline and quite honestly, that is not his scene and will never be so. In the olden days this young chap might have pulled a governess’s cart.
He has to go back to basics. The neglect of his early schooling shows badly. We have to go back to lunge work at walk and trot. If he wants a burn up, I might let him at the end of a session allow him a few turns only just to let off some steam. But until he listens whilst on the lunge line in the arena and responds to voice controls, he is out of control. And until we can get some control then when he spooks, he’ll be off. I have myself experienced his dropping a shoulder and giving a little buck. He loves jumping but it is always done at full canter with no semblance of control. He either lands on the other side or he barges his way through the obstacle. The idea of trotting up to a jump set low and popping over it is completely foreign to him.
I have tried some work in hand around scary obstacles and on the whole he is getting used to the idea. But we are a long way from his knowing that ‘Whoah’ means ‘come to a halt‘. I don’t know who trained this little chap originally but they did not do a very good job. Until now I have left him to the ladies to lunge him and give him some exercise. Occasionally the owner will ride him and quickly give up knowing that he is not going to do with style what she reckons a horse should do. She is a competitive horse rider and this boyo is in no way a competitive horse. Under saddle he is lazy and one almost gets the impression that he is bored. The simple thing to do is to get the crop out and tap him but he is now almost immune to the crop, even if it is used quite hard. And then there is his trot. It is choppy and of short length and for a man, sitting on the saddle that supposedly fits Sammie, it is uncomfortable to say the least.
He has been in my life now for about a year and I know this little chap’s role in life is very obviously that of a family pet. A young but experienced teenager might be able to handle him and maybe, in subjecting him and his rider to some professional reschooling he might come right. Anyway the effort of reschooling would teach the pair of them what horse riding is all about. No doubt the rider would come off every now and again , but that’s part of the process of learning to ride. But before he can go anywhere it is very necessary to bring him under better control. His problem is not so much naughtiness as exuberance. He is at his peak physically but he’s not getting the work to exercise him. He has to understand when he is being disobedient and that in my opinion that calls for some sharp correction by voice. If I were to shout at him harshly, I am sure he would be upset and then maybe we might start to get somewhere. This type of horse needs to be loved otherwise why in his mind should he obey? He already knows only too well that his owner doesn’t love him. Sadly Sammie is completely the wrong sort of horse for her.
Presently Sammie is putting on weight and losing fitness. More importantly he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He is looking for a master or a mistress. I feel a sense of pity for him and I do wish someone new would come along and say they wanted a healthy, no nonsense, little horse. But I can’t see it happening. At best his present owner will sell him on to dealers and for sure they will try to knock him into some form of shape. That route won’t do him any good. Unless he feels he belongs to someone he will fight back and get himself into even more mischief. In the meantime I suppose what I must do is to give him some of my time, even if that is not what his owner really wants. But the more of my time I give him, the more attached to me he will become and when inevitably he gets passed on again he simply won’t understand why.
But I can’t simply stand by and watch.
31st March 2011, 09:58 PM
Interesting about the racing up and down the fenceline. My horse has gone through periods, on and off, in the 11-12 years I've had her where she does more or less that. Sometimes it's pacing at a walk, sometimes it's belting up and down the fenceline in full flight. Giving her a turnout buddy is the most effective cure, but not that easy as her equine social skills are pretty useless and she can only be turned out with one other submissive horse. Usually she's on single turn-out, which is fine unless the feng-shui of the barn or paddock isn't right, the weather is off, she can't see the other horses, she doesn't like the barn, she's in season, who knows. Sometimes she just seems to malfunction.
If your horse isn't as neurotic and socially inept as mine, giving her a buddy should sort a lot of her anxiety issues -- at least the ones she exhibits in the field -- out.
1st April 2011, 05:00 PM
It was worming day today - all of our little herd had to take their medicine. As usual DiDi tried to spit it out before she had to swallow the disgusting gunge. It is a good idea to get a firm hold of her head collar before even trying to get the spout into the corner of her mouth. All the handler does on these days is to get a place in DiDi's memory book - she'll get her own back one day. The other horses all took their medicine well.
What is very interesting is that young Hilly is not now showing stress. The pacing up and down the fence line has stopped. Even the pacing from foot to foot is in abeyance. If three weeks ago you would have asked me whether we could hope for such a reversal of her behaviour I would have said 'unlikely'. But here in this little horse is a lesson for all of us. Time can be a great healer. I am beginning to feel more positive about this mare. Her coat is beginning to shine. The rub marks have faded. She is easy to catch and she is mostly calm and placid to work with. I washed her face thoroughly today - from the muck that came off I doubt if she has been washed for a year or two. I believe that in addition to time, what is making a difference is for her to know she is an accepted member of the herd. The other horses aren't given anything extra to her - she gets her fair share of whatever is going on. It may also be of help that all of the horses are living out at night now, so she is never left on her own.
We have had a few enquiries about Pretty Girl who is now officially on the market at a realistic price. But after our enquiring about what the potential buyer is looking for, no one has yet been deemed suitable to even come and meet her. I watched the young mare being worked in the arena today. She really is a special horse: kind, quiet, confident and she looks good both at the halt and in motion. Her pedigree is to die for. We shall wait and see what happens; there is no desperate hurry. This unusual horse will not be let go to just anyone who knocks on the door. Any visitors who comes to look at her might not notice but they as the potential buyers are being judged equally as carefully as they are judging the horse.
Two enquirers asked if we would give a written statement that PG Tips, a 4yo full Thorbred, was 'bomb-proof' - I wonder what cloud cuckoo land such people live on. I have yet to find a horse that is idiot proof.
The big surprise of today was Sammie. Not only did he take his wormer without complaint he also, for once, accepted being lunged without bucking and galloping around and around like a whirling dervish.
The only unruly and naughty girl today was DiDi. She really was in one of her strops and treading on my foot did her image no good. I'd taken along a juicy pear as a special treat for her but as a result of her bad behaviour and Sammie's good behaviour - he was given the juicy fruit and not her. DiDi was the only horse who knew what a pear tastes like - now she has a competitor. 10/266
5th April 2011, 08:21 PM
Great News. It looks as though there is a buyer for Sammie. His owner turned up at short notice and announced that a potential buyer was on the way. The buyer came, saw, sat on and fussed over young Sam. The deal was done and he will be going to his new home tomorrow. I do hope so. The lady who is buying him seems right for him.
I am only too pleased that the little horse may have found someone to fuss over him. However if everything is to go smoothly then the new owner ought to be told about his little traits, none of which should reduce his attraction to a new owner but which ought to be explained. He’ll probably be a little awkward for the first month or so but once he comes to realize that he is the centre of attraction then he’ll settle down. This little chap is a very friendly horse who cries out to be played with. By nature he‘ll make an excellent family pet.
I’ve spent some time with him today before he goes away. Yet again he has been groomed thoroughly. Finally I put him back into his field for his last night at our place. He munched a carrot or two as a farewell feast. I gave him a stroke and said: ‘Good Bye‘. Tomorrow he has to start to make new friends and I am sure he will. But I daresay at the beginning he’ll miss his mates at our place and maybe me.
I’ll miss him looking up when he hears my car arrive at the barn. I do hope his new owner will appreciate this little horse.
PS He went today as planned. Without hesitation he walked straight into his brand spanking new horse trailer and hubby, wife and Sammie drove off start their life together. What bliss.
7th April 2011, 09:49 AM
As I wrote yesterday Sammie now has a new home. We heard back from the woman who bought him. He travelled well, as indeed he should have done in his brand new trailer. He slept last night in his stable so that he could be introduced to the other horses on the estate in daylight. No doubt we shall get further news of how he settles in, perhaps accompanied by a question or two about his behaviour.
Sammie is fundamentally a wily cob. He will work out how to twist his new owner and her husband around his little foot but he won’t deliberately hurt them. The humans have to undertake the learning curve that all horse owners have to experience until eventually a balance of power between human and horse is met. The couple have as neighbours some more knowledgeable owners down where they are keeping him and no doubt those folks will help make sure that Sammie doesn’t become dominant. The new owner showed us she has the riding skills; now she'll have to learn the handling and training skills.
All this compares very favourably with another phone call we received about Pretty Girl who is also ready for sale.
An unknown male voice phones up and refers to the advert. Without wasting time, he come to the point and asks : ‘What’s the best price you will accept for her?’.
The owner asks immediately ‘What do you want for her to do?’
He replies:’ I’ll give you £x*** in cash’.
All he has seen is the advert. He has no idea of what the horse is like or what it can do.
The owner replies; ’You have missed the point. We don’t sell a horse unless we are sure the horse and rider are likely to be compatible. We don’t let the horse go until we have seen the new owner ride the horse’.
The phone caller replies: “£x***+£s is my best offer. We will collect today.”
The owner puts the phone down.
Pretty Girl is a beautiful unspoilt horse who has been backed and handled gently. For such a young Thorobred mare she really is unusual. She is intelligent and genuine. She’ll suit a knowledgeable mum and learner daughter combination but because she is only four, she's not the horse for a novice. There have been about 25 enquiries about her so far but only one of the telephone calls appeared to be from a buyer with the right attitude and experience level. She remains out in her paddock, eating grass and being subject to a daily lesson of one sort or another. For such a young horse, she is a delight to handle.
Pretty Girl was pressed upon us by her previous owner. We don’t spend months grooming a horse into a state fit to be sold on for the horse to be passed to an obviously unsuitable owner. We’ll wait until what seems to be the right person appears. Certainly the horse is not being passed on to some anonymous pushy dealer who sees horse flesh as a way of making a quick buck. Call us ‘naïve’ if you must, but don’t bother to visit. --------319
12th April 2011, 11:33 PM
We have news that Sammie has settled in and appears to be ruling the roost already.
A rather nice young woman has come to see Pretty Girl. She's competent enough as a rider to cope with Pretty Girl but she lacks the experience to know that. During her short visit she went down to the paddock and collected PG. She groomed her and tacked her up and then rode her around the arena. In our eyes everything went quite well.
Towards the end of the visit she asked if she could come back and go out for a hack. Of course we said 'yes'. The woman has answered our questions about her facilities to keep Pretty Girl. They sound good, more importantly there appears to be expertise on site to help a woman who can already ride, learn how to look after a horse. If she were to buy PG, then she will have to help the animal settle in. PG is happy with us, let us hope she would be happy with this woman, who seems to be well meaning.
Much will depend on how the hack goes; we'll send her out with DiDi. That should be interesting.
In the meantime I have been working with Hilly. She is still, and I suspect will always be, a mixed up little mare. I collected her from the field today and gave her a good grooming. At one time she was standing at the grooming post, waiting twenty minutes for me to finish my snack lunch. She could see the three of us and she could hear our voices. That seemed to be enough for her to stand quietly and patiently awaiting my return.
Later I took her into the arena and we played with plastic kegs and poles on the ground. She's getting the idea of what work in hand means but there is still a long way to go. After half an hour or so, I took her back to her paddock, where she immediately put her head down and started to graze. Amazing - no weaving. All she seems to want is to be one of the in-crowd.
But I still despair as to who eventually might want to take this little horse on. It won't be a question of who can ride her, it will be more a question of who can handle her and understand her fears.
14th April 2011, 11:37 AM
News from the past blew in yesterday. There is a delightful welsh cob mare, known as Ginnie, who used to live alongside Joe. When my Boy was hors de combat, I rode her a couple of times. She's an ambling hacker's delight who was used for a time as a brood mare. Her temperament is superb and she is an affectionate creature. At one time I seriously thought of buying her and paying over the odds to do so. I hesitated because she is only 14.3 but no doubt she could have carried me.
Presently I think the owner would give her to me, because she knows I'd look after her.
If I were to replace DiDi, then Ginnie is exactly the sort of horse I would be looking for - except for the fact that she's a mare but in her case it doesn't show. But even if I were to come to some agreement with a buyer about DiDi, then I would probably be looking to keep any replacement over with her - even though the local countryside is not as horse friendly as this side of the river. Anyway it is over on the wrong side of the bridge.
Then there is the undoubted fact that I have lost riding fitness in several respects - muscle tone, balance, and other little matters, which aren't going to go away.
No, at my age it makes no sense to take her on. She needs a good family home and is the type that a non competitive horsey family would do well to buy. A little riding club work would tone up her belly and some hill work would soon bring her back into fitness.
I must bite my tongue and hope that the owner doesn't give me a call. It would not be fair at my age to take on another horse. Certainly I cannot even think of doing so unless DiDi's security was assured.
If I went over to where I know Ginnie is stabled, I'd be lost.
'Get behind me, Satan'
15th April 2011, 08:21 PM
Blimey Barrie, I nearly stopped breathing reading all your posts!!!!!!
You write such good reading!! Thankyou
15th April 2011, 09:53 PM
Next week promises to be a busy one.
Now that the owner's gelding stab at the Nationals has finished, the plan is for him to be rested after all his labours. On the day before the tests he had a very bad fit of super hype but in the circumstances he did well. He wasn’t placed but he made the finals and came home in single figures - not bad for a local Irish Oik. In our riding circles he is making a name for himself and there is not a drop of warmblood in his veins.. The Rider survived a long day and was pretty whacked by the time she got back to the yard. However dressage is her life, so the day was spent by her just how she likes to spend it.
Next week DiDi will again, despite her dry cough, be the centre of attention. She’s going to be doing intermediate stuff under her new tutor. She doesn’t usually forget what she has been taught previously and she’ll be pleased to be back at work. However her first job will be to escort around the lanes Pretty Girl who is to be ridden again by the lady who came to look at her last week. If the woman doesn’t buy PG Tips she’ll be mad as there aren’t many young Thorobreds quite like her. The reason for DiDi’s cough is a mystery. It could be pollen, it could be from the rape flowering in the fields. The vet says not to worry, so we’ll ignore it for the time being and just pretend she is a smoker.
I daresay the Welshie mare will be there stomping her feet making sure not to be neglected, especially when she comes to notice that DiDi is getting a lot of attention. The owner has the feeling that because of her excellent paces, Hilly might make a dressage horse. My feeling is that she’ll have to throw off whatever it is that is bugging her before any plans for her future are made. I’d just like to see her moseying along the lanes with a caring knowledgeable rider on her back.
Sammie’s pasture remains empty but the whisper is that he’s doing well in his new home. I personally shall miss him. I just hope that The Owwner is offered some other equine waif and stray before too long otherwise the thoughts in the back of my mind about giving Ginnie a new home will gnaw away at me. It really would be silly on my part to take her on but, but she‘d take me down to the pub, she‘d wait patiently outside and we could go off exploring together. Ginnie wouldn’t even think of going into an outline and I could neck rein her one handed. We’d be thrown out of the posh girl’s brownie club for sure. The owner wouldn’t like her at all and she would not interfere. She’d disown the pair of us.
Plus my letting go of DiDi wouldn’t be quite so wistful. 434
17th April 2011, 09:15 AM
Oh the temptation. I look forward tp the next installment
17th April 2011, 10:43 AM
Clippi. (and the other readers)
Perhaps I should explain that the concept I have for this particular thread Down at the Barn, is that it can become a form of ‘soap ‘ opera but one which is fundamentally based on fact rather than fiction. I find it easier to write non fiction, than fiction and with the subject of horses there can be a lot to write about without involving fantasy. I do occasionally revert to a little artistic licence but essentially I am trying to portray the truth of what happened - warts and all. There are numerous incidents in any one week which face the horse owner and therein lies the basis for articles.
Elsewhere stories about Joe have run their course. DiDi’s progression towards becoming a Dressage Diva, deserves its own thread. These ‘Barn’ articles cover day to day issues. Interestingly the thread seems to be picking up a regular readership and I shall continue with it for so long as it is popular.
So with this concept in mind I, as an amateur writer, cannot bring about a happy ending just to suit the plot. I am tempted by Ginnie and I may yet write about her on this thread, but I doubt if I shall buy her for other reasons. So please do not be disappointed
19th April 2011, 08:12 AM
It is Pretty Girl's big day today. She has ot a potential new owner coming for the second time. We hacked her out yesterday with DiDi so as to make sure all is well. The woman is bringing her husband which is a good sign - even if he is not a rider.
The one problem is the horse fly bite on PG's chest. It has still not healed up. If the woman is inexperieinced it might be enough to put her off. But in the same way it will be a test of the woman's competence to own PG so it works two ways.
There is now a small queue of potential buyers waiting to be advised they can come along to view. One woman has phoned now three times.
PG is a lovely horse and she has been with us from the beginning. She never gives an ounce of problem and is a delight to ride. I wait to see what happens.
19th April 2011, 05:05 PM
Pretty Girl behaved well today. A 4 yo Thorobred mare (with American genes) showed an Irish Draught X Connie how to behave out on a hack. Things were a bit rushed but the prospective lady buyer is coming back again to ride the girl before she finally makes up her mind. The owner is content that the pair of them, horse and rider will go well together and is prepared to wait for a day or two for the woman herself to be certain.
But suddenly the phone hasn't stopped ringing.
Obviously for a good, well behaved horse there is a firm market out there.
It is better to spend time now making sure the new owner won't be disappointed than to rush things.
19th April 2011, 05:15 PM
The devil has obviously got me in his sights. I spotted a web site the other day for Lusitanos. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked how much to put DiDi in foal.
I can imagine the horse of my dreams and if I can't find it, then maybe I can create it.
What an irresponsible way for a grown man to think!
The problem is that once I mentioned the idea to the Owner, she hasn't stopped smiling. She keeps chivvying me and saying:- "Do you wan t to relocate DiDi into the foaling box over there in the corner"
The sooner she gets a new tenant for that box, the better.
20th April 2011, 11:50 AM
The little Welshie Waif is beginning to look rather good. There are still some hints of hollowness here and there in the body and she hasn’t developed enough muscle as yet but she is definitely looking pretty. To think when she first arrived she was a scarred neurotic bag of bones.
Undoubtedly there is a tussle going on between her and DiDi but we are going to move them apart immediately we know what will be happening to Pretty Girl. But I suspect that the other horses know that PG Tips is getting a lot of attention of late and this could mean she is being sold. Welshie waif for one would be pleased.
When I collected her the other day, as she walked alongside me and as we passed by PG in her paddock, Welshie looked over and stared at her.
Then she turned to me and asked : ‘Is Pretty Girl going away?’
“Why do you ask?” I replied.
‘I just wondered’
“What would it mean to you?”.
‘Well , I’d get her field wouldn’t I? .
‘’Well it’s closer to the yard’
“Maybe, you might if you are good”
‘Would I get her stable too?’
In fact The owner had already decided that she would get the stable for next winter.
‘Would I get her winter coat ?’
“Only if it fits”
‘What about her other stuff ?’
Of course, Welshie has no stuff of her own. She gets all the cast offs. We have plenty of tack and blankets but each of the other horses have something new whereas Welshie has nothing new and bought especially for her.
“What are you lacking for?” I asked.
‘Well nothing really. But I want my own stuff.’
“We shall see” I said
With that, a sudden spraunciness came into her movement. To Welshie, things are looking up.
Welshie waif has a thing going on with DiDi. We are not sure if it is love or jealousy, but they keep calling out to eachother. Neither of them have much time for PG Tips, who is merely a good looking spoilt young Thorobred with an American accent. They would both like to see her gone. The idea being that there would then be more time and special treatment for them.
Of course, little Welshie doesn’t know that she too is being groomed to be passed on. That is, if we can ever find the right home for her. It will have to be as a second horse to a mother & daughter or husband & wife scenario. Welshie won’t ever be able to live on her own. As it is we are worried about what happens when we first hack her away from the yard. Anyway I suspect she’d be happy to live with us for the rest of her life. Although she’ll have to prove herself to be good enough at something to make the grade. But her paces, her being half trotter are good and she might make a dressage horse. In the meantime I think her sole aim is to acquire all Pretty Girl’s possessions.
It will be interesting to hear what she says when soon we buy her a saddle - which most likely will be second hand. She’ll moan of course about it not being good enough. 528
22nd April 2011, 09:52 AM
Back to Ginnie
Ginnie is in my mind so I made a couple of visits. It looks as though she might have found a new owner but there are some chinks in the tale. Seemingly she did not have a good winter and where she was being kept there would be no daily supervision. The owner for sure had not been able to check on her on a regular basis. This is a common effect in a recession when money is tight. I asked about her age and was told 12 and at the same time it was confirmed that she was to be moved on.
Later that day I decided to visit the previous owner. He knows his horses and breeds Gypsy Vanners. From his recollection Ginnie must be at least 20. As second owner he'd had 2 foals from her but importantly so had the first owner. He agreed she was special - a very gentle mare yet in her prime capable of carrying a rider well. He did not know of another like her which was currently available.
Interestingly he had seen her just a few weeks ago and was worried himself about her. In his opinion there was something seriously wrong with her. He suspected that she'd gone without food in the very bad winter we have just had. He had at the time offered to buy her but for some reason the owner was reluctant to sell her back to him.
The passport system in Britain was introduced just a few years ago. If the law is enforced it means that the history of the animal is recorded. The problem with it is that there is no overall enforcement of the law. The passport system identifies the horse and creates an historical record of owners and importantly medical history. Some dealers don't like the truth being known about the breeding or the horse's history. Very often up in the hills horses are exchanged for cash in hand. Many small breeders like to avoid registering horses until they have to, as it costs money to register the horse and the ultimate effect is to tie the dealer down to telling the whole truth in future. Ginnie has a passport but it looks as though it has been falsified.
Incidentally I suspect that DiDi's history is not quite as it is recorded. Rural Ireland where she was born would not be the place to recognise and comply with a law made in the UK. I still wonder if she has Lusitano blood in her veins.
The impact of all this new knowledge is that it looks as though Ginnie is a lost cause to me. If she has found an owner who will treat her as a pet grass eater or companion horse, then perhaps that is just as well. I hope so. 569
22nd April 2011, 10:36 AM
:) It has taken me a little while to catch up with your adventures Mr. G, but just had to say,
absolutely BRILLIANT. Most enjoyable, time wasting stuff .:cool:
If there were a "hats off to you " icon, it would be here :D
22nd April 2011, 08:59 PM
What a day it has been for our pretty little waif. She got to go out on a first hack.
Of course taking a horse out into the big wide world is a massive 'first'. There she was, an innocent maid being exposed to the rough and tumble of society. Anything could have happened. She was tacked up, spruced up and bouyed up and out of the gate she went, close behind DiDi's footsteps.
They met with cars, motor cycles, pedal cycles, walkers with and without dogs, a couple of trucks, two piglets, a small herd of cows and yet more dogs. Planes flew overhead, bird scarers went bang, birds went tweet, tweet and a small herd of cows went 'moo'.
Huzzy DiDi freaked out a couple of times but the waif, God bless her little black socks, came home unphased by it all. No longer is she a maiden mare - she's done it for the first time. She's hacked out.
I wouldn't say I'd fancy taking her out on her own but we all have to learn our trade, don't we! Anyway, she had no shoes on, the saddle was borrowed, we made up a bridle from bits and pieces, a French link snaffle was stuffed in her mouth and was kept in by a flash band.
But the waif has done it. No big deal. Never ever again will be a 'first time'.
She came home a little flushed but it would seem she enjoyed every minute. We'll do it again. 614
27th April 2011, 09:01 PM
It was not a good day today. The Waif freaked out, yet again. This was a biggie. She even upset Pretty Girl but luckily there was no damage done.
She went from a calm moment to, trotting up and down the fence line, to galloping at full tilt in circles. The reason for this frightful display we could not work out. Of course eventually it played out but to watch a horse charge utterly out of control around a small field is disconcerting to say the least.
Earlier I had her working in hand - walking, stopping, standing. We did some ground pole
work and kicked a few poly cans up and down the arena. She was going great. Then we put her back in a different paddock, the one closest to the stable yard and within ten minutes she was almost off her trolley.
A tractor was working the field next door - but we reckon it must be that the paddock she was in was not immediately adjoining another paddock with a horse in it. The fact that the grass she had access to was the best on the spread made no difference. Maybe she is herd bound.
I had thought until lunch time, that we had turned a corner with this little horse. But we haven't. How she is ever going to make it, in this big wide world, I just do not know.
What I do know is that just beneath the skin of this very powerful Welsh mare is a nice horse. Earlier on, I had her going today on a long lead rope and the lightest of touches to steer her by. I still hope to get her walking at my shoulder - without a lead rope and responding to voice - but maybe that might take a little time. When she is working she seems to enjoy it. Then she freaks and I almost cry. I wonder if she was always like this??
In the meantime Pretty Girl may have been sold to a nice mature lady with two kids and a rich husband whom she has wrapped around her little finger. Maybe PG Tips has got it made. We shall see.
27th April 2011, 09:23 PM
ohh is pg going to the lady who tried her .love this thread :)
27th April 2011, 09:42 PM
Yes, we hope so when the formalities are completed. PG won't be leaving us immediately as the new owner wants to have some lessons on Pretty Girl at our place before she is taken away. Anyway it will help PG settle with her new owner if they meet first where PG feels at home. Getting used to a new horse takes time and we can help the new owner gain confidence.
PG is well behaved when hacking out and we have on site the three horses which usually accompany her when she goes out on her jaunts. Personally I am pleased at the outcome. PG is a nice horse to have about and I shall be sorry to see her go, as and when eventually she does.
30th April 2011, 10:10 PM
It had been decided to take the Waif out along with DiDi for her second hack in the big nasty world. It was a national holiday and the world and his wife were out enjoying the sunshine. In the narrow country lanes surrounding the barn, the pair of horses and riders met with tractors and trailers, walkers and dogs and finally a group of 50 or so cyclists. The Waif freaked, whirled and bolted in terror. The owner was really clever to stay on board but the damage had be done to the horse's mind. To take her out again along that same route would require careful consideration and planning.
With hindsight it would have been better not to attempt to hack out although on her last outing she had done well. We subsequently discovered that she was in season - would her hormones have helped to make her more reactive? I wonder.
What has gone on with this little waif of a horse in the past we can only guess at. Her negative reactions are all hyper - way beyond those to be expected of a horse which we assume to have seen very little of today's human dominated world.
She needs to be taken out attached to a big heavy cob gelding, ie a bomb prooof experienced horse which will tell her, the junior horse, to behave. The Americans call it ponying. But we haven't got such an equine teacher on our yard. Certainly no rider and no one handler on the ground can restrain her when she panics. So what do we do?
Only last week I worked her in hand in the arena when I got her to walk at my shoulder on a loose rein and to obey voice commands. We even kicked empty polycans together. When calm she tries to please her handler. She is not aggressive to humans in any way but she desperately needs to learn how to curb her undoubted fears of anything new to her. She panics and she can easily but inadvertently hurt any human standing close by. Her saving graces are that she is a pretty horse and fundamentally kind.
However such explosive reaction in the future could prove damaging to any rider and inevitably fateful for her. I am becoming fearful for her. She is a nice horse but the sort of person who could help her manage her fears, is not necessarily the sort of person who might take her on. Why, oh why, with all the good horses looking for homes in this world do we get hooked on causes like this little mare? 746
2nd May 2011, 01:00 PM
The lady who has bought Pretty Girl has left PG Tips boarding with us. She is beginning to discover that she does not ride quite the same nor probably as well as The Rider. PG is discovering that she has a new regular rider. Maybe there is a need for the services of a relationship advisor?
From my point of view it is an interesting scenario to watch. I daren't interfere. The Rider is very clever in some respects but she somewhat naively thinks that every rider can ride like she does - if only she tells them how. But it doesn't work that way.
The new lady - I think we shall call her: 'Ingenue' - has to learn that PG is a young and kindly novice used to soft, gentle but firm hands. Very wisely she is taking lessons from The Rider as to how to ride her new horse. Perhaps more people should be aware that they need the eyes of a knowledgeable third party to make the introductions - it is not enough merely a matter of being able to ride. Luckily I think equine and human already like eachother but it will take time to know eachother. PG Tips is certainly getting a lot of personal attention she never got before.
In the interim I shall lurk in the background and try to keep my mouth shut and my eyes averted. Between two women there is no place for a mere man, particularly if the horse involved is a mare. 787
3rd May 2011, 10:44 AM
DiDi was a naughty girl again yesterday. For the first half of her workout she made life very difficult for The Rider - who, to be fair on DiDi, was expecting bad behaviour.
Whatever The Rider does with DiDi is educational and I suspect she is constantly pushing DiDi to perform better. I can imagine her thinking that a session is always to improve rather than to consolidate. Competitive people are like that - always looking for more.
In the second half of the session DiDi agreed to play the game and she worked well - even The Rider was impressed.
But then we tried something new. We had moved Waif, a mare in season, into one half of the other paddocks partly because he is putting on weight because of the grass. The waif immediately and obediently put her head down and started to graze quietly - she was now located three paddocks away from DiDi, also a mare in season.
Interestingly at the end of her training session DiDi was put back in her paddock and went to graze on the far side of her own field - putting as much distance between herself and the other horses as she could could.
So we are putting 2 & 2 together and making 4? or 5? or 6? and assuming that DiDi's recent misbehaviour with The Rider has something to do with the interplay between the two hormonal mares the 7yo Waif and the 11yo DiDi? Of course, as a mere male I must not ask The Rider about any matters personal - but I do wonder if there is something else going on.
7th May 2011, 08:20 PM
Pretty much each of the horses on the barn have their futures plotted out.
The waif must get her act together but she is getting a little better each week. The next thing is to see if we can get her to load into the box.
So it looks as though we might have a space vacant soon. The question is with what to fill that stable? I'd like to see us go look for a Welsh D gelding - a young fellow who has not yet been broken. The little chap would be about 15 hands and he'd be absolutely stunning with lots of mane and feather. We'd pick him for his looks and his temperament but he'd fly at the trot. Of course he might cost a little more than if we went down to the horse sales market but there again he'd be worth it.
All we would then have to look out for would be a nice lady, a competent but gentle rider who had the facilities to keep him and the husband to earn the dosh to give him the best.
However, The owner has an eye for waifs. I wonder if I can talk her round? 887
13th May 2011, 05:11 PM
It was Waif's turn to walk the plank today. One day this little horse is going to be moved on and when she does, she will have to go into the lorry. And as it stands at the moment there are question marks as to whether she will go up the ramp.
I did half an hour with her in the arena - stops, turns, poles on the ground and poly cans.
I even put one poly can on another and then kicked a third into the pair - and they all fell down. Waif did not turn a hair - even though she is in season - yet again.
So it was time to try the horse box.
We walked over to the entrance yard where it is kept. Waif knew something was up - I'd swopped the head collar for a training halter. Then we did walking about the horse box. Finally we dropped the ramp. The huzzy definitely knew something was up.
It took half an hour or so of tugging and pushing and stroking and persuading but finally I got her in - twice. The second time I closed the partition. Oh and then she stamped and stamped and pawed and did mini rears. So I told her off. But she still tried to make her point that she wasn't going anywhere.
Explaining to her that for her to go anywhere the engine had to be started up was difficult - she was like a spoilt kid having a tantrum. Except that kids don't weigh over 600 kilos.
Looking back it was apparent that we had crossed a few bridges today. She found out that a rope training halter can hurt if used hard. She also found out that she can't pull away from me as easily as she would like. She also discovered that I can shout and she doesn't like that. On my part I found out that I don't like being wedged into a horse box with only one way in or out with a temperamental horse - especially as I know only too well we are going to have to do it again.
But at the end of The Battle of Horse Box Yard, Waif was standing by me - head to head and she was perfectly still. I gave her a carrot for being good some months ago. She'd made her point, I'd made mine. I am not sure if she had seen it all as a game or a battle of wills. She doesn't strike out at her human but she is a very powerful Welsh Cob with at least 12 inches between her front legs. Her back is flat - two circus acrobats could stand on it side by side.
Somewhere she has learned to rear and that is her final weapon of resistance. I hope we never have to go down the road of curing this horse of rearing, hopefully pressure on the poll will be enough. I must get to know her better so as to be able to judge when to relieve pressure on her but undoubtedly she is going to have to be subjected to pressure otherwise she'll have no use to humans except perhaps for breeding.
She also has temper tantrums when she can't get her own way but remarkably she is not malicious.
At one stage she had her ears back flat on her head and her teeth were bared. I'd not seen this in her before but there again I had not pushed her this far. Even then she did not come at me.
This little horse is a survivor but one thing is for sure, she is not everyone 's cup of tea.
In a way I am coming to like her. She needs help in finding some way of compromise with humans.
I've now got to find something in her which The Rider will like. To her at the moment Waif is nothing but a problem.
By the time I was leading her back to her paddock we were good friends again. I gave her a stroke and a treat or two and off she went to make eyes at the geldings.
14th May 2011, 03:54 PM
According to the Owner, little Waif was a bitch today. Under saddle she quivered and shook at the sight of the polycans - which yesterday whilst walking with me in hand she walked past unconcerned. Later she did some good dressage type work but it took perseverance by the owner.
Now in the back ground, there are feminine wars going on over the one upstanding gelding. DiDi is certainly very protective of her man - whom this whipper snapper of a mare is trying to seduce. There are disgusting puddles of what at first glance looks like dirty water all over the place. But it is not raining.
Also I am being told that I must not frighten Waif by kicking polycans about in the training arena. But that is what we do together - so if we don't kick balls and cans which can't possibly hurt Waif so long as I say so, then how is she to learn to do what I tell her as and when she is nervous of doing anything?
In truth I am lost in the world of females. In a male world there is little subtlety - we don't ponce about blaming our hormones. OK there is some testosterone flying about at times but we don't wait to have a row until the moon is blue.
What I do know is that Waif was yesterday literally about three feet away from my suggesting to her that she herself kicked the polycans - but today apparently she is chicken scared of going near them. So what will she do when she meets her first bus?
Now what is going on in that pretty head of hers?? Is the concept of her trying to serve both master and mistress beyond her capability. I think that might be the problem. 1002
15th May 2011, 02:05 PM
I've been thinking about Waif for the last 24 hours. What we did two days ago I would not normally have done because in my mind the time was not yet ripe to do so. In putting pressure on Waif to go into the horse box there had been far more pressure on the training halter that I would normally have permited. Yes, by pulling back she put the pressure on herself but I had known that. OK, she went in the box and she could have been driven away, but she had fretted and fumed for the ten minutes or so she was penned in by the divider. When she came out, she came out like a rocket.
I had done what I had been asked to do by The owner, but in hindsight I should have said: 'No'. That is what life is usually about - learning when to say 'No'. Saying Yes is usually easy - saying No is a lot more difficult. Waif followed me in with two front feet, she wasn't ready to put her hind feet in. I should have let her turn back - instead I followed the professional's maxim of 'never let the horse have the last word'.
The mistake was to try to get her into the box in the first place. 1028
But the underlying problem is that Waif is not my horse.
Why am I getting entrapped by someone else's problems?
Why I am trying to get into Hthe Waif's crazy mixed up head?
Unless I can persuade The owner to let her go for peanuts money to a breeder friend of mine, little Waif is likely to wind up in the wrong hands. But my friend doesn't pay £1000s for highly strung mares. The fact that Hilly is exactly the stamp of horse he needs for his riding centre is bye the bye. It is also true that she won't really be suitable for carrying clients - unless he has clients who want to try their luck on a sensitive horse.
Waif needs to live out with the herd. She needs to find her place in the heirachy. Then she can choose her own mate. But she would produce a very pretty and sturdy foal if put to a Welsh stallion. OK, maybe the foal might come out full of fire and brimstone but horses with fire in the belly are those that perform.
I am getting too close to this little mare. I am going to pull back.
I can't help her without creating a ruckus.
I can only look on, in which case I'll go: "tutt, tutt" and wince.
I'll have to buy some ar plugs as she is going to whinnie from her field every time I go down the track.
The problem is that to collect DiDi, I have to go past Waif.
Lord, what am I reverting to - a teenager with one girlfriend too many?
16th May 2011, 09:46 AM
The latest news is that DiDi is almost rabid with hormones, She is exhibiting herself in a frantic display of carnality despite two strips of broad electrified wire. Her boyfriend is now suspected of being a rig but in the meantime he is enjoying the competitive attention of two mares. I am told it will all pass over.
Strangely DiDi is being responsive in the training arena. She is getting ready for the next dressage event. Having obtained 67.5% in her second ever test at novice she is preparing for the third session. The Rider's instructor says that she feels DiDi's appropriate league is at elementary level in which her natural paces probably will give her an advantage. What do I know?
In truth she is not my horse any more. OK it is my name on the passport but all I do is get to groom her every now and again. That issue is beginning to bug me.
Elsewhere I have debated as to why we keep horses. What role do they fill in our lives?
It is beginning to come home to me that I don't keep a horse for glory in competition against other horse and rider combos. But suddenly yesterday I realised that in a way I gain more pleasure from trying to suss out little Waif's messed up mind than I do from reading a test sheet of DiDi's.
DiDi rarely exhibits affection towards humans whereas little Waif needs humans - DiDi doesn't - she uses them.
And some of us humans say horses don't exhibit emotions. They must be blind. 1057
20th May 2011, 01:01 PM
In view of DiDi’s success at dressage, largely through The Rider’s expertise, there has been a family discussion. My wife still rides DiDi but I can’t remember when I thought to saddle up - even if my interference was welcome - which if I am honest it is not. So I am going to give up all pretence that
I shall ride her again.
Dressage is DiDi’s world but it is not mine. To work calmly with a horse in a flat sandy, quiet arena
is at the opposite end of the spectrum from helping a horse to cope with the modern world in a semi rural environment. To cope with noise, dogs, vehicles and bicycles a horse must be exposed to the hazards and then shown how to ignore them. It does not help that the barn is located near a village which is used as a rabbit run by drivers, nor that a lot of cyclists use the local lanes at the weekends.
Anyway, the last thing DiDi could be called is placid and stoical.
So I am going to back off from riding. Some would say bearing in my mind age, that it was high time I did. It is true over my lifetime I have had a good innings.
I have decided that I am going to hang up my saddle and stirrup irons and call it a day
This means that there will be no gossip to disseminate on the Forum, so I am going to let this thread, which in its own small way seems to have been popular lapse
But thank you all for reading.
11th July 2011, 09:18 AM
I have been asked what is going on down at the barn - so maybe it is time for an update, despite my previously suggesting it was time to close the thread.
The head honcho's star gelding is waiting for the nationals dressage championship.
Pretty Girl - the American Thorobred after a prolonged sales procedure is now happy with a new owner at a very plush yard.
We occasionaly hear from Sammie and he is doing well. They love him - as they should.
Feather Leggings is well relaxed enjoying being an only horse. He is pampered and reserved only to be ridden by his owner who dotes on him.
DiDi is making a name for herself in dressage - she is now at Affiliated Elementary level and aiming for the stars
Welsh Waif has been advertised for sale. She is much much calmer now. There is no pacing and she has stopped showing obvious signs of distress.. But it will take some time for her to settle into a new home. Any new owner must see her as a project. Having said, that she is a pretty horse and arguably her role in life is to breed. If she were my responsibility I'd find her an owner who wants to breed from her. She would I am sure feel happier living out amongst a herd of brood mares. But that's my way of thinking.
Very recently along has come the biggest most powerful Welsh Cob that I have ever seen. He is massive - not so much in the legs as in the body. He is an 8yo and has not been backed or bitted until The Rider started to work on him last week But he is gentle. He has the neck of a stallion and he towers above his handler - even though measuring the height of his wither puts him at no more than 15h1. He would make a good mount for a really heavy rider. I quite like him, although maybe I would never have chosen him. To me he is he build of a driving horse not a riding horse. He is one of those horses whom must be taught to obey the aids because if he decides to revolt or simply misbehave, then there is little the rider could do to resist. This chap has the strength of an ox. His neck, his rump, his chest are massive although surprisingly he is short coupled. He has thick, powerful legs. His strength will match that of any breed of draft horse. From a distance everything looks small - it is when you get close up you realize just how big he is. His Grandad was a Welsh champion as a stallion.
I'll not be let near him by the The Rider - she'll be too worried that I would teach him bad habits, so I'll keep my distance. I could not win by working with him. Anyway, this sort of horse needs to have its owner/trainer/rider on hand and to be in daily contact. I live too far away.
Otherwise the grass is growing, the yard looks tidy, summer is here. The horses are all in good form. We progress.
16th July 2011, 10:47 PM
This last week has really been Waif’s week. She has been the constant centre of attraction whilst showing herself off to potential owners. She has been ridden by strangers, she has jumped fences and she has hacked out. She has loved it and has behaved impeccably. I would be very surprised if she has not found a new home but as yet no one has written a cheque. We must wait and see.
It is interesting how some people approach the task of buying a horse.
Some ask a load of questions over the phone.
Some merely ask for an appointment to visit.
Some turn up, look at a well groomed horse and immediately declare their undying love for it.
Some arrive, ride, then ask to ride again. Then they come back for a third time. Eventually they ask for the vet to visit and finally they ask for a reduction in price.
It is all a game of confrontation between seller and buyer. The seller wants to give the impression that the horse is in strong demand whereas the buyer needs time to discover the reason why the horse might be unsuitable.
Few visitors seem to get any idea of how the horse thinks, No one knows how the horse will be reacting in a couple of months time at its new home. The poor horse will have left its horsey mates behind, the routine will be different, the pasture will be different. And of course rider and horse will have to get to know each other, and to find out if their abilities match. Who knows who will eventually become the boss - the horse or the human?
The more I see of the process, the more I marvel that it ever comes right for both rider and ridden.
17th July 2011, 07:01 PM
Some folks came today to see whether Waif was suitable. They came en masse - expert and all. The little horse was not amused, indeed she was a little frightened. The expert mounted up and set out to prove what the horse was good at and it turned out with the expert aboard, the horse was 'good' or rather should I say 'happy' with very little. This beginning of course did not bode well for the introduction. Sadly nothing went quite as The Owner had planned and in the end the tribe went back from whence they came.
Strangely it was the young girl amongst the group who did best on Waif. She was the least educated rider but she was very keen on the horse and what's more she had said so out loud. She had judged the animal by looks alone and the horse had responded. That's not the best way to choose a horse but on the other hand it has its merits - sometimes. Some of us feel that not only does the rider choose the horse, but the horse should choose the rider.
Tomorrow the first couple return and perhaps they will have come to a decision. Let us hope Hilly doesn't remember too much about today.
18th July 2011, 08:28 PM
PPS - The first couple came again and said: 'Yes,please'. The only question now is whether or not they are going to ask the vet to call.
It looks as though Waif has found a good home. I hope so.
21st July 2011, 08:39 PM
Waif is sleeping for the last time at our place. Tomorrow she is off to her new home.
She'll not be lonely as there are lots of other horses living on what is a DIY livery yard. She will be surrounded by horses although mares will not mix with geldings.
Just as well really - Waif is in season.
There have been times when I thought this horse was not going to make it. But she has.
Well, freedom from Fear. Routine. Quietness. Daily attention. Regular daily schooling.
She is no longer a nervous wreck, She is no longer a bag of bones.
There is no doubt her life is yet to change again but she is going to have the exclusive attenton of a horsey mother and her horsey daughter. She'll be loved.
Waif is a good looking horse and her paces are noticeable. My bet is that she'll make it.
Now there's an empty pasture and an empty stable.
So just maybe there is some room at the inn.
22nd July 2011, 12:13 PM
I hope Hilly is happy at her new home and that it all goes smoothly today.
22nd July 2011, 01:04 PM
All went remarkably well. Upon delivery she was received with rapture by humans and by neighs and carry ons by horses.
Now she just needs time to settle into her new home with her new humans.
23rd July 2011, 07:17 PM
Now Waif has gone, the focus of attention on the yard will change.
DiDi is getting ready for her next appearances at Elementary level.
The Rider's own gelding has been neglected competition wise of late . He has been on sabbatical.
With DiDi coming up close from behind he will have to put some effort into staying ahead.
feather Leggings is keeping a low profile as usual.
Which leaves The Big Fella who comes with quite a fancy pedigree.
His Grandfather was a Welsh champion and the feel and look of his coats shows that he is in good nick. He will turn heads in certain circles.
The Rider has already set on a saddle on his back. He didn't move. Then she sat on the saddle and still he didn't move. To get him to step forwards she had to work hard and even then he was slow to respond.
I suspect we should talk about 'mass' with this chap rather than 'impulsion'.
He has accepted the bit and didn't run off - in which case he would have been a bundle to stop.
The farrier has been and trimmed his feet. I watched and the Fella did not turn a hair. He just stood still
and had a trim, just like a chap going to the barbers.
The hazard is that he is outwardly so gentle but at the same time he is undoubtedly strong. His neck suggests he was cut late but I personally think it is his breeding. Whether The Owner accepts it or not, this gentle giant was bred for pulling. Indeed he has already responded well to long reining. What I am pleased about is that he has as yet not put a foot wrong. There must be a snag somewhere.
I went up to him the other day and we had a little chat - whisker to whisker. I can tell that he has been used to being treated but it is more than my life is worth to feed him the treats which he knows are in my pocket. I shall have to wait to canoodle with him and talk men things.
As yet I am not allowed to play with him, as I would teach him some bad habits. But anyway I'd have to buy a new pair of steel toe capped boots before I even thought to do so.
I would rather do any work him in a proper wooden high fenced training arena, which we don't have. He is ridden on a mild bit, he will respond to voice. The fundamental problem is that I don't visit the yard every day and that is what this chap needs. If he is to obey voice commands and follow quietly at my shoulder, then he needs working twice every day as routine and it should be there to groom and feed him. But I am not there so the schooling should be left to The Owner. She will do it her way.
Seemingly he is not excited by hormone loaded mares which is good as this chap would easily go through the fencing if he wanted to. No doubt DiDi wil try to play him off against the other two geldings but I suspect that her favoured gelding will be the Irish one.
Maybe the previous owners had an undeclared reason for passing The Big Fella on. Perhaps the reason was truly that he was one horse too many. Their loss - The Owner's gain.
My guess is that The Owner will eventually lose interest in him because he may turn out to be too quiet for her taste. Despite what she says, she likes a challenge. If his future were in my hands I'd already be making contact with the local drivers because he is perfect for pulling a cart. He has the sense of calmness you usually see with the heavy breeds. They exude a certain self confidence. However every time I say the word 'cart', I get a frosty look.
But I suppose in the meantime it won't be a bad idea for him to learn some dressage.
It is early days yet even though the horse is a bit old to be a school boy.
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