Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tellington Touch

Went to a talk about this today, to find out what it's all about. Very interesting, and we only really scratched the surface. If you've never heard of this, you can read all about it here

Basically the aim is to decrease tension and resistance in horses by, well, touching them. There are many different touches, with bizarre names such as the Python Lift and the Clouded Leopard. More on those here. It combines these with groundwork to relax horses and help them use their body better. Also effective with dogs, cats and humans, apparently!

The speaker was Danielle Dibbens who is based in the Charente, would be interesting to get her to come and look at our lot sometime. I am going to find out more about it and give it a try, especially for Gandalf as sometimes he is very stiff, poor old boy.......

We were given an article written by another TTouch instructor, you can read it here. A lot of this makes sense to me, quite a bit of it is stuff I have been saying for ages, like what people see as "misbehaviour" in horses is often a lack of understanding -  the horse not understanding what the handler wants and the handler not understanding why the horse behaves as he does. I especially like the "candles" metaphor........and in the end, it all improves your relationship with your horse and enables trust between you, which is the most important thing for me.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The things you see when you haven't got a gun......

Was quite frankly gobsmacked by some of the thigs I saw yesterday at the CSO. There was one riding centre owner present who has a terrible reputation round here, but I had previously never had dealings with him, but boy did  I find out his reputation was well deserved!Firstly, he got on some poor girl's horse to "show it who's boss" (without a hat on in front of all those kids too) and rode it like this

Then there was a tiny tot on a Shetland who had no control over the pony whatsoever, which kept rushing back to the gate, so he went in there, grabbed its reins, yanked it several times in the mouth then literally dragged it round the course and flung it over every jump

and the piece de resistance for me was this guy, who was riding for his club, this was so bad I actually videoed it

Quite unbelievable, really......now that is what I would call someone bullying horses!

In contrast, the lady who was running the show had a lovely way with her pupils and some nicely trained horses, including this Fjord x Arab who did a cracking round with a nice rider

I even heard her telling one of her students not to pull back on the reins, but to use one rein and lift and open it so the horse couldn't pull back.......it all made sense when I talked to her afterwards and discovered she'd done her training with.....................Isabelle at Beaumont :-)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Clever girls.....

Really, really proud of Seraphina, she did two clear rounds at the competition today :-)

The first was in the 50cm preparatoire which is basically clear round jumping, there were only 3 clears out of 17 entries, Ali was dead chuffed to get a little trophy. Then she did the pony 5 class which was 65cms and they went clear but didn't win.

Fina was really well behaved today, Ali rode her in the bitless bridle and there was a lot less arguing than last time when she has a bit in. She didn't like the look of one of the jumps and hesitated but Ali got her over, she put in a massive jump though and Ali did well to stay on

Here's the vid of her second class
And for once, it didn't rain!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

My girls.......

Well the girlies sure were full of beans today.......

Got Sky out for a bit of long lining and lunge work, she wasn't really paying attention, mainly becasue it was the first time she'd been up to the carriere in my friend Marianne's field and there were lots of potentially scary things to check out. We just walked about at first, until she'd stopped snorting at everything, then I asked for a bit of trot. That didn't go so well.........

 So I took her to the round pen so she could let off steam instead......

Got some nice pics at least today, no real work done though.......

Then when I took her back down to Kinns in the field, they had a fine old time
Meanwhile, the sensible older horse (!) was doing some work too, Ali wanted to work on her turns and transitions for jumping. Fina tends to rush a lot and sometimes has missed a jump because of her speed.........

So we practised trotting and cantering over poles on the ground in a serpentine and did a few other exercises like that from one of Ali's horse magazines, then we practised transitions, got a bit of vid of that

After that, Mike turned up and ran home with Ali and Fina so she's here ready for another CSO tomorrow. She was a bit anxious about being on her own, but is much happier when there's someone on the ground with her. Hopefully we can get another clear round tomorrow.......and there's no rain forecast for once!

Got a couple of nice pics of Fina too.....

.....and so she's not left out, here's one of Kinns :-)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Some photos......

A few more pics from the jumping on Sunday from the aforementioned posh camera, love this one of Fina in the air, shame about the poles in the way!
Then there's this one of Elodie jmping without stirrups after Peter put in a stop, well done that girl!
And I loved this spotty horse, jumped nicely and went clear
And here's Ali getting her prize
and Polo sampling some wine!

A couple more pics from today, from Éowyn's lesson at Louise's, they went for a hack and she was delighted with the new pony, Poppy, just the right size for her........ really should have kept Flecha, shouldn't I?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

That donkey again....

Remember Rossy boy? The young donkey who was too much of a handful for his old owner? I originally blogged about him here
Anyway the elderly Appy I rehomed him with has since died so his owner found him somewhere else to live with a friend's horse. Only problem was getting him there. As she said it was only in St Michel de Montaigne which is only a few kms away I said no problem, I'll pony him there........
How hard can it be?

Well, remind me never to complain about Kinna's antics ever again. He was bucking, kicking, rearing, leaping about with all 4 feet off the floor before we'd even got to the end of the road. Not really his fault, he has been on his own for a while and not been out anywhere for ages. Gandalf was so not impressed, he hasn't been this pissed off with another equine since we ponied Coquinette to Naulet last year. He even aimed a kick at him a couple of times, he's never done that before!

Then we had some proper donkey plants, I'm not going that way, tail swishing, the lot. After about 20 minutes of this, Mike, who had set out running with us, doubled back to check we were OK and couldn't believe how little progress we'd made.......he took this pic of the horror actually standing still for a bit....

So on we went, but by now Gandalf had evidently decided to get this over and done with as quickly as possible so broke into a trot. Cue Rossy doing a spectacular display of cantering on the spot, more leaping, an attempt to bite him and finally nearly hitting the deck scrabbling about on the wet tarmac......I really with I had a headcam for moments like that!

Gandalf trotted on unperturbed, and we arrived at St Michel. Birthplace of the philosopher and poet Michel de Montaigne, not that Rossy cared about that. He was more interested in trying to chase the dog.

Great I thought, we can get rid of the little horror. except a quick call to his owner reveals it's not actually St Michel itself, but further on down another road nearly in the next commune. So I followed more directions and eventually ended up at Rossy's new abode.

Predictably he wouldn't go in to the field til I'd led Gandalf in, then the other horses started having a go at G, so I had to get him out of there, he didn't want to leave, Ross was showing everyone his heels, finally got G out of the field and left Ross to his new pals.

Far too much grass in there for him, but at least he's got plenty of space to run round and exercise. One of the other horses is off to a new home soon so he'll be left with one horsey pal, which is much better than being on his own.

Got back on G, headed home, got caught in the most enormous thunderstorm, totally soaked, G not bothered much by it but poor Choccy was totally terrified. Mike took the sensible option of getting a lift back with Rossy's owner. Gandalf was only really bothered by the road we were on turning into a river which meant he had to get his feet wet......

Really pleased with him though, he felt like his old self, full of beans, the grass & senior feed is obviously having the desired effect :-)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Another soggy CSO

Another SJ comp today, another soaking...... :roll:

It had rained all night, it rained all morning, we were very careful where we parked the horseybego as we wanted to be able to get it out of there again, even got shouted at by an irate little Frenchman for being in the way of his chemin (we weren't).

The arena was waterlogged and the sand was very deep, so the horses were not impressed. In the first class, a 50cm preparatoire (clear round class) Polo decided he really didn't want to jump at all and Ali did what has to be the slowest round I've ever seen but she was clear for the first time ever so she got a rosette and was happy.

Then the second class was a club 4 vitesse, there was nothing speedy about that either, Hollie did really well to get Polo round after he put in a few more stops, and Ali just had one down. So she was second and Hollie third. The winner was an adult, so I reckon they did pretty well.......

Got a vid of Ali's second class, you can see how wet it was! And how Fina wanted to get out of there every time she headed to the gate......

Some of the other competitors didn't take things steady at all and a fair few ended up with a lot of that sand decorating their clothes having come off, as did poor Elodie on Peter who hit the deck when he put a stop in....and one poor girl came off and was out cold when her horse spooked at something, so the pompiers were called. Don't really understand why the French always have a bloke with a dodgy disco at their shows but no medical staff on stand by...... :|

More pics here and Tanya took a load with her posh camera, so hopefully more to follow.......

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Jubilee weekend fun......

Very busy weekend. Only just recovering from it now......

 Started off on Saturday morning riding the horses down to Tanya's for a day of horse stuff with a bunch of kids. Got them all sorted and on various horses and ponies and did a little showjumping competition. it was warming up a bit as the morning went on, and Polo for one didn't want to play ball, tried his usual running out tricks. Fina was a bit naughty with her unfamiliar rider, Lydia, too. But the others got on with it, even Maverick after some initial titting about at the brightly coloured jumps........

The big girls, Elodie on Peter and Aurelie on Solium, did very well.....
Then we had a break for lunch and in the afternoon tackled the Equifun course, built under the trees for a bit of shade.

There were a few tricky things in there. Everyone was fine with the lasso, pick up a hoop, ride one handed round a cone without knocking the ball down, put the hoop back.

Then on to the labyrinthe, which is a bigger version of the s bend for TREC
Then the serpent, three poles raised on one side, you can jump them or weave round them if you dont want to jump
The slalom, exactly the same as for TREC
the locomotive, 3 different sized logs, so you can jump the bigger ones or step over the smallest
Then that casse-tete, a few of them clipped the hoops, every faute gets you 20 seconds added to your time
The mat de cocagne, pick up the rope, ride round the cone, put it back without dropping it, a couple of them had trouble with that too.....
and the last one was the portes, 4 sets of cones with balls on top, each closer together than the last, easy enough at walk but some of them got cocky and tried to canter it, tennis balls were flying everywhere.....

Chucked in the bridge we'd made for last year's TREC too

Elodie won with Peter, Aurelie and Solium came second, Lydia and Chester were third, Hollie & Polo fourth, Jane and Ocarina 5th and Ali came last, mainly because Mav sent balls and hoops flying when he was dancing about and not cooperating, poor Ali did much better with him during the practise!

After that, we moved a few horses around, took some home, then went to the restaurant where Gary had made us some great curries. Had a massive thunderstorm in the night so all the kids abandoned their tents and ended up in the house......

Then on Sunday we had a Jubilee party, was meant to be a street party but the weather meant we had to move it indoors. Gave the girlies their rosettes:
Had a great meal, everyone had brought something along.......had to go out half way through and help load Peter into the trailer as he was playing the others up, but apart from that everything went smoothly!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Gandalf's journey to bitless....

When I first rode the boy, back in December 2005, I used a borrowed snaffle bridle. He was very wound up about being taken away from the other horses (he'd not been there long) and kept trying to get back to the safety of the herd. In fact, he nearly pulled my arms off!

Over the next few weeks I came and rode him out, I was lucky enough to be able to really "try before you buy". I quickly realised that he preferred to have his mouth left completely alone, I knew he had been driven in his previous life so maybe he'd been pulled about a bit. The chap who had him for sale had tried him in harness and used a butterfly pelham.

So in my ignorance, I decided he needed a pelham for riding too, as he really didn't have any brakes in the snaffle if we were heading home.

I found him a single jointed elbow pelham and used that for the next couple of years with roundings.

But I knew he wasn't really happy with it, most of the time he was on a totally loose rein, but when I did need to take up a contact he would lean on my hands and whenever we stopped his head would go down to force the reins loose, something I've seen a lot of horses do since. So I started spending hours online researching bits and decided to try a Waterford mouthpiece as these apparently discourage leaning, with a universal gag.

I think he appreciated not having a single jointed mouthpiece any more.....I had read somewhere that you should put your horse's bit on the inside of your elbow and get someone to pull on the reins to feel something of what they would feel, and that single jointed pelham really pinched......but he still wasn't terribly keen on any contact.

So next up, an American gag with a copper roller mouthpiece

This seemed to suit him better, but when he wanted to ignore it, he did! So back to the research, and I came across Myler bits. Not a cheap option, but a lot of thought has gone into their design to make communication very precise with the horse and with comfort in mind. So I got him a long shank combination with a comfort snaffle mouthpiece.......

This seemed to suit him best of all. It's a bit but also has a noseband that works like a hackamore. The slightest touch would get the message across so I could be really light and he didn't lean on my hands any more. So we stuck with this until quite recently when I took another look at what I was doing. He didn't seem to mind the Myler but the noseband made him very itchy all the time and he was constantly trying to rub his nose. Some friends of mine were using bitless bridles with their horses, so I went back to the research and ended up buying an Indian Bosal to try.

He really seemed to appreciate not having a bit, yes his nose still gets itchy, but it's not tight all the time like the Myler has to be, and most importantly, he can graze! I have also bought him a Lightrider bitless bridle, as it's a headcollar too, so perfect for TREC
So there we are. Not so much fine control as with the Myler, which is far and away the best bit we have ever had, but as most of the time we are hacking out, not doing dressage tests, the bitless bridles are fine.