Thursday, 31 January 2013

Is this going to last.....?

So after Kinna's "entertainements" at the weekend, I decided to try and do something with her every day for a week to see if that would calm things down a bit. Monday I took her for a walk in hand, that was mostly calm, but when we got back to the grassy bit across the road and tried to do a couple of circles, she exploded again at not being allowed to eat. I eventually got a couple of vaguely calm cirlcles out of her and left it at that.

Tuesday we were out all day taking Fina to Sheila's but when we got back it was still light so I took her over the road for a graze for about 20 minutes. Just before going back I tried another circle or two, and she was actually OK with it, presumably because she'd been allowed to eat first......

Yesterday, she outdid herself. We went for a hack, there was a bit of bouncing around at the start but nothing serious and the rest of the time she was really good. She didn't turn a hair at the noisy dogs and didn't even spook at any birds  ;-)

When we came to a grassy slope I decided to try a little canter. Fearing another explosion, I got Ali off first......but she was good as gold!

And when we got back, we jumped the ditch, no problems and did some circles on the grass, no rearing, no bucking......

Good girl :-)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Pastures new.....

Almost two years ago, a yellow pony arrived with us, I wrote about it here. She was insecure, nervous and unpredictable and it quickly became evident that I needed to start again from scratch to gain her confidence.

Today, she had enough confidence in me to consent to leave the herd (wasn't over keen on leaving Sorcier, mind you), get into her least favourite trailer (mine) and travel to a new loan home. She is going to stay with my friend Sheila down in the Lot for a while to see if things work out there. Ali has sadly outgrown her to the point that she is finding it difficult to balance for jumping, at the rate she's growng I'll need something about 17hh soon!

Sheila however is the perfect size for her, knows her from coming up to ride with us and has the patience and skills to keep her on track, so I think  she will be happy there.

She certainly seemed happy earlier, when she met Sheila's pony Lucie for the first time there was none of the drama we had on her arrival with us!
I think they'll get on fine :-)

Hopefully I'll soon be reading about her progress on Sheila's  blog.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Teenage kicks.....

Have been having some issues with Kinna recently, serious temper tantrums at not being allowed to graze.  Saturday's protest of choice was rearing, we took her to the field over the road to try and do a bit of ridden work and she really threw her toys out when prevented from eating. Ali sat tight and clutched the grab handle and when she'd finished, guess what, she STILL wasn't allowed to eat.....

Got Ali off and did some groundwork, Kinns is definitely not bothered by Chox (who thinks it's a great game), she explodes every time I ask her to more forward and stop her eating. She got it a bit wrong at one point....!!

Times like this I wish had a sand school...

That's what you get for having no winter grazing I guess, she hasn't got enough space to hooley on the mud in our "field" and a hay only diet makes her want grass all the time. Can't blame her really......Anyway, fair play to Ali, she got back on and we went for a hack afterwards and she was far more reasonable.....
Turns out Saturday was a bit of a workout for Ali, she had her riding lesson on Chester in the afternoon, who it appears is not so keen on being a riding school pony and pulled out his party piece to see if that'd get him out of it, and when it didn't he tried refusing to jump instead. At the ripe old age of 8, he should know better, but ponies never really grow up, do they?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Snow? What snow?

So it's been snowing in a lot of places, apparently. People keep posting pics of themselves doing cool stuff in it, like this from some friends ooop north in Normandy:

But here? A light dusting of snow overnight on Thursday. Already melting by the morning. But elsewhere in the Dordogne apparently they had a good amount of the stuff, which meant that naturally all the school buses had to be cancelled in the whole department.....then we had lots of rain. Lots and lots of rain. Enough to flood the concrete in front of the stable. And the stable itself (luckily the hay in there is on pallets). Still, the ducks are happy at least.....

Anyway, last night we had a load more rain, followed by a bit more snow. But again, the roads were clear, so Ali and I decided to go up to the stables and get the horses out. The sun even came out :-)

Found a nice fallen tree in the woods for the girls (and dogs!)

By the time we got back, most of the snow had melted though and now we're back to mud, mud and more mud (and flooding). Ah well.......such is winter.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

If there's one thing that really makes me cross......'s the inconsiderate idiots behind the wheel of a large number of cars in this country. The French, in my opinion, richly deserve their widely held reputation as terrible drivers.

On Monday, my week hadn't exactly got off to a good start. The SNO's teacher is off ill, so she had no school. I had to have a blood test (ouch) and make a phone call to the bank (ouch again!). So I thought we'd go for a little hack as that usually works for improving my mood.

I put the SNO on Sky, who, although prone to shenanigans at the start of a ride, (mainly due to not being allowed to stuff grass into her face, which as far as she's concerned is the only reason for going out for a walk) is generally a fairly sensible young horsie. She does not normally worry about traffic, barking dogs, killer bicycles, flappy plastic and the other everyday hazards waiting to scare the unwary equine.

We set off down one of our usual rides, along a single track road through vineyards just outside the village. You can see how wide the road isn't from this pic taken on the same route the other day:

 Normally we would ride on the edge of the vines, but we've had so much rain recently, it's too slippery and wet on the grass. Sky kept trying to head for the verge and the tasty grass anyway, and when told she couldn't she took it out on poor Gandalf by biting his neck, throwing her head around and skittering about a bit. The SNO doesn't mind a bit of skittering, as it goes, even the odd little buck didn't have her reaching for the grab strap, she merely asked "were we cantering?". We carry on, Sky settles down, apart from a brief bit of concern over people trimming the vines with those noisy clipper things. The SNO is babbling on, as she does, when I hear a car coming up fast behind us.

I do my usual, which is stay in the road til they slow down, then move over. But I quickly realise this pillock isn't slowing down, so I start to move across, but he doesn't give us time and rushes past a hairsbreadth away from Sky, who understandably objects to this and tries to run away. I contain her, and yell at the car with the appropriate hand signal, but it's long gone. The SNO is a bit upset by this, as she was scared too. But we calm down and carry on, only to come to a house further along and see the damned car parked outside. Not only that, but the driver is waiting for us so he can ask why I thought it necessary to "raise my voice". For a split second I am totally gobsmacked, then I whip Gandalf round (fairly decent turn on the haunches, actually) and trot right up to him and launch into a tirade about his terrible driving, which is sadly far less satisfying in French, which just isn't as biting as good old Anglo Saxon invective. But by then I was so angry I lapsed into English afterwards. They all understand the f word here.......

Anyway, the rest of the ride was lovely, and the SNO and Sky soon recovered their equilibrium. Especially once Sky was allowed some grass :-)

Saturday, 12 January 2013

So far this year.....

Kinna has done a whole 28kms, most of them under saddle. Bearing in mind last year she did a mere 70kms (recorded) out and about in 12 months, she should be seeing a whole lot more of the world in 2013.

Have been taking her out with Ali on board but still on the lead rope, just in case. Most of the time she is fine, a bit bouncy to start with usually and prone to the odd bucking fit if her feet touch grass and she's not allowed to eat it, but generally she is getting the idea that she needs to take some notice of the person on her back!

The aim for me is to get the whole going for a hack thing to be so ordinary she takes it for granted. Already she is better with a lot of the things that used to freak Seraphina out - like Ali shifting her weight on her back:
....and going in front sometimes (makes the rope juggling for me a bit tricky, mind you!)
The only thing that bothered her on today's hack was a couple of deer bursting out of the woods and bounding across the road in front of us, even big G was startled by that! But he just stood and stared, whereas Kinns was prancing around snorting with her little excuse for a tail in the air, wish I'd had a helmet cam as she looked rather stylish.......

When we got back to the village, we jumped the ditch where she'd had her little hissy fits before at not being able to eat, and she did it perfectly, without even a head shake. So she got some grass :-)

And Ali tried her standing dismount back home, not bovvered one bit!

Monday, 7 January 2013


Just made a little vid of her story so far, from the month she first arrived (Feb 2010) to some shenanigans under saddle a couple of days ago:

She can be exasperating at times, but we do love her!

 She's changed a bit.......


Friday, 4 January 2013

Good girl, Sky!

Last couple of days we have been getting Sky out and about, thought she'd be a bit of a nightmare as she hasn't done anything for weeks, but she was really good, on the whole. Yesterday we went over to our friends' place to help stack firewood, Ali rode Sky, I walked and the SNO cycled, when we got there I tied her up in the garden and she grazed happily for an hour and a half, occasionally tying herself in knots but the just standing there with her leg in the air just waiting for me to untangle her.....

Only one blot on the copybook, on the way home she tried to bog off, actually cantered down the road for a few strides, I was thinking "see you at home, Ali" but fair play, Ali stopped her using the old one rein stop and after that Sky went back to being Mrs Sensible.

As we were passing it, I just had to see if she was still up for the staircase on the passerelle over the railway and she was, more so than Ali, check out the expression!

Decided it wouldn't be prudent for her to stay on board for the descent though.....
So there we are, the next time Isabelle puts a staircase on the TREC route, we'll be sorted :-)

Today we took Sky out again, Ali was on the lead rein for most of it, which made my life complicated due to having the SNO on the front of my saddle again (school holidays and all my usual babysitters are away, jolly inconsiderate of them). How Gandalf rode all the way from Edoras to Minas Tirith with a hobbit up front and didn't lose the use of his arms I'll never know... ;-) I guess Pippin didn't wriggle about so much......

Did some trotting too and Sky tried to canter the first time, with a very genteel little buck, but after that soon settled down.

When Ali felt brave enough to go off the lead rein, Sky even went in front, which is more than Seraphina will do without an argument most days......

Then when we got back we did a bit of steering practise:

A good start, on the whole :-)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Hacking and things.....

It's that time of year to start making resolutions I suppose, not that I ever do really. But this year one thing I am goign to aim for is more hacking out. Last year big G clocked up a total of 580kms (I only started counting cos someone told me barefoot horses just can't do the distance on the road that shod horses can, mind you) but I reckon we can outdistance that this year.

I am going to aim for getting out on a horse 300 days this year. Probably won't happen with all the rest of the stuff I have to do but it's good to have aspirations.......

Today we started the ball rolling with a 7km hack - as it's still the holidays that meant with the SNO along for the ride so we couldn't go too far before the "my legs hurt/he's too sweaty/my boot's falling off" chorus commenced.....

Lovely sunny day for it though :-)

In fact we've had a few good days lately which has meant we could do this
and this
and this

and this.....
Happy New Year everybody!