Monday, 30 December 2013

Fence hopping

Oh mum! Stop embarrassing me! 

Mum took this picture to prove that I'm just being silly when I refuse to go through the gate. I don't know why. It's scary when I have to go through it! Plus, she tricked me into standing next to her before I even noticed where I was. I must admit, after I had a sniff about, it didn't seem so bad, but I'm pretty sure the monsters were asleep at the time - they're always lurking there whenever the headcollar comes close! 

So I decided I wanted a change of scenery last night. It took mum way too long to come find me when she brought breakfast. She called me a dozen times, but her tiny head light didn't shine far enough for her to see me. She must have noticed I wasn't waiting at the gate like normal! Eventually she came walking down and found me, and I was in the field next door (where all the nice untouched grass is!) but she made me walk all the way back up to the gate where the monsters are, and then told me off a little when I wouldn't go through it - even though she had my breakfast. I had to have my headcollar on for reassurance that they wouldn't come and get me. Anyway, I was very good and it only took two attempts for me to kick my nerves and walk through BOTH scary gates. Mum gave me a  big pat and I tucked in to brekkie. 

It was nice that mum came down to see me after work tonight, that's when she tricked me into standing by the gate for cuddles and I even stood there whilst the electric was clicking a bit. Mum seemed quite impressed, and kept saying "I told you it wasn't that scary!" (I know you don't believe her either...) Don't I look handsome though? Rumour has it that I might have another new rug too. I'm so excited to try it on!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

What a difference a day makes

Or maybe a week, but all the same! Following a far more chilled schooling session on Thursday, we have had an overall successful weekend.

Yesterday I set out to get Rio in and do some in hand work as we had ridden already on Boxing Day, and despite the glorious weather and the obvious pull to ride, I stuck to my guns and brought him up for a fuss and cuddle before we headed to the indoor school. We started with some in hand work and I kept hold of the lead rope keeping it hanging between us with no tension, before I let him loose. Helpfully there were some cones set out down the centre of the school so we worked on walking in and out of these, which he was very good at. When we moved on to trying another free lunging session, to say I was pleased is an understatement. We had a few stops whilst he was busy napping to the gate for a nosey look at what was going on, but other than that, he picked up a beautiful trot, and we even managed a planned change of rein (he's good at changing rein on his own, I just need to get a handle on getting him to change when I want!) I was so proud. We finished off with a join up, and once he joined up with me, we even managed a couple of steps backwards without me touching him. It is literally these small steps that make me so happy I decided to jump in with both feet and get him!

Today was very frosty when I got to the yard, the ground was solid, and I had started to wish I had ridden yesterday so I could have taken him in the school today. However, by the time I had poo picked, broken icy water buckets up and checked on my friend's pony whilst she's away, the sun was shining and the sky was a glorious blue. There was barely a cloud in the sky!

I brought Rio up with minimal arguments at the gate - we have started trying something a bit different to get him out, walking lots of circles inside the field, and figures of eight, to take his mind off the gateway itself. Today he only spooked once before I managed to get him to walk through, which was an improvement on yesterday which took 3 attempts then I cleverly decided to make him do it again which warranted another 3 tries! My aim is to try and desensitise him to the gate, and make him so bored of walking back and forth that he will just go through... Here's hoping!

We had a lovely ride out around the village, and boy am I glad that I didn't get him clipped when I was considering it a few weeks ago. He was getting very sweaty doing very little, but the more I work with him, the more I think it was stress related. We did almost 5km in 45 minutes, mainly walking with a very small trot towards the end. I wanted to try and give him a little trot and canter on the field on the way back home but by that point, my ankles were well and truly set and we had to forgo the upward transitions! Since my tumble last weekend, I had my first ride where I was not having to tell myself to keep my heels down, and boy did that hurt. Not only did I call a stop to any trotting and cantering but had to get Rio to stand for a moment whilst I stretched my ankles out before I could dismount. He kindly obliged, which again called for much cuddling - he's learning!

Back to work tomorrow... Bring on Wednesday for New Year's Day when I can spend more time at the yard :)

Ride safe x

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Happy holidays!

Happy Christmas everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful day with friends and family. Good news - me and Rio had a much more successful ride in the school today, he was far calmer although still managed a little side hop right near the end when we were finishing off. It was good to have a ride that instilled confidence again even if he is still not very good at standing still whilst I mount...

We had his saddle checked, and the gullet was one size too big, so hopefully today he was much more comfortable, and following the farrier visiting we may have to get some front shoes fitted soon. The little man's feet have been keeping themselves fairly level which means that once we start working more he will be wearing them down too fast! It was actually to the point that they were just re-shaped as none could be trimmed off. Of course it would help if he would stop pawing at the ground - I can only tell him off when he's up at the barn with me! 

I have to share the field with you from Christmas morning, this is my other half going for a wade (fear not, they had plenty of field that was dry!) Unfortunately, whilst we have fantastic grazing all year round, we are right on the bank of a river, so when it bursts the banks, this is the result!

Onwards and upwards! Ride safe x

P.S: Finally settled in to my blog-home and made it a bit prettier - what do you think? 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Is it Summer yet?

We've had the shortest day now, please can the summer just hurry up and get here? The wind has been an absolute nightmare, and I'm hoping that it can explain away why Rio has not been quite himself the last couple of days. I'm really hoping that the troubles getting him out of the field are not going to continue into a bad habit...  Only time will tell if that's the cause though. It's difficult at the moment to decide whether he's genuinely scared/nervous in which case I want to reassure him, or if he is just being naughty, in which case he needs to know it's not going to wash with me!

After my fall yesterday, I've been taking the odd ibuprofen to try and prevent any swelling etc, but aside from a bit of an achey neck, I'm OK! I was so disappointed at coming off, but it all happened very fast. We have lots of work to do to try and get this boy more comfortable. Much more ground work to come I think, and I really need to get him in to a proper school to do some proper work with him instead of the grassy outdoor school we have on the yard... I'm not gonna lie and say that it's not knocked me a little - it's been a long time since my last fall, but in a strange way, I'm glad to have gotten my first tumble out of the way with him!

So, have any of you had any problems with getting your horses in from the field? I have no issue in catching him at the moment, but Saturday & Sunday saw us having a face off a few metres from the gate where he would not move an inch. Once I manage to get him through the first gate, he seems fine, but what can I do to try and prevent this from becoming a habit? I think I may have to start taking him up on a lunge line as he did run off to start with on Saturday, but Sunday just saw a battle of wills which I eventually won. I must admit, I will be a little gutted if the next few weeks see my main focus become getting him up to the yard... I'm looking into getting his saddle checked to ensure that it's not irritating him and changing his behaviour at all, and then will probably get his back looked at too...

I've not just been bringing him up to be ridden, I've brought him up just to be groomed, free lunged him, let him have a wander around in the indoor school, even just brought him up to pick his feet out to get him out of the field. It's not until this weekend he has really dug his heels in, and I'm just really crossing my fingers that the fact it's been really windy is not just a coincidence... If I know the cause, I can work on it. If I don't know why, what do I do next??

Ride safe x

Sunday, 22 December 2013

I don't like the wind

Me and mum have had a bit of a tough weekend. Yesterday I went up and had my headcollar put on but the wind was horrible, the electric fence was clicking, and there was a strange pile of someone else's stuff outside my gate. I really didn't want to go through it and stood my ground, but mum wouldn't listen. I ran away and hid with B to get away from it but mum came and got me, and we had a bit of a disagreement for five minutes. Mum looped the lead rope over my nose which didn't help as every time she pulled it got tight. I didn't like that. I hope she doesn't do that all of the time.

Eventually I gave up but boy was that fence scary. Then the wind was hitting the trees at the top of the yard, so I couldn't concentrate and kept going in circles around mum as she tried to take me up there. It's scary when I'm on my own! 

Mum took me straight into the indoor school and we walked around for a bit so I followed her after I did a runner from the big scary pile of shavings bales in the corner. Before long, I was walking right past them without even thinking about it, I guess mum is right about some things not being scary. Not that wind though. So once I had followed for a bit, I was left to my own devices so I had a good snout out of the door for a bit and a bit of a jog around at my own leisure. That was nice. I kept wandering back to mum as I wasn't sure what she was doing, sat in the corner watching me! A couple of people came up to the gate to say hello, and in my excitement I forgot mum was there and nearly squished her once... maybe twice. Sorry mum! 

Anyway, one of them brought a long stick with a string on the end in, and mum said she wanted to try "free lunging" whatever that is. Apparently it consists of me doing all of the work whilst she stands in the middle with the stick talking to me and making funny noises. Mum gave me a video to share with you as she said she was very proud. It was our first time doing this! I've been told that the full version is here - where you will see that the video below is just the best bit!

So today had some trouble too, I was still afraid of that gate, and mum had to be really patient with me to get me out of the field again. Not only that, but the wind got quite bad again as we went into the school and made me jump. I think mum lost a stirrup or something because she wobbled and I was about to stop then got scared again and went off the other way and the next thing I knew she was laying on the floor by the fence. Just as well I'm not too tall or I'm sure that would have hurt lots. 

Mum got back on me and we did lots of circles and walking past the scary bits in the school. She kept making me stop and start and stop and start. It was really hard to calm down though, and I could feel that mum was worrying a bit, but we did some trotting in a circle and a few transitions of walk-trot-walk and trot-walk-trot but I started to lose concentration and get wibbly again so we stopped. What a weekend! I do hope this wind doesn't stay for long. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Jabs and firsts

I felt like what I imagine a proud mummy feels today. I spent all morning worrying about how Rio was going to react with the vet this morning for his final injection, and need I have woken up half an hour before my alarm went off at 5.55am? No. Did he bat an eyelid between mouthfuls of hay? No. I started to tell him what a good boy he had been then decided there wasn't much point in overdoing it as he clearly was not bothered in the slightest! What a little trooper.

We are getting somewhere with leading now, Rio kept walking behind me when we first got him home and has struggled a little to understand personal space. However, for the most part, he is now "getting" that he should be walking alongside me, and I even throw in the odd stop whilst we are walking, which he is very good at responding to (as long as he's not busy snouting at something three fields away at the time!) It's the small things like this that I take much enjoyment in at the moment. We are not going to be doing walk-canter transitions, travers or jumping 3 foot jumps any time soon but I revel in the hopeful thought that one day these small things will amount to wonderful personal achievements for the two of us. Baby steps for my baby boy! (and me!)

I almost let him back out in the field with no rug after the vet had visited, but opted to instead put him out in his lightweight rug as the weather today was a little milder. I was more than happy that this meant that I would have to pay him a third visit of the day after work and got hubby to come along with me to meet him for the first time - he couldn't stay out in his lightweight all night after all! Now I feel bad as the rain is hammering down and I've not repaired the little rip. So much for rip resistance! Any tips on rug repairs gratefully received as ideally I want to repair it and put it straight back on him - no long drying glues! 

Does your pony live in or out? I would dearly love to go down and take him in and tuck him up in his stable on nights like this, but I know he doesn't like being in on his own and nobody else comes in on my side of the yard! Just as well really, or he would be like a pampered pooch... Who am I kidding?? He will be anyway!

Ride safe x

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Entering the minefield

So I finally made the jump and bought my own horse! Here he is, in all of his young nosey glory, he's a beautiful cuddly boy, rising 5 and 15.1 hopefully to grow a little more and make 15.2. I've had the joys of early mornings now for 3 1/2 weeks and have now settled in to more of a routine. 

We've had the daily trials of burrs in manes, tails, feathers and somehow under his belly, our first ride out on our own this weekend, plenty of poo picking, and lots of cuddles. We both have lots to learn, and I'm really looking forward to our journey together.

I've been riding since I was a tot, and used to love spending my weekends at the yard in return for a free ride on a Sunday afternoon. It was a happy time. When I grew up and moved out my riding took a back seat and before long it had been nearly 2 years since I had last saddled up. I was very lucky and fate found me a  share pony 18 months ago whom I grew to love dearly. He was a cheeky 20 year old cob who knew it all and took great pleasure in tanking off when being lead. It took over a year, but when I realised that in hand was the answer, he seemed to change completely. For the last couple of months he was a different horse to and from the field, but sadly he was sold earlier this year. Initially I stayed on at the yard helping out my friends with their horses, but it soon became apparent that I missed the freedom of having my own steed, and thus started the creeping thoughts of horse ownership...

So, my first topic in question is feed. With the help of a friend we have established a breakfast feed for Rio, and it consists of the following:
  • Chaff (1 scoop)
  • Soaked beet (1/4 - 1/2 scoop)
  • Developing nuts (1/4 scoop)
  • Pony nuts (1/4 scoop)
  • Garlic granules 
  • Biotin
  • Linseed
What would you feed or consider feeding/not feeding to a young horse? I will be keeping an eye on his weight as I don't want him to get too fat - just enough to get him through the winter! I am looking at getting a weigh tape to keep a better monitor... Thoughts?

He shares a field with another pony, so they get fed together, and they seem to get on OK which is great. We try to feed them within a few feet of each other to discourage him getting too dominant over food and so far it seems to be working. We are very lucky at our yard to have rotational grazing, and having moved the horses up from summer paddocks to winter grazing, they have plenty of grass at the moment. Once this starts to dwindle, I will be arranging hay - do you soak your hay? If you soak it, how long do you soak it for? Also - tips on preventing it from blowing all over the place? My friend has a couple of large tyres in her ponies' field and wedges it inside them which seems to work fairly well. 

We did try carrot stretches on Sunday, which he proved to be very good at, however when the carrots were gone, he was still trying to nibble around my hands. Food for thought on how to achieve the same effect without the yummy treat? I don't want a nipper on my hands!

Here's a lovely picture (from lunch time today) of his symmetrical, freshly groomed bottom to sign off this evening :)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Introducing Rio

Hi world! My name is Rio, and my mum wanted to start this blog to record our progress (she tells me there will be good days and bad days...) so we can look back when I am a clever old man and laugh at how silly we were. 

Three weeks ago...
I was a bit confused at first when three ladies who I had only met a few times came and loaded me on to a trailer from my cosy stable, but soon realised that I was going on an adventure when we arrived at a new place with lots of other ponies and strange smells. I had a lovely new rug put on, which there was lots of umming and ahhing over before it was taken off and replaced with a slightly longer one to cover my bum, and I never saw that rug again. I think they decided my bum looked too big in it as it was hanging out! 

Anyway, I have a lovely field buddy who looks after me, even if he does tell me off sometimes, and am very happy living out in my field. My favourite thing at the moment is finding the plants with the burrs on so that mum has to come and pick them all out - but I don't like to make that easy either! Mum has taken to spraying this nice smelling stuff on my mane, tail and feathers now, so I just walk through them even more to make sure they stick. Mum keeps calling me Elvis when this happens.

I have been a very brave boy since I arrived, and I know that I have lots to learn (but so does mum as she keeps telling me we will be learning together!) I am only 4 after all. I have really enjoyed going out round the local village with some of my new friends, but it's all still very new, so I keep getting very sweaty by the end of it. Today was the first day I made it home without big sweat patches! Mum said she was very proud; especially after I took 25 minutes to relax yesterday on my first ride out on my own. In my defence, there were lots of small yappy things running around when we were out, and flappy things coming out of the trees! 

I hope you come back to see how me and mum get on!

PS. I haven't told mum yet, but I had an accident and ripped my rug yesterday - please don't tell her!