Monday, 30 June 2014

Stage Fright

New challenge to work on: getting over people watching me when I ride! 

My cousin's new baby is going to be on our yard for a bit whilst she waits for a stable to come up at her place. We've put up fencing across his paddock ready for his arrival on Saturday, so it's all rather exciting! She's got him to bring on ready to event him. He's just come off the track, and is a springy 4 year old chestnut. 

So I brought Rio up (he was a little bugger and kept stopping walking up the field - cheers for showing me up buddy!) luckily he was okay once him and Franks crossed paths and he got going. He has a small scab on his right hind which looks like it could be mud fever, so I faffed about a little and groomed him. I sponged it down again with warm hibiscrub and managed to pick off the last bit of the scab, and was busy making excuses not to ride. You see, I don't school very often at the moment, so when it comes to schooling, I get very self conscious. 

I'm pleased to say that once I got going, I really enjoyed it. I even felt much more secure in the saddle, Rio had a spook sideways and I don't believe I flinched - that's a first! After we warmed up a bit and got going in the trot, he felt like he was going well enough to try and ask for canter. The first attempt was a bit of a sham, I didn't have hold of the outside rein, so I ended up having a very wonky canter across the school ending up on the opposite rein. I learned my lesson, and when I tried the second time, we managed a canter up the long side on the left rein. He dropped out of it back into trot.

On the right rein, we trotted up and did some circling and squeezed him on into the canter, he went up the long side, I cut him across the school a little before the end (our school is a bit wonky) and continued the canter right back down the long side before I asked him back to trot! We trotted off and then walked out after that - we could only have schooled for 20 minutes or so, but I was already feeling it. Plus I wanted to end it on a positive note. 

Ride / play safe x

Sunday, 29 June 2014

This cat's got THUMBS!

Meet Murph, Sarah's feline friend. He actually has thumbs! Check those bad boys out. He's a total dude, and very cuddly. We're not talking at the moment though, because mid cuddle he decided to try and attack me last night. (Attack is a strong word... He got a bit carried away though!) Anyone got some Cravendale? He's coming for it!

We had an early start this morning and had a super long canter across the fields, Rio took the lead to start with, and whilst we were trotting he offered up canter a couple of times so I decided to sit in and go for it. Despite offering it up, and Franks being right behind us, it wasn't long before I was having to work hard to keep him up a gear, and inevitably we dropped back into trot. Franks took the lead, and we trotted a little further before I asked him back up, and we had a wonderful long canter, with only a little encouragement needed. We'll get there eventually! He was a bit more springy today, and felt like he was pushing through from behind a little more. 

The boys spent a bit of time in Rio's field today (they've been sharing Franks' mostly!) after Sarah and I had a further prune of the nettles and thistles. We're steadily working across the field, and thought the boys might like a change of scenery and a good opportunity to self medicate some nettles/thistles if they so chose. They had a few hours of munching the long grass, whilst we popped out to have a nose at a show. 

When we moved the boys back, I noticed Rio had caught himself on his right hind (again!) and it looked pretty fresh. He keeps grazing himself and getting little scrapes just in front of his chestnut, I've still not figured out how, but today's looks a little deeper than normal. I walked back up to the barn to get some hibiscrub and hypocare, and he was actually very forthcoming. He walked off after I'd washed it out with the hibiscrub, and when I got to him with the hypocare bottle we had a minute or so of pirouetting whilst he turned his bum away from me until I moved him over sideways and he stood nicely. He stood perfectly whilst I tried to reveal the cut and spray it.

He had a good look and sniff at my glove - I was speaking to a friend not so long ago about what colours horses see, and I'm convinced Rio must be able to see blue. He doesn't fuss over Franks' feed when Sarah comes down in the morning (black bucket) but he ALWAYS knows if he's got feed, and his feed bucket is baby blue. Interestingly, I came across a great blog post about this, and as it turns out, it looks like blue is one of the colours they can differentiate! You can read the blog post here, I'd recommend a look. 

Ride / play safe x

P.S - updated the blog header as I now have so many more photos to choose from :) what do you reckon?

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Poo and nettles

The boys standing watching Sarah fill up the water bucket. Bless them. 

Rio went out on a solo mission around the village with Sarah today. My leg is still feeling a little twingey so I decided it would be best that I give it another day to recover as it was pretty immobile at times yesterday. Happy to report that it's much better today! 

So it turns out Rio's freak-out on Wednesday night probably was down to a pile of poo. That pile of poo that he spooked at on the Thursday night hack got another look today when Sarah took him past, but his reactions are getting less each time. Today he had a good look, then calmly walked around it. Apparently he did a poo of his own which he also had to have a proper look at on his way back. What a silly boy. Other than that, he was very good. He wasn't even very sweaty. 

I took some cutters down to Rio's paddock today to attack the army of nettles and thistles. It's just a small dent but it's a start! I had to give up when my arms started feeling numb, so will carry on tomorrow.

This is after my attack on the foliage. Should have taken a before and after shot! Plenty still to be done, but it's actually looking much better already. 

Rio's new bit needs to be replaced as we tried it and it was a little too small so I'm sending it back to get the next size up to try. He was happy enough hacking in it today, but for schooling, it's just not quite wide enough to be a permanent solution. Little bit gutted, but I'll have plenty of parcels to look forward to this week as I had a little shopping spree this week for first aid and fencing supplies, and obviously the new bit will have to come!

Ride / play safe x

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Assessing the damage

Well this was the impact spot on the field last night! Sarah insisted we hacked back via the scene of the crime despite my attempt to sneakily ride back across the other side of the field. Amusingly Rio spooked at a pile of poo just about where he threw me off yesterday, just another one of the "maybe it was ... **insert random possibility here** ". However, today he opted for a much more manageable side step instead of hopping around like a numpty. 

So as you can see, I got back in the saddle tonight, and went for a ride out with Sarah and Franks. Rio was up front for almost the whole ride (Franks was a very good boy and only tried to sneak ahead a handful of times) I just about managed to swing my leg over and get on! He had a couple of spooks, which just consisted of a quick sidestep but other than that it was pretty good. 

I ordered a new bit for Rio last week - I've got it on a 30 day trial to see how he likes it, which is great. It's essentially the same as the bit he has now, except with the Salox metal which is meant to heat up to the same temperature as the horse's mouth in a fractions of a second. It's also a nickel free alloy, with a bit of a sweet taste, so should encourage acceptance of the contact. He's not too resistant to taking up a contact when asked, but I'm not very good at asking, so I'm hoping this will be a good piece to the jigsaw puzzle for us. It had to be done as the eggbutt link on the left of Rio's current bit keeps seizing. This time I'm going for a keeper instead of a cheaper!

So here's the assessment from head to toe:
  • Neck - tender on both sides, probable whiplash effect from head hitting the ground
  • Tummy/core muscles very tense today, feel like I've done the plank for an hour!
  • Right fore arm - pulled a muscle maybe, trying to hold onto the reins as I went down
  • Inside of right hip - sore! Difficult to hold my leg up for a length of time, and driving is a little uncomfortable (also why I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get on tonight!)
  • Pelvis/lower back - bruise is starting to come out already, sore but thanks to my anti inflammatories, no swelling as yet and manageable
Think that's about it! We clearly have a lot of work to do on hacking alone, but only time and effort will help us with that. Here's to the learning curve! I'm just glad I was able to get straight back on last night and not let this push me back to where I was a few weeks ago. Onwards and upwards. Oh - and speaking of upwards, I could swear that Rio is a bit bum high again! He's already gone up from 15hh to 15.2h since I got him, and I think he may be growing a little more. Bless him!

Ride/play safe x

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Whatwasthat Wednesday

It all started out as a normal day. Except for the fact that I woke up at 5am and couldn't get back to sleep so decided to head down to the yard early. I did my usual routine, poo picking, filling up the water, watching the boys for a bit because I had time to kill. 

Sarah brought Rio up for the farrier for me to save me dashing down to the field. He was a bit naughty and tried to refuse coming through the metal gate, which he doesn't usually fuss about. We learned a nifty trick from Wendy, and when he does this, the trick is to lean away from him, thereby putting a bit of poll pressure on - nothing nasty, just enough to make him want to move forward to release the pressure. He seems to be giving in much easier doing this now, so fingers crossed we may be able to make a breakthrough of some description. 

My poor farrier eventually got to the yard at 5.30 (still with one other visit to make!) and did my friend's pony first as he was just having a trim. Rio was a bit of a sod... He tried snatching his feet, and went to rear up twice. Luckily my farrier is very good with situations like this and took control - he has free rein with him as far as I'm concerned; he needs to be as safe as possible doing his job, and I know he's not going to beat him, just hopefully instil some manners. He did eventually settle, and we've stuck with just fronts for now although we will be monitoring how his back feet fare with the increased workload as there wasn't anything to be taken off the bottoms of them this time.

As we've had a couple of days off after our big adventure on Sunday, today was the day for getting back in the saddle again. Sarah and Franks had already been out around the village so I dutifully tacked Rio up, hopped on and headed straight out down the drive out onto the field. We haven't done much work on our own, but I was in the right frame of mind, and just got on with it. He was jittery down the long side that runs along the road, and we had a little fight so I let him trot it out for a bit as that's his favourite gait, and it can help him chill out some. We made it just fine past the scary corner where he reared up the last time we were alone, and where he bolted in hand. Just as he had started to relax his neck and drop his head, and steady to a nice walking pace, I was suddenly up in the air with him. 

I've no idea what happened to make him jump with all four feet off the ground, but I knew straight away there was no saving this one. I tried to hold onto the reins so he wouldn't bolt, but he was gone, so all I could do was roll so I landed as evenly as possible. That field is HARD. After a brief moment of panicking about where he was and whether I was about to be trampled, I saw him bronc a couple more times up the field before he turned and cantered down to the bottom corner where he took refuge after he spooked in hand.

I went and collected him, walked back to the track, and got back on. Rio stood nicely, let me get settled, and walked back to the driveway steadily. He had a little look at something in the hedge, but walked on when I asked him forward. We went into the outdoor school, had a moment of jittering which passed quickly, and then I set him to work in trot. I only worked him for around ten minutes but I knew I had to show myself that I wasn't afraid of riding him after I just got over my last confidence crisis! 

So now I just feel guilty because I got mad at him, but he was being a bit of a bugger this evening in general. To make it up to me, he was super well behaved when I took him back to the field, and yielded sideways and back when asked, and even took an extra step back to give me my space too. 

Fingers crossed my back isn't too sore tomorrow to hack out with Sarah and Franks - I am hoping to carry on as normal and forget about this incident! However - unplanned dismount count HAS been updated, we are now at 2! 

Ride / play safe! x

Monday, 23 June 2014

Dentistry and Ancestry

Rio did some beautiful side stepping this morning. Coming out of his field at 6am wasn't at the top of his to-do list. I stayed calm and jovial and moved him away from me before inviting him to follow me, and he did without question. He had to come up to the starvation paddock to wait for the vet so I had a shorter trip to get him! It was the first dental visit since I got him, and the receipt for his last one in August said "dentistry under sedation". Needless to say, I was a little anxious as to how he would be. 

As you can see, he was a little star. No sedation, and he did fidget a little, but didn't really run away at all. He was fine with the head gear when he had it on (sorry no beautiful photos of that gadget!) and was an absolute gent having the edges rasped. He's got wolf teeth through, but as they are not causing him any issues at the moment we won't be touching those. He did his mumma proud again today, love this little man so much!

I was also talking to my friend about Rio's ancestry yesterday so thought I'd do a quick Google search. This is Rio's mum! Glenalla Ffion. She's actually for sale at the moment - and I never realised she was only 14hh! If only I could afford to keep a second horse, I might consider buying her and reuniting her with her boy  - she's only 8 now, and is being brought on under saddle. Sadly there is no further information on Rio's dad except that he's a UK stallion named Finley. I've not got any further than that - Google has failed me! I'd love to know what breed his dad was. There are a few on but I've no idea if any of them may be his daddy. Here's Rio's lineage: click here

Ride / play safe x

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Adventures begin!

The boys being very helpful this morning and walking (half way) to us to be caught.

We had such a fantastic day, a perfect hack on the perfect day. We usually hack for around 45 minutes on a simple loop close to the yard. Today was a bit more of an epic trek for us. I made a second attempt on a running braid to try and keep Rio cool. It was more successful than yesterday, but I still need to get it tighter as it did start coming out on our ride.

I couldn't have been prouder of him. He didn't spook, shy, bolt or play up at all. He got a little antsy when there was one in front of him and one to the side with one behind but soon settled down, and only walked a bit faster. That is about the extent of badness. 

We hacked for just under 90 minutes over to another yard we know, where the boys were untacked and had a little break and some haylage. Rio went into the end stable to begin with where he couldn't see anyone and did have a little panic, but I moved him down a couple of stables so he could see everyone else, and he was actually very well behaved. He moved back when asked, and let me tack him back up without fuss. I was very proud. 

This was on the way home, Rio lead the ride for a few minutes trot down some of the more winding road, and did a great job. We are working on getting his confidence up being out front for longer lengths of time. He is a brave boy, but seems to tire of being the leader for longer than a few minutes, and will slow down to allow someone else to take over. We had plenty of canters over the course of the ride, and over the last field we had a couple of vastly improved ones! On the way out, he dropped out into a trot, then picked it back up again a few metres later. Our penultimate canter was a little bit of a fight to get him to hold onto it, but we managed it, he was more keen trying get back towards the others because we had fanned out a little. Our last canter, I felt him ease into it, and just had to squeeze him on every few strides instead of every stride. It felt glorious. 

We played in the water jump too! Unfortunately no photos this time, but Rio went in without hesitating behind Sarah and Franks, and had a little wander around. He just didn't seem fussed at all. We walked out, around, and back in again, and there was just nothing that worried him despite the four of us being in there and Nemo & Franks splashing around!

Just on one small bad note, he was a little cheeky when trying to load him to come home. Luckily Wendy was on hand to Parelli Drive him and he walked himself on perfectly after just a couple of minutes. There are no limits to what that lady can teach a horse!

Ride / play safe x

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Mind over matter

A picture can speak a thousand words. 'Nuff said!

Forgot to take a photo but I did my first running braid in Rio's mane this morning, it was a bit loose, but I know how to make it tighter so will be trying that tomorrow! We're off on a road trip tomorrow to the yard that my cousin keeps Baby at, so we can go for some farmland hacking woohoo.

Ride / play safe x

Friday, 20 June 2014

New outlook

Much has changed since I left to go on holiday. I missed the yard lots, and definitely missed my Rio! We have ridden every day since I got back except his rest day on Tuesday, and I'm loving being back in the saddle and feeling comfortable there. We've been riding with others every day, which has been really quite pleasant, but we are going to have to start flying solo once a week soon so that I can start working on our ridden bond and loosening him up on his own. We also need to work on getting into the outdoor school, which I keep putting off because it's been breezy. But I'm back in the saddle!

I've been working on keeping myself relaxed, and I feel like a completely different person. I'd started getting very tense when riding, and would definitely avoid long reins. Since getting back from holiday, I've found my confidence again, and my balance, and am currently more than happy giving Rio his head without panicking at every twitch of a muscle or every time he looks around for a nose at what's going on. 

The pony play day was great fun, we had a bit of action on the ground with him trying to establish dominance and failing because we wouldn't give in to his very Left Brain antics. (That's the rearing - he never does it in a dangerous way, he does it in such a calculated fashion, and never with the intention to physically strike out at you). Some good transitions into canter, which we need to continue to work on, and then will come the work on cantering for an extended time - we are currently lucky to get one circuit! On the plus side, I did manage a couple of good canter transitions without looping my fingers through the neck strap to stop my hands going up, which was a huge achievement for me. It just goes to show how much more relaxed I am with him right now. 

Once we'd had some lunch we played the gymkhana games, and whilst Rio wasn't sure what was going on when we headed away from our team, when we were heading back towards them, he was more than happy to kick it up a gear and canter back! He was absolutely brilliant for his first time playing, my proudest moments being him standing very nicely whilst I dressed up in a scarf, long coat and gloves (whilst mounted) and also him letting me swing myself up from the ground after bobbing around for an apple for what seemed FOREVER (had to keep the apple in my mouth), and cantering flat out back to the team! There was a mounting block up at the other end, but until recently I've always mounted from the ground because he used to fidget too much. That's no longer an issue, and I'm proud to say we are mounting from the ramp every time now. Love him! 

Ride/play safe x

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Saddle up!

I'll keep it brief where I can, there's a bit to cover since I left off for my holiday! By the time I left, this was the state of the fields. The morning that I flew out to Cyprus, the girls were down at the yard at 7.30am retrieving the horses from their fields as the water came over the river banks. They're still on their Summer grazing at the moment, and probably will be for at least another week!

So Rio survived his night in the stable. However, somehow he managed to jump his stable door not long before I got to the yard the following morning.

This is the door he jumped. Not a low one, and not much room to launch or land! Amazingly, he didn't go lame, although that didn't stop me worrying about it for the first few days of my holiday. Once I'd got a friend to check him over for me, I had a ride! Yes. I RODE!

He was a superstar, and thankfully with the lack of wind, he didn't step a foot wrong. It was the best boost I could have asked for.

Sarah was taking Rio on a few days after I left to keep him busy, so I had plenty of photos sent over to me whilst I was away, from her and Millie. Rio always loves to have a good roll after he's hosed off and boy has it been warm here, so he's been a sweaty boy!

My sleepy boy after he had worked hard with Sarah!

Bromance time - Rio had a sleepover in with Franks last night after we went out for a hack. I made it out for a hack within 2 hours of being back home. Wonderful! We were back out again at 7.30am this morning, even better! Tomorrow we have another Parelli Play Day. 

Casually flinging poo and sticking it to a tree... Because that's how we roll...

Rio looking pretty fly! Trimmed his tail back up again as the ends were grubby, bleached and starting to trail on the floor. Snipped the long feathers to avoid so much ground coverage, but couldn't bear to take the scissors to his mane despite his missing middle patch... Jury is out for what will happen with it. If I can grasp the running plait, it will stay - if not, it will be cut and pulled... Such a handsome young man!

Ride / play safe x