Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sunday - NOT the day to relax??

Today started like a normal sort of Sunday. Mum was late (as usual!) and she even had the cheek to walk down to the field to see me without my breakfast. Like it's not enough that I was left to starve without my hard feed yesterday! When I got up to the barn it was clear that breakfast wasn't quite on the menu yet. Mum brushed me down and tacked me up, and one of the other guys from two fields down met us in the car park. I've only met him a couple of times, but he seems nice enough. Mum let me have a long-ish rein, and we had a couple of trots and I was mainly a good boy. 

I waited around for a bit when we got back whilst mum sorted out tack and got breakfast - at last. I was busy munching away when she came up to poke the lump under my chin. She squealed a little bit when she touched it as the lump has gone down, but it was pussy. Now I'm not a wimp, but this thing is getting really annoying now. Thankfully one of mum's friends was on hand to squidge the pus out - it wasn't much fun, and I did my best to be helpful but I couldn't help shaking my head about a bit. Once it was all out, they put warm cotton wool on it with hibiscrub to try and draw out any extra manky stuff, but it just bled a little. I had some cream on it, and mum told me I have to be good and not scratch my chin on anything. Like there's anything fun in my field to scratch on anyway...

I thought this would be the end of it, but turns out mum wanted to "smarten me up" a bit. She brushed my tail out and chopped it up by a few inches! Then she had to rough chop the ends and the sides so it looked more natural. Obviously it doesn't look natural, it's SHORT! But I do look rather dashing. Mum says she likes my tail shorter. This was still not the end; mum made the brush soggy and then brushed my mane - trying to tame it over to the right. It didn't really work. Apparently I'm going to have to have it plaited for a few weeks to "train it over".

Mum disappeared off for a bit and left me turned out in the grass arena again. I was very brave and decided to graze in the scary corner where the trees blow around in the wind. It wasn't so bad. You mustn't tell mum though, schooling would be far too easy if I didn't have something to be "afraid" of. After quite a while of getting to relax on my own, and munching to my heart's content, mum came to get me, and we walked out to the barn at the back. Big T was out there, and shouted a word of warning to me, but it was too late! Mum had already tied me up, and suddenly the noise surrounded me.


What have I done to deserve this today? It's really not my day! MUM! STOP IT! Oh... Actually, it turns out they're not so bad when they're actually on me... Ok, I guess I can stand almost still. I'm still going to shake a bit though. I would like some sympathy after all. After my first leg was done, I'd sort of decided it was manageable. The clippers weren't going to eat me, and I was even allowed to have a proper look at them and a good sniff. They're just so loud! Mum stood at my head and was giving me neck scratches when I was stood like a good boy. I did try and run through her to begin with, and once on the third leg, and then I got a bit of a smack. Message received - sorry mum, I didn't mean it!

How smart do I look now?

Good news, there's no other bad things hiding under there, and I don't have any other bits of mud fever. Mum's also hoping to save time on grooming now. The cheek of it. I will just have to try harder to poo down my legs more. It all feels a bit funny with no hair to protect me - mum walked me through the long grass and stuff on the way back to the field, but I was very brave and took it all in my stride. You wait until my first time back on the stubble. I might save my freakout for that! So that was my not so relaxing Sunday. I hope you've all had a better day of it!

Saturday's musings

Rio finally got his feet done yesterday after the farrier had to postpone last Friday. I had to leave him with a friend at the yard though as I got there for 2.30pm to receive a text saying it would be nearer 3.30pm before he arrived! Rio was turned out in the scary outdoor grass arena whilst he waited. He was adorable trotting around and generally looking very handsome. 

I was hoping last night to make our first true solo mission around the village. Unfortunately it was a little windy, so that did not happen.

Instead, I poo picked three fields, gave cuddles to three horses, and left it at that. Today was much the same, so Rio had a second day off. However, there was a bit of drama when Sean the Sheep was found dying in my friend's field. A mass rescue ensued (most of which I was more of a witness to than a participant!) whereby Sean was loaded into the giant wheelbarrow and escorted up to the yard into the indoor school. Attempts were made to get him to drink, and stand up, and although he managed a few steps, he then fell down and sadly died a little later. We always complain about the sheep, but all the same, nobody wants to see an animal suffer. We will remember you Sean!

Ride / play safe x

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Making progress

Just a quick update this evening! After a good ride out Tuesday evening, we braved a little walk out around the village with no equine company. Sarah accompanied us again on her bike, and me and Rio were very relaxed! I was so pleased, so now I just have to get on with trying it on our own, like, on our own. We shall see!

Tonight we went for a ride up onto the stubble fields with Sarah and Franks. Our first proper canters out on a hack (we've just had a little one with Sarah last week) since the river field broncs, and it all went swimmingly. It's all very helpful as the stubble is on a sweeping incline, and we had a little fleeting moment where Rio felt like he wanted to fly, but I checked him on it, and he came straight back to me. We had a little sideways spook whilst cantering the straight, but I was able to sit into it and went with him and just carried on. Overall, I'm very very pleased with both of us!

Feathers are still on, but fingers are TIGHTLY crossed they are coming off on Saturday morning. Rio has the farrier tomorrow, so new shoes, fresh legs, and if the weather allows, I think he will have a nice bath and I'll try and sort out his mane as it's a bit of a mess! 

Ride / play safe x

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Relaxing into it

After all the excitement of Sunday, and the rubbish weather yesterday, a nice chilled ride was on the menu this evening. With the wind blowing the trees about with force over the course of the day, I could easily have talked myself out of it altogether. 

As you can see, Rio's feathers are still in place, we got forgotten again :( I'm starting to think I'm going to have to give it a go on my own, which is scary. I don't want him to look a total scruff bag! Clipping tips for legs VERY welcome!

The wind was still blowing fairly when I got down to the field, but with poo picking done, I didn't let that stop me from calling my boy up. To my absolute joy, he walked straight up to me this evening (I do love when he does that!) - headcollar on, and off we went. He walked out through the scary electric gate without batting an eyelid, let me close it without even glancing back, and was quiet and collected walking up and waiting to be tacked up. All in windier conditions than usual. 

I was very pleased, and by the time I mounted, the wind had more or less died down, aside from a few gusts on the ride. We walked a new route this evening with Sarah and Millie that I've not done before, and it was lovely. We took a loop route where we usually go straight up and back again, and the difference was amazing. The ride felt much longer, and was much more satisfying. We had different terrains, surroundings and footing, and plenty of hill work, up and down. Rio seemed to really approve of this hack, there was lots of stretching and snorting, and I felt comfortable giving him a good length of rein without worrying about him running off. 

Ride / play safe x

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Play day!

+ Rio was much more well-mannered today
- We had a couple of moments where Rio freaked out. However, they didn't last long.

+ We started big, and squished the barrels to within about a foot of each other and Rio went through them
- We didn't manage to jump the barrels on-line

+ We managed steering a little better without reins, despite having to give up on the last cone
- Rio did get excitable before the last cone after we already had to go back to the start, and cantered off into the opposition's lane

+ We rocked the egg and spoon race and even braved a few strides of trot at the end
- Can't think of a bad one on this one!

+ We made it back with a couple of strides of canter and no dramas (Franks bolted, bless him!)
- It was a bit of a faff getting him to stand still by the water bucket (filling and emptying the cup)

- Um. None. We won!

We had mixed results whilst schooling, I was getting very frustrated but we did end on a fairly good note having cantered a full circuit. He wasn't keen on the carrot stick whilst I rode, that's what made him freak out, so we ditched it. Tomorrow (fingers crossed) is the day the feathers come off. 

Ride / play safe x

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Stress Sucks

Stressful times have meant we've not been doing much recently. Work has been hectic, and has been putting me in a very low place at times. Unfortunately these lower points have carried over after leaving the office at the end of the day, and caused me to avoid riding as I didn't feel up for it. Add to that the headache caused by said stress and Rio is now getting a little bit round!

We had the vet out today as I found a lump under Rio's jaw late on Monday night. He's on antibiotics for 7 days which he will be having in his breakfast, and started it today after the vet left. We think it is a lymph node that has swollen whilst fighting off an infection of some sort, he is still eating and drinking but it is a little sore. We have a week of monitoring it but I've been told only to squish and poke it every other day otherwise it is difficult to tell! 

We schooled this evening, and despite it being a little breezy when I brought him up, I got his tack out immediately and then groomed so that I couldn't talk myself out of it. I walked him in hand around the school a couple of times (more to put me at ease than him I think!) and then I hopped on. I was especially pleased with how he settled, we didn't walk a single circuit around the outside edge of the school whilst warming up. I was very focussed on changing the direction and keeping him guessing, and we managed some nice work on the bit too. 

Sarah sat in and reminded me to use transitions as well as shapes, and admittedly I did a couple and then forgot, so we played with trot poles instead. We did a LOT of trotting. By the end I was feeling it, but it felt great. We played with three trot poles on the ground, a "double" consisting of an "upright" one tyre high and a cross pole, and an "upright" two tyres high. We did lots of attempts in trot, and Rio was being super lazy. Three pony kicks later and we were going much more forward. No more falling over his feet, and we even cantered both "uprights". I know that two tyres isn't much, but it's a big deal for us! Woohoo!

Ride / play safe x

Sunday, 17 August 2014

My chunky monkey

Yes, that is Rio in a rug. No, I haven't gone soft just yet. I was hoping on Friday to ride after work, and the forecast was showing rain for most of the afternoon. All straps and buckles had to be adjusted for it to fit him as he's bulked out a little since he last wore it! What a chunky monkey. It actually just about fits his shoulders now instead of it hanging loose around his neck. He's growing up so fast *sob*. Anyway, I didn't ride on Friday so it was all a bit pointless, as I still had a headache (day 5 and counting, although today it has been much more dulled).

I just had to share this pic. My phone seems to save the last image on the camera viewfinder when I lock it/close the camera app. I'm going to be keeping an eye on the thumbnail as I have a feeling it could provide some gems! This was Franks trying to pop over and say hi. 

I now have my dad's camera for a few weeks, so bring on some photo shoots to have a play around with it... We had a day out at the beach today so I'll be reviewing the shots I got from that some time soon, fingers crossed I got some good ones. 

Sarah took me out on Saturday morning for a hack with the boys. I decided to go for it despite the headache. We had a lovely peaceful hack up the road, and whilst we didn't gallop across the stubble, we did have a trot and then a wonderful collected canter on the track through the stubble field. There was no bucking or broncing, and Rio was very responsive, collecting himself to stay behind Franks when I asked him not to pass! So there we are, I've now cantered since the incident, on a hack. Hurrah!

Ride / play safe x

Monday, 11 August 2014

After a long day

There's nothing more relaxing than a peaceful groom down at the yard. I've been having a bit of a "low" day today, and wasn't sure how Rio would be as it's been a while since I've felt like this. I needn't have worried, the wind kindly calmed for an hour or so, and although he did have his usual protest at coming out of the field, and a small argument once we were out, he was an absolute star.

He stood perfectly whilst I picked his feet, rubbed him down with the rubber curry comb, then sprayed up his mane and tail before vigorously attacking his mane and trying to tame it over to the right side. I was amazed at how relaxed he seemed, it was a pleasant change. As you can see, he was more than happy to pose for his photo to be taken! I'm sure he had a nice roll a few minutes after I left, but he looked lovely for a while, so it's all good. Tomorrow the feathers come off! He's going to look such a smart young man. I may have to get my friend to attack his beard at the same time... 

Ride / play safe x

Thursday, 7 August 2014

It's all in the flocking

Rio has had his saddle adjusted today, he has a Wintec 2000, which was fitted on Christmas Eve. Since then he has obviously changed shape a little! Luckily there were four of us who needed the saddler, which cut the callout fee dramatically, and all it needed was re-flocking to make it sit up where it had dropped a 1/2 inch (apparently that's quite a lot! Oops!) 

I didn't ride this evening, but we did have a little play around with the carrot stick and a bit of in hand before I turned him out in the field. For reasons unknown, when I'm messing around with him in his field, he generally "gets" hindquarter yield. It seems that with his headcollar on and the carrot stick involved, he was more interested in walking around me. I did eventually get one small hindquarter yield on the right after he managed it quite easily on the left, so we left it on a small positive. We did get some good side steps along the fence line though! 

We schooled last night. My friend didn't join us as planned, but that wasn't going to stop me as I hadn't planned on riding tonight anyway. Rio was much more settled last night, which helped, and it was a lovely quiet and calm evening with no breeze to speak of. We did trotting poles, where Rio proved himself very capable of adjusting his stride on his own (great news for me!) and slowly moved on to a raised trot pole in the middle of them, and then a small cross pole. Then a slightly bigger small cross pole. 

What a beast! We trotted over it, and then Sarah told me I was to canter it. I will openly admit (and said at the time) that I wasn't entirely convinced, but I went along with it all the same. The first time he took off quite early, the second time he was great but I just got left behind, and on the third go, it all came together and we did a good one! I know that this isn't much to a lot of people, but I'm by no means a showjumper. I've popped a few jumps in my time, but I've never done jump schooling, and it's always just been a case of letting my horse do the stride work. Lucky for me, it looks like Rio is going to be a bit of a natural. I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly it went really - I was very concerned about riding the right line in, and my ability to keep him straight, but I don't think we wobbled about all that much. Sarah was impressed with me looking for the jump early too, so that was a positive for me. 

Believe me when I say that as small as that cross pole is, to me it looked a bit like this:

Onwards and upwards as they say! 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Stubble's up!

The stubble is out in full force! Not only are the fields across the road open for action, but the one next door to the yard has now been cut too.

So over the weekend I had Sarah school Rio on Saturday as I managed to pop my hip out on Friday afternoon in the office (don't ask!) so I was a bit uncomfortable. He was a very good boy, and the improvement on him taking up the contact was a joy to see. At least I must be doing something right. Anyway, here are a couple of videos I took:

He took up a contact on both reins, in walk and trot (I've not quite got him in trot just yet, only a few strides), popped a small cross pole in trot and then canter after doing some very nice trot pole work, and then did some leg yield with inside bend. What a clever boy. We went out for a hack around the village on Sunday with Sarah, and went out across the river field where he had his silly 5 minutes last week. I was a bit nervous, but made sure I took deep breaths and we just trotted on the outside track. It all went pretty well, albeit Rio and myself were both a little tense at times, but he didn't run off or do anything daft, so it's a foundation to build on.

Yesterday was my first time out on a stubble field with Rio. Sarah came out with us, as I was a bit unsure of what he would do. I'm not sure if he has been on a stubble field before so I didn't want a repeat of last week... I'm quite sure that a fall on to stubble is going to hurt much more than on to soft long grass. I needn't have worried, he walked quite calmly through it, and we had a little trot behind Sarah with no excitability. I was pleased with that, and will be trying to avoid cantering on any stubble fields just yet - I want him to be happy walking and trotting first and not just to associate it with going flat out!

Last night was a bit of a strange one in any case, all of the horses were playing up in one way or another, and they were all a bit on their toes! Even the usually best behaved ponies proved that there is no such thing as a bombproof horse. Must have been something in the air I guess. I'm hoping to try and school tonight, so fingers crossed it has passed.

Ride/play safe x