Friday, 26 December 2014

Merry Christmas, the rocky start...

Merry Christmas everyone!

We made it out for our Christmas day ride yesterday, after a rocky start at the yard. Rio has been a beautiful field ornament for a week and a half so a good blast was in order to blow away those cobwebs. However, when I went to lead him around the barn to go onto the trailer, and he spooked and fell over, that wasn't the first thought on my mind. Luckily he had his cooler on, so whilst he did scuff a chunk of hair off his left knee, the main damage was to his cooler rug... He now has armpit ventilation! 

He was a bit of a sod to load, having freaked himself out, but after walking a few circuits of the car park, he chilled out and off we went. True to form and living up to expectations, he was super fresh, and we had a bouncy, joggy walk down the track. We had walking and trying to sneak trot strides in, trotting and dropping in canter strides, and cantering with gallop thrown in for good measure! We hopped puddles and dips in the track, yelled ahead for Sarah and Franks to hang on a sec (little did I realise that we were in fact going so fast, we'd already made it to the end of the track, and they were then pulling up anyway!) 

Franks was being such a good boy that we even got to take lead file for a bit, so that Rio could practice his bravery. We went up the super steep hill, where much to my amusement, we launched up and over the crest, and had a lovely canter after that, and then we went out for a trot back towards the trailer on the stubble field. Inevitably, that turned into a canter, which was not so bad until Rio tried to drop his head! Little bugger. I brought him back, and we had a great trot along the grass track, and walked down the hill. Rio was still up for it, so we decided to turn them around and have one last blast! 

Rio went nuts for it, and I had my first "ohmigosh" canter moment. We went hard up the hill, and as we levelled out, Rio's bottom tucked in, his back came up, and we had the perfect canter and I felt on top of the world. (I didn't realise this until afterwards when I explained the sensation to Sarah). He was still up for it, he's obviously feeling much better for having his clip and not being a sweaty blob! When we went to go back down the hill again, he decided that walking was not an option, and much to my horror we trotted pretty much the whole way down. EEK. We survived though! I would like to say that I did stay rather calm (surprisingly).

We even found the Christmas Star on our travels! All in all, I was super pleased that I bit the bullet and took him out despite my concerns. If I can do that after a week and a half of him doing nothing, and come out of it smiling - darn it, I can do anything! Rio enjoyed a special Christmas dinner after working hard. Two parsnips, two carrots and an apple with his usual feed. Yum yum. 

So this afternoon, we did. I tacked him up and we went out around the village on our own. It was rather bumpy. I'm not sure if Rio was trying out Piaffe, but aside from some nice walking down one of the roads, it was certainly not the smoothest ride we've had. We made it though! I was a bit naughty, and forgot to put his sports boots on, which I regretted when I realised after we did the scopiest trot I've had from him on the way back (on the road...) I was hoping it would settle him a bit. We covered the ground faster than I've ever known him to. 

I'm not sure if I'd mentioned the lumpy bump and its prognosis from the second (better) vet when Rio had his jabs. It is a splint, so now it's just a case of looking after it (wearing boots. Please!) and monitoring it. On the downside - it's close to his knee, so I just hope that it's not going to interfere in his later years. Also - a footnote on his clip - it's really not so great now it's growing out a bit again. There are lines everywhere, so that's definitely something I'm going to have to work on for next time... I did get show trimmers for Christmas though, so we will be clipping away at those! 

I'm hoping to get chance to ride tomorrow afternoon, but it all depends on this horrible rainy weather - it sounds awful out there at the moment. Me and hubster are away for a few days after tomorrow night to have a break, so Rio will be mooching around until new year's day when hopefully the fun recommences. Bless his little patchwork rug. He's got a couple of friends at the yard looking out for him whilst I'm away, I'm just hoping the weather isn't too horrible so his rug doesn't end up soaked through! 

Ride / play safe x

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Clip

Winter is a bit poo at the moment. We've really done not much at all these last couple of weeks. Rio is going to be super fizzy by the time I get to ride on Christmas morning, so that could be interesting... 

We went out for a ride with Sarah and Franks last Saturday, and he came back super soggy with sweaty armpits and all. He had his first proper plait in his tail by me! Anywho, his sweatiness meant that my decision to have a bash at clipping came around sooner than planned. On Sunday afternoon, against the fading daylight, I took arms with my friend's clippers for the first time. 

You can clearly tell the difference between the first and second side I did, but I'm mainly pleased. Rio did have sedation in the form of paste, but given the fading light, I only gave it 20 minutes at most before I went in for the clip. He didn't seem to take much effect from it, so next time we'll be trying to go it alone! He was a super good boy, until the last 10-15 minutes when he was obviously bored, and did walk through Sarah a couple of times to prove his point. 

I had to finish clipping his face and tidied up a few missed bits when we had the vet visit on Tuesday, as it was dusky when we finished and he'd behaved well. Still can't believe how dark he is under all that hair!

So he had his yearly injection, his 6 monthly dental check and rasp, and also had his microchip when the vet visited. He was such a little gem, fidgeting a little with the rasping, but was otherwise completely compliant. This weekend, he's been out of work as I haven't been about - Saturday was a day of resting after a night out on the town, and today we have been at the zoo with the family!

Ride / play safe x

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Box training

This week we have kick started box training with a vengeance! After a stressy visit in his own stable on the one day we did last week, I've done three evenings working on getting Rio more comfortable in his surroundings. 

Control scenario:
Hesitant to walk into barn, coaxed in
Eats two mouthfuls of food, with stable door closed, then stresses
Encourage rest of food be eaten
Two sloppy stress poos
A lot of fidgeting, barges and won't stand still for any length of time
Stands at door, backs up and starts sizing up to jump the door twice
When leading out, anxious but does stand when asked at exit of stable & barn

Hesitant to walk into barn, but walks himself in after a moment
Investigates a few of the stables along the way
Eats food more happily, still looking around - stable door left open
No poos
Fidgeting, barges, but stands still for a few seconds with encouragement
When leading out, stands nicely when asked at the exit of stable & barn
Three attempts - mostly successful

Stubborn walking into barn
Another horse is present tonight in the stable diagonally opposite
Eats food, with a few glances around - stable door left open
Fidgeting, barging to get out of stable to see other horse several times
Backs up when asked, on one occasion backing up three horse lengths
Snatches one mouthful of hay from haynet at back of stable
One regular poo
When leading out, stands nicely when asked at exit of stable & barn
Two attempts - partly successful. Much more barging through stable exit

Walked into barn after sniffing the entrance for approx 20 seconds
Walks himself into stable behind me without hesitation
Eats food, with a few glances around - stable door left open
Fidgets, barging out of stable, less frequently than yesterday
Stands for 20-30 seconds after being very testing and barging out of stable to barn exit
In this instance, raising my voice to establish control worked well
No poos
When leading out, for most part, stands nicely at exit of stable & barn
Four attempts - one awful (the runner!), the others mostly successful

It sounds crazy to reference poos, but Rio does poo a lot when stressed, so for me, this is a perfect indicator of his insecurities. I decided to keep the stable door open so that he can see that he's not there as a punishment, and that it doesn't have to be a scary place to be. With the door open, I'm hoping that soon he will realise it's easier to simply stay inside his stable, where he can enjoy dinner and hay, and then we can start moving on to closing it! The only thing I wish is that I had somewhere to put my two storage trunks - there's still plenty of room with them both in there, but he did manage to belt the one closest to the door into the second one last night with a hind leg when he swung around. No damage to him or the box, but it would be one less thing to worry about.

Anyway, after last night's rather more stressful learning curve, when I turned him out, Rio and I had a little play at liberty in the field. It's something I've not really done for a while, and I really don't know why. I stood quietly at the barn for a couple of minutes before walking him down last night, in order to let me re-collect, and not let my frustrations get the better of me. Playing at liberty, I totally forgot those frustrations and really enjoyed my boy. He's just such a sweetheart. We walked, trotted, and I even goaded him into some lovely bouncy canter in the darkness, and we had lots of cuddles. We actually did a few steps backwards, with just a light tap on his chest as a cue!

This evening, he had the night off from box training, and had his dinner in the safety of his paddock. Once again, we played at liberty for a while; the highlight being me jumping sideways to the left and right whilst he faced me, and him mirroring me. I love his Welshy ways! This has just made me more determined that Winter will not ruin my time with him. He never ceases to amaze me, and he lifts the darkest of moods in minutes. 

Ride / play safe x