Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

Wolfie the Wonder Horse!
Wolfie, 24/02/08

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester in a shower of rain

Is it ever going to stop raining? Last week I gave up trying to battle the elements and decided to give Wolfie a holiday. I was going to give him a few weeks off at the start of the New Year, but riding has been impossible with this weather, so his break has come early. Seeing to the horses is never a chore, there's nothing I love more, but weather like this makes even simple things more difficult. With the combination of wind and torrential rain, Wolfie has been as high as a kite. I was hosing his legs yesterday and he spooked at something, half reared, bolted forward and managed to smash a pile of plastic feed buckets, which didn't belong to us. Nice one Wolfie. Noticed tonight as well that he has managed to rip his new fleece rug, he's only had it on a few weeks.

The dentist was here. Wolfie was brilliant. For some unknown reason, he loves the dentist. He stood with the spectrum on without being held and didn't move a hoof. He had a few sharp edges and his canines are coming through. I felt them and you can see the lumps on his palette, but they haven't erupted yet. The dentist said it could be a few months before they are through. We went over his mouth conformation: he has got a bit of a fleshy tongue, not unusual, his palette is slightly low, but that's common in young horses. All in all, the dentist said he had good mouth conformation, so nothing to worry about there. It's still an uncomfortable time for him, with teeth coming through, but it's a case of persevering and finding him a bit which he will be comfortable in. As the dentist so eloquently put it 'he's a really nice horse, you don't want to p**s him off!!'. I am going to pick up a second hand myler comfort snaffle on Ebay. They seem to have really came down in price. However, the bit I really want is the Sprenger Dynamic RS D Ring 14mm mouthpiece. Sprenger state that the Dynamic RS has been produced as a result of the latest veterinary research in Hanover. Their research shows that there is even less room in the horse's mouth for a bit than first thought. Through working with x-rays and scans, it has now been scientifically proven that the horse's tongue entirely fills the mouth cavity. It's quite similar to the KK Ultra and is also made of aurigan metal. Now for the downside, the cheapest I have seen it is £103.50 from a seller on Ebay. So, it's on our wish list at the moment, maybe after Christmas.

Buttons also had his teeth done. He wasn't great, but I thought he could have been worse behaved, so he did well. His teeth were very, very sharp and there were hooks and edges everywhere. He has been chewing on only one side of his mouth as the teeth on the other side were too sharp and his cheek was lacerated as a result. The dentist said that after he had got rid of all the sharpness, his cheek would heal within a few days. He's definitely a lot more comfortable now.

It was discovered when the dentist was here that my friend's horse had fractured a tooth. He was referred to the vet school and had surgery last week. They had to remove a large part of the bone in his face to get in and remove the tooth. The bone was replaced and he was stitched up. He looks a bit like Frankenstein's horse. It must have been very very painful. Hopefully, he will be coming home tomorrow.

Wolfie was supposed to get his new Equilibrium shoes yesterday, but they weren't delivered to the farrier, so it will be his next shoeing after Christmas when he gets them. Buttons just got his usual trim. I wish I had taken photographs of Button's feet when we got him and now. The improvement is incredible. With just regular trimming to restore the hoof balance and a little care, he almost looks like he has a new set of feet. He's certainly a lot more comfortable on them.

Sprenger Dynamic RS

Monday, 9 November 2009

Clip Clop

My clippers have arrived. I'm really pleased with them. I ended up getting a pair of second hand Liveryman Mustang clippers. They are quite loud, but are in really good condition and I got three sets of sharpened blades with them. A couple of my friends have asked me to clip their horses and will pay me, so the clippers will pretty much have paid for themselves. I started clipping Wolfie yesterday. He was very good to begin with and stood well. He's not scared of the clippers, just a bit wary. However, after about 15 minutes he got bored. When Wolfie gets bored, it's pretty much game over. It's different when I'm riding as you can keep his mind focused on different things, but standing still isn't one of Wolfie's strong points. He started just shuffling around and pawing and then started leaping sideways away from imaginary monsters. When that didn't work he managed to reach the box of the extension cable and pick it up and started swinging it around, cable going everywhere. I called it a day, so Wolfie is now sporting a very strange half clip until next weekend when I have enough daylight to finish it off. I don't mind doing it in stages and I'm pleased he's accepted the clippers. I've not been able to do much riding this last week due to the torrential rain. The dentist is coming on Friday. Wolfie and Buttons will both get their teeth done. Don't really know what Buttons is going to make of that or if he's ever had his teeth rasped before. Buttons is so hairy, he looks like a mammoth. He wears a foal size headcollar which just fitted him in the summer. It's now too tight because of the amount of hair he has on his head. He's loving being stabled at night and now just wanders up to the field himself in the mornings without being led when the other horses are being turned out. My niece came up to ride him yesterday and he was full of beans. It was a nice day and he was in very good spirits. He knows his job and he likes to get on with it. No hanging around with him either. Need to get some up to date hairy winter photographs of Buttons and some of the now not so hairy Wolfie.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Creature comforts

As I was driving up to the stables on Tuesday night, Wolfie spotted the car and came cantering over. As I watched him, I thought he didn't look quite level. I got him in and he had pulled a front shoe. He's only done that once before, last year. The girl that works at the stables said he had been galloping around quite a bit during the day and noising up the other horses. He seemed quite sore on it, so I texted the farrier to try and get him out asap. Luckily he was just passing the stables on his way home when he got my message, so he came up and checked his foot and put another shoe on. The shoe had came off clean and not taken any of the hoof with it. There was no swelling or heat anywhere. He was walking better with the shoe on but still seemed a little stiff. can only think he's either twisted something carrying on or given himself a stone bruise. I gave him some arnica and turned him back out. He was better yesterday, but I decided to just bring him in and stable him at night. The other horses aren't being brought in until Sunday now, but if Wolfie is bored, there's not much grass in the field, he just gets up to mischief. Hopefully, if he gets hay overnight and his breakfast, he will be less inclined to go out in the morning and cause mayhem during the day.

This last week he's been increasingly reluctant to go back down to the field at night. Wolfie's good at making his feelings known. I still wondered though, if he would take a few nights to settle to being in, but no, he seemed absolutely delighted. He had a good roll in his new bed and stood quietly eating his hay. When I went down to give him one last check he didn't lift his head as if to say 'If I can't see her, she can't see me and I won't be getting put back out'. For all he likes to be out in the field and he needs daily turnout with the other horses, he likes his comforts. Although, I think I might have taken the wind out of his sails a little tonight. I soaked his hay, just precautionary more than anything, but he looked gravely disappointed when I put it in his stable. No doubt, it will have been dragged and trampled through his bed when I get there tomorrow.

I love Wolfie's exuberance, enthusiasm and spirit. I love how he will just jump the stream instead of crossing further down, I love how he gallops around just for fun. It's part of what makes him who he is. However, sometimes when I see him galloping downhill in a muddy wet field at break neck speed, with my heart in my mouth, I think, Geez Wolfie, just walk will you. At these moments, I just want to wrap him in cotton wool, put him in his stable and keep him there. But he's a horse and he has to be allowed to be a horse. Time to get back into the mucking out routine. Summer goes so quickly.

Monday, 19 October 2009

One of the other girl's at the yard had set up some Le Trec obstacles in the school. I took Wolfie in for a little play around. He was very good, the work with the tarpaulin has paid off. He walked across it with only slight hesitation. The first time it was as though he was walking on hot coals, but he didn't back off it. We did each obstacle individually a few times at walk and tried a couple of them in trot. We then did them all as a course in walk. I really want to take him to a training day. I am under no illusion that he will complete all obstacles, even at walk as there will be too much going on and alot for him to take in, but I am sure that he will love it.

The last few days have been lovely. I love hacking on autumn days when it is quite cold and the horses are walking on crisp leaves. I've been trying not to get Wolfie sweated up this last week, not wanting him to get a chill while he's still out. With his winter coat, it's not easy, but my clippers should be here soon. Wolfie has been great fun. I love nothing better than to hack him out, he loves to explore and his enthusiasm is infectious. His ears are constantly pricked and he is so aware of everything around him. We went for a hack on Sunday with another girl from the yard. Wolfie leads all the time as he walks much quicker than my friends horse. On Sunday I was tacked up first, so I got on and was waiting for H. Wolfie couldn't curb his enthusiasm and wss bouncing around the yard in anticipation to get going. He was on his toes the whole time we were out and quite spooky. We even went into single file for a bit along the road on the way home with Wolfie still in front and he was great. Sometimes I feel like I am constantly half halting and slowing him down, but he has an incredibly fast walk. I remember when I first backed and sat on him. He would be just walking, but I constantly felt as though he was about to take off with me until I realised that he just had a very fast walk. I also can't let my mind wander for a second with him. He likes to take his own route and will take sharp turns onto different tracks in the blink of an eye.

I'm looking forward to clipping him. I don't know how good he will be. I borrowed some clippers last year and gave him a little bib clip to get him used to the clippers. He wasn't too bad, so hopefully this time won't be a problem.

The horses come in on Friday, back to mucking out.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bit by Bit

I haven't posted in a while, but Wolfie and I have been keeping busy. I'm still having issues with the bit. I've been riding in a Sprenger KK ultra augarian metal bit which has been OK, but I'm still not happy. Having tried various bits including snaffles, happy mouth, french link and rubber, I settled on this. I may be being slightly pedantic here, when I say he's not happy, I just feel he's not entirely comfortable. He's not in real discomfort, he readily accepts his bit and will work willingly. It's so slight that on the ground, it's probably not that noticeable, but I can feel it. Wolfie's a chewer by nature. If he's not chomping on the bit, he will chew his reins. But it's the same problem that I've felt since he first started being bitted. I don't want to go down the road yet of putting a flash or drop noseband on him to just clamp his mouth shut. I think he has got a low palette and he does have a big lump of a tongue and just doesn't have much space for the bit to sit.

I've been getting advice from the Myler people (who have been very helpful) and am considering getting a Myler bit. Firstly though, the dentist is back out in November so whilst he's here, I'm going to ask him to give me a full oral anatomy of Wolfie's mouth. His mouth will have gone through a lot of changes since the dentist was last here, so I really want him checked.

I've been back riding in the Dually halter and am going to buy a bitless bridle. I don't really have a problem riding bitless, if that's the way it ends up, but it irks me about the rules of competing - bitless bridles are illegal for many disciplines. Wolfie works well in the Dually and I'm confident hacking him out in it - most of the time. A couple of weeks ago I hacked him up the hills, asked him to canter and he rodeoed like a professional. It was early in the morning, there had been a drop in temperature and he was just in high spirits, but he came close to getting me off. The next day he performed a lovely canter pirouette and then half pass in excitement when two unknown horses trotted past us. His athletic ability astounds me sometimes. The half pass was perfectly executed and he felt so strong and powerful crossing over behind. Unfortunately at that time we were supposed to be trotting forwards, but he made me laugh ........ once I regained some control.

Wolfie's winter coat is growing thick and fast. I want to give him a blanket clip in November and am looking at buying some second hand clippers on EBay. I've never bought anything electrical from EBay, so I'm a bit apprehensive they won't work. I also need to get a move on and get him kitted out with a couple of stable rugs and a thicker turn out. Wolfie had outgrown most of his rugs by last winter so I have to replace them. No bargains to be found on EBay, looks like everyone has the same idea.

Buttons already has such a thick coat he looks like a little bear. He's settled in nicely, actually you would think he'd always been there. He seems very happy and contented. He loves to be scratched and he will happily groom you back. I got Buttons a little turn out rug. I don't really think he needs rugged, being a sturdy shetland, but he hates the rain and being wet. It's just a sheet to keep him dry. I tried it on him and he freaked Wolfie out wearing it.

Only another few weeks and the horses will be in for winter. I love crisp autumn days, I actually prefer it to summer. The aim for winter is to keep Wolfie in as much consistent work as possible, weather permitting. Schooling and ground work during the week and hacking at the weekends when it's daylight. I'm aiming to do a couple of the Kelly Marks winter Le Trec training days, give us something to work towards.

Saturday, 1 August 2009


This very cute little horse with the crazy hairdo is Buttons. His own family suffered a terrible tragedy and were unable to care for him. As a result, and regretfully, Buttons has not had the easiest time over the last 18 months. He's now come to stay with us and he's quickly become part of our family. He's backed, loves kids and knows his job, so he is now my 4-year old niece's pony. Buttons does have a strong, cheeky personality, but he's not bolshy like many Shetlands have the reputation as being.

The original idea was that he would be turned out with the boys (the mares and geldings are kept separately) however things didn't go quite according to plan. Jake, who is at the top of the herd, fell instantly in love with Buttons and wouldn't let any of the other horses near him, even to meet him. Wolfie was so excited, he stodd bouncing on the spot. He has a strange fascination for small animals, including sheep and dogs, so he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw a miniature sized horse! For some reason, one of the other geldings took an instant dislike to Buttons, and it all became too rough. For his own sake, we took Buttons back out again. He was so upset, he's been on his own for over a year and was desperate for company.

There is a pet sheep at the yard, so Buttons stayed with her for a few days to allow the other horses to see and smell him. We then turned him out with the mares, which seems to be working out fine. Buttons now thinks he's the man, being in with all the ladies. He really wants to be everyone's friend and is just glad of the company. The mares seem a bit bemused by their new pint-sized friend, but Buttons is clearly loving his new life, so it's all worked out for the best.

Monday, 25 May 2009

On the road again

I haven't posted in ages mainly due to having a really rubbish internet connection. In some ways not much has happened in the last couple of months and in other ways some mile stones have been achieved. At the end of March, Wolfie developed a cough. It appears to have been a dust allergy. There were no other symptoms, but I still felt like I'd missed something. I monitor his breathing and recovery rate all the time, but this cough just appeared, possibly a bad batch of hay. I stopped his work immediately and started soaking his hay. Luckily the horses were turned out for summer early this year and the cough disappeared. I gave him a few weeks off and there have been no residual affects.

I've been doing alot of hacking, gradually building up the hill work, to strengthen his hindquarters, back and generally build him up and increase his fitness. He's been great fun and is very adventurous, loving to explore. I think in the last couple of weeks our confidence and trust in each other has really strengthened. It has always been there when I'm on the ground, but I am really starting to feel the partnership whilst riding. We also went out on the road for the first time. I don't like the road near the stables and although it is a country road, it is busy and the cars go pretty fast. I wouldn't hack along the road just to ride, but to get onto another hacking track you have to go along the road for a couple of hundred yards. I also want wolfie to be able to hack along roads in the event that he ever has to. On the way there he was great. Blocked in by Jake, a couple of cars passed, slowed down and it was fine. On the way home, a car came speeding around a corner behind us, thought they would over take but there was a car coming towards us so they were forced to break hard right behind us. The screech of tyres startled wolfie and he barrelled into jake, bounced off him back into the hedge. Jake did his job and didn't even flinch or cock an ear. If we had been out with a smaller horse, I think wolfie would have managed to push through them, but not Jake. Fortunately wolfie settled down and we made it back unscathed and although it wasn't a pleasant experience for wolfie, I don't think it will have any lasting effect on him being ridden on the road in the future. It just makes me cross though. We were wearing full hi viz everything, I have taken the time to prepare wolfie to be as safe as possible on the road and some drivers still don't have any consideration.

The plan for the next few weeks is to increase his schooling and start asking a little more of him. We have been working on rythmn, straightness impulsion and balance. Now he is a bit stronger, he is working much more forward. His downward transitions have improved greatly and he no longer falls into them. He works consistently well on the right rein, but finds the left rein more difficult to stretch. and bend I have to be disciplined and get back in the school. When it's good weather, I just want to take him out. I do school him a little when I'm out, and I always correct and remind him. I suppose it's all educational as he's getting used to me getting on and off to get gates, experiencing new things and we have even managed to open and close a few gates (unfortunately there are not alot of horse friendly gates around us).

Wolfie is enjoying the spring grass a little too much. I am desperately hoping that the horses get strip grazed soon as I really don't want Wolfie getting any fatter.

I am very pleased with the way Wolfie is turning out. He has his youngster moments and his silly moments and the times when he just can't contain himself bouncing on the spot moments, but all in all he has never scared me and has never acted nasty in any way. Anything he does is just in good spirits. I am really enjoying him.

Thursday, 26 February 2009


I was up at the yard myself last night. I mucked out and left Wolfie eating some hay whilst I went to empty the wheelbarrow and make up his feeds. On returning I was ambling along, lost in my own little world when I looked up and Wolfie's stable door was wide open with no Wolfie in it. My heart leapt into my mouth. He hadn't passed me, I hadn't heard his feet and I definitely bolted the door as I check it every time. I grabbed his headcollar and went to run up a small track that leads behind the stables. I happened to glance in the hayshed and who was standing up the back stuffing his face with hay but Wolfie. Fortunately it was his own hay he was eating, but I'm not sure he hadn't sampled a few of the other bales. He is now in his stable with a clip on the bolt and the kick bolt over at all times.

The weather has been reasonable this last week and I've managed to get Wolfie out almost every night. He's been really fresh and full of nonsense. I lunged him the other night and he was just having a complete carry on. Bucking, taking off, leaping off all four legs. I decided to just let him burn it off. At one point he stopped dead and did the biggest buck I have ever seen in my life. He was completely vertical. One half of me was thinking I hope he never ever attempts that when he has a rider on him and the other half of me was in total awe that he had the ability to do that. It was a handstand. The boy is an acrobat.

I long reined him up the fields the other day. It was just meant to be a break from the school as he hasn't been out in ages and a little hill work. He kept taking sharp left and right turns into ditches, thick trees, bushes, streams. To be fair he caught me unawares every time and I was being pretty useless. Take your eye off him for a second and he takes his own route. Coming back down, it's fairly steep and I was intending to traverse across the field. Wolfie had other ideas and seemed to think cantering straight down the hill would be much more fun. What should have taken ten minutes to get home, then proceeded to take about three quarters of an hour as I had to keep circling him to slow him down and try and prevent him from bouncing on the spot. He then started spooking at a big clump of snowdrops (they obviously hadn't flowered the last time he was up there) . He's funny when he spooks. He acts dramatically for about a minute and then he marches straight over to whatever he's spooking at. I lunged him again tonight and he was very good. His canter transitions are becoming much more balanced. He is stiffer on his right rein and I am trying to be very concious of making sure that I do even amounts of work on both sides, including leading etc. I am going to lunge him in side reins next week and do a bit more long reining and then get back to riding. I'm hoping now the weather will remain good enough to get him back into consistent ridden work. I have a new wintec saddle (well it's new to us) and I haven't had a chance to try it out properly.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Who can't walk over tarpaulin?

Driving up to the yard today I was feeling really positive. The weather over the last three weeks has been absolutely awful. A combination of snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures. A blunt reminder that although the nights may be getting longer, it's still winter. I haven't been able to do any work with Wolfie at all as the ground has just been too hard or too slippy. Today was warmer and the sun was shining. As I drove up the driveway, Wolfie came cantering down to the gate. I grabbed his head collar and went to bring him in only to find he had lost a front shoe. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I had been desperate to ride him. He was only shod less than three weeks ago, but the fields are in a pretty horrendous state and the mud is really deep and thick after having been frozen for so long, a few of the other horses have sprung shoes. I won't risk riding without a front shoe incase he's foot sore or the foot starts to break up. I hope the farrier can fit him in early on this week. I brought him in anyway and decided to take him into the school as the surface was soft and do a little ground work with the 'dreaded' taurpalin. Again he acted pretty dramatically although it was folded up into a very small square on the ground. I worked him in the dually halter and then brought one of his turnout rugs in and layed that out flat. He was soon walking over that no problem, although every time he passed the offending black object he would snort and leap past it. Working in the dually halter again I managed to get him walking around the taurpalin. I unfolded it bit by bit, each time asking him to walk over it. The first few times he was able to jump it. As the area became bigger he would follow me over it, but at 100 miles per hour. Eventually he was walking back and forth over it when it was spread out fully. I was very, very pleased as due to his initial reaction to the tarpaulin I thought this might have developed into a bit of an issue. Wolfie loves praise and as he had an audience he was in his element. We achieved alot today and that made up for not being able to ride.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

He jumps!

Wolfie had a visit from the dentist last week. Just his routine ten month check up, but he's been shedding his caps so I was anxious to get his mouth checked and make sure everything was ok. Since November last year, I've been finding the odd tooth in his feed bucket, which initially was quite disconcerting! He got rasped to get rid of the sharp edges and the dentist said he was fine, just an uncomfortable time for him. Four of his incisors are coming through at the front, so he looks a bit gumsy! It doesn't stop him eating though. I haven't ridden in a bit for ages now, and have been riding in the dually halter. I used to alternate riding between the two, but found in the dually halter he was much softer through his back and neck and willing to stretch. With the bit in he tends to tuck his head in and concentrate on chewing on it. To be fair he hasn't done that much work with the bit in, but I will be waiting until his mouth is well and truely settled before starting again with it.

Due to the weather again, I haven't been able to do much. I have been wanting to introduce more ground work alongside riding. Yesterday the sun was out, the surface in the school was good. I worked him on the long reins in walk, I then lunged him on both reins, letting him get rid of some excess energy and worked on lots of transitions. I always lunge with two lines from the dually halter. Once he'd worked off a bit of steam he produced some really lovely trot work. It always amazes me how long his stride is for his size, he really covers the ground. I let him off the lines and let him walk around and stretch down. I put out a pole and he was walking and trotting over it. I brought out another pole and made the tiniest of crosspoles. He trotted around towards it, ears pricked, took off about one and a half strides away and absolutely ballooned over it. He must have cleared at least 3ft 6" over it. He then took off at the other side bucking and squealing. I expected him to stop, but no he came back around again in canter and launched himself over it again, he obviously thought this was great fun. I have seen him jumping the stream in the field and he always makes a lovely shape over it. I haven't really considered jumping, probably because my aims at the moment are straightness and to establish him in all three paces and jumping just seemed like something that we would do much later. I have to be very careful not to bore him with the schooling, so introducing a little pole work every now and then for a change may be beneficial. To be honest I was surprised at his ability. I don't know why though, he's a compact, powerful little horse. Maybe it was because he's not the tallest, but then didn't a 15hh horse win Badminton in 1968 ;-). I have never been that keen on show jumping and always preferred cross country, watching Wolfie yesterday I felt a bit of anticipation and excitement at the thought of jumping him.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

There's somebody under the tarpaulin!

Over the last year I have become really interested in Le Trec. Until recently there was nobody locally in my area that held Le Trec events. However, that has now changed and a woman has began holding training sessions and a BHS Le Trec competition is to be held at our local RDA in January. Le Trec consists of 3 phases. Control of gaits, navigating obstacles and usually a ten mile hack with a map. We are hoping to hold a training session at the yard which I am very excited about . As it is a training session I can ride or attempt the obstacles in hand. I think it will be beneficial for Wolfie and will also give us an idea of what is involved and give me ideas for things to work on.

In preparation, I decided to get a piece of tarpaulin out and folded it up into a fairly large square and placed it in the school. I brought Wolfie into the school, let him off his rope and we walked over to the tarpaulin. We stood at the edge of it with him snorting. The wind caught the edge of the tarpaulin making it rustle. It didn't flap around, just gently moved and made a noise. Wolfie reared straight up vertically and was pawing the air in a style the black stallion would have been proud of. When he came back down he was striking out with his front feet at the tarpaulin. He then spun and took off for about three strides and then screeched to a halt and turned and came back and stood next to me. Monty Roberts has demonstrated that horses are capable of conscious thought and has shown this at his demonstrations by the horse choosing to stay with a human as opposed to his natural flight instinct. This maybe what Wolfie had decided, but it felt more like he had came back for me to go with him, but he made it clear that whatever he perceived the tarpaulin as being and whatever predators he thought lurked beneath it, it was not safe for either me or him to be near and certainly not to be stepped upon. Wolfie acted in fight and then flight mode. I don't know if he was trying to kill whatever he thought the tarpaulin was to protect me. I don't really know what reaction I was expecting, I certainly didn't think he would just accept it and walk over it, but I didn't think he would react like that. Certainly some work to be done here and back to the very basics.