Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

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

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Farewell old friend

Several years ago I did work experience and trained at a Classical Stud in Manchester. There were over 30 stallions and various youngstock and broodmares of Iberian breeding (including Lusitano and Andalusian) but there was also Friesians, Morgans, various breeds of Arab and Lippizzaners. All the stallions were trained in Classical High School, Circus and Liberty and many performed at demonstrations and events throughout the UK. I heard today that one of the stallions, a magnificent black Lusitano was put to sleep at a grand old age. His legacy will live on in the offspring he sired over the years, many of which are exceptional dressage horses, but many also went on to become successful sports horses. He has three foals due this year. This particular horse holds a very special place in my heart. I hope he is galloping free over the Rainbow Bridge to pastures new.

My time at the stud was magical. It was on the Lusitano that I first experienced the true movements of high school. He was trained to piaffe, passage, ballotade, capriole, levade, etc all of which were effortless for him. I still remember exactly how I felt the first time I sat on him. I won't say I was riding him as he performed these movements on cue and I was just a passenger. I knew even then that being on this horse was a once in a life time experience. The owners of the stud were fantastic. They encouraged and enabled me to ride their amazing horses and their trainer gave me lessons on the various stallions several times a day ridden and from the ground. I rode the Lusitano almost every day I was there. It was an absolute privilege to work beside these amazing and beautiful horses. Their manners, attitude, power and elegance was simply breath taking. The earliest surviving work on many of the principles of classical dressage emphasised training through kindness and reward. These stallions were so proud and they wanted to work. I cherish my time spent there and everything that I learned influenced the way I rode and handled horses following this. I have decided to integrate a little Liberty work to Wolfie. It's something I've thought of doing often, but something else has always taken presedence. However, I think now is as good a time as any, as with the longer days, even if I ride Wolfie, I can always come back later in the evning and do a little Liberty work. I really think it will benefit us both. I am going to get Carolyn Resnick's book, Naked Liberty.

I have also decided to try a little clicker training with Buttons. It's something I have never done before, so it will be a learning curve for us both, but could be good fun. They use clicker training to train assistance horses for the blind in America. I don't know how much of an assistance Buttons would be, but he would make a very good pick pocket. He's pretty smart and enjoys any sort of interaction so I think he might quite enjoy it. So for Buttons I'm going to get Clicker Training for your Horse by Alexandra Kurland. I love horse books. Any excuse to buy more.

I didn't ride today.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Lord of the dance

The problem with Wolfie not leading and misbehaving has been niggling at me since yesterday. I have heard numerous times over the winter about how mischevious he is in the mornings being difficult to change his rugs and turn out. I've never been able to work it out. I was disappointed in a way as I thought that his ground manners were well established and I felt like I'd failed in a way. He's on assisted DIY livery and gets fed and turned out in the mornings. To be fair I am not there in the mornings to witness this, but any time I have gone up early, he has been absolutely fine. I made a point of going up early this morning to turn him out. As he was going back in with the boys I also wanted to put boots on him. I put brushing boots on all 4 legs and over reach boots on. He stood like a rock. I then wandered him around the yard a little bit before turning him out at the far away gate. He was like a lamb. It would appear that darling boy Wolfie has been leading people on a merry dance thinking he can get away with it. Don't get me wrong, like any youngster he needs reminded every now and then of what is acceptable and what's not, it's just part of his education, but he knows how to behave, he's obviously chosen not to. He has a wicked sense of humour, but he made me smile today. I think also that Wolfie is a horse that needs to have his breakfast and be turned straight out. I like to keep things simple and make life easy for myself. If he's standing in watching the other horses be turned out first, he's just winding himself up.

The horses spent the afternoon today in their summer fields in preparation for going out full time. I went to catch Buttons in thinking he would be reluctant to leave the grass, but he was happy to come in. He loves his stable and his dinner. He only gets a handful of chaff and a carrot to make him think he's getting dinner, but it's obviously worth it to him. His winter coat has taken its time in starting to come out. He's looking a bit scurfy just now. Once he's lost most of his winter coat and the weather is warmer, I think it will be bath time for Buttons. That should be fun, he doesn't like the hose or getting wet

I didn't ride today. I had planned to, but I had several things to do and got stuck in traffic and roadworks for ages. By the time I got back to the yard I was really tired and not motivated. I'm annoyed at myself that I didn't ride, but I will tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Walk on

I hacked Wolfie, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today (gave him Monday off). He's been absolutely brilliant, a total star. We've hacked along the road ourselves to get onto the railway line, he's been very forward and looking at everything, but he's so bold. I like a brave horse. We will just be walking for the next few weeks so it's completely aerobic work, but out of interest I want to try and roughly measure the distance we are covering. I don't always plan my route and take various tracks so working out distances from maps would be difficult. I have thought of strapping a pedometer to his leg, measuring his stride in walk and seeing if that would work. Endurance riders must use something I would imagine. It's not for any scientific fittening reason, just out of interest.

Wolfie has been separated from the rest of the boys and in the paddock with Jake again for the last couple of weeks. They are going back in with the boys tomorrow as the horses are supposedly being turned out for summer this weekend. I don't know if that's such a wise decision with the drop again in temperature and the weather being so unpredictable, but it's not my decision to make. It also means that I am going to have to buy Wolfie a new summer turn out as he shredded his other one. I thought I could have left it a bit longer, but if he's out all the time I need to be prepared for the weather to turn. Apparently Wolfie has been misbehaving and very difficult to lead going to his field in the morning. I turned him out on Saturday and Sunday morning, he was as good as gold, he's been an angel all weekend for me so I'm not going to comment on that.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Time goes by..................so slowly

I haven't posted much lately, to be honest I haven't been doing anything with Wolfie over the last month. My mum sadly passed away Saturday 10th April and her funeral was yesterday. I suppose I have been fortunate in life that I have never really experienced losing anyone very close to me until now and I have never experienced the pain of true grief, until now.

Normally, I have always found solice in horses. If I am angry or upset, horses have always been where I will turn. Even the smell of the yard and the muck heap is calming, but not this time. I have been going to the stables and mucking the boys out, filling haynets and water buckets because I can do that like a robot. But I feel like something is gone, my heart has just not been in spending any time with them and certainly not riding. I feel that I am carrying a great weight that is so heavy it is sometimes even difficult to walk. That weight is too heavy to burden a young horse with. It has been panicking me that I feel like this. Wolfie senses there is something wrong, he is confused. I am there, but I am not there. His behaviour has been somewhat erratic. He was extremely naughty being shod last week, worse than he has ever been. He has been hauling his rugs down and destroyed one (my fault really as I should have remembered to move them) and he has been undoing the bolts on his stable door and escaping during the night.

Things got to the point last week where I thought for the first time ever that maybe I should sell him. He is a talented horse with alot of potential and I thought he was being wasted with me as I have not worked him consistently since the start of the year. Wolfie is a very sensitive, complex horse. I think that very few people actually know the real Wolfie. On the surface he is full of bravado, he's friendly, cheeky and somewhat arrogant. But there are very few people that have his true trust and respect. After all out time together I am still trying to work out his intrinsic mind. I often think of him as the horse equivalent of the rainman.

But after everything we have been through together in the last 3 years our bond is very strong. Maybe I am not giving him enough credit and he will help share or ease my burden along with time.

I am disappointed that we are not where I expected to be at this time ridden wise, due to various injuries and my mum. I had expectations of getting to some shows, doing some le trec and maybe a dressage test. However, although these goals have not changed, the goal posts have moved. I will get back on and ride Wolfie. We will hack for as long as it takes, to get fitter and happier. We will not worry about outlines and schooling. We will eventually go for a hack with our very good friends H and J and we will canter, the sort of canter where the horses start to get faster and race, your body feels like jelly because you're laughing and adrenalin. You can't really stop and only do when the horses tire or you reach the end of the track. Wolfie being Wolfie will then stick his head between his knees and buck. When we are ready we will school. We will begin jumping. I am going to work very hard to try and get my trailer licence to try and give us some independence. There's a lovely country park about ten minutes drive away that has miles of bridle paths and some cross country fences. We might even take a trip to the beach.

As many people have told me, this will get easier, I really hope so. It will take time, and I have Wolfie and crazy Buttons to help me along the way.