Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

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

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Buzz Off

The flies have been horrendous lately. I don't know if it's because of the weather and it being so warm, but they are worse than ever, particularly the horse flies. Even Buttons who is quite thick skinned and doesn't seem to affected by them has been coming in with big lumps and bites on him. They are driving the horses nuts and it's not nice to see them getting so distressed. Wolfie is sensitive to bites and he's also sensitive to fly sprays. Both Wolfie and Buttons have been coming in during the day to keep them off the grass, but they seem quite happy about it at the moment as it is much cooler in their stables and it gets them out of the flies. Buttons in particular seemed floored by the heat yesterday, they're just not used to it. I have tried numerous types of fly sprays and nothing seems to work. I have to be careful what I put on Wolfie and he hates anything which has a strong smell. Wolfie also seems to have mild sweet itch on his tail caused by a reaction to the midges and he's been rubbing his tail. I'm trying to keep away from the brands that contain a lot of deet and citronella. I have been trailing the internet this morning trying to find something and have just spent a fortune on fly spray and a wash to try and see if it works to try and give the horses some relief.

I had a great ride yesterday. Wolfie was very spooky, which started with us passing a field that had been ploughed and had a big pile of fertiliser sitting in it. If Wolfie could have gone over and had a closer look at what it was I think he would have been ok, but from a distance I don't think he knew what it was and obviously it was potentially horse eating. He then spotted two old ladies in the distance (who to be fair did look quite scarey with big huge sun hats, flowery dresses and a shopping trolley). At the same point when he was looking at the ladies, two cyclists cycled up behind him and didn't speak or alert us that they were there. This caused him to leap off all 4 legs and came back down with sparks practically flying from his feet . He was powering along with every muscle tensed and ready for flight. A leaf came off a tree and landed on his hind quarters and he again leapt 5 foot in the air. It really is like sitting on an unexploded bomb when he's like that. I just spoke to him and kept him moving forward and straight. He wasn't being asked to go anywhere he hadn't been before, he was feeling out of his comfort zone and the accumulation of people and scarey things had got him a little overwhelmed. He wasn't being naughty or silly, he had genuinely got himself in a tiz, however he didn't nap and was listening to my aids. He was very tuned into my aids and was super responsive. I crossed the wooden bridge (with Wolfie walking like he was on hot coals) and hacked as far as Haughhead before turning for home. We came out of a shaded part into the sunshine and Wolfie leapt 4 foot sideways at his own shadow. That's the second time he's nearly put me in the Glazert river. We then hacked the short distance back along the road. Normally I don't take my hands off the reins to slow traffic, but as Wolfie was so spooky I wanted the traffic to be aware and pass us slowly. He was being so responsive to my seat and leg that I felt I could keep him straight whilst taking my hand off the rein to slow the traffic. Two motorbikes and a van were approaching too fast. They had seen us and obviously didn't see the need to slow down. I signalled for them to slow, but they didn't bother. I was so angry. Not only are they endangering themselves, but how dare they frighten him like that, he doesn't deserve it. Fortunately, although he was still bouncing along, he stayed straight and we hacked the rest of the way home on a loose rein. He got a huge pat yesterday. He loves to be told how good he has been.

I don't know why it was such a good ride, as Wolfie was pretty difficult at points. I think it's because it's another thing we've overcome. He was genuinely frightened, but he didn't do anything mean or underhand and he accepted and looked for direction from his rider. I have always tried to install confidence in Wolfie from the very beginning (it's his creative side I try not to nurture), even when I am not feeling very confident myself, I owe it him to keep my adrenalin low, be quiet, calm and effective and provide him with comfort and reassurance. I am beginning to feel that the trust Wolfie has in me on the ground is now being transferred to our ridden work. He is honest and it makes me hopeful that one day he will be the sort of horse that will go that extra mile to get his rider out of trouble, if the need ever arose. Can't ask for any more than that.

Have I mentioned recently how fantastic my saddle is.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Curiousity killed the cat

I hacked Wolfie around the fields on Monday and Tuesday night and he was great. No more bucking or carrying on. Last night when we were out, Wolfie spotted the sheep shearers working further up the hill. He was desperate to go over and see what was happening, thought he might just canter on over there, but he's not fit and the ground is rock solid. We half walked, half bounced our way over to the sheep pens. When Wolfie is like that his enthusiasm is contagious and it's hard not to just join in with him. His interest and inquisitiveness amazes me. We stood and watched the sheep being clipped and Wolfie was mesmerized. He was snorting at the clipped sheep coming down the chute into their pen. One of the clippers came over and gave him a polo, which he promptly spat out as he doesn't like mints. He then got a piece of apple which suited him much better. We then walked back down the fields. I can't get over how impressed I am with the saddle and as the saddler said, it will only get better with use as it beds down and moulds. I didn't ride tonight, gave Wolfie a night off as he'll be ridden Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was so muggy tonight, I had a headache and the flies were really bad. If Wolfie continues to behave, I will take him along the road and down onto the line on Saturday for a longer hack on the flat. I still would like to know what sort of distance we are covering. My idea about the pedometer didn't work as it makes you program a weight into it and the maximum weight is 120kg. I'll try and get an ordinace survey map of the area and work it out that way.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A dream come true

The big day finally arrived, the saddler came out to fit my saddle today. What can I say, It's absolutely stunning. I'm so, so pleased with it. Wolfie was warey again of the saddler (he possibly could have been the vet carrying a saddle). Wolfie gets quite tense when anyone new enters his stable. We fitted the saddle and girthed it up. Straight away when the saddle was placed on Wolfie's back I could see where it was supposed to fit. I got on and began walking him around the school. Almost immediately, I felt his back arch and he put in four bucks one after the other, getting bigger each time. The saddler just encouraged me to gently ask him to walk forward and he settled and walked calmly around the school. I then asked him for trot and he put in a full blown rodeo demonstration. He then settled again and trotted beautifully around the school. The saddler felt that it was partly remembered pain from the last saddle not fitting, as he objected at anything new and then when he realised it didn't hurt, he was fine. And also the fact that he's a 5 year old that's not been in any consistent work for a long time. Also it is a close contact saddle and would have felt completely different to Wolfie and my weight distribution would also have been different. None of my girths fit the new saddle, so I was riding with a very loose girth, but despite that, even after Wolfie's handstands, the saddle didn't move. I also felt very safe and secure in it, it's really comfortable. The saddler commented on Wolfie's lovely paces and athleticism, he's good at being vertical. I walked up and down one of the hills and the saddle felt great. The plan now is to get Wolfie hacking out over the next few weeks and get him a little fitter. Once I start schooling again, the saddler wants me to get him back out and he will do another assessment as the saddle should have bedded down by this point. I'm glad I ended up getting the saddle custom made (not that I had much choice), but I am really impressed with the service the saddler provided and he told me to call any time if I'm worried about it at all over the next few weeks. The saddle has a 'Y' formation girthing system. I need to get a new girth. I'm not a fan of synthetic girths and will probably buy a leather girth further down the line. I always have to use a sheepskin girth sleeve on Wolfie, he's not cinchy in any way, but he is very tickly and sensitive on his belly. I'm thinking of getting a Christ girth which is fully lined with lambskin. The seller where I got Wolfie's bit has some, I've never seen them anywhere else and I liked what I read about them. In the meantime I will buy a smaller synthetic girth and use that with the girth sleeve. Another blogger commented recently that once in a while you come across a horse that you don't want to get off. Wolfie is one of those horses for me. We have a lot of work to do over the next few months, but once Wolfie's fitness is built up I feel that he is physically and mentally ready to cope with a few more challenges and it will be time to ask a few more questions of him.

I missed being able to tell my mum about the saddle. I know she would have been pleased for us. She liked the horses and she liked Wolfie. She used to enjoy hearing about what they had been up to. My mum was never scared off Wolfie, she would just go into his stable beside him and pat him. She didn't have any experience in handling horses, but she wasn't intimidated by him. I remember when Wolfie was in the vet school I used to go and visit him in the evening and would take him outside for a grass walk. My mum came with me a few times and I remember on one occasion we were standing hand grazing Wolfie when I saw one of the vets. I gave my mum Wolfie's rope and went to speak with the vet. I was gone around 10 minutes and when I came back, my mum and Wolfie were gone. I was imagining every scenario that could possibly have happened. I started running down the road when I happened to look over and there was my mum still holding onto Wolfie and he was happily grazing on Glasgow University's cricket pitch. He had done his usual marching off in walk and my mum had no option but to tag along beside him. That's a habit that's never been broken. He never tries to break away or goes faster than a walk, he just marches off. I hope that my mum knows that we have the saddle.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The rain is back. It was needed as the stream in the horses field had dried up and the ground was rock solid. It was really muggy on Tuesday night when the rain came on. I watched Wolfie grazing and he seemed to be enjoying the rain. I took Buttons up to his field and turned him out. All the mares were grazing and also seemed to be enjoying the rain. What did Buttons do, tossed his head and went and stood inside the field shelter. For a pony who is supposed to be able to withstand the hardiest of conditions, he can be very precious. He really doesn't like the rain. I went out last night to do some muck picking in Buttons field. Buttons came over and was wandering around the wheelbarrow. My barrow was pretty much full and as I turned to put my last load in I heard a clatter. The very helpful Buttons had tipped the wheelbarrow over and looked like he was trying to stand on it upturned. He tips the wheelbarrow over when it's on the yard, I thought it would be too heavy for him full, obviously not. Outwitted again by the pint size pony. He was a bit upset tonight as the girls have moved into another field. I asked for Buttons to stay behind for a few days to let the others eat the grass down before he goes in. So he's with another two ponies for a few days and then they will be put in with the mares again. I'm totally fed up with everything . I'd prepared myself for the saddle coming last week but it wasn't finished. Not sure when it will be ready.