Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

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

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


I decided to do a little ground work with Wolfie tonight instead of hacking as it looked as though it was going to pour down.  I've decided to try and teach him shoulder in from the ground to start with.  Having always ridden shoulder in, I have never tried to introduce it from the ground so it is a bit of a learning curve for us both.  I warmed him up and then just tried a few exercises to begin to teach him to step under and over.  Wolfie is not keen on being told off for anything and can be sulky about it, he does however love praise and to be told how good he's been.  One thing I have learned with him is that I have to be extra quick in praising and rewarding the slightest correct effort.  He learns so quickly and this encourages him to try again, he is a horse who wants to work with you and please.  This I feel is the key to 'unlocking' Wolfie and I have seen moments when he has demonstrated what an inspiring work ethic he could potentially have.  Once you have his attention and willingness he will give you 110%.  Whether it be out hacking or working from the ground, when he's tuned in, he really gives the feeling that it's complete teamwork, just you and him.  Tonight was good, he picked up the cues for stepping over quickly.  He does know how to move over ie in the stable and he has leg yielded .  Within minutes I was able to turn him on a large turn on the forehand, and then cross both directions in leg yield for a few steps back to the track.  At one point I looked at him and the look of concentration on his face was priceless.  Don't get me wrong, he's full of nonsense and sessions like this have to be kept short, but even to have a couple of minutes of good work makes it worthwhile.

Monday, 26 July 2010


I introduced canter to Wolfie in the school at the end of last week.  Wolfie hasn't really done much cantering at all.  He knows the aids and that's about it.  It was very fast and unbalanced, again to be expected.  It's a pretty small school which makes it more difficult for an unbalanced youngster.  He put in a couple of bucks, possibly due to the saddle.  I decided since the ground is much softer after the rain to get him out and let him canter in a straight line, making it easier for him to start with.  I've found a nice flat length at the bottom of one of the fields where I ask for canter, the field is on a hill so I turn him up the hill to slow him down if he starts to get too fast.  He's not fit, so the canters have been short, but he's been great.  He bucked a couple of times on Friday but tonight he was fine.  It gives him a chance to stretch, become rhythmical and I can get up out of the saddle and off his back without us having to worry about steering and corners etc yet.  I thought his walk and trot were lovely, but his canter is now my new found favourite pace.  He has such a long stride and it feels as though it is absolutely effortless to him.  He's very responsive and easy to stop, but I'm careful to try and bring him back to trot gradually and then ask for walk.  If you pull him up too suddenly or try to slow him down quickly that's when he starts clowning around and bucking and leaping.  I think he's really enjoying working at a slightly faster pace, he's always game for anything, but this is fun to him.  It makes me wonder what it would be like to gallop him.  There will be plenty of time for schooling over the winter, so I'm going to have as much fun as I can out in the fields with him whilst there is plenty of daylight.  I can already feel a difference in him since I started riding him again after I got the saddle.  He's also gone up a hole in his girth.  I haven't got the saddler back out yet as I'm still happy with the way the saddle is fitting and I'd like to get Wolfie working more so we get the full benefit from the fitting.    

I'm trying to sort out my blog and link my pictures to previous blog posts.  It may take a while, so I apologise if it's messy looking for a while.

Friday, 23 July 2010

'Snot funny

For the last few weeks J's had a nasty green discharge coming from his left nostril.  H had contacted the vet who just referred him straight back to the vet school.  As it was the same side where he had the tooth removed last year, it was assumed that it was related to this.  It was strange, he had absolutely no other symptoms, the discharge didn't smell (which you would have expected with infection) and he was fine within himself.  He went to the vet school yesterday and I went along to give H a hand as he doesn't travel well.  The vets took x-rays of his head and jaw which they then showed to us.  The right side was clear but the left side showed a cloudy mass.  They then scoped him.  This was super interesting and we have now seen the inside of J's nasal cavities including his gluttoral pouches in great detail.  The scope was clear.  J was seated and standing in stocks.  Once they removed the scope, J cleared his nose and covered the 3 vets and all the vet students in snot.  Was pretty funny, H and I were wise and stood at the side of him. So the next move was they would drill a hole in J's forehead and insert a camera that way to see into his sinuses. We left at that point as J wasn't going to be coming home that night.  It's easier to detach when it's not your own horse there, but H was very brave, considering we left not really knowing what they were going to find.  The vet called H later and said that they had found a cyst in his sinus which they would have to remove under general anaesthetic.  That's the last thing anyone wanted was for the big man to have to undergo any more surgery but there wasn't another option.  They operated late yesterday afternoon and H said he was fairly bright today considering and she had him out for a grass walk.  They have removed another slab of bone, this time from his forehead to allow access to the cyst.  He has a drain in place just now to allow them to flush it.  I read today that sinus cysts in horses are uncommon (trust J) and it's thought that they may be born with them.  They can also cause secondary dental problems, so maybe the tooth that fractured last year was secondary to the cyst and not the other way round.  We always wondered what caused that tooth to go.  The cyst must have bothered J but he never showed it.  He must have been in some discomfort at the very least, but he just got on with it.  Even in the vet school he was fully co-operative.  He's a salt of the earth type with a great big heart.  Here's to a speedy recovery J.  Get well soon, Wolfie wants you back home, he misses that nice grumpy face you pull at him :-).  Also, Buttons might have some ideas about moving into your stable so you better get back quickly.

Monday, 19 July 2010

This and That

I've had a fairly productive week and have managed to ride Wolfie consistently up until today when it was just too wet.  We've been hacking with H and J.  Wolfie's been pretty good, although on one ride he had a good spook at a rabbit darting out in front of him and took off.  He's very responsive and pulls up, but the forward going energy then gets transferred to on the spot bucking.  Anyway, it was a mild episode and he walked on quietly after it.  I hacked him on Friday in what turned out to be gale force winds.  I hadn't realised it was so windy until we got to the top of the hill and into the open.  Wolfie felt like he was going to explode at any second.  Certainly got the adrenaline pumping.  He managed to contain himself and we made it home unscathed, but I felt like I'd ridden a cross country course not hacked for twenty minutes around the fields.

I've been looking into trailer towing courses.  I phoned a local place to enquire what it would cost.  For 2 days towing and then sitting the test on the third day it is £878.00!!  Once I had picked myself up off the floor, I politely declined their offer to book me on the course at the moment thank you.  Imagine paying all that money and you failed.  I've found another place that does 2 hour lessons and you can hire their vehicle and trailer to sit the test.  I think that's more what I need to try and do and then have as many lessons as I can and then sit the test when I feel ready.  It's such a rip off, just because I passed my driving test after a certain date.

Buttons has been fine.  He's such a happy little guy, his glass is always half full although I think he's been spending vast amounts of time in the field shelter because of the rain.  The horses are starting to  lose their summer coats.  Winter is coming.  As soon as Wolfie's winter coat is through, he's getting clipped.  I was quite late in clipping him last year, but plan on doing it much sooner this year.

I have read that feeding dried nettles helps with itchy skin.  It's also supposed to bring out the dapples in the coat, Wolfie doesn't need any more dapples but I've been drying out nettles to add to his feed to try and help his skin.  I doubt he will be impressed.  My dad usually buys a couple of turnips each week for the horses.  I've noticed that Wolfie eats all of the turnip but leaves the bottom (where the flat bit is) about an half an inch thick.  Obviously he doesn't like that part.  Never mind, I give what's left to Buttons.  There's never anything wasted when Buttons is around.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Goals and poles

I'm apprehensive about setting any goals as something always seems to happen, but I always think it's good to have something to work towards.  I rode Wolfie in the school for around twenty minutes yesterday.  It was a bit of a train wreck.  Only to be expected, I can count on one hand the number of times he's been schooled since last year.  There were horse eating goblins in every corner of the school, walk to trot transitions were more like walk to gallop, the downwards weren't much better.  It was all a bit rushed and unbalanced but it's a start.  Wolfie's not keen on the surface in the school, he prefers a grass surface.  He doesn't really see the point in endless circles, he may have the conformation of a dressage horse, but he certainly doesn't have the warmblood mentality for endless circles.  This all means that I have to make things much more interesting for him.  Really we are still only working on the basics of relaxation, rhythm, contact and impulsion, but my aim is to utilise Wolfie's natural athleticism and make him more gymnastic and supple through progressive exercises using basic flatwork and pole work, eventually, hopefully this will help him to bend, straighten and move with impulsion and freedom through his back whilst keeping his attention and making it fun.  I have seen these pole pods which raise the poles, I like the look of them, but they would be expensive to buy as I would probably want about 8.  I think I am going to make something which will do the same thing, like the old style cavalletti.  I felt weak riding yesterday, my lower leg felt weak.  There are no short cuts and you only get out of horses what you put into them, but hopefully now we will be able to maintain some consistent work and progress Wolfie's training.  I also hope to have a few centered riding lessons which I think will really help me.

I will continue to hack and at the moment will keep the schooling sessions short.  I still want to know what sort of distance we are covering.  My dad found something called a horseometer which is a horse pedometer and straps to a breast plate.  You can only get them in the States, but I think I will eventually get one, it will also be a helpful for fittening work.

When I turned Wolfie out tonight, he went straight over to C. and was turning his hindquarters on him, just forcing C. to move.  He didn't lift a leg, but his body language was very dominant.  There didn't seem to be any real reason for it and C. just got out of the way.  The dynamics of the herd have certainly shifted.  Wolfie followed me down the fence line as I walked down to my car.  I got in and was driving along the road when I glanced out the window and there was Wolfie galloping alongside the car (in the field of course), I was going around 25mph and he was keeping pace.  I burst out laughing, he's such a strange little horse.  As he reached the end of the field I saw him in my mirror galloping and bucking up the field.  

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Big Feet

The boys were shod / trimmed today. It's been 5 weeks and 6 days since they were last done. Their feet are done religiously every 6 weeks, however it looks as though, at least over the rest of summer, I am going to have to get them done every 5 weeks as they both had a huge amount of growth since they were last trimmed. Wolfie's feet have grown again and at his next shoeing, he will be going up a size in shoes. He will now be getting the equilibrium natural balance shoes on the front and a heavier shoe on the back.

I have been continuing to hack Wolfie out around the fields, trying to get him fitter. He's been very good and it would be nice now to begin introducing some short trot work. Ideally I would like to do this in one of the fields to keep him straight, however the ground is just too hard. The farrier was talking today about the increase in unsoundness in horses this summer due to the hard ground. I will start introducing a little trot work in the school alongside hacking. We have been working on a little leg yielding and turns on the forehand whilst out.