Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

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

Monday, 27 September 2010

A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character

I loose schooled Wolfie today and put him over a couple of jumps.  He didn't really 'get' the loose schooling thing to start with ane used it as an excuse to gallop flat out, perform sliding stops and turns that any reining rider would admire and his usual flying corkscrew bucks.  I wish I could have filmed it, but I couldn't keep an eye on him (incase he did anything too silly) and film at the same time.  He settled after about 10 minutes and he trotted and cantered around.  I put out a few poles and he cantered over them.  I put up a small cross pole and he jumped it nicely on both reins.  I then put it up to a little straight bar.  He wasn't paying attention as he came in to it and obviously expected it to still be the cross pole.  He clattered it with his front legs.  He was well booted up, but when he came back around he cleared it by about two feet.  I was seriously impressed with him today.  He was picking up the correct canter leads on both reins and the couple of times he went onto the wrong leg on the left rein, he corrected himself.  He looked so strong and powerful.  The jump was pretty tiny, but he was careful, bold and it seemed effortless to him.  I've always thought when I've seen him jumping in the field that he makes a nice shape, but I've never seen him jump any great height.  I've always thought he was naturally better on the flat, but today made me rethink.  He was working things out for himself and was getting himself out of any difficulties which is really encouraging.  The one time I put him over a cross pole last year, he was good, but seemed a bit clumsy and not too sure what he was doing with his legs and feet. Today, it was a different horse jumping.  I was so proud of him.  He's been brought on very slowly, due to various reasons, but it might have been better this way.  He's certainly much more able to cope with things mentally now as well as physically.  He made me feel excited today, I need to get a body protector, I want to jump.

M and J are back from the vet school and on box rest.  C is back in the field, so there is three of them out at night, but Wolfie seems to be tired when he comes in and looks as though he's been awake most of the night.  I'm not sure who's in charge at the moment, Wolfie seems to be creating chaos and herding the others around.  Today, he was lying down sleeping in his stable, you rarely see him doing that.

Buttons has got a little rain scald.  I was surprised, but I can only think it's because it was so wet last week, and once he gets that wet, because of his thick coat, it takes a long time for him to fully dry out.  He has a got a field shelter, but the rain was torrential last week.  If I put his rain sheet on at the moment he would be too warm. They'll be in over night soon.

Fuzzy wuzzy what was he?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

More haste, less speed

Here comes Wolfie.  The video below shows the way Wolfie likes to get about the field.  That's quite a sedate pace for him.  The video function on my camera isn't great, so it's not really in focus, but it was a practice to see if I could upload a video.  And I did it!  My sister has kindly loaned me her video camera.  I really want to get some videos of me schooling Wolfie, to self critique and also to use as a comparison later on.  I just need to talk very nicely to my sister now to see if she will video us.

I'm glad to say that Wolfie has redeemed himself since his performance as a flying circus horse last week.  We've hacked and schooled a couple of times.  I worked him over poles and he was great.  Really stretching for them and using his back and being very careful.  I'm thinking more and more about starting to jump him.  I think he would enjoy it and it would also be a break from schooling and flatwork over winter.  Firstly though, I need to get a new body protector.  Can't afford not to be sensible and if all else fails I can always wear it on windy days.

I schooled today.  Since we got the saddle and Wolfie has been back in work consistently, although I have been schooling a little more (maybe once a week now), I have only really been working in walk and trot.  I canter in the fields, but the school we have is so small when he is still unbalanced.  Previously he has struggled with the right canter lead.  Today, however I cantered on the left rein, just once.  I was going to leave it at that, but then decided to try the right rein.  He bounced into canter on the correct right lead and actually felt quite balanced (more balanced than he actually did on the left rein).  The difference, I actually rode the transition properly, riding deep into the corner and set him up for it.  I was so pleased with him.  As usual, as soon as we started thinking about canter and canter transitions, the trot work improved.   If he makes mistakes, they are green mistakes. I get frustrated at myself when I know that things are down to rider error and me not being effective.  Things are starting to come together, it's very rough around the edges and not entirely consistent, but with more schooling over winter, I think he will come on leaps and bounds.  He still needs to learn to relax more and soften his jaw, but that will come. 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

In 'Alice Through The Looking-Glass' by Lewis Carroll, who kept falling off his horse?

The White Knight.  When it stopped, he fell off forwards, when it walked on, he fell off backwards and every now and then he fell off sideways.

I fell off Wolfie yesterday.  It's the first time I've came off him but I'm sure it won't be the last.  The weather has been horrendous the last two days.  Yesterday, it was very strong winds with intermittent heavy rain showers.  I decided to ride in the school due to the wind and I thought if the rain came on heavy we could just abandon it.  I got on and he was spooking at everything at the outside of the school fence.  The noise of the wind was loud and buckets were blowing around and a few of the jump wings clattered over.  We were walking on the right rein, when a piece of felt on top of the old sheep shed blew up as we were passing it.  That was just the excuse Wolfie needed.  He leapt 6 foot sideways and started bucking.  I lost a stirrup but he stopped and for a second I thought that was it.  However, something clattered and he took off at a gallop around the school doing flying leaps and corkscrew bucks.  By about the third one I had lost both my stirrups and knew the inevitable was coming.  We parted company and I landed at the opposite end of the school from Wolfie.  As I was sitting in the soaking wet school checking that I was still in one piece, Wolfie had the good grace to trot over to me and snuffle my hat.  He was looking at me as if to say ' why did you get off and why are you sitting down there?'  I stood up took a deep breath and forced myself to smile.  What else can you do?  I brushed myself down, checked Wolfie over and got back on.  I worked him in a little more in walk and trot, constantly keeping his attention focused on what we were doing and not what was going on around him.  I kept him off the track, changing the rein, circles, serpentines, transitions, continually half halting and balancing him.  I had him between my leg and hand and made sure I had control over every one of his feet and where it was being placed.  There's nothing quite like getting bucked into next year and hitting the ground with a bump to make you start riding effectively.  Wolfie went really nicely.  I brought him back to walk and we worked on leg yielding and shoulder fore.  I've been working him ridden in shoulder fore as he doesn't require so much bend and have been continuing introducing and starting shoulder in from the ground.  He finds it much easier to flex and bend to the left and leg yield moving to the right than to push and cross over with his off hind, leg yielding to the left with right bend.  We have been working on this and he is getting stronger at it.    I ended it there and gave him a big pat.  He is very spooky and can be difficult in the wind and I probably should have lunged him before I got on.  Note to self.  Get a hammer and nail down the felt on the roof of the sheep shed.  

I wish someone had been there to see it.  I'd like to have known just how high those bucks were.  I've seen him in the field and know what he is capable of.  It felt like his back feet were going to touch my head.  I'm feeling the effects of it today and feel like I've been hit by a truck.


It feels like winter.  Wolfie has been rugged the last two days.  I really debated over whether to do it.  I always feel that they are rugged for so long over winter, the longer you leave it before starting to rug the better.  However, the rain on Monday was just too torrential and the wind was biting.  Wolfie doesn't have much shelter in his field so I've put his summer sheet on.  It took a lot of persuasion to get Wolfie down to the field on Monday night.  Just as I had convinced him that he should go to the field, the rain started hitting us front on as well as from behind and the side.  Wolfie made the rest of the trip to the field walking backwards as he refused to walk into the sheeting rain.  I don't blame him.  It's about this time of year that Wolfie starts voicing his opinion that he doesn't want to be put back in the field at night, he doesn't feel there is enough to eat down there, the weather is miserable and he'd rather stay in his stable.  Wolfie came in for winter on the 20th October last year.  Wonder if he'll last till then this year.  I'm fairly organised for winter.  I had to replace Wolfie's rugs again this year as he's gone up another size, but I've been collecting them over summer and have managed to pick up a few good bargains on new rugs from EBay.  They are not the nicest of colours, but they are the make that I was looking for and at less than half price I can't complain.  They all end up covered in mud anyway.  Buttons has a new lightweight turnout and a little fleece rug to dry him off when he's in the stable.  Wolfie could probably do with another turnout and I had wanted to get him a heavy weight stable rug in case it gets as cold as it did last winter but I have enough lighter weight ones to layer the rugs if necessary.

I think Wolfie's also feeling a bit unsettled as M and J are at the vet school and C is on box rest due to an infected cut on his leg.  That leaves just 3 including Wolfie in the field and I think he's feeling a little out of sorts.  I hope they all get better soon.

                                                                Forever Friends

 Wolfie isn't the gentlest of horses.  He's affectionate in his own way, but he's sharp and has a dominant personality and a very intelligent mind.  Saying that he seems to sense that Zoe is small and he has to be more careful around her.  They are both 5 now and he has known her since they had both just turned 2.  He recognises her walking up the road and always gallops over to see her.  He is even gentle when taking food from her. 

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Up, Up and Away

My Sunday hacks with Wolfie are turning into a weekly event.  I'm trying to make the most of the weather and the daylight before winter.  Today we rode up the hills which are behind the stables. 

We were headed for the trees at the skyline

It's pretty much uphill all the way and some parts are quite steep.  There are some good tracks though and the ground was good today.

We passed this old ruin of a house.  It would be nice and peaceful living all the way up here!

We headed passed the ruin and had a good canter along a nice long, pretty flat track.  The views were stunning.

The Campsies
Wolfie admiring the view (and the grass!)

You can just see in the photograph above, a track through the bracken.  That's where we were headed.

The hill

The track doesn't look like much, but it is really, really steep.  At the top part it almost looks vertical.  You would have to gallop up it.  It's one of those ones where the horses legs are moving but they aren't actually getting anywhere.  I didn't attempt it today.  Wolfie seemed up for it, but he'd hacked uphill for over an hour to get there.  I don't feel he's quite strong or fit enough yet to attempt it and I definitely don't want to get stuck half way up it.  We will do it some day as there's a whole other world over the top of that hill.

Blog wouldn't be complete without a picture of Wolfie's very expressive ears.

Wolfie bounced all the way back downhill and home.  He kept taking off into canter randomly for no reason.  He's definitely getting fitter and his recovery times are improving, but that was hardwork for him today.  Once we got home I fed him and turned him out.  I spotted him half an hour later lying flat out in the field.  He must have been tired.  He's such a good horse.

Buttons sleeping in the field (before he was ridden!)

Just woke up

I'm coming

Zoe came up to ride today and we went out for a walk to pick some rose hips for the horses. Buttons was very good, but he was feeling the heat, it was very warm and he's got a very thick coat already.  Just as we were almost home, he stopped dead in his tracks, I turned around to see him lie down.  He went down and he just kind of looked at me, I growled at him and he got back up on his feet.  He obviously was feeling itchy and sweaty under his numnah and thought he would just go for a roll, forgetting he had a rider on board.  He was wearing a thick wooly numnah and when I took the saddle off he was very sweaty underneath.  That's such a pony thing to do.  Zoe was very good and didn't panic although she did say that she thought the two of them were going to roll down the hill!  

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Open Wide

The boys had their visit from the dentist today.  Buttons was very good (considering how bad he was last year).  Obviously he was a lot more comfortable in his mouth this time, but it was almost as if he realised that it would actually help him.  He just got the sharp edges taken off.  The dentist has to kneel down to do Buttons so fortunately he kept his front feet on the floor for the most part this time.  The dentist even agreed that Buttons reputation as a Shetland pony proceeds him, but he might just be the one that broke the mould as he's very good really.

Wolfie was also very good, it always amazes me how good he is with the dentist considering how bad he is with the vet.  But then, I suppose I've always used the same dentist since I got Wolfie and he's always been very kind to him and never given him a bad experience.

Waiting patiently for the Dentist

Getting the gag on

Wolfie had quite a lot of rough edges and ridges, but just due to him being young and the teeth still changing.  He still has two canines at the top which haven't yet erupted and the dentist said that could still take another year.  Slow maturing.

His lower canines are different sizes and it was his right canine which took the brunt of the kick to his face.  However, it appears to have came through and although a strange shape and much bigger than the other one, it's not causing a problem and the dentist said it was healthy enough.  He hand rasped it down a little bit.  All in all he said Wolfie had a nice set of teeth.

Clever Boy

I was very pleased with how both boys behaved today.  It was straight forward and easy for everyone involved.  I use Mark Twigg from Beith, Ayrshire and would whole heartedly recommend him to anyone looking for an equine dentist.  He is very good and also very calm, considerate and kind with the horses (he also slackens the gag every time he stops working even for short periods which I like).  I have great confidence in his ability and he is able to spot problems.  He does my two routinely every 9 months which he hopes should pick up any problems emerging.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Forest Adventure

I had an amazing ride on Wolfie today.  I got up to the yard early (Wolfie was still lying down sleeping in the field), got him in, tacked up and set off.

This is where we were headed.  The forestry (Just to the right of the tree, you can see the top of Lennox Castle).

We headed down onto the line.  Just as we came into sight of the bridge, 4 people approached with a dog.  They took the dog down into the river, maybe the dog wasn't good with horses, but to distract it, they started throwing sticks into the river.  Brilliant.  I got off Wolfie and led him to the end of the bridge.  He could see the people and the dog, but as noise echoes around that area, I don't think he could associate the noise with the people.  I managed to lead him across the bridge and made a huge fuss of him at the other side.  He had that petrified look again and he was poised for flight, but he stayed with me and relaxed at the other side.

We continued on and headed up towards the Castle.  It's a long, windy track on a hill.  Great for power walking and working Wolfie's hindquarters.

Lennox Castle.  It used to be a mental hospital.  It lay derelict and was set on fire by vandals.  Shame as it is an amazing building. 
  We passed the castle and headed up into the forestry.  There are main tracks throughout the forestry or various paths throughout the trees.  It's vast and you could be up there walking for days without retracing your steps.

A view from one of the tracks
I wanted to do a bit of exploring.  We followed the main tracks and then deviated through the forest.  You have to be very careful with the footing off the main tracks.  Very often, it can look like firm ground, but turns out to be very boggy or wet.  Wolfie was fantastic.  He was clearly loving it and was more than game for everything.  You cover every sort of terrain, from soft, rocky, tree roots.  He took it all in his stride.  He seemed to love getting onto the softish ground which is covered in pine needles from the trees.  He just wanted to go.  We were negotiating bankings, streams, fallen logs, low branches.  We came to a dropped banking.  I checked it out and figured he could carefully step down it.  Wolfie had other ideas and just jumped down it.  We came to another one, it looked safe and the footing and ground was good at the bottom, so I asked him to jump it as a dropped fence, and he did beautifully.  He was so bold and forward.  I often think Wolfie was born in the wrong country.  He should have been an American trail horse.  I also think he would be great as a horse working cows.  But he has the makings of being a very good Trec horse.

Look at his ears

The branch ahead was actually really low and both of us had to duck to get under it.

We saw some interesting things.  It's amazing what you see up there.  People are terrible for fly tipping.  It makes you wonder how they get the stuff up there as cars can't get into the actual forestry.

This was hidden deep amongst the trees.

Giant mushroom.  Wolfie was very interested

A bath - of course

And you can't have a bath, without a toilet, obviously!

Wolfie and I have a story involving the bath and jumping from last year. But I'll save that for another day.  It still makes me come out in a cold sweat just thinking about it.

We stopped for a break.  I really wish I had some saddle bags.  I could have brought some juice and a piece and cheese and jam.

Wolfie having a break and enjoying some thistles
Wolfie felt as though he would have kept going all day.  We headed for home and came to the bridge again.  Wolfie completely tensed up, so I just got off.  3 horses were approaching us from the other side of the bridge.  I waited for them to cross and as they passed us I heard "Hello gorgeous" and "Oh aren't you beautiful",............directed at Wolfie.  Oh well.  I led him across the bridge and got back on and we set off for home.  Wolfie didn't feel tired at all.  I was feeling shattered!  Not riding fit at all.

Nearly home and his ears are still pricked

We were out for 3 hours.  Once we got back I fed Wolfie and turned him out in the field (stopping for some brambles on the way to the field).  I really thought he would be feeling a bit tired, but he cantered off to his rolling spot had a good roll, got up and took off galloping and bucking.  Obviously feeling pleased with himself.  He was so much fun today.  He just gives you the feeling that you're totally in it together and he's up for anything.  He really enjoyed it.  I really hope we can try some Trec next year.  Loving my little horse and my saddle.

Having some brambles

My special little horse

Buttons doing some gardening

Buttons winter coat is coming through thick and fast.


Thursday, 2 September 2010

 Here's a video clip of Wolfie crossing the bridge yesterday.  It's the second bridge, hopefully he'll be walking over the other one in the same way soon.  I know it's not the most exciting of videos, but it's a big achievement for Wolfie.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Feeling Down? Saddle Up

Some days are better than others for me and everything always seems so much worse when I'm tired, or more tired than usual.  I am however, looking forward to and enjoying riding once again and am finding being around Wolfie and Buttons a time when I am relaxed and at ease.  My horses are helping me in a way that they could never understand and quite simply by just being themselves.

Yesterday, we hacked up the hill with H. and J.  We've devised a new route which enables us to have a canter and a few trots, combines a few hills and flat stretches and takes about an hour.  I was letting Wolfie trot up the field when a few sheep bounded past.  Wolfie decided to bounce after them and did a leap / arched back bounce into canter.  I totally wasn't expecting it and fortunately he stayed in canter and didn't throw anything else at me, otherwise I would have been off.  He was good the rest of the hack. 

Today we hacked down the line with H. and J.  We got to the bridge and Wolfie stopped about 2 feet away from the edge.  J. walked over and Wolfie followed.  I was so pleased with him.  I expected it to take a lot longer to even get a lead over there after everything that's happened.  We hacked on and came to the second bridge.  Nothing has ever happened at this bridge, it's exactly the same as the other one but we haven't crossed this one either since the stone throwing incident.  Wolfie was in the lead and walked straight over, he was looking, but didn't stop or hesitate.  I love Wolfie's attitude.  I had wondered if he would cross this one due to association, but no, he's separated what happened at the last bridge completely from this one.  He is so genuine.  When he reacts, it's 100% genuine, it's complete instinct. But at times you can see him battling with what his instinct and every part of his mind and body is telling him to do, which is to take flight, with staying and trying to do what his rider is asking of him.  We had a long hack, we stayed in walk but were out for about an hour and twenty minutes.  Wolfie is very particular (or shy) about where he does the toilet.  Stable or field, that's it.  I know sometimes on the way back from a hack that he needs to go and I try and encourage him and keep him out a bit longer in the thinking that once he knows he can do it outside and with a rider on, then it may encourage him.  But to no avail.  Today, however, he must have been desperate because he did a big poo on the way home.  I gave him a big pat and he turned to look at his dung pile.  He then started pawing at it aggressively and scattering it about.  I don't know what that was about.  Hopefully, he'll learn that it will be more comfortable if he just goes when he's out.