Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

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

Saturday, 19 November 2011

I've been very lax in posting for the last few months, ever since Wolfie's virus really. Things have just been ticking over really, concentrating on getting Wolfie stronger and back on his feet. With it being dark at half past 4 at night now, it's a case of trying to ride in the school during the week, weather permitting. Wolfie's flat work is really coming on though. We work in walk and trot and practice lateral movements. I'm not introducing canter again in the school just now as it's very badly lit with flood lights and Wolfie still thinks there are horse eating goblins lurking in the corners and over the fence. He's becoming much more rhythmical and our work and transitions are much more consistent.

I wormed them both a couple of weeks ago, it's the syringe and paste type. This is what Wolfie thought to it.

Buttons is doing great. His weight is fantastic. He is fenced off on restricted grazing with his favourite mare and they both are watching their waist lines. The mare can be a bit of a nippy sweety with other horses, but for some reason she adores Buttons. His laminitic rings have grown down and now as they are growing out they have caused some separation of the white line. It is a concern that he may develop an abcess if any dirt or grit tracks up, but so far (touch wood) he's been fine. The farrier is checking his feet every 3 weeks, so fingers crossed we can get his feet back in decent shape.

With the weather being so mils, Buttons is really feeling the heat with his full winter coat. I keep waiting for the temperature to drop, but so far it hasn't.

I've decided to make Christmas cards this year using photographs of the horses and also the dogs. I thought I would practice with the dogs today, until I can decide on how to make a good Christmas background setting. They are very good and so good natured, they really do humour me. Bilbo, the cat decided to get in the photographs (mostly facing the wrong direction!) so I ended up giving him something to wear too. When taking the real pictures, getting them all to look the same way, may prove to be very difficult if today is anything to go by!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Lucky Horseshoe Superstition

I'm decorating a couple of Wolfie's shoes to give as gifts to two friends who are getting married soon. It got me to thinking of why the horseshoe is considered lucky. Like everything, there are plenty of superstitions, old wives tales and myths surrounding horses.

According to ancient folklore, small-framed 'fairy folk' existed during the Stone Age across what is now Northern Europe and the British isles. When migrating Celtic tribes began invading the lands around 400BC, the fairies hid in forests and camouflaged themselves by wearing green – much like today's leprechauns. The new settlers told stories about the mysterious, magical 'little people' living in the woods, who were also referred to as elves and goblins.

The goblins were accused of causing many misfortunes among the settlers, from casting spells to prevent cows from giving milk and chickens from laying eggs to causing infertility in couples. Legends also told of babies kidnapped by the fairies. It was believed that the primitive goblins feared the metal weapons of their enemies, and were therefore afraid of iron.

To ward off goblins and evil spirits from their homes, the people hung iron horseshoes over their front doors. Horseshoes were doubly frightening to the little people because they looked like the Celtic moon god's crescent. The horseshoe resembles the crescent moon and is thought to protect against the evil eye. Similar shaped charms were used amongst the Chaldeans and the Egyptians. Related to animal worship, it approaches the form of a serpent biting its own tail, a universal symbol of eternity. The horseshoe invokes the crescent moon shape of pagan moon goddesses and so invites their protection.

Horseshoes are considered for their healing powers, and are believed to cure hiccups (this would probably work, if the horse stood on your foot whilst still wearing the shoe!) and for their protective influence. Horseshoes were commonly made from iron. Iron was considered to have magical powers and repels fair-folk and witches, keeping your house free of mischievous demons, imps, pixies and elves.

Traditionally there used to be 7 nails in horseshoes, invoking the traditionally lucky number. There is a time honoured belief in the magical power of iron. Blacksmithing is considered to be a very lucky trade because it involves work with fire and iron. Blacksmiths were often identified as sorcerers and the efficacy of fire as a bane to demons. It is believed that a witch cannot walk under a horseshoe and if the devil gets too close to a horseshoe, he will be sucked in.

There is also a tale that the Blacksmith engaged to shoe the Devil made the shoes red hot, then burned the Devil's feet with the hot iron…..the Devil then tried to withstand the pain, but screamed to have the shoes removed when the Blacksmith began to drive nails to hold the shoe in place. The Devil remembers the pain so vividly that whenever he sees a horseshoe he slinks off into the shadows. The Devil will go nowhere near a home which has a horseshoe over the doorway.

Although the lucky emblems status has survived over centuries, there's still some debate over the proper way to position a horseshoe in order to repel bad fortune. Some believe that a horseshoe with the two ends pointing up collects good luck and keeps it from falling out, while other traditions state that the two ends should point downwards so that luck pours onto those who walk through the door.

There are two things that are mandatory if the horseshoe is to bring you good luck. The horseshoe must have been worn by a horse and the horseshoe must have been found not purchased.

The horseshoe superstition seems likely to be the result of a combination of folklore and myth. It's one I like to believe in though. Unfortunately today's horseshoes are mostly made of aluminium and often have 8 holes and not the traditional 7 but they still look good hanging above the door and I consider Wolfie to be a lucky horse, so I'm sure they will offer protection and bring good fortune.

There are numerous old wives tales and myths involving horses. I think the only one I pay any real attention to is 'Changing a horse's name is bad luck'. I would never change a horse's name.

Here are some of the ones I found –

A circular ring made from an iron horseshoe nail can be used as a talisman and gives the same protection against evil as the horseshoe itself

It was thought that warts could be cured by circling them in horse hair

Mythical cure for colic – Pour turpentine into a saucer, and hold it against the horse's navel. It'll suck it up and the colic will be gone (if only this one worked!)

It was once thought that whooping-cough could be cured by going to the stables and inhaling the breath of a horse; being breathed upon by a piebald horse, or riding upon its back was another supposed cure. Horse hairs chopped very finely and fed to a child in bread and butter, were thought to be a certain cure for worms, and the horse spurs (an old word for the chestnuts on horses legs) were believed in the eighteenth century to be a cure for cancer if dried, ground and drunk frequently with new milk

If you break a mirror the misfortune can be averted if you lead a horse through the house. Same applies if you spill salt in the kitchen

Horse brasses protect the wearer from the evil eye

Seeing a grey horse on the way to church is considered lucky for the bride and groom

Carrying a rowan-wood whip prevents witches from casting a spell on your horse

If you put horse skulls under the floor of a house they improve the tone of a piano that was above them

When its master dies, a horse will shed tears

Spotted horses are magical. Grey horses and horses with four white socks are unlucky.

There are also the 'old sayings' about horses with white feet, white legs and blue eyes.

There are two poems regarding white feet in horses

One white foot, buy him
Two white feet, try him
Three white feet, sell him to a friend
Four white feet, pass him by


One white foot, keep him not a day
Two white feet, send him far away
Three white feet, sell him to a friend
Four white feet, keep him to the end

Some horse people tend to believe that black feet tend to be harder than light feet, but there does not seem to be any research that indicates there is any proof either way. Wolfie has one white foot and three black and white feet and so far he is proving to have 4 very good feet.

Four white stockings were said to be evil. However, two hind and one fore was good. One hind and one fore on opposite sides were excellent.

There is also the saying that you don't buy a horse with blue eyes.

I used to know a pony who was coloured. He was black and white but I wouldn't call him a piebald, he was marked more like an American paint horse and had Indian paw prints on him. He had two blue eyes, 4 white legs, 4 white hooves and a prophets thumb print. He was a fantastic jumping pony with a great temperament. He was never lame and had good feet. In reality, a horse's colour or markings does not determine its temperament or ability.

Monday, 17 October 2011

A sad day

It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things

Lemony Snicket

One of our family cats was very sadly put to sleep on Friday night. He was my mum's cat and one of a pair. A little black and white cat with the biggest yellow eyes I have ever seen. He was quite a timid little cat, almost aloof, very unassuming and often overshadowed by the other dogs and cat who are very confident and much more demanding for attention. Saying that, he was always there with the others, sitting on the arm of the chair, always staring at you with those massive marble like eyes, you could never really tell what he was thinking but he was affectionate in his own way. He wasn't a hunter and the two things he enjoyed most were sleeping and eating.

He is at peace now and it was very quick, but he was a part of our family, another thing of my mum's gone and I certainly wasn't prepared or ready for letting him go. He was such a quiet, placid soul, but he has left a huge hole and he will be very sadly missed.

My Dad used to often recite 'The Owl and the Pussycat' to both cats. They would sit mesmorised. Every time they heard it, it was as though they were hearing it for the very first time and couldn't believe such a tale. They would sit transfixed and their eyes would widen, almost in disbelief at the line 'they sailed away for a year and a day in a beautiful pea green boat' and they would close their eyes and almost smile at the 'what a beautiful pussy you are' line.

For Frodo, our brave and magical little Hobbit cat. We will all miss you.

The Owl and the Pussycat

Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

And sang to a small guitar,

'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,

What a beautiful pussy you are,

You are,

You are,

What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Pussy said to the Owl, 'you elegant fowl!

How charmingly sweet you sing!

O let us be married! Too long have we tarried:

But what shall we do for a ring?'

They sailed away, for a year and a day,

To the land where the Bong-tree grows

And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood

With a ring at the end of his nose,

His nose,

His nose,

With a ring at the end of his nose.

'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling

Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will'.

So they took it away, and were married next day

By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,

Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Moving forward

Wolfie's last set of blood test results came back last week. His white blood cell count is up and is now well within normal parameters. For the last 3 weeks I have been hacking him out in walk, trying to strengthen him back up. He is actively cavorting about in his turn out area effortlessly and has continued to show no symptoms or problems with his wind which I was concerned about. Over the last week I have taken him into the school a few times due to trying to ride between thunder storms and rain. Normally when Wolfie has any lengthy time off work, once I get back on, he wanders around a bit to start with like a drunken sailor, feels very babyish and any level of straightness is apparently 'forgotten'. However, on Sunday I took him into the school, I worked him in walk on a loose rein, then asked him to soften as we worked on 20m circles and halt/ walk transitions. He immediately softened, was stretching down through his back and neck, swinging through his back and taking a nice loose long stride. We had a trot round the school once on each rein, he bounced into the transitions, seeking the contact and felt, well amazing really. I've continued twice more in the school for short sessions and he's been the same. I'm not quite sure what to make of this. Of course it's fantastic, he feels better than he ever has, it's as though something has clicked in his brain and if I didn't know better, I would say that the fairies have been up schooling him during the night when I'm not there. Or maybe he was listening when I did all the reading to him when he was ill! I've been continuing the ground work doing lots of suppling exercises and continuing the clicker training with him and doing lots of stretching exercises with the carrot stick so physically maybe that has been beneficial. He had his teeth done by the dentist last week, so that may have helped, although he didn't need much and just got a general tidy up of any rough edges. However, I also think it is in his mind set, he is absolutely desperate to work. With the nights getting shorter, we will be spending more time in the school so the plan now is to continue building and strengthening him, lots of variation in schooling exercises but keep it simple. Introduce pole work again and continue with the ground work and clicker training. I have treated myslef to a little video camera, so once I work out how to use it, I'll hopefully be able to post some videos of our schooling and groundwork sessions. I would like to continue to wrap him in cotton wool, but he is telling me that he is ready for more. I am paranoid about him catching a chill, especially with his winter coat coming through and being more likely to sweat up. I will clip him in September and rug him accordingly. I'm going to re-proof a couple of his turnouts and invest in another couple of good quality rugs.

It's been a tough year, both financially and on my energy levels with both Buttons and Wolfie being stabled at night for practically the whole summer due to the grass, fertiliser, weight issues, illness etc. There's been no reprieve from mucking out or the cost of bedding and hay since last winter. However, I looked at them both last night and they look so well, that it really has been worth it.

Friday, 29 July 2011


The results of Wolfie's blood tests came back on Tuesday. He is negative for anything infectious. His white blood cell count has shown that there has been some sort of virus. He is continuing to pick up and I'm starting to see the old Wolfie 'spark' return. He is to have another week of rest and recuperation and to be monitored still for any signs of dullness or loss of appetite. If he continues as he is, I have to gently bring him back into work at the end of next week. He will get more blood taken in a couple of weeks and his white blood cell count will be checked again. I have mixed feelings about the results of the blood work. On one hand I'm relieved that nothing showed, although I really didn't think he had anything infectious. On the other hand I would liked to have known exactly what caused this. He was only given the one jab of antibiotic by my own vet. He was given fluids and electrolytes and support by the vet school, so his own body has fought this which my vet says is a good thing. The vet school wouldn't give him any antibiotics until they could identify what they were treating. My vet also said it was fortunate that he was young and healthy prior to this, otherwise he might not have been so lucky. Wolfie's love for life is untangible and I'm sure his spirit and will have contributed to him fighting this. So three and a half weeks on from that fateful Tuesday night, things are looking much brighter.

I've finished painting Wolfie's stable (it's been like changing rooms!). It looks much better and I will move him back into his own stable tomorrow.

August is a busy month for the boys. Wolfie has his blood tests, they both have their flu and tetanus vaccinations and a dentist visit and they are both also supposed to be getting freeze marked at the end of the month, although I have to make sure with the vet if this can go ahead for Wolfie. I detest freezemarks and have always refused to have them done, but with more and more horses being stolen I have to be sensible. It's every horse owners worst nightmare for a horse to be stolen, they say freezemarking is the only real deterrent, so I have to be sensible.fell that I have to do it. It's not just the worry of them being stolen but ultimately what would happen to them and where would they end up.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Blood, sweat and tears

Wolfie has continued to improve, although it does seem to be slowly. His appetite has increased and he is a lot brighter. He does perk up a lot when you interact with him, I think part of it is the change in stable, isolation and change in routine. He isn't suited to the life of being a pasture ornament. He's still not 100%. I've began doing a little clicker training with him for 10 minutes or so at night. We just have a little play in his stable as he can't go anywhere else on the yard just now. He is very enthusiastic about it and seems to really enjoy it. He's working for a measly piece of carrot (this boy is on a diet!), but he totally gets it. You can actually see him processing and thinking about what he is being asked to do to earn the click and then ultimately the reward and praise. He does seem to see it as a good game. I am conscious of him performing actions he has been taught at times when he is not asked, so I have given him verbal cues in German.

The vet came up to take his bloods today. I've been aprehensive about this. He was getting better with the vet before this all happened, but this has set him right back. I gauged his reaction when he saw the vet walking towards his stable. We decided before the vet even entered the stable that he would get a mild sedative. Wolfie stuck two hooves up at the vet.... literally. Kinder for Wolfie, rather than him getting himself in a complete state. So the bloods are on their way to Newmarket and the results should be back on Wednesday hopefully. Fingers crossed. We discussed everything that had happened and how long I felt it had been for Wolfie to start really picking up. The vet said he had only ever seen one horse with a temperature as high as Wolfie had once before in his career and that horse hadn't made it. He said I'd done a good job that Tuesday night, staying with Wolfie and keeping him warm and dry and as hydrated as I could. He said he had spoken with the vet school the day Wolfie had came home and they were both very surprised that his temperature hadn't spiked again. I was surprised that Wolfie got something like this, he's never sick or sorry and if he is, it's due to a knock or a kick. I have always thought that he has incredible healing power, so maybe this is the same. It has really knocked him for six though. I really wish we could get some sort of conclusive answer though.

Whilst Wolfie is out of his stable and it has been emptied of bedding, I decided to use the opportunity to paint it. It's a job that's long over due and I've never really got round to as there was always a bed in it or Wolfie was in it. I started today and painted the walls. I've still got to do the woodwork and I should have enough paint to do the outside. I'm glad I have done it as it looks so much better. Redecorate for him moving back in!

Work in progress!

Wolfie in his temporary stable

Masked crusader

Hello Wolfie

Buttons is doing great, full of cheek. Zoe has been up to ride him. He's casting his summer coat........does that mean winter is on its way?

Friday, 15 July 2011

The fever of the horse

I'm sorry for not posting and updating on Wolfie sooner, we've had a rough week. After I posted in the early hours of last Wednesday morning, Wolfie's temperature started to go up again. I called the Vet who was out on a call. He told me that I had to try and get his temperature down. I was soaking rugs in cold water and sponging him down and then quickly having to get dry rugs on him to keep him warm. His temperature came back down and he was a little brighter. I gave him a small haynet at 6am which he picked at. He was moving around a little more (he had stood like a statue most of the night) and he would occasionally put his head over the door and prick his ears and take an interest in his surroundings. However, he was still very subdued, his eyes were very dull and appeared sunken and his mucous membranes were quite pale. He was also very prickly and really didn't want you touching him. The Vet came back around 9am and examined him and took his temperature which had remained normal. We discussed options. If the vet had sent the bloods away, it would be Friday before they came back. If we took Wolfie to the Vet School they would be able to have the results back the same day. There really was no decision to make. The Vet School had the facilities to cope if his temperature went sky high again and they would be able to treat him straight away and keep him hydrated. They could provide him with the supportive care and monitoring that I couldn't at home. Being up all night with him on Tuesday night was exhausting. It's very lonely and frightening in the middle of the night when you are on your own with a sick horse with no-one else to help, speak to or offer an opinion. So I loaded Wolfie and we headed over to the Vet School on Wednesday afternoon. I can't explain how much I appreciated having my own trailer. Knowing it was there and I could get him to the Vet School at any time was very reassuring. Trying to organise transport is very stressful when you have an ill horse, especially if you end up with an emergency situation. I also realised again how lucky we are having the Weipers Centre only a 25 minute journey away.

On arrival at the Vet School, Wolfie was taken to the isolation unit as he had an unexplained / unidentified infection. The vets were wearing the full protective suits like forensic people wear and looked a bit like oompa loompas. To start with, Wolfie wasn't going to let them any where near him. I was pleased to see him putting up a bit of a fight, it was half hearted but it was something. I ended up taking his temperature, putting a tail bandage on him and shaving a patch of hair on his belly. He let me do it he just didn't want the vets near him. The vets were very good with him and seemed to take on board what I said about about handling him and speaking to him. They eventually managed to get the bloods without sedation. He was then given a mild sedation and they did a full examination, rectal examination, took a faeces sample and they did a stomach tap. They also intubated him and gave him 6 litres of fluid. On Thursday they did a respiratory examination and gave him more fluids. All of the test results have came back unremarkable. They have now taken blood samples to test for EHV-1, EHV-4, EIV, Adenovirus, Rhinovirus, ELISA for Strep. equi var equi and a general virus profile. Being down in the isolation unit, Wolfie was completely locked up. He had no window and no door to put his head over. He became totally distressed and by Thursday afternoon had started manically trotting around the stable and had stopped eating. As his temperature had remained normaI, I discussed options with the vets and although he had to have bloods taken again in 2 weeks time for the virus profiling and they would have kept him longer for monitoring, we all agreed that if isolation conditions could be provided for him, it would be better to try and take him home and see if he would settle and get him eating again. I picked him up late on Friday afternoon and he was really distressed. As I loaded him, he launched himself into the trailer without any of his feet actually touching the ramp. He has been put into a different stable as he is in isolation, so that added to his upset when he got home.

It's been a worrying few days since he got home. He was hardly eating anything. He has been getting turned out onto a grazed part of the field for a few hours every day. Yesterday is the first time that he has actually shown any sign of an appetite and really wanting to eat. His temperature has remained normal, he is drinking and passing dung. He just still seems very depressed and lethargic. Understandable I suppose if you have had a high fever and been very stressed. I've been sitting with him for an hour or so at night. He gets great comfort from you just being in the stable with him. I sit on an upturned bucket like 'Oor willie' and read to him. He picks at his hay, when I stop reading or to turn the page he turns his head and looks at me. When I start reading again, he goes back to picking at his hay. He responds so well to your voice that I think he also finds this comforting. I've just bought a few books off Amazon that I have wanted for ages, so it's an excuse to sit and read. We've just finished Sylvia Loch's Dressage in Lightness.

He gets his second set of bloods taken on the 22nd July and these will be sent to the Animal Health Trust at Newmarket to be tested. So it will be the following week before we get the results. If they are negative and he is continuing to show no other symptoms then he can be reintroduced to the herd and go back into work. The vet said that he thought it was unlikely that he had an infectious disease. I have seen and worked with strangles before, and Wolfie's symptoms just don't 'fit'. He has never shown any signs of nasal discharge, runny eyes or a cough. He coughed once at the vet school, but that was after they had put a tube down his throat, so that was understandable. There are viral infections which cause a biphasic fever. This means that the horse may have a normal temperature in the morning, but later in the day it will spike a high fever. This is characteristic of a viral infection. There is also fever of unknown origin which has been documented in horses. It's an unexplained fever associated with non-specific signs of illness such as lethargy, inappetence etc. The vet said he thought the most likely scenario is that he had a viral infection which was caught immediately and the antibiotic and anti steroidal that the vet gave him just knocked it on the head. He said that there were so many viruses in the environment that they may never be able to identify the cause of it.

The vet school and my own vet have told me that I need to get the excess weight Wolfie is carrying off him. I know he is overweight. I have battled for the grazing to be restricted for years. The grazing has been restricted this year, but I often arrive at the stables and find the fence has been moved 12 foot and Wolfie is standing up to his belly in fresh grass. It is very difficult with a horse kept at a livery yard when I do not have control over his grazing. All he gets to eat is grass and a balancer. His hay is always soaked in excess of 12 hours and I ride him as much as I can. I have bought him a grazing muzzle. I have my concerns about the use of grazing muzzles and they need to be used and managed properly. I'm not quite sure what will happen when the bloods come back. If anything shows as positive, then a further diagnostic / therapeutic plan will be put in place. If all negative, theoretically Wolfie could go back out with the other boys. However, as he cannot be grazed on fresh grass I am thinking he will have to stay in his restricted patch for the rest of the summer. It really is for his own good. If I can get a little weight of him now, I stand a better chance of getting his weight down over winter. I bought him the Shires grazing muzzle, but straight off I knew it wasn't going to be suitable. I've now 'invested' in the Greenguard muzzle and halter. I tried it on him tonight for size. Bless him, he caught his own reflection in the stable window and jumped 3 feet in the air when he saw himself.

So it's really a waiting game now. Hopefully, Wolfie has now turned a corner and will continue to improve and gain strength. At the moment I'm just taking each day as it comes with him.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

please say a prayer for wolfie

Wolfie is sick, really sick. If there was ever a time that this horse needed his guardian angel its now. It's 3.30am and I'm at the stables doing hourly checks on wolfie. I arrived at the stables about 4pm yesterday. Wolfie was standing at the back of his stable looking very subdued and down. I went in and checked him over, couldn't find anything. I took his temperature, heart rate and respiratory rates all of which were normal. He didn't look physically sore he just looked exhausted and down. He came in at 9am yesterday and had eaten half a leaf of hay and passed one small dropping, not much of either. He wasn't dehydrated. I left him for half an hour, keeping an eye on him to see if he perked up. He didn't. I took his obs again, all of which were still normal. Wolfie is a vibrant, energetic horse, I have never seen him like this, not even when he had the schirrous chord. He looked like he had been sedated. I called the vet and explained the lack of symptoms, but how out of character this was. The vet arrived at 7pm and took his temperature, it was 106 degrees f by this point, dangerously high. He took bloods and gave him an antbiotic, painkiller and anti spasmodic injections. He got his hay taken away and is only to get warm treacle water till morning. The vet left with the instructions that he was to be monitored through the night. Any change or worsening and I was to call, if stays same, vet will come back in morning. About ten minutes after the vet left his heart rate went sky high and the sweat was pouring off him. Around ten minutes later his heart rate lowered an he stopped sweating. I've been trying to keep him warm and dry without him getting too hot. My thermatex has earned its keep tonight. It's worth its weight in gold that rug. His temperature had remained at 37.7 degrees c. He is brighter and looking for food. The vet thinks we are dealing with some sort of infection and are waiting to see if the blood tests show anything. I haven't even began to process this or how it has happened. He has no other symptoms than a seriously high temp and being down. Please cross your fingers for him as right now I am very scared.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Tiggers don't jump they bounce

Things have been going well with Wolfie. Over the last month we've started jumping and even jumped a little upright on Tuesday night. He feels very bold over the fences and gives you a lovely feel. He does however find jumping very, very exciting and is extremely enthusiastic about it. I will need to try and do some more pole and grid work with him. The other night we had a canter up one of the fields and Wolfie was jumping clumps of thistles.

On Friday evening I arrived at the yard and he was in his stable. I thought he was standing a little awkwardly. I checked him over and couldn't find anything. I brought him out the stable and walked him up. He wasn't lame, but he wasn't level. I checked him over again and I still couldn't find anything. The flies and midges have been horrendous the last few nights. Black clouds of them everywhere and they are really distressing the horses. I don't think I have ever seen them this bad. I think that he's been haring around on Thursday night, probably to get away from the flies and given himself a dunt or pulled something, the ground is pretty solid and it's quite stoney in the field he's in. The boys have been sectioned off in part of another field the past week as one of the fences in their field was broken. There is no shade and no escape from the flies in there. I kept him in yesterday to let him rest and keep him out of the flies. I trotted him up tonight and he was sound. I wanted him out to walk and as the boys were going into their own field I decided to turn him out. The electric fencing had been moved to allow them some more grass so I had hoped he would just go out and get his head down and eat. I turned him out and led him most of the way down the field. He galloped up to the rest of the horses and started grazing. Around twenty minutes later I heard thundering of hooves and whinnying. I looked down to the field and saw Wolfie galloping around the field on the other side of the electric fencing from the other horses. I ran down and watched in horror as he galloped through the knee deep grass, doing his legendary cork screw bucks, twists, spins, squealing and all at top speed. The yard owner came down and between us we managed to get part of the fence down and get him back through. We then walked the entire fence line to check it. I've seen Wolfie duck under the line of tape if the current is low, but this fence was up properly. There was no loose tape or poles, the battery was on and the current was strong. There is only one way he's got into that part of the field and that is over the electric fencing. He's jumped it. It sends shivers up my spine thinking about what could have happened if he'd caught his feet and it is some height. The other horses had decided even the lure of some fresh grass wasn't enough to endure the flies and they were all at the top of the hill under the trees. I have ordered Wolfie a fly mask and fly rug. I don't think he's particularly thin skinned or overly sensitive to them, I just think the flies are much worse than they have ever been and they really are driving the horses past the point of no return. No amount of fly spray will deter them. So I shall see if he is still sound tomorrow after his shennanigans. I love that horse, quirks and all but sometimes I would like to string him up by the feet. The only one the flies don't seem to bother that much is Buttons. They land on him and you see him swishing his tail and kicking at them, but they don't seem to be able to bite him like they do the others. The yard owner commented on how fast Wolfie can gallop. It is really surprising how he can shift. I remember one of the first times he was turned out after he came home from the vet school and he galloped around the field. Me and my friends just stood there in stunned silence. The farmer who owned the fields was like 'did you know you'd bought a racehorse?'.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


My friend's horse was very sadly put to sleep today. He is at peace now. My thoughts are with his family who loved him dearly. He was a funny, intelligent, mischevious character and he will be sadly missed, but hopefully in time, his family will treasure the memories and many funny stories they have of his antics and the times they spent together.

A horse in his own mind has no thought of the future. Tomorrow is something the horse does not plan for. He only knows the present - now. And he would only ask one thing from his owner and that is compassion and freedom from pain and suffering.

I hope you gallop free across the Rainbow Bridge Mr M.


By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,

Don't cry for the horses
That life has set free
A million white horses
Forever to be

Don't cry for the horses
Now in God's hands
As they dance and they prance
To a heavenly band

They were ours as a gift
But never to keep
As they close their eyes
Forever to sleep

Their spirits unbound
On silver wings they fly
A million white horses
Against the blue sky

Look up into heaven
You'll see them above
The horses we lost
The horses we loved

Manes and tails flowing
They Gallop through time
They were never yours
They were never mine

Don't cry for the horses
They will be back someday
When our time has come
They will show us the way

On silver wings they will lift us
To the warmth of the sun
When our life is over
And eternity has begun

We will jump the sun
And dance over the moon
A Ballet of horses and riders
on the winds
to a heavenly tune

Do you hear that soft nicker
Close to your ear?
Don't cry for the horses
Love the ones that are here

Don't cry for the horses
Lift up your sad eyes
Can't you see them
As they fly by?

A million white horses
Free from hunger and pain
Their spirits set free
Until we ride again

I don't think I'm alone tonight in giving my boys an extra scratch and feeling very grateful and lucky.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Buttons goes to the Ball!

I haven't posted much in the last month as things with the horses have been pretty busy and stressful for various reasons. I will update a separate post later explaining. However, things are so much very worse for one of my friends at the yard and that puts everything into perspective, so I shouldn't grumble.

Yesterday, we loaded up Wolfie and Buttons and headed off to Campsie Show. It was a fairly last minute decision, due to the various reasons above, but we went for me to get towing experience, Buttons to do an in hand class with Zoe and Wolfie went as a training exercise and to get experience.

Wolfie having his bath on Friday evening.

Buttons ready to go

Both boys bounced up the ramp and into the trailer without hesitation. I was really proud of them both.

They both seemed to travel well, Buttons sauntered off the trailer cool as a cucumber. Wolfie got very excited and wound up at the show field. So much going on for him to try and take in and process. He was very hard work at the beginning. I left him tied at the trailer with Buttons to try and let him settle, but in hindsight I should have tacked him up sooner and got on and ridden him around and worked him in. As later on when I did feel brave enough to ride him as soon as he saw his tack he began to settle. Obviously something familiar to him which he knew. He had a couple of really 'silly' moments,involving taking off and spinning. He threw in a couple of bucks out of frustration and not being allowe to go but I managed to get him back quickly. He's not used to a lot of horses working at speed around him, but it's really only at events like this which I can expose him to this kind of thing. At one point he was performing classical high school movements, levade, capriolle and he was also performing spanish walk, no kidding. If only he was trained under saddle to do this when asked. I managed to get about 10 minutes of really lovely work out of him and I really felt he would have given the big hunters who were warming up for their class at the same time a run for their money. He got some lovely comments from people at the show and one lady was very complimentary about him (who I later found out was the judge for the coloured class).

Due to Wolfie being so unsettled, I really had to leave my sister Susan with Buttons and to get him ready, and she did a great job. She doesn't have vast amounts of experience with horses, but she learnt quickly yesterday and Buttons looked fantastic for his class. I cut my fingers quite badly and Susan was trying to bandage them up. Buttons was passed to Susan's mother in law (who hasn't been near a horse in her life), Buttons probably took the opportunity to rake through her hand bag but we all mucked in.

I know a lot of horses travelling together will just pair bond in a different environment, but Wolfie was getting separation anxiety when I left him, and I ended up having to take him over to the other side of the ring to watch Buttons class. He and Zoe looked brilliant as they walked into the ring. Buttons got very excited once he got into the ring (he had behaved impeccably up until this point) and started to walk faster and faster, broke into a trot which got faster and faster. Zoe is too little to stop him and her legs are too short to keep up with him. He trotted off at speed with Zoe on the end of the rope doing her very best to keep up with him and with the judge of the class in her tartan hat and skirt in hot pursuit. It was really funny and a real Thelwell moment. He stopped and Susan came in to lend a hand. He ended up with fourth place and Zoe was very pleased with her rosette. I was really proud of them both, they looked so smart and did brilliantly. Buttons really did have a ball and revelled in the atmosphere. They definitely had the cute factor and random people were asking to get their photograph taken with him. He was clearly enjoying his minor celebrity status.

Again, they both just marched straight onto the trailer when leaving to come home. Wolfie was a bit sweated up when we got back to the yard, but Buttons didn't have a drop of sweat on him. It was a long day and tiring, but good fun and good experience for us all. I need to get Wolfie out more, but I feel much more confident now about towing etc. I need to invest in a good wicking travel rug for Wolfie. We turned them out when we got home and they both had a good roll and seemed very pleased with themselves. Good horses.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Went for a wander

The weather has been lovely over the past week (actually too warm for me, but I better not complain about it). Today when I went up to the stables it was raining and showing no sign of clearing up. By the time I had finished mucking out, the rain still hadn't gone off, but I had planned to hack Wolfie and didn't want the weather to stop us. I put on my waterproofs and we headed off. We headed up to the Castle and into the forestry. Wolfie was very keen and happy to be out. We explored some of the trails that I had walked on foot. We found a nice long canter track and found a few more paths that I want to explore. I knew there was a way back down onto a different road at the castle, but I've never walked it. We followed one track in the direction of the road, we ended up in a small forest, I got off as I couldn't really see where the path was going. It ended up leading onto a very steep, muddy hill. I didn't go down it as I didn't know where it would finish at the bottom and I figured me and Wolfie would end up sliding down on out bottoms! I ended up pretty much having to go home the way I came so I will have to back up on foot and have a look. I like to ride loops and vary the way out and the way home. Wolfie was very good. He seems to get a bit spooky and upset when I get off and lead him from the ground, I'm not quite sure why as he settles as soon as I get back on. Maybe it's because he's not used to me being on the ground in unfamiliar surroundings and feels more secure with his rider on top. I'll try and get off a bit more and lead him intermittently whilst we are out to try and build his confidence. There is a way up to the castle which would cut about 1 mile, maybe more off the trip. There is a public right of way, which goes past a house which sits next to the railway line. I have never used it as you have to pass through the garden of the house. It is however a right of way and would allow for more time up in the forestry so I think I'm just going to use it. I'm keeping my eye out all the time for any little logs which we could have a little jump over. Again today, he negotiated all sorts of different terrain. Stepping over any logs or obstacles on the path. Sometimes in marshy or muddy areas, he doesn't know before stepping over if it's 6 inches or 6 foot deep, but he is very brave about it. We covered almost 14km today. Wolfie really was born to do this type of work. He is a cheeky, mischevious character, but he is very, very honest. On days like today, my heart bursts with pride at him. I'm lunging him once a week in side reins or long reining and doing a little in hand work. I'm schooling once or twice a week. I find the school we have difficult to ride Wolfie in. The surface is very deep and Wolfie has never liked it. It's a small school and the fence leans inwards (I know!) meaning you almost have to use the three quarter line as the outside track to prevent getting knee capped on the fence, and in turn this lessens the limited space there is already. Walk and trot is doable but canter is impossible at the moment. I have rarely cantered him in there as it is so small. He is unbalanced, which encourages him to speed up. One of the girls at the yard hit the nail on the head the other day by saying his canter was just too big for the school. At the moment it is. He has a huge stride and he only just gets a few strides, doesn't even get a chance to establish any rythmn and the corner appears and neither he or I are prepared for it. A balanced horse would manage but I am leaving canter at the moment until lambing is over and I can ride in the fields again. I would much rather school in a flatter part of one of the fields.

Some photographs of the forestry today

Friday, 22 April 2011

Who's been sleeping in my bed?

When I got to the yard yesterday, I had a strange feeling that someone was there, even though I was the only person and all the horses were in the fields. I was walking down to Wolfie's stable when a little head popped out of Wolfie's stable doorway.

The stable door had been left open and the sheep must have found a bit of shade from the sun inside the stable.

Zoe came up last week to help me muck out and Buttons had his first ride of the year (and since his laminitis). Both Zoe and Buttons thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Only Wolfie was put out as he didn't get to go.

Wolfie has been demolishing buckets again. I've had to chuck two in the last few weeks. I don't know how he does it, but he manages to turn them completely inside out.

Wolfie has been working consistently since my last post and I'll blog in more detail soon. I'm on holiday for a week so I'm hoping to get a lot of riding done, starting with a long hack tomorrow. The horses should be going out 24 /7 for summer a week today. It's been a long time coming. Personally I think they should have been out weeks ago, but it's not my decision. I need to sort out some electric fencing for Buttons as he won't be going straight into the summer field straight away. I also need to order him a grazing muzzle (I'm not sure if it will work, am almost certain he will get it off in minutes but feel it is worth a go) and get various fly sprays etc. I'm thinking of getting Wolfie a full face and muzzle fly mask which also keeps a lot of the UV rays out. As he has such a pink muzzle he gets sun burned really easily. If I put sun cream on him he usually rubs it off within minutes on the nearest object, which is normally me.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Clocking up the miles

Now that there is more daylight, I have been able to get Wolfie out and work him for longer. On Monday and Tuesday we hacked. Wednesday he had a rest day, I lunged him in side reins on Thursday and we hacked Friday, Saturday and today. I've introduced more trot and yesterday and today we had a couple of canters. Wolfie is absolutely thriving on the work. He has been outstanding this week. Wolfie is evidently a horse that needs work and lots of it. He really has been a pleasure and great fun to be with. He's been hacking with different horses from the yard, boldly crossing the 'scarey' bridge, and really striding out. Wolfie has one of the most amazing walks I've ever felt in a horse. We've been averaging 5 miles per hack and varying our routes. I'll continue to increase his workload as he gets fitter and introduce more schooling. I'll keep introducing more trot and canter and extend the distance on the hacks we mainly walk on and add more hillwork. I really want to keep it varied for him. I've got an app on my phone which measures the distance we are covering. I really want to get back up into the forrestry, but I'd like him to be a bit fitter before going up. It's a fair distance to get there and if I want to do some faster work whilst I'm up there I want him to be prepared. I've been up on foot and have a good idea of some good tracks. Some of it is quite rough terrain and a tired horse is more likely to make a mistake or end up injured. I just need to continue to monitor his recovery times and he will let me know how he is feeling. Yesterday I was hacking with another girl from the yard. We met J. and C on route returning from their hack. I wondered if Wolfie would try and nap back towards the other horses heading for home, but no, he barely gave them a second glance as he continued on. We have been hacking with other horses, and today is the first time I've hacked on my own for a while. I wondered again if he would notice or be funny about it, but no, I got on and he marched off without hesitation. I'm definitely feeling the effects more than wolfie. I'm shattered. The horses are still in, so I'm still mucking out at night as well. But it's defintely worth it as I'm already seeing the benefits.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Mad as a March hare

The weather has been amazing this week and with the nights getting longer, I've actually been able to work Wolfie every night this week. Spring is here and Wolfie knows it. He's been somewhat 'difficult' this week. I'm putting it down to the change in season, better weather, increased daylight. The grass is growing in the summer field, there is greenery sprouting everywhere and he's still stuck in his winter field which is completely poached. He's bored and when Wolfie gets bored it means only one thing, mischief. I managed to get him out for a slightly longer hack on Monday and Tuesday. Both times as soon as I've got on and started walking, I've known straight away that he's been looking for an 'excuse' to be silly. He got it on Monday when a rabbit darted out from under a fence across his path. He shied violently sideways, span around and managed to set J. off too. He then took off, I pulled him up and he stuck his head between his knees and bucked. He was then pretty well behaved for the rest of the hack but this has set the presedence as he now stares at the area where the rabbit was constantly waiting for another one, as rabbits bounce around there all the time, he doesn't have to wait long till one appears and then he spooks. It's in good spirits and seems almost like a game to him. Not a game I enjoy though. If he wasn't quite so excuberant about his games, it wouldn't be so bad.

He was shod yesterday and was pretty naughty. He was fidgeting, spooking at nothing and at one point span and took off. I didn't even realise what was happening until he screeched to a halt about 10 yards along and my feet hit the ground. He then casually walked back like nothing had happened. I lunged him last night and tonight I schooled him. He's on a complete fibre diet, he doesn't get any concentrates and he certainly won't be until, well until I feel that he requires it, despite his increasing workload. Hopefully after the clocks change this week I'll be able to work him for longer.

I brought him in tonight and tied him up at the trailer with a haynet and left him there whilst I mucked out, just keeping an eye on him. He was relaxed and just stood eating his hay, even when the other horses were brought in from the field. I will start tying him up at the trailer and tacking him up as at the moment he only ever gets tacked up in his stable.

He worked well in the school tonight. I worked him in and walk and trot and then we worked the last twenty minutes in walk, concentrating on just asking him to relax and soften. I have to be much more consistent in my rein contact and clearer in what I'm asking him. For all he is full of bravado, he doesn't like to make mistakes or get it 'wrong' and worries and tenses. A couple of times I felt that I had confused him tonight and I really don't want to do that when he is trying. Like most young horses he takes time to warm up and settle, but I always seem to get the best work out of him in the last 5 minutes of any session. I got off, slackened his girth and we did a little leg yield and shoulder in, backing up and just placing his feet in hand which he seemed to really enjoy.

Buttons is great. He's the slimmest he's ever been. His coat is coming out thick and fast, every time I brush him, mountains of hair comes out, but when you look at him, his coat just looks as thick and huge as ever. The farrier commented yesterday on how well he was looking.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Without a hitch

I hitched the trailer up on Friday to have a little practice loading Wolfie. I wasn't really too sure what he would make of it this time. However, I needn't have worried, he bounced up the ramp bursting with enthusiasm. I tied him up and he had a little sniff and a look around. He ate a couple of carrots and I took him back off. He actually looked a bit bemused when I led him back down the ramp, I think he thought he was going somewhere!