Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

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

Saturday, 29 January 2011

A work of art

Buttons is continuing to do well.  On Thursday evening I took him up to his field for a walk around.  All the horses were in, so I let him off his rope to have a roll.  He lay down and rolled and rolled, just as I was walking over to clip his lead rope back on, he took off at a flat out gallop up to the top of the hill.  I think he thought the mares were over the top of the hill.  He got to the top and realised that they weren't there.  He then came haring back down the hill at a flat out gallop and proceeded to do another two laps of the field whinnying.  Buttons copes well with routine and being stabled on his own, but he gets very, very upset if he gets turned out on his own.  I suppose after living on his own for so long and then being given a herd, it's understandable.  I caught him and walked him to cool him off.  He looked alright and fortunately the ground wasn't too hard.  Yesterday I turned him out in the field with the mares for an hour.  Today we went a walk with his good friend Abbey who is also bare foot and this afternoon he got turned out for an hour. I am keeping a diary of everything that he is doing / eating daily, weather and ground conditions etc. to try and note any changes.  I will continue to turn him out, hopefully building up the length of time he is able to stay out (as long as the temperatures remain above freezing).  I think it's a case of monitoring him now and seeing what's going to work for him.  The farrier is back in just under 3 weeks to do them both, I am going to ask if he thinks that Buttons should be trimmed every 3 weeks for the next wee while.

It was my Birthday during the week and I got a lovely surprise from my sister, brother in law and niece.  A painting of Wolfie and Buttons taken from one of the photographs I had taken over winter.  It's something I have always wanted and I have very few pictures of the two of them together.  It is absolutely stunning, the artist has managed to capture both of them and the 'moment' perfectly.  The colours are wonderful and I think it is very striking looking.

A photograph of the painting.  It's acrylic on canvas.  It couldn't have been easy to get Wolfie's colouring.  He is blue and white, but is actually tri coloured and changes colour between winter and summer.  It is very special and I will treasure it.  A huge thank you to Susan, Martin and Zoe and also to the artist Jacqueline Mcateer for doing such a fantastic job.  If anyone is thinking of commissioning an artist for an equine painting, I would definitely recommend contacting her.

I rode Wolfie today.  If I manage to ride tomorrow, that will be 5 times this week he'll have been out.  I want to be able to ride him at least 5 times every week - weather, are you listening?  He was good, still very bouncey, but very good fun and enthusiastic.  We went a slightly longer hack today and he coped fine, felt as though he could easily have done the same again.  We opened and shut all the gates mounted and he hasn't lost his touch.  Good boy.  

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

On the road to recovery

I'm pleased to say, Buttons is doing brilliantly, far better than I expected him to be at this stage.  The farrier came up yesterday and checked and trimmed his feet.  It's been just over 3 weeks since he was last trimmed, but there was a lot of growth.  He brought his feet back and is confident that we caught this early and any damage done will be very minimal.  He wants me now to start walking him out, to get the blood flowing to his feet.  He's walking well, even on harder, stonier parts of ground.  I'm trying to keep him on soft surfaces just now.  He's walking forward and breaking into trot and looks comfortable.  Aside from physical improvements, the biggest change I've seen is in him himself.  Buttons is back.  He has a sweet, feisty, cheeky character and a huge personality and I'm pleased to see it back.   He's back to pawing the ground and tossing his head when I don't do things quite as quickly as he would like, he emptied all the shelves in the tack room yesterday (don't worry there's no food in there!).  He feels better and he wants out.  Today I took him a little walk around the yard and we stopped off to visit some of his friends.  I was leading him around one of the empty fields as the ground was nice and soft, he was getting frustrated at me as he wanted loose.  I was walking along when I just saw a flash of blonde and then Buttons back feet about 2 inches away from my face.  He had done a massive handstand buck, he landed and tossed his head and then turned to look at me a bit sheepishly.  I feel for him, but I'm still proceeding with this cautiously.  I'm not taking any chances.

Visiting Big J. and M.

Buttons and two of his 'girls'  

Looking longingly into the field

I managed to ride Wolfie yesterday and today.  That's the first since our eventful first ride just over a week ago.  He was really, really good.  Bouncey, looky and very forward, but none of the dramatic behaviour of our previous ride.  I'm really looking forward to getting him fit.  A couple of the tups followed us around the field today.  They are much braver and nosier than the sheep.  We walked up the track where he came across the scarey horse eating turf.  Turns out it wasn't turf, but a massive pile of dirty snow.  It's now melted and all that's left is a dirty patch on the ground.  He was looking for it as we neared the top.  I don't think he could really understand where this awful thing had gone.  Really pleased with him.  Wolfie always seems really happy after being ridden, I really think he enjoys the mental stimulation and he thoroughly enjoys hacking.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sometimes your best isn't good enough

Buttons has laminitis.  On Thursday night I led him out of his stable and thought he looked a bit foot sore on the frozen ground.  I tied him up outside and watched him standing, he had that weight shifted back laminitic pose.  Walking, he is 'footy' it is most noticeable on asking him to turn.  He seemed down and was obviously sore.  I later found out he had been reluctant to come out of his stable on Thursday morning.  That's not like Buttons, he's normally half way to the field before you have even finished fastening his head collar.  The vet has advised 2 weeks box rest with anti inflammatories and a sugar free diet.  Shetland ponies apparently don't react well to Danilon so I have decided to treat this to start with homeopathically.

I really couldn't understand it.  Buttons weight is brilliant this year, he's the slimmest he has ever been since he's been with us.  If you clipped off all that hair, there's actually a very small pony underneath.  Both Buttons and Wolfie are on low sugar feeds.  Unmollassed chaff, speedi beat and a general purpose supplement is all Buttons gets, and even then it is a handful, a token to make him think he is getting something.  He gets a small amount of hay.  Nothing has changed in his feeding regime, he has not had access to gorge.  I have really only heard of laminitis in the winter as a secondary condition caused by something else.  The vet believes it has been caused by the sugars in the frozen grass.  I knew frozen grass was not good, but I was not aware of how dangerous it actually was.      

'A chilly and bright morning with frosty grass often creates horse feed that triggers laminitis, because frozen grass becomes high in fructans from the chemical reaction of the frozen grass to sunlight. Sunlight causes the grass to produce sucrose, a sugar needed for the grass to grow. However, when there is frost, the grass doesn’t grow, instead storing extra sucrose as fructans. The horse’s digestive system treats these fructans as carbohydrates or grains, and — the grass turns the fructans into. Fructans are a carbohydrate that occurs in horse feed and leads to digestive issues.
Cold, sunny days are dangerous for horse diets, because sunlight spurs grass to produce sucrose, a sugar needed for its growth. However, grass does not grow in cold temperatures, so it stores the excess sucrose as fructans. Fructans can cause laminitis because the horse’s body treats them as carbohydrates or grains.'

Many of us with laminitic horses look forward to when our pastures die so that we can turn them out longer each day. We have learned that near freezing nights in fall can cause sugars to sky rocket, so horses at high risk for laminitis should be pulled off grass during this time. Many people ask ‘when is it safe to graze?’ Like many others things concerning management of laminitic horses, I learned this the hard way. One year in mid December, I turned my ponies out on a grass paddock that was nearly all dead. By the second day, they were sore footed again! Because they were barefoot at the time, I called my farrier, Gene Ovnecik to ask who could come down to put their therapeutic support shoes back on. He told me that his own chronic laminitis cases recently got sore on dead grass. So I asked him to send me some of the grass in a cooler on ice; which I froze as soon as it arrived. I also started sampling some of the dead grass in my research plots. Some of the samples still had some green, living tissue at the stem bases even though it had been below 0 F. Stem bases are a storage organ for sugars in grass, so this will have the highest concentration of sugar. I sent the frozen samples overnight with dry ice to Dairy One for analysis. Any live, green tissue must be kept frozen to preserve the sugar because otherwise the sugar might respire or ferment during shipment, giving you much lower test result, and a false sense of security. The results were quite surprising. This dead grass had some of the highest WSC concentrations I had ever seen.
Water Soluble Carbs will not wash out of grass until it is completely dead and brown. Then you have to have enough rain or melting snow after it’s completely dead to leach the sugar out. Until then, please take care with your high risk horses. Proceed with caution, and allow them to acclimate slowly, just as you would if it were June. It might be best to assume that any green grass that has been subjected to repeated freezing nights is candy - full of sugar, even if there is snow on top. If it’s still green, the rain/snow cannot leach out the sugar.'

Has Buttons had laminitis before, I don't know.  I've always battled to try and keep his weight down and worried particularly at the 'dangerous' spring and autumn months, this however is the first time he has shown any signs of laminitis.  Do I blame myself?  Yes.  I always try and give 110% to them both and always try and do my very best for them, but this time, my best was not enough.  We've had hard frost again this week and periods of sunshine.

He's coping well with box rest, for the moment.  He's now on a shavings bed as opposed to straw, which is a dream come true for him.  He loves rolling in shavings and can be frequently seen sneaking into anyone's stable that has the door left open and a shavings bed for a quick roll. He's already much more comfortable standing and he's willingly moving around inside the stable.  He's getting hay that has been soaked for in excess of 12 hours, fast fibre and happy hoof all in measured amounts, split into 3 tiny feeds a day.  He doesn't understand, but is coping better than I thought he would.  Buttons loves turn out and he loves the company of his hareem of mares every day.  Before he came to us, he was frequently locked in a massive stable with no bedding, food or water.  He couldn't see over the door and could be in there for up to a week at a time.  I don't know if he's ever had laminitis before, these little horses are predisposed to it, but metabolically after everything he has endured in the past, it wouldn't surprise me, thinking of it now, it maybe has made him even more susceptible.  He's heart broken as he can't have his beloved carrots.  The farrier is coming up this week to have a look at his feet.  Everyone is going out of their way to stop and say hello to him when they are passing and I will do everything I possibly can to get the little man back on his feet.

Susan and Zoe came up today and Buttons was given lots of TLC being groomed and scratched and fussed over.  He loved every second of it.

Buttons has decided that he doesn't get enough blog time on Wolfie's blog, so he's going to have his very own blog.  I'll keep you posted as to when Pony Tale is up and running.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

First injury of 2011

Despite my good intentions, Bootcamp had to be postponed.  We managed all of one day.  I arrived at the stables on Monday, saddle in tow.  Wolfie was still in the field, I looked over at him, he appeared agitated and I knew straight away something was wrong.  I headed over to the gate and he came galloping over.  Blood was dripping onto my jacket, coming from a wound under his chin.  I got him into the stable and managed to clean it up.  Looks like a bite and a pretty gruesome one at that.  The hair has been ripped out and taken a huge chunk of flesh with it.  It's not big in diameter, but deep.  It was really swollen and very tender all around it.  He couldn't manage to put his head down to his feed bucket as it must have nipped or pulled at that last stretch.  He was pretty upset.  In hindsight I don't know whether I should have called the vet and got it stitched.  I just left it open after I'd cleaned it and gave him some Arnica and Hypericum.  A good scab had formed yesterday and it was much less swollen and tender and he had full range of movement.  Today it's better again.  I just need to keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't get infected.  So he's had the last few days off again.  I'm hoping to get on tomorrow and have a little walk around the school.

I'm going to put it down to an 'accident' in the field or horseplay getting out of hand.  It was this time last year that Wolfie started to come in week after week with a different injury, each one worse than the last.  I can't even begin to describe how frustrating I find these scrapes he gets into in the field and the resulting injuries which keep him off work.  Never mind the constant worry and wondering what I'm going to find when I get to the stables.  I have never known a horse like Wolfie, even a youngster who requires so much mental stimulation and interaction.  The only thing I can think of at the moment is to get him into work and keep him tired, so he doesn't have the energy to noise up the others.  In the meantime I will get him a gum shield and some boxing gloves.

I had put together a 4 week fittening plan, just for walk.  Well, it's really just stage 1 of hardening and strengthening him up properly.  I don't have enough daylight at the moment to really put it into practice, so I will see what we achieve over the next couple of weeks and then I can modify it.  I also want to get some ideas of distances so that I can measure speed over distance.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

First ride of 2011.....

....and it was an exciting one.  Wolfie's had almost 9 weeks off work, the first time back under saddle, I expected him to be full of beans and he certainly didn't disappoint.  We've had torrential rain for the last few days, the higher temperatures have cleared the ice and left vast amounts of water and flooding in its place. I had thought about getting back on yesterday, but the rain didn't stop, it was pretty windy and Wolfie looked very high spirited in the field, so I decided to leave it another day.  I brought him in today, having made sure he'd had the best part of the day out in the field.  I tacked up and he seemed genuinely pleased about getting his tack on.  I put his exercise sheet on, there was a cold wind and hoped it would keep him a bit warmer and less likely to act silly if he was cold.  I had thought about lunging him before I got on, but the school is waterlogged and to be honest I don't see the point in having him running endlessly around in a circle, not achieving anything.  For the first few weeks back in work, I want to keep him walking in straight lines.  Harden him up to his tack and strengthen him.  I don't see the point in lunging unless he's being asked to work properly and at the moment it would be putting too much stress on him physically.  Also, if he's going to do anything, he'll do it regardless of whether he's been lunged or not, in the past I've never found that it's tired him or helped to settle him that much.

I got on at the gate to the tracks, he stood completely still and waited to be asked to walk on.  We walked down the tracks to the gate, he was striding out and bouncing and very looky, but he felt good.  I was thinking how well it was going and decided to go up another track which passes a house.  We made it almost to the top of the track when Wolfie stopped dead, head raised and neck rock solid.  I couldn't see what he was looking at, but he suddenly half reared and span to the left.  I managed to turn him back to the way he had been facing, and then struggled to keep him straight as he leapt sideways.  He took 2 steps and then started backing up at speed down the hill.  I stopped him and managed to turn him and bounced back down to the bottom of the hill.  All I had been able to see was what looked like a tree trunk in the field next to the track.  I walked into the field and decided to approach it from the other way, to try and let him see it without trees and a wall obscuring it (if this was what he had been spooking at).  We walked through the field and he tried to take off, I brought him back to walk and he did his infamous rodeo demonstration in frustration.  We began walking up the hill and the tups started to run past us.  Wolfie thought he would go with them and when I pulled him up, he did two huge bucks.  Obviously annoyed that I was ruining his fun.  We got to the top and started to walk across the field to the track we had tried to come up initially. The man from the house was outside, so he caught Wolfie's attention first and then about twenty feet away, he spotted it.  It wasn't a tree trunk, but a roll of scarey horse eating turf.


He stared at it, trying to process what it was for about 5 seconds, then decided it was obviously incredibly dangerous.  He started cantering sideways and then span and tried to bolt.  I managed to turn him and he was leaping around, sliding everywhere as the ground was so wet.  He worked himself up into a complete blind panic.  I decided to get off, to see if I could lead him a little closer so he could see what it was.  Even that proved difficult, he was spinning, leaping and backing up so fast I couldn't get off.  Eventually I managed to get off and led him a couple of steps towards it when he span and made to bolt again.  He nearly dragged me off my feet.  The wind was up, the trees were creaking, this wasn't the day to be trying to work through this.  I managed to lead him past it on the other side of the wall and back down the track.  I led him back to the stables, got back on and walked along the tracks to the gate and back again.  He was settled and very good. 

As Black Beauty famously said 'I'm not afraid of what I know'.  Wolfie didn't know what this was.  He's young, had a long holiday and was looking for a reason to be silly.  He blew it out of proportion and got himself completely worked up.  Wolfie can be very unpredictable.  He is so fast when he reacts, you get absolutely no warning.  Some horses favour a direction when spooking or napping.  Not Wolfie, he can pull any trick out of the bag, you never can tell which way it's going to be. I felt rusty being back in the saddle today after not having ridden for so long.  I don't think I was riding completely effectively, in fact I know I wasn't.  I know from past experience with him, that the quicker you get control, the better chance you have of riding through it.  Today, I was too busy trying to sit to everything that he was throwing at me, that I feel I kind of abandoned him and never gave him any direction.  I know it's just down to time and work to re-establish the trust and confidence.  Wolfie has a very strong play ethic.  His enthusiasm knows no boundaries and he needs constant mental stimulation.  I need to find a way to channel his enthusiasm and energy positively, to have him concentrating on his work but also keep it fun.

So bootcamp begins.  It's still too dark to hack after I finish work during the week, but weather permitting, I'll try walking him around the school at night.  I think it's actually me that will struggle with bootcamp more than Wolfie will.  He loves having something to do and learning.

That was fun!
I've been looking at the GPS wrist units and thought the Garmin 205 forerunner looked good.  It does a few things but I really only want it for measuring distance.  Has anyone used these types of things before?  I'm not very technically minded and want something that will be straight forward to use.  

Cute as a Button

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ice Age

This is what I am tackling every night on foot to get to the stables.  Believe me, it's like glass.  It's not any easier walking on the verge next to the fence as it is frozen solid too.  Most of the snow has melted in the fields now, apart from the boys summer field, to the right of the picture.  For some reason the snow isn't melting in there.  I fell again today, getting out the car on my way to work.  My feet just slid away when I stepped out the car.  My arm got stuck at a strange angle and I heard something tearing.  My arm has got increasingly more painful as the day has gone on.  Leading Wolfie and mucking out was really sore.  My Dad slipped and fell last week and he has cracked some ribs, so really I should be grateful I'm still in one piece.

Wolfie is still bored but his appetite seems to be increasing again.  I ended up buying him some readi grass to try and stimulate his appetite and it seems to have worked.  He's still not eating his full ration of hay or haylage but it's definitely an improvement, and I'm slowly starting to increase it again based on the amount he's eating and what's getting wasted.  When I walked into Wolfie's stable tonight, he was still in the field.  Wolfie normally does a demolition job on his stable during the night.  Bankings down, bed coming out the door, buckets turned inside out and buried under the shavings, hay everywhere, sometimes rugs buried in there too.  He has always done this.  People worry when their horse's bed is a complete mess, incase they've been cast, upset during the night.  I was worried tonight, because Wolfie's stable was in perfect order.  Obviously it hadn't been mucked out and there were visible droppings, but apart from this it was very neat and tidy.  I was walking about it like someone entering their house and finding it to be burgaled.  Very strange.  Not that I'm complaining.  Maybe Wolfie has turned over a new leaf and decided to be a tidy horse.  We'll see how it looks tomorrow.   

The handle of my sweeping brush broke in half.  I'm upset about it.  I'm funny about mucking out tools and when I find some that I'm really comfortable using, I like to keep them.  To be fair, it wasn't an expensive brush and I've had it since I got Wolfie.  I like a brush with a long handle and this one had a good long handle, now it would have a long handle if I was 2 foot tall!  I went to B & Q to see if I could get another handle, but have decided I may aswell get a completely new brush.  I'm going to tape the end of the other one and Zoe can use it.  She enjoys mucking out, but all my tools are huge for her.  I was telling my Dad about the brush / handle dilemma when he asked if it was like Trigger's sweeping brush in an episode of Only Fools and Horses.  Trigger had won an award for using the same broom to sweep the streets for twenty years, even though he'd replaced the head 17 times and the handle 14 times.  Made me laugh.

Buttons is just being, well he's just being Buttons.  He's as happy and as matter of fact as ever.  I'm glad to say he hasn't lost his appetite at all.  He's taken a shine to parsnips at the moment.  He's looking forward to a visit from Zoe soon, as due to the weather and the conditions at the stables she hasn't been able to get up to see him.

My camera seems to be taking hazy pictures today, not sure why.  I'm absolutely desperate to get back to riding. 

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Never trust a horse with a sense of humour

Another week and the weather hasn't given up.  I slipped and fell on the ice twice walking up the driveway to the stables the other day.  I fell once, got back up, took 3 steps and fell again.  When I eventually made it half way up the road to the gate on the driveway, I spotted Wolfie leaning over the fence, practically on his tip toes so he could get a better view, tossing his head around as if to say 'that was brilliant, do it again!'.

I decided to clip Wolfie again today.  I just made a start on his neck and shoulders, but forgot the extension cable so couldn't do too much.  The owner of the stables walked past and commented that Wolfie was an absolute nightmare to rug in the mornings.  Apparently he just runs in circles around them when they are trying to change his rugs.  I was literally speechless.  I know last year, he often went out in his lovely Thermatex with a turnout rug on top (much to my horror) as they couldn't get him in and out his rugs, but this year I had absolutely no idea he was causing any problems.  I have spent most of the winter reaping praise on him, for his manners and politeness in the stable.  I really do find him so easy to work with in the stable and I'm not being biast.  I muck out with him in the stable, not tied up.  I generally don't tie him up to do anything, if I was having problems though, I would tie him up.  Don't get me wrong if he's not been turned out, he's an absolute menace.  Tipping the wheelbarrow, following you around the stable, pulling your hood, but he's been getting turned out every day recently.  I've been up and turned him out in the mornings several times over the holidays and he's been no problem, stands to get his rugs changed.  I don't know what's getting into him and I don't really know what I can do about it.  I just asked that they tied him up on a short rope to change his rugs and don't let him run circles around them.  He honestly doesn't do it, when it's me.  He's no angel, I know that, but I find him one of the easiest horses in the stable for general day to day working with.  Having worked on various yards handling and working with large numbers of horses daily, stable manners are of great importance to me and many a night whilst I have been mucking out this winter, I have actually thought what a real pleasure Wolfie is to work with and around.  I now think I live in a parallel universe.  He has his moments, he needs reminding sometimes but this took me completely by surprise.   He has no problems with rugs going on and off.  I can only think that I should go up and work with them when they are changing his rugs, but I really don't think he would try it if I was there.  I then thought, maybe he should just go out rugless (forgetting I had just half clipped him again) but he's been rugged all winter and with the weather we are having just now, I'm not prepared to turn him out without a rug because he is running circles around people, literally.  Am I missing something or is Wolfie just taking the absolute mickey?  The majority of the horses at the stables are older, very quiet and established in their ways.  You could pretty much do anything around them at any time and they wouldn't bother (not that I think you should, but that is the type they are).  I think people become complacent and forget that Wolfie is still young and very sharp.  Give him an inch and he will take a mile.  He's also the type to test people and see how much he can get away with.  I'm not defending him, he knows to stand, but it seems at the moment that my little horse has the upper hoof.   

Butter wouldn't melt....
Wolfie's field is full of plants with burrs on them.  I don't actually know what they are called.  I call them Trebles because I think they look like those things from Star Trek.  Wolfie normally comes in with them matted in his forelock and tail.  They are an absolute nightmare to try and get out.

Today he came in with them stuck all over his legs.  I don't know what this plant is called or what it looks like in summer, but I am going to identify it and then go out this summer and pull them all out.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

2011 - Bring it on!

I had originally planned, when I sat my trailer test to try and get Wolfie to one of the Kelly Marks Trec winter series events being ran on 23rd January.  The one I had planned to go to was in Lanarkshire, but whilst looking at the competition dates I've just realised that there is one being held at Sandyflats on the same date.  Sandyflats is really close to us and would have been perfect to get to, they have an indoor school, even if it had been just to take him for a look around.  Due to the recent weather grinding everything to a halt, I will not be going to either.  Disappointing.  I have decided, however, that we are going to work towards going to this to take part in the Level 1-   


2 - 3 July 2011 Brenfield Farm Scotland Q

Levels 1, 2 and 3 Individuals and Pairs
Level 4

This event will be the STAG Scottish Championships 2011

Venue- Brenfield Farm
PA30 8ER

One of the girls from the yard took her horse to this last year and another couple hired horses for the two days.  They had fantastic weather, a brilliant time and were very impressed with the venue and the organisation.  Wolfie would need to be coralled over night, I'd have to get electric fencing, I'd probably camp.  To get us there organised and prepared, will no doubt be a military operation but also very exciting and a huge challenge.

For anyone who doesn't know, Trec was developed from the expertise required of horse and rider while out hacking, it is designed to test navigational competence, control of horse's paces and ability to tackle a variety of obstacles.  These skills are tested over three phases - orienteering on horseback (POR), control of paces (CoP) and cross-country / obstacle course (PTV).  


Okay, now we just need the ice to melt.


I have decided to get Dr Cook's bitless bridle beta (a synthetic, leather-look, washable bridle).  I have read vast amounts of information on the various types of bitless bridles, sidepulls, cross overs, their actions and the material they are made from.  Like everything, some may work well for some horses and not for others.  My main concerns, were pressure points and the bridle twisting or rubbing.  I'm going to give the Dr Cook a go and see how we get on.  Fortunately, they allow you to customise the size, so I'm going up the stables to measure Wolfie's head today.






Monday, 3 January 2011

Happy New Year

 2011 is here.  I have, despite myself made resolutions and set some goals.  If you don't have dreams or goals, then you can't be let down if you don't achieve them right?  However, I always believe in having something to work towards.  I am lucky, I have a healthy, sound horse (touch wood) who is more than ready to come out and work.  He is generous and game and I am excited about what we can achieve together as a partnership, even if it is just on a schooling level this year.  The goals I've set for this year, pretty much haven't changed from last year.  So here goes, these are not in any particular order.

1) Work on more lateral movements, turn on the forehand, leg yield and shoulder in.  Start to introduce rein back, traverse and some lengthening of steps.

2) Establish rhythm,  balance and straightness.  Have Wolfie working consistently long and low in his outline, soft in his mouth and through his poll and back.  Depending on how the schooling progresses, start to ask for a little more collection towards the end of the year.  Work in the bitless bridle (if I ever decide which type to get).

3) Introduce more ridden pole work, building up to jumping.

4) Trailer out to Mugdock and possibly Aberfoyle forestry and hack around the bridle paths.

5) Trailer to an indoor school to ride as a training / schooling session.

6) Take part in a trec obstacle phase and hopefully a level 1 orienteering phase.

7) Enter a Dressage test (even if it's just a walk and trot test).

8) Take both Wolfie and Buttons to a local show

9) Take Wolfie to the beach.

10) Work with Wolfie and the umbrella.

My main aims are just to get Wolfie out, expand his world and build his confidence in travelling to new surroundings.  Everything is just part of his training / schooling just now.  I have no plans to seriously compete this year, we're just going to have some fun.

My resolutions are to run the Glasgow half marathon.  I have only ever ran a 10k before, but I got such a buzz out of finishing that I want to attempt this.  I'd love to run a marathon, just to say I had achieved it, but I'm not a natural runner, so I will attempt the half marathon to raise sponsorship for the Sepsus Charity.  I'm going to try and talk my sister in to running it with me.  Good way to help get riding fit too.  I'm also going to give blood a few time this year if I can.  Try and stay positive and try and go away for a weeks holiday in the sunshine somewhere.

We have had a thaw over the last week, however the stables is still covered in ice.  It seems to take longer to thaw there than anywhere else.  I did have some ideas about trying to get Wolfie out along the tracks, however as C. was being brought in from the field yesterday, he slipped on ice and went right down.  I don't really know what happened after that, but I think he gave himself such a fright and was so tense that every time he put a foot down, he slipped.  He couldn't get a grip anywhere, it was horrible.  He's a little worrier at the best of times and when he panics or worries, he just walks super fast with a little choppy stride.  We ended up just scattering bedding down to make a track he could try and grip on to get back to his stable.  On the ice he looked lame and sore on every leg, but once he got to a small flat concrete area that was clear, he seemed to walk fairly normally.  Hopefully he's just given himself a bump and a fright.  Everywhere has been gritted, it just seems to be at varying times of the day, depending on the temperature it can be even slippier.     Having seen C. fall, I had thought about keeping Wolfie in, but then I run the risk of him coming out as a high as a kite and doing something silly if he's been stuck in the stable. Getting him out every day at least keeps the edge off him.

I've been having a look into what sort of equipment I would need to take part in a Le Trec orienteering phase.  Map measurer, map case, compass.  I could pick them up in a camping shop.  First aid kit I could put together myself.  There are various types of saddle bags available.  I like the ones that fit over the front of the saddle, they seem to range in price from basic economy ones at around £15.00 up to £50.00.  I definitely think it would be worth buying good quality ones as it's something I would also use out hacking.  It would be good to have a water canister with us and normally I cram everything into my pockets, so I could off load some of that.

I have found out that a lot of endurance riders use GPS tracking systems.  Like the Garmin wrist mounted units.  They are commonly used by runners and cyclists and do a whole range of things, but the rider can wear them and they can measure the distance you have ridden.  I'm interested in getting one of these, mostly for personal use when we are out and it also means we'll always be found :-).