Wolfie the Wonder Horse!

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

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wolfie and I really haven't been doing much over the last week due to it being so hot. We're just not used to it.
The midges are here in full force and also something called the black fly. Little Buttons is quite sensitive to bites and is covered in lumps. Honey seems ok so far and so does Wolfie. Although Wolfie is allergic to the buttercups (I think it's quite common in pink nosed horses that the buttercups make them more photosensitive). Anyway, his nose is all burnt and scabby and looks sore. I've tried sun cream on him, but he just rubs it off. I've been putting sudo cream on his nose to try and heal it up but I'm normally wearing most of the sudo cream by the time we get to the field. He has got a full face fly mask which covers the nose so I may have to try that as it's supposed to keep the uv rays out. I'm on the look out again for fly sprays which are not full of chemicals. I think I'll probably get one of the ride on fly masks as well. He gets pretty upset out riding with the flies around his face and ears, don't blame him.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

It ain't half hot

Wolfie is finding the hot weather we've had over the last week hard going. He came into his stable this morning and went straight to bed.
He thought about getting up and stretched his legs out but then changed his mind and had another 40 winks with his legs out in front of him.

Friday, 18 May 2012

"In training one always wants to go too fast. To arrive quickly, do not hurry, but be firmly assured of each step. Demand often; be content with little; reward a lot." - F de Kerbrech 1891

Stages of Progression: The time to understand The time to learn The time to do or execute The time to perfect ""I have time" should be the guiding word especially of dressage riders during the entire course of training and remind him of the fact that the goal of the classical art of riding is to be obtained only by the gradual increase of demands." Colonel Alois Podhajsky Wolfie does very little work in the school. The other day I tallied up his time spent in the school since I backed him. Including, long reining, ground work and work under saddle, he was at under 7 hours. The majority of Wolfie's schooling is done outside on hacks. It's easier to 'school' him on hacks as he's in front of my leg and when he is out enjoying himself, asking him to move over, soften, is never a chore to him. If you watched him opening and closing a gate, you would see his abilty to step over and under, turn on the forehand and baby rein back steps. Our school is not very big and he finds the surface hard going. He also does not see the point in trotting around endlessly in circles and sepentines. When I do take him into the school, I tend to 'think' that I must have him listening to me straight away. Wolfie is a fidget and out hacking, if he fidgets or spooks, I find the best distraction is to keep his feet moving and put him to work.This works out hacking but is not necessarily what he needs in the school. This week when I took him into the school, I allowed him to spend the first 10 minutes walking around on a loose rein, looking around at whatever he wanted. He does need a good 20 minute warm up. I gradually started asking him to soften and begin to listen, it happened so gradually it was as if he had just been waiting. There was no me saying "wolfie listen", he just was. He has a busy mind and I am working on asking him to relax his mind as well as his head, neck and back. He's not built to work typically long and low, but he is beginning to offer a stretch. I have focused a lot on my own position and seat aids this week also. He has a big head and neck and is built on his forehand and is still very unbalanced. At the moment he needs his head and neck to balance, particularly in trot. He will occasionally overbend and drop behind the contact. This is an easy movement for him. When I work with him doing his carrot stretches or you scratch him, you can see how easy it is for him to bend his neck into all manner of positions. I must be quicker in activating the appropriate hind leg when he drops behind the vertical and ideally catch it before it happens. He is still very green, but when I get it right, even if it is just for 2 or 3 strides at the moment, he feels amazing. It gives you fire in your belly and makes you want to run to the yard with your saddle. We are just working on suppleness and balance and will continue with short schooling sessions and transitions, transitions, transitions. We have all the time in the world. I was disappointed that Badminton was cancelled this year. Badminton and Burghley are the two events I love to watch every year. As the build up to the Olympics continues, I am getting quite excited. I would have loved to have got tickets to go to any one of the equestrian events, but the cross country day would have been my first choice. I don't actually know of anyone that did manage to get tickets to any events. The wait continues for the short lists for the teams to be announced. Caroline Powell's Lenamore is now up for selection for New Zealand. At 19 years old, he was going to run Badminton again this year. I remember watching him on television over the cross country last year. He made it look easy and like he was loving every single minute of it. He is a very charasmatic little horse. Disappointingly Mark Todd's Land Vision, last years Badminton winner will not be competing due to being out with a tendon injury. And the pair everyone will be watching. Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos for the USA. The big orange horse with an even bigger attitude who has cheated death and has given everyone a little hope that miracles do happen. I watched Boyd and Neville competing at Burghley last year where they finished 7th. For anyone who hasn't heard Boyd and Nevilles story check out the interview on NBC Rock Centre. Apparently they have now sold the rights to a movie. It's a heart warming story and emphasises the strength and depth of a relationship that can exist between a horse and rider.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Be careful what you ask for and Airs above the ground

I was hacking Wolfie last week. We came off the old railway line to pass through a road between some houses to get onto the main road on our way home. A skip had been put in the middle of the road, not allowing much room on either side to get past. It was full of branches and garden waste sticking out the edges. I asked Wolfie to walk a little closer to it, I wasn't intending on trying to make him pass it, but just get a little closer. He started backing up at speed, the way he does before he abruptly spins and takes off. I shouted quite gruffly at him to stand.......and stand he did, so suddenly that I nearly went right over the front of his shoulder. I certainly got what I asked for. Yesterday, Wolfie and I trailered up to Mugdock Country Park. We were up and away before the birds were up as I wanted to get there before it got busy and with it being a bank holiday weekend, the place would have been mobbed with dog walkers, cyclists and families. Wolfie loaded brilliantly. He didn't travel great though, I heard him thudding around a bit and he was pretty sweated up when we got there. I had travelled him in his Thermatex rug, as I'm so paranoid about him getting a chill, but it was too warm for a knitted rug, so that didn't help. He also hates the travelling boots. I'm not sure whether to try bandaging him or travelling him without anything on his legs. I'm going to get one of the old string vest type sweat rugs and throw a fleece or something in the car which I can put on him when we get there if needed. I also think he fully expected to be going back to be incarcerated in the vet school. He seemed quite surprised when I unloaded him that he wasn't in the Weipers Centre car park. My trailer came with a full length breast bar. I'm going to get a full length breeching bar and remove the partition. Cross tie him and travel him without the partition. I think that would give him more room to balance himself. He's a broad little horse and there isn't much room between him and the partition and the side of the trailer. He was very excited and when I unloaded him about twelve Highland cows appeared over at the fence, staring at him through their big fringes. He hasn't really seen many cows and he's never seen a Highland cow. Tied to the trailer, he had grown to about 19hh. I quickly tacked him up. I was in a bit of a cafuffle trying to make sure I'd locked everything up, had the keys etc. That's where it would be really handy if someone else was with me.
I'd planned to ride a route around one of the main bridle paths that takes you around the loch in a loop. I think we were half way around the route before I even got my other foot in the stirrup. My plan was just to let him walk it out and let him settle. However, we completed the loop, which is over 2 miles and he was still powering on. He was clearly loving every minute of it. I decided to walk around again, just to try and have him settle and start listening to me. I was asking for half halts, but he ended up getting completely frustrated at me as he obviously wanted to continue his top speed power walk. When I asked him to soften and listen he eventually started tossing his head, cantering on the spot, bucking and then performing capriole... beautifully executed and controlled. There is a huge canter field up there, but there was no chance yesterday I was letting his feet hit grass. On one hand, it might just have got it out of his sytem and calmed him down, but I don't know the tracks or the terrain and I have a feeling he would have just went for it. I think we could have hacked around those bridle paths at that speed for most of the day, so once he was walking calmly (still trucking on though), I called it a day and we went back to the trailer. I was paranoid about getting him loaded before the car park got busy. It was a beautiful morning and the paths around there are great and the scenery is stunning. I did have my camera with me as I'd planned to take some pictures of our hack, but there was no way I was taking my hands off the reins to get my camera out my pocket and if I had managed, they would have just been a blur with the speed we were going. He loaded brilliantly again, bit sweated up when we got home and seemed delighted that he was home. Part of the problem is that he's not used to going places and coming home. He either goes to the vet school and has to stay there or he changes yards. All in all, I was really pleased. The more we do it, the better and more settled he will become. I doubt he will ever be the sort of robotic horse that you can just take anywhere, will just stand all day tied to the trailer and not bat an eye lid at anything going on, that's just not his temperament. He can be a handful but I wouldn't change a single part of him.