Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Its Christmas!

As you would all know, Christmas time hampers much time for relaxation. The constant tire of cleaning, preparation for the day - late night shopping, cooking and so forth. It is tiresome but definitely worth it all. It also doesn't leave much time for maintaining a blog..

As of yesterday the sun shone for the first time in about 2 weeks; a sight to bask in the Vitamin D of.
The days preceding that were slow and wet, hampered by the inglorious summer rain.

Mark hasn't been out in the past few days as he has been busy but we are planning a lesson together today. I managed to get one lunge and one gallop in on Rion in the past four days before he was attacked by paper wasps. It scared me half to death, I had no idea what could have brought so many hives out from his nose to his tail, simply covered. I called the vet out to find that it was paper wasps that had gotten to him and caused a severe reaction - which would only be worse if they bit him again. Understandably Rion gave himself a small stress colic where he was sweating and wanting to roll but I kept him walking until the vet got there.I couldn't for the life of me think why it had happened.  An injection of cortisone, a stress reliever and antihistamine of sorts later and he was much happier.

I have been working Dart by myself when Mark is caught up and can't make it and he never ceases to amaze me. I have such an inquisitive young man on my hands - almost to my detriment. While he was being agisted the 300 acres he was in had one or more dams, the only dam we have the horses don't have access to. Meanwhile Dart believes it is perfectly fine to put his hoof in the various troughs and pull them off their stands. Watching the hundreds of litres just rush down the hill. Perhaps a kiddy pool would do the trick..

Being the inquisitive young man that he is he is easily bored. In order to amuse for an afternoon mum and I thought it would be nice to give him some respite and forfeit our exercise ball for his amusement. It was a hit. Kicking, nuzzling, biting; we began to fear for the life of the ball if this kind of maltreatment went on. I have a 'Jolly Ball' - intended for horses - on his Christmas list. Last night we put him in the big paddock with Rion. He has a new found interest in life again, allowed to be a silly young man with his silly older brother - Rion.

Dart is now on hiatus until late February/early March when Mark and I will start breaking him. An entirely painful experience having to wait but in the meantime I can still play with him a little bit on the lunge. In our last session we made real progress. He is now able to stay on the circle, carrying himself in balance, tracking up well in the walk and trot. At the trot it is clear to see; as in traditional warmblood form, needs a constant reminder to keep moving, keep in-front of the whip - in-front of the leg. Within a week and a half we have gone from fresh out fo the paddock to cantering on the circle. At the canter he still needs more work - as expected, but slowly and surely he is learning to hold himself. Watching Mark work his magic I can see that the balance at the canter and holding the impulsion without making him run is the cause of his disuniting and breaking to the trot. Less and less so as the lesson wore on however.

Since his run in with the wasps I have lunged Rion twice and taken him out for a run on the track again. There is no doubt in where Rion's heart lays - his legs. As they pound the ground, snorting out each breath -- It puts him in a good frame of mind to finish with some flat work in the arena. Its good fitness for the both of us. Hopefully after Christmas Day I can get back into action with him. I have a craving to do some jumping!

Here is a  quick video of Dart with Mark on the lunge:

Merry Christmas all! 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Its All About Pressure

It goes without saying that horses must yield from pressure from the leg, the hand, the stick and so forth. Without there is no respect from the horse, if they fall in or push down that respect is not maintained from their abuse or lack of respect for the pressure.

Today's lesson with my young man was all about pressure. We started the day off with me walking on the circle backwards, going staight down the centre, stopping, walking forward again and swapping reins. Dart is carrying himself well and finds it amusing to play with the rope while we are walking around. If anything, I now believe in the wonders of karmic re-incarnation. I had a pony, Tiger, who Dart is the perfect duplicate of. Not only in countenance but personality and act - what's left is to see if they are parallels under saddle as well - if so then I shall be a very happy camper! I digress..

After I continued my circle work backwards I started moving forward, with the stick behind me, touching his side to keep him marching at the walk. This exercise was much harder to maintain with him than walking backwards. When you are looking at the horse there is more control.

Mark took the keys from me after that and began lunging on a small lead with him, making him yield to the pressure, move from it. Trotting on the circle, if he stopped there was a follow up tap on the belly or flank to move forward, resistance to the pressure in turn made the pressure increase - tap behind the shoulder, tap with a small whip crack. It is interesting to watch the reaction of a young horse as they come to understand, what and why and how things are happening. The cogs turn slowly, the tongue licks the lips and an understanding is come to. Sigh. It begins again. Changing of the rein, moving the horse away from the pressure, lifting the weight off the shoulder and the head. The horse must carry itself. As I sat watching Mark move him around, encountering bouts of resistance and complete distraction from Dart I couldn't help but notice how all the exercises we were doing tied into the training scale.

Once moving from the pressure, he established a rhythm that consequently led to his relaxation and acceptance of the pressure/rein. I can go on but I think the point is made - everything correlates.

The man who will never walk away.. 
In the afternoon I got Rion out and played with him on the lunge - getting some energy out as he bounded into the sky when I asked for the canter; nothing out of the ordinary for him really. He settled later though and we had a good session playing with a square made out of poles to walk, trot and canter through. As usual he was a good boy once he came back to earth and relaxed, stretching out on the lunge. I had to get something from inside the house but it is a good feeling to be able to stop my horse, say 'stand' come back 5 minutes later and know he hasn't moved a muscle.

All in all today was a successful day; hopefully I can wake up early enough to take Rion for a gallop, after expending that energy on the lunge again before Mark comes for Dart.

Until then, cheerio :)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One Small Step For Me..

One giant leap for Dart...

Today was Dart's first lesson - oh the excitement that his training is getting under way. It will be a long road over this summer but it has begun. My breaker/natural horsemanship trainer, Mark, came around since we couldn't get Dart back onto the float to work with him. All up we probably spent 30-45 mins with breaks every 5 mins.

He is remarkable today; so quick to learn which is exciting considering he has spent the last 18 months in a 300 acre paddock with old mares and cattle left to their own devices. He is 3 years old this month so I think he has had a good youth so far.

Mark started today moving him off the carot stick, tap him on the shoulder, making him yield to the pressure which he picked up straight away, leg yielding left and right. Standing there I couldn't help but be proud and start making plans for the future based on 45 mins of ground work today - knock on wood. He went onto walking him on a circle which is when the shoulder taps came into play when he decided to stop or drop off the arc, quick tap and squeeze of the rope and he was back.

Every 5 minute break was proceeded by a deep breath and lick and chew of Dart's lips, he is a thinker, must be the warmblood in him. Mark then began changing rein to the right where we got some resistance to change but we eventually got him to get on the right arc, moving in a constant circle. Repeating this action Mark then asked for the trot, Dart picked up a bit, head up, smelling the clouds, falling to walk, stopping, repeating the small taps with the rope on the but to get him going again.

To end the session Mark gave me the keys and had me walking backwards on a large circle, standing on a diagonal from his shoulder with the rope and the stick guiding his shoulder, should he fall in from the circle. He passed with flying colours, following my 'circle' with starting turning into ovals and rectangles and began to go all over the shop really. I better grow that eye in the back of my head.. Following me he stopped, walked on again all from my movements, without any pressure needed from the rope or the stick.

A job well done for our first lesson together and I have now been charged with writing up notes about our session to prepare for tomorrow's lesson. I'm happy with my baby and hopefully I will be able to get some photos or video in the next few days for you all.

Until tomorrow :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Every Equestrian's Worst Nightmare

In the aftermath of shock that was the death of Showjumping star Hickstead, Blas Lago's Northern Hector's death was not treated so gently.

Upon feeling Hector collapse beneath him whilst preparing for the Grand Prix, Lago, his rider of 15 years was rushed away from his best friend to gather his thoughts and have a strong coffee - only to hear from someone they just saw the pet-food truck drive away. One of Australia's top ten dressage horses had become dog meat.

After Hickstead's death was pronounced there was an FEI post-mortem as of the FEI Veterinary Regulations. Hector - competing at an FEI event - was entitled to the same treatment as Hickstead received. Unfortunately these regulations were not at adhered to, worse still they were refuted by officials on the ground which saw him taken to be processed - without any consultation of Lago.

For such a personal matter to happen in the eyes of the public and regulations that should been maintained to be so blatently is ridiculous and an illegal act.

Click here to read full article..


Monday, December 12, 2011

Baby Dart Is Home

Reebok & Dart together. 
Dartanion is home safe and sound. At least he was until we had to get the vet out yesterday as he sliced his heel. It was only a superficial wound and the vet simply cut away the proud flesh but there is no pain and he is a happy camper in every other way.

He is the most relaxed youngster ever, he always comes up to you in the paddock to say hello. He has grown a child like obsession with Reebok - I think Reebok likes the attention honestly. They bonded when we went to go get him from agistment.

Rion and Dart are still getting there. Dart was meant to go to the breakers to get some work done but being a stubborn young man refused to get on the float.. It's something I have to work on with him this week.

And did I mention that he is huge! The vet thinks he could get to 17hh or 17.1hh.

And the man himself