Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A spot of gardening on horseback....

I have enjoyed a couple of jumping lessons with Sandra Low Mitchell since my last post. Took Garth my experienced horse and Amelie my home bred youngster for her first ever lesson off the place last week. Garth was fresh and spooked every time we went past a new filler that looked like three giant psychedelic liquorice whirls. I sort of saw his point. Every time you looked at it it seemed to move and swirl around. Was enough to make me feel dizzy, however he soon settled and jumped well with his usual enthusiasm.

Garth relaxing in the field with his buddies Jerry and Reuben in the background.

Amelie takes things in her stride
Amelie delighted me by loading and travelling like a pro and when I took the ramp down she was nonchalantly chewing hay. Mounting I expected her to revert to her alter ego as a giraffe, but she was a star and took everything in around the strange school, including the full set of bright jumps, she even ignored the liquorice whirls and coped with a horse beside the school that trotted with us in a sort of pairs dressage every time we rode up the long side. I was thrilled.
I haven't really jumped this horse yet as she was tricky for a while on the flat (see older post). Sandra started us off with a small cross pole - no bother, so we graduated to an upright followed by an upright with a Scottish flag filler - after an initial look she put in a massive jump. Then onto an oxer and, as she was growing in confidence, we finished by stringing it all together into a small course with a scary fish filler fence to finish. No real hesitating just lovely bold brave jumps. I couldn't have been more chuffed.
I took her back again for a second lesson last night and she was even better. Happily popping the scariest fillers, she even jumped the huge 4ft wide water tray full of rainwater. I caused much amusment by nearly ending up sitting in a large muddy puddle yards after the water tray when Ams swerved violently to avoid getting her feet wet.
As the mare is very enthusiastic in front of fences and still has a tendency to throw her head up Sandra made me sit light but very upright into each fence, so that I am not tempted to push her over them at all with my upper body - holding onto a neck strap a few strides out from each fence also helps as I can use that as well as my reins to ease her up a little. This helps to take any pressure off her mouth so she learns to stay relaxed about her jumping, and helps me sit even quieter when she takes a huge leap. We just need to concentrate on trotting quietly into each one until she learns that we don't need to speed up to jump.
My friend Julie shared this last lesson with us on her handsome TB ex- racer Jerry. He is a lovely horse and she has done a fantastic job of bringing him on during the time she has been on the yard. He used to ride like a hollow board of wood but is now soft and supple with beautiful paces. He also  hacks out happily now (he used to go backwards as fast as he went forwards) and enjoys gallops on the beach. However he is still pretty suspicious of scary fillers and tonight Julie did a great job of sitting very tight until he was popping more confidently over everything.
Julie and Jerry the ex-racer looking good in a dressage test.

Ams earned a bite of the good grass.

My new sport - gardening on horseback...
Amelie and I also managed to do a little gardening together this week. I had tried a few times while riding Garth to break off some low hanging branches around the school but he was having none of it  - shooting off the minute I so much as shook a leaf. So I though I would try on Ams. She stood stock still under each tree even when I stood right up in the stirrups wrestling like a demented Alan Titchmarsh with some bigger branches. Nor did she move a muscle when the branches brushed her sides when I let them drop to the ground. Now that's what I call unflappable.

Modetia wondering where her next haynet is coming from but she is much sounder and doing well.

Modetia doing well
Modetia is ensconced on her beach bed of sand and is much sounder with her new shoes on. She is not out of the woods yet, but she appears to be doing ok. She will be rescanned in approx five weeks and that will be critical - if the scans show the pedal bones haven't rotated anymore she will have two more months inside on her road to recovery. Luckily she copes brilliantly with being in - she has always liked being stabled especially if she can hear rain on the roof and as long as she is tucking into some hay she is fine. She is not particularly keen on the hay being soaked for 12 hours (this remove most goodness to keep any weight off) but appears to have philosophically decided that it is better than no grub at all.

The road to Rowallan
I had hoped to take Garth to Rowallan last weekend to compete however he managed to wangle a few days off by giving himself a small nick on in inside foreleg. Although he was sound on it there was some heat and a little swelling and a tendon boot would have rubbed so discretion meant cancelling even though he was all washed and my clean tack was hanging up in the truck. I consoled myself with taking my two boys down to our local farm shop for a coffee and huge cream scone. Oh well!

Coco before she left - Fergus is sitting in the background wondering when I am going to stop hugging horses and get him his tea!

Onwards and upwards
This weekend I am looking forward to some lessons with Ernest Dillon who is up on his monthly visit, I am also looking forward to hearing how Coco is. He bought her from me recently, she is a beautiful four year old I bred out of Modetia by a Selle Francais stallion, LS Napeny. I am really going to miss her, as I hate selling my horses but it is time for her to start her career and she has gone to a great home where she will  have every chance to reach her full potential. As the weather is so wet at the moment we are decamping for this weekends lessons to an indoor school not far away. I am taking both Amelie and Garth whose leg is fine now. Hopefully we can get to a show the weekend after.
On Sunday the family might troop to the Highland Show as long as we don't need to wear waders all day! Is summer ever going to come to Scotland this year?

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