Joosie's pony diary 2013

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
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New Zealand
Although I work with competition horses, I'm a leisure rider myself and just do a bit of low-level showjumping for fun and self-improvement. I'm a pony lover through and through, and am lucky to have 6 super ponies to play with on my weekly day off (and after work if I have the energy...) Most of the riding I do is part of my job, and I can be extremely hard on myself when it comes to riding the "proper" horses at work – so it's great to have the ponies to have fun with, boost my morale when I'm feeling down and remind myself it's ok not to be perfect!

I have decided to do a little diary to keep track of what I'm doing and where I'm going with the ponies in 2013. (Warning, there will be rambling and a lot of photos) Best place to start is by introducing the 6 little fuzzies involved!


ANATOLE MOUSE


The most special pony in my life is my own boy, Anatole – better known as Mouse – my first pony, given to me for my 26th birthday by my wonderful boss Izzy and her mum Penny. He was a surprise present and the day he arrived was quite literally the best day of my life! He's a shade over 12hh, takes a 4'9'' fly rug, and is very narrow and compact and... well, midgety! (He is a baby so that's fair enough for now, but I don't get the impression he is going to grow much tbh!) He is a major mummy's boy and gets really stroppy with his fieldmates if they try to steal my attention away from him. He also loves food, sleeping flat-out, being scratched, playing with his buddies, wearing hats, and rolling.

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Mouse was a 2010 foal, but his month of birth isn't noted on his passport – so although he was officially 3 at the start of this year, he won't be 3 in real time until April/May (vet says going by his teeth he is probably not younger than this). In the year and a half I've had him we have done bits and pieces here and there but nothing particularly consistent – he is a baby after all and is happy out in the field with his friends (three of whom are youngsters too) so I have felt no need to handle him too much. What we do more than anything else is stand in the field having cuddles. In any case I have found out that Mouse only needs to do things once or twice and then he has "got" it – quite a clever chap!

Mouse's current repertoire includes

: Being tied up (no hay). Stands quietly and is very easy to move around by touching shoulder, bum etc. Backs up with 1 finger on his chest. Also being left unattended for short periods of time – fidgets a bit, calls a few times, and then waits quietly til I come back (I have left a hidden camera to film him!)

: Picking up his feet and keeping his own balance. Hoof-picking is easy peasy and he is super for the farrier to trim – he can be done loose in the field with a leadrope draped over his neck. Worming and vaccinations no problem either, stands perfectly for both.

: Leading nicely. Doesn't pull, stops when I stop and starts when I start, trots when I start jogging and goes back to walk when I do, all with a drooping leadrope. Knows not to grab for grass too – he gets to graze when I let him, but it's not his decision when and where.

: Walking out on the roads. Remembers his manners on the leadrope, waits patiently at junctions, stands still for passing vehicles. Has encountered – and been completely unphased by – cars, lorries, tractors, heavy farm machinery, motorbikes, quadbikes, cyclists, lawnmowers, scaffolding, barking dogs in gardens, dogs jumping against gates, dogs on leads, noisy children, pushchairs, umbrellas, cows, donkeys, bin bags, things in hedges, stuff blowing in the wind. Oh and a squirrel falling out of a tree and landing right in front of him!

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: Dealing with obstacles and objects in-hand. Walks and trots over poles, the water tray, a small red brick wall (jump filler), banners on the ground. Walks through narrow gaps, walks under "low branches", backs up between poles. Has had carrier bags tied to his headcollar, things put on his head etc and is absolutely unconcerned by all of it!

: Accepting tack. Has been out for walks in his saddle with stirrups dangling and a waterproof exercise sheet making rustling noises behnd him. Recently bitted, opens mouth voluntarily to be bridled, leads nicely in his bridle and is happy as he knows a bit doesn't stop him being able to eat!

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: Travelling. Has been on trips both alone and in company, in a trailer and in a small lorry. Loads and unloads like a pro, quiet in transit. Has also been allowed up the ramp into boss's big competition lorry – he loaded himself first time.

So that's my Mouse. 2013 will be about continuing with our current activities (walks, obstacle courses, desensitisation etc) plus teaching him a few new tricks – long-reining, lunging, ride-and-lead hacking with another pony, breaking him to harness and backing him to ride are all on the agenda. Very much looking forward to this important year with my boy!

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joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
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PIF AND PAF

My boss's mum Penny competes in carriage driving competitions with her two Shetland type (unregistered) ponies, half-brothers Pif and Paf.

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I hadn't been involved with carriage driving before I came here but I got into it really quickly thanks to these boys! They have 5 months off over the winter but the rest of the time they're being driven almost every day and get extremely fit. Day to day I go out on the back of the carriage to keep Penny company, and we have a good time even if the weather is rubbish. When the weather is good, it's just the perfect way to enjoy it!

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I also groom for her at competitions and enjoy plaiting them up and making them look all pretty (even if they don't agree!). I ride on the carriage for the dressage and cones course, and then hand over to my boss for the XC/obstacles section as she is braver and I am better with the camera! The boys always do very well at their competitions and get a lot of admiration and encouragement from the spectators. They are two very brave, enthusiastic little ponies and they make a brilliant team.

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joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
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New Zealand
I have also put some work into them as ridden ponies. We go out on ride-and-lead hacks when I have the time – there isn't much off-road hacking in our area, but the advantage of Shetland-sized ponies is that you can ride on narrow / overgrown tracks that bigger beasts don't fit down!

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I have done some ridden schooling with them to improve their suppleness for their driven dressage, and have also been known to borrow a cub saddle and do a spot of jumping...

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And in May 2012 I went a little bit mad and took them for a spot of showjumping! They both went clear in the crosspoles and were absolute little superstars!

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Pif and Paf will mostly be carriage driving this year so look out for some rambling competition reports with a lot of photos!
 

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Lovely pics as always Joosie. I have to say my favourites are those of Mouse asleep, he is just uber cute.

I think your Mouse is just a pint sized Ziggy! And he has come to you so young he will not have any of poor Zig's hang ups and traumas. Lucky Mouselet.

As for Pif and Paf... well, they rock :inlove:
 

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
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I loved the picture of Mouse asleep as well.

What I find very funny is that you jump Pif and Paff about the same height as I jump Ben. Only difference is that he is 16hh!
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
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THE NEW FORESTS

The other three ponies I have to play with are Twirl, Rags and Dessie – 4-year-old registered New Forest mares.

(L-R Twirl, Dessie, Rags)
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Penny bought them as yearlings with the aim of producing them as her next driving ponies for when Pif & Paf retire and she is ready to "upgrade". However, her plans were based on the expectation that she would be able to bring them on in harness with the help of her OH – unfortunately he ended up working abroad much more than anticipated and without him at home there won't be enough hands on deck. Penny and I can keep the boys going easily enough, but 3 youngsters to produce as well would take time that we don't have. Instead the three of them will go up for sale as riding ponies – which is where I come in!

The girls went off in February 2012 to be broken to harness. While they were there, the trainer also got her groom to introduce them to lunging and then lightly back them before they came home. I have been bringing them on since then. The three of them are at very different levels as they have had varying amounts of work put in – they are all similar personalities to be around (sweet, friendly, inquisitive attention seekers!) but vary a little more in their ridden characteristics. Which is great, more interesting for me!

TWIRL

Twirl took to ridden work straight away and has progressed the fastest out of the 3. She has all the makings of a really super pony – she thinks a lot, she listens and is very responsive, she's a quick learner and level-headed and seems to really enjoy being ridden. Just the right amount of youthful enthusiasm without being too much of a nutter! She loves hacking out, especially long trots and grassy canters, and I can count on one hand the number of times she's spooked at something. As well as working nicely in the school she has also shown herself to be a natural at jumping (and she loves it too!). It is also worth noting that she is Mouse's best bud!

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Twirl also did a small number of showjumping "training shows" between May and December 2012 – during this period she only jumped 4 times at home! - she really is that much of a natural.

For her first time out in public she couldn't have been better – she took in the busy atmosphere but didn't seem phased by it, she did her warmup quietly (even though it was her first time in an indoor arena and there were 10+ ponies whizzing around her) and in the arena she did a tiny bit of calling out while we waited for the bell but listened intently to me while we were jumping. We did the crosspoles first and she went clear, followed by the 40-60cm, where she was equally well-behaved but had 1 pole down because she wasn't bothering to jump them properly – too small she said!

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At her second training show she went clear in another 40-60cm clear round. Jumping on an open hillside on a very windy day with banners and fencing flapping all over the place – no probles for this young lady.

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Third show, 50-60cm, 1 pole down (rider error, I didn't push on and she chipped in a short stride) but impeccably behaved and got comments from the judges about how quiet she was for such a young pony. The following week she did her first 60-80cm course – she was keen and strong, did some VERY bold jumps in the warmup and then jumped her most fluid, confident round so far. Another clear-round rosette for the collection!

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Twirl finished off her 2012 with another 60-80cm and another clear round – despite slight rider error half way through, she is getting very good at saving our bacon when I mess up!

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joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
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New Zealand
RAGS

Rags' ridden career got off to a shaky start – she was fine being ridden in the round pen, but when I introduced her to the arena she discovered reverse and how it could get her out of doing unfamiliar things! Sitting on a newly-backed pony reversing at speed with no regard for what's behind her is not a comfortable experience I can tell you... Luckily the ponies went off to a holiday field for 8 weeks to put on some weight, and when they returned it seemed that Rags had benefitted from the "thinking time". Instead of taking her in the school I focused on solo hacking to establish the idea of going forwards – she became more confident after a few hacks and when we returned to the school at the end of the summer, the reversing stopped. She hasn't had lots of work put into her – maybe 5 times in the school and twice as many hacks – but has started to get the hang of things and is getting more and more of Twirl's attitude every time.

At the start of December Rags did her first training show. She travelled very quietly in the lorry with Twirl and I was surprised by how calm she was when we arrived at the venue – it was very busy, and there was quite a long ride from the parking down to the arenas, but she was very easy to tack up and when I mounted up she set off keenly like we were just pootling out for a hack! She only showed hesitation once we arrived at the arenas – 2 outdoor and 2 indoor all next to each other, lots of horses and people milling around, loudspeakers and bells ringing and so on. The warmup was in the small indoor and she got a bit upset by the ponies whizzing around, but because she was only jumping the crosspoles I kept it very short and we were in and out in about 3 minutes!

Video. Not the most impressive display of jumping or riding but the aim was just to get round! Which she did, and gained her first ever rosette. She had only jumped twice in her life before this, so I was more than happy with her.

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Rags also did the final show of the year in the middle of December. I took her around the crosspoles first, and although a lot more distracted than the first show because it was out in the open, she popped over them quite well and her trot was nicely forward.

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I had a look at the 60-80 to decide if I wanted to try her in it. She had been popping over 65-70cms nicely at home and since she had done fine in the crosspoles I thought we'd give it a go. Unfortunately she found the big open space way too overwhelming, with too many distrations both inside and outside the arena, and didn't have any of her attention on me. She kicked the first jump with a back leg and the whole thing crashed down behind her (poles, wings and all!), spooking her and as we came around to number 2 she spotted the filler and said no way! We had two refusals and I knew it wasn't going to happen – we took the top pole down at one end so she could get over it, and then called it a day.

I have a soft spot for this one! Although she is much greener than Twirl I have a feeling she is going to turn out just as nice.
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
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DESSIE

Last but not least, pony number 6. Dessie was only ridden a handful of times after being backed – this was a decision made on the advice of the driving trainer, who had found her very nervy and easily-stressed and thought she needed more time to mature mentally before she was ready to work. As a result she was ridden in the school twice and hacked out twice – both towards the end of 2012 – and is therefore far greener than the other two.

Unlike Twirl and Rags, who are naturally laid-back, Dessie is quite an anxious little pony. She stresses about being taken away from her fieldmates, being tied up / groomed / tacked up, being led up to the yard – she gets especially worked up if she's going up the driveway with horses in the paddocks on either side. She got so wound up on one occasion by a horse trotting along the fenceline that she ran into me from behind and literally knocked me off my feet! She is difficult to lead because she gets upset, and it's hard to reassure her because she is too busy worrying to realise you are trying to calm her down. Once I'm on board she relaxes a bit but is still very spooky and jumpy.

Dessie is sweet but I think I am in for a bit of a challenge with her – probably more on the ground than under saddle!
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
113
New Zealand
Finally, I have got something to write about this year - I haven't done anything with the ponies since mid-January thanks to a combination of frozen ground / icy roads / snow, being in the UK for a fortnight, and missing several of my days off due to other commitments.

Mostly the ponies have just been doing this - standing around doing bog all except waiting for their next lunch :giggle:

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Oh and Mouse being gorgeous of course :inlove:

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But this week the weather has cleared up a bit (still gloomy and cold, but dry and not windy) so I am hoping my 2013 pony action is going to get underway now!

Saturday 2nd March

Mouse came in this morning for his first groom in weeks. I cleaned him up as well as I could - those circular metal curry combs really are brilliant on dry mud and long coats! - but the mud on his undercarriage is literally caked on in solid clumps and no way was it going to come off, it has plenty of long hair to cling on to! In a few weeks hopefully he will start moulting and I can get some of it off.

Mouse is a cuddly chap and he enjoys being fussed over - but not for too long! Once I had got him tacked up and he knew he was going to do something, he started getting impatient and fidgety and was definitely not going to do a nice pose for the camera...

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I took him up to the yard through the sheep's field - where we got stalked by Patches, the rejected lamb who I have been bottle-feeding 4 times a day - and popped him in the round pen while I went to get a lunge whip. Came back out and he was smooching the horse in the paddock next door :rolleyes: Seriously Mouse, I know you like the ladies and you're a gentleman and all that, but let's concentrate now please.

My intention was to do a bit of loose-schooling with his stirrups dangling so that he could get used to them swinging around. The good thing is that they didn't concern him at all. Unfortunately neither did the lunge whip - not flicking it at his bum, not flicking it ON his bum, not flicking it against his back legs or smacking it hard on the ground behind him, he really couldn't have cared less! Mostly he stood there looking at me blankly, in an "err mum, am I meant to be doing something?" kind of way, occasionally humouring me by trotting a few strides and pretending to give a shit :giggle: In the end I discovered he would happily trot half a circuit at a time - on the condition that I ran along behind him flicking the whip on his bum and waving my arms like a lunatic. What Mouse found even more amusing was stopping dead, spinning around and running TOWARDS the lunge whip and before I knew it I was running around the round pen myself with my pony in hot pursuit :bounce::bounce::bounce: I suppose there was no bad side to this because (a) it was giving me some exercise and (b) it got the pony moving - but I'm pretty sure that's not how loose-schooling is meant to work...

We also went up into the school and did some in-hand stuff over poles, the water tray, plastic banners etc - then I took the leadrope off and we did it at liberty too. Mouse will follow his mum anywhere bless him.
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
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New Zealand
After lunch I wrapped up nice and warm ready to take the Newfies out hacking. I was expecting them to be quite fresh considering the lack of work recently and the fact that their herd's lunchtime feed includes a fair amount of sugar beet! - but although it was very cold there wasn't a hint of a breeze, so at least I didn't have the wind to contend with, which has been a bit of a challenge with the competition horses this week...!

RAGS

Rags was closest to the gate so I did her first. The last few times I've ridden her we had issues with mounting - she would try to shoot off when I put my foot in the stirrup, and having my reins short enough to prevent this resulted in her spinning around very fast in very tight circles. So today I spent a good 10 minutes mounting and dismounting carefully, praising every moment she stood still, restarting the process any time she moved off unasked. She got the hang of it and was eventually standing still both while I mounted and once I was on board sorting out my stirrups.

I picked a 40-minute-ish route starting with a warmup walk along our road and then turning up a short but fairly steep hill towards the mairie. Rags trotted up there willingly but steadily, I didn't want to push her too much on the first one. We went back to walk at the top so that she could have a good snort at the war memorial (which she has been wary of since the very first time she passed it, roughly a year ago now). We are lucky to be in a hilly area with plenty of ups and downs of varying lengths and gradients, it is perfect for building fitness even if you only have time for a short ride. Once past the mairie we had another trot, this time up a longer but steadier incline, and then turned left and went off-road. This was where Rags had to do some very grown-up stuff - going up a tree-lined track with fields full of trotter youngstock on either side, groups of horses on both sides of her cantering up and down the fenceline and calling to her and to each other. She was brilliant - she got a bit edgy as you'd expect and jogged a bit sideways, but she kept one ear on me the whole time and went where she was asked at the speed she was asked, for a 4-year-old with less than a year's work I wouldn't have expected more.

Once we left the scary lane of horses we had a nice grassy strip ahead perfect for a canter. Rags has cantered on several hacks before today but was always hesitant to go forwards - today however we got a super clean strikeoff and a fluid, effortless canter all the way down with very little leg required on my part. I think she enjoyed it! She also pulled up just with a "trot" from me and the lightest of touches on her mouth. Then we had another grownup bit walking along the old main road, which isn't particularly busy but gets a lot of trucks and farm machinery, today we had 2 large lorries (one carrying a mobile home!) come up behind us and her reaction was limited to a slight flinch as it passed us.

When we got to our turnoff there was a bit of grass verge with a small ditch running diagonally across it, and I took Rags over to have a little play. She walked carefully down and up the first 2 times, trotted over it the next 2, and jumped over it the next - easy peasy. Then we headed down the road back towards the mairie and I took her off on a side track to see if the fallen tree blocking it had been cleared yet. It hadn't, so we turned around and had a little canter back up to the top. Then we had one more trot before we got home. Insisted on a good halt and 10 seconds of immobility before I dismounted, and gave her a lot of fuss.
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
113
New Zealand
DESSIE

Dessie was waiting at the gate when I turned Rags out and practically brought herself out of the field on her own to get to the tasty lawn outside! She was muddy all over, I would normally have just groomed the essential bits but Dessie being so nervy away from her friends I thought a good long brushing session would get her to relax a bit and focus more on me. She is a cuddly pony when she isn't busy getting upset. She swung around a bit while I was putting her saddle on, but each time she stood still she got plenty of praise and after a few minutes she was still again. No problems with the bridle, but then realising she was tacked up and about to be ridden she started to get a bit restless. She stood perfectly still while I mounted up and we headed off before she had a chance to fidget!

We turned right out of the gates and headed up the long hill that rises up above the ponies' field and runs along it for a fair while. Dessie was distracted by her friends down below her - they weren't doing anything, but she could see them and she was calling to them quite a lot - and backing off my leg in walk, so I pushed on into trot to give her something else to focus on. Dessie has a super trot, very fast and strong for such a compact chunky pony, and she powered enthusiastically up the hill seeming to forget her friends for the moment.

It is a fairly long hill and she was a bit puffy when we got to the top, so we dropped back into walk and she immediately went back to going "OMG I'M ON MY OWN!" and getting a little stressed out. At one point she seemed to decide she needed to go back home, whipped around in the middle of the road and tried to power-trot back down the hill. She is built like a tank and has a short neck so isn't easy to turn when she has set it against you, but I managed to get her to do a turn on the forehand (not sure how, I haven't taught her to do those yet!) and then with a lot of leg and some taps on the bum with my crop we got going again.

We passed a field of cows and then, further on, a braying donkey right on the other side of the hedge, then turned left along a very narrow road with goats on her left, and a German Shepherd bouncing and barking against the fence on her right. None of this concerned her in the slightest, she walked along at a fair clip with her ears pricked and looking straight ahead. This more or less confirmed what I have been thinking about her before - she is not a spooky pony, even when she is on edge she isn't scared of things or places, she is just nervous about being alone. Building her confidence will need to come before other things improve.

We got to the vineyard belonging to a family friend who lets me ride the ponies there, and did a bit of training by going up and down the lanes of trees - the "ups" walking away from the road and the "downs" walking back towards it and therefore, in Dessie's mind, towards home. To start with she was backing off my leg on the way up and trying to trot off when we turned around, she was very strong at first - but after the first few lanes she started to settle a bit and after 5 minutes she was staying at a consistent pace, ears flicking back and forth as I was talking to her constantly.

We then went back onto the road and did a little loop which took us back to the top of the long hill. Knowing that she was heading home Dessie started getting very joggy and working herself up again. I knew she would set her neck against my hands if I was too strong on her mouth, and she is the type that could be unstoppable in trot if given the chance to take hold, so I had to be sure to keep them still and quiet and not give her anything to block against. When she got too strong I made a small circle to get her back to me and the rest of the time just tried to keep giving and taking and not letting her lean on my hands. She was only relaxing for a few seconds at a time, but it was definitely a start.

When we were almost at the house and Dessie's friends heard her arriving and were whinnying to her, to be honest I expected her to get more difficult to hold, but the reality was totally the opposite - seeing and hearing her friends, she settled right down, relaxing her neck and asking to stretch... I slipped the reins and she stretched right down to the ground and gave a massive sigh! It was like knowing she was home, and "safe" again, all the tension just disappeared from her body. Very interesting.

TWIRL

Hacking reports with Twirl will by and large be entirely uneventful - she is a real "happy hacking" pony, a calm, confident, non-nappy, non-spooky, fun, trustworthy type that you feel you could ask anything of and not have any problems. I always seem to forget how young she is when we're out hacking! Today I took her out on the yard horses' normal route, having a couple of short trots in the first 10 minutes and then a lovely relaxed canter on the grass verge of a long, flat, straight road. She was very keen so we did a long, fast trot after that for about 5 minutes (not as unfit as I thought!) - then got to a small unused field that we have permission to ride in and had a super fast canter around there. Couple of happy bunnyhops from Twirl and a tiny spook at a crow shooting out of the hedge, she was having a good time!

Just after we came out of the field we got to a junction and came across a girl about my age on a joggy black horse. She said a brief bonjour and then headed off in trot in the same direction we were about to go. Many 4-year-olds would have got a bit joggy at that point wanting to catch the other horse up - or at least entertained the thought of it - but Twirl ignored it completely and just kept walking along quietly on a loose rein as if it wasn't there at all. A few minutes later I could see the other horse trotting up the hill in the distance and then turn around and start walking back down. When Twirl and I crossed them, once again she barely acknowledged it. As we rode away I could hear the horse behind us messing around, napping I assume and moments later there it was running up Twirl's backside! The girl apologised and said sorry, he's a bit nappy because he's only 6... to which I replied that mine (whose behaviour had been impeccable from the moment we'd come across them!) had only just turned 4 :happy: I offered to make Twirl stand still while the girl got hers going again, she dismounted and led him away and I waited until there was some distance between us before I carried on. Twirl was keen to get going again and zoomed off up the hill in power trot.

We walked the next 20mins on the buckle and then had one more trot uphill before we were almost at the road leading to the yard. On our right was one of the fields my boss has bought recently but not yet put any horses in, so I took Twirl in there and we had a good canter round a couple of times. There was a pile of unused fence posts along one hedge that was just the perfect size and shape and position and crying "JUMP ME, JUMP ME" - so we did, four times :biggrin: Finally 5 minutes later we were back at the house, I leaned down from the saddle to get our post out of the letterbox and Twirl literally stole a letter straight out of my hand :giggle:
 
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joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
113
New Zealand
Friday 8th March

Did a bit of jumping practise with the girls in preparation for clear-round SJ on Sunday.

DESSIE

Dessie was up first, being the greenest and most energy-sapping to ride I thought I would get her done while I was still fuelled up on breakfast :giggle: Her saddle was down at the house so I got her tacked up there and hacked up to the yard on the road. She was very forward and strong, but much bolder than when we set out on our hack last weekend, her trot was brisk and confident and the 4 inconsiderate drivers who passed us at speed didn't elicit much of a reaction. She got a bit "sticky" going up the yard driveway - she kept trying to spin for home and then planting her feet or backing up when I didn't let her, but calm & patience is the key and with plenty of praise for every forward movement we got to where we needed to be.

She was keen and forward in the school but not spooky. It was quite breezy and the banners on the fence were flapping a bit, we had one sideways jump when one movement took her by surprise but that was it. We did plenty of trotting on each rein, just around the track and on big circles with plenty of direction changes to make sure she was paying attention to me. She didn't spook or nap at anything so we also did a little canter on each rein, just down the long sides and steadying back into trot on the short sides. She called a bit to horses on the yard but apart from being very energetic she didn't seem stressed at all.

We popped over a few crosspoles and tiny uprights, just from trot, focusing on (a) getting good turns into them, (b) going forwards and (c) going straight on the other side. She was as green as grass - which was to be expected, she has only been over poles once under saddle and maybe twice on the lunge - but my goodness that pony can JUMP! Even from trot she was making a super effort to jump "properly" rather than just scrambling over. She was really listening to me and going forwards off my leg, I was really impressed with her.

Sod's law it was when I did "just one more jump" that it went a bit wrong! Dessie has never had any problem walking or trotting over the water tray so I decided to put a very low pole on it to turn it into a jump. Showed it to her first so that she could see the reflections and then came at it in a positive forward trot. Dessie didn't hesitate, she did a BEAUTIFUL bold jump over it and I forgot I was on a baby & didn't sit up enough as she cantered away. She did a big happy buck, ran out of room and slid to a halt at the hedge, I tried to turn her to the right, she objected and spun quickly to the left... then to the right... then to the left again, at which point there were no neck and shoulders in front of me and I came off over her right shoulder, plop in the wet sand! :giggle: Dessie looked bemused to see me on the floor and stood quietly while I remounted. Gave her a pat and we set off again towards the water tray in trot. She did another lovely jump, this time we agreed on the getaway and managed to stay together!

To finish off I popped her around a simple course of 4 crosspoles in trot - left rein, right rein, left rein, right rein - which she did nicely (steering wasn't great, but she was calm and forward and did some lovely little jumps. We'd been in there for about 20 minutes by then and she had been so good I decided that was plenty.
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
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New Zealand
RAGS

After lunch I took Rags up first. She went to two shows last year - at the first she got a clear round in the crosspoles (indoors), at the second back in mid-December she was clear in the crosspoles but when we attempted the 60-80cm she was too distracted to listen to me and we retired after fence 2. She jumps nicely at home and "locks on" to the fences, which is great, but at both those shows she was too concerned by outside factors to pay proper attention to me. So this practise session was less about jumping and more about getting her listening to me on the flat.

Rags was a bit spooky along one long side of the school - the owner of the neighbouring field has cut his hedge and trees down, leaving just a metre-high bank with an open field beyond, and she decided that the tree-stumps left behind were really quite scary and needed to be approached and passed with (a) much suspicion and (b) as quickly as possible! I spent a while just walking up and down that side until she had stopped spooking and was going straight along the track - then we moved up into trot and off she went! At first she was very full of herself and my brakes were a bit dodgy, we had some more spooks along the scary side, but plenty of circles, changes of rein and trot-walk-trot transitions got her paying more attention to me. After that we had one canter on each rein, half way around the school (it's a big school!), by which time she had really settled down.

She perked up again when the jumps were introduced. We did each of the crosspoles once and then an upright once and the water tray once - all of which she approached in a nice quiet trot, jumped neatly, and on cantering away put her head down and bunnyhopped. No neck and shoulders on this one either, so I kept the morning's fall in mind and kept my shoulders well back :happy: I changed two crosspoles to uprights so that she could jump the plastic banners that we use as fillers - she did those nicely - then also took her through the double, a 60cm upright and 2 strides to a big crosspole. She took this all in her stride, turning nicely and approaching quietly and staying in front of my leg. We finished up putting it all together to make a course, cantering to the jumps themselves but dropping back to trot on the turns to make sure she was well balanced.
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
113
New Zealand
TWIRL

Twirl was on super form considering the recent lack of work. I have to say it was nice to be back on Miss Reliable after the other two! - unlike Dessie and Rags, with Twirl it is often hard to remember that she is only 4, and I have to actively remind myself not to be too complacent and take her good behaviour and mature mind for granted! We did a good 20 minutes of flatwork, mostly in walk and trot followed by several circuits of canter. She has started working in a baby outline in walk and trot and is reaching down into a contact, carrying herself in a nice relaxed frame and responding to lighter aids. This session mostly focused on loosening her up on the right rein, where she is much stiffer - flexing to the inside on straight lines, small circles, serpentines and some very baby leg-yielding.

Then we moved on to jumping. We did a couple of the small uprights first, and the water tray and double as they were, Twirl approached in a nice quiet canter and we got the striding just right each time. Her approaches are always better on the left rein, as her right turns and right canter are much more unbalanced, so I did mostly right-rein approaches to try and loosen her up a bit. After that I hopped off and popped everything up - the uprights with fillers underneath to 60cm/2ft, the water tray around 50cm, plus a spread of rainbow-coloured poles with the back bar at about 2'3'', and turned the first part of the double into a small spread around 60cm. We also had the barrels, which are about 70cm high, and the small (50cm?) red wall filler.

I planned a little course finishing with the double and started riding through it. We had a good canter, good strides and some beautiful tidy jumps - Twirl on form! - she particularly enjoyed the barrels and water tray, took a flyer over them both. At the end the striding didn't come quite right in the double because it was set for about 1.5 pony canter strides - it had worked for Dessie and Rags as we were only trotting through it - Twirl took a long stride for the spread, so we got a bit close to the second part and Twirl just clipped a pole with her foot. Jumped it without hesitation though, my Twirly doesn't get put off by iffy strides :smile:

My boss appeared out of nowhere (she'd been watching but I hadn't seen her) and gave me a few pointers on the round. She explained that if the first part of the double is a spread, requiring a bigger jump than an upright, this will make the striding to the second element slightly shorter. She said if I was going to jump on a long stride like that then I should have pushed on landing to get to the crosspole in one stride, if I wanted to do it in 2 (which was what I had planned) then I would have to hold the canter together more, place her closer to the spread to get a smaller jump, sit up and rebalance her to get the 2 in. I followed her advice, came in a bit steadier, got a smaller jump over the spread and the rest came just right.

To finish off we had a go at jumping the elephant filler, which with a pole above it is just under 90cm/3ft. Twirl has jumped it before, though with a pole at 80cm level with the filler rather than above it. This was back in the autumn when she was greener and less confident, and although she'd left it up the striding hadn't come right - you can see in this pic we had been way too close and she had to make a super effort to clear it (she did, clever clogs!)

599888_10150985961410935_1439283641_n_zps7ff49b42.jpg


We did one upright up to 85cm, and then moved the filler in underneath, put the pole up another hole, and gave it a go. Came in on the left rein establishing a forward balanced canter, but I let her drop behind my leg as we turned and the striding didn't come quite right - she was a bit too close, jumped anyway and cleared it although it was an awkward jump and I had to grab a fistful of mane to make sure I didn't catch her mouth. The second time, we sorted out the turn, the striding came right and she FLEW - a really beautiful jump :dance:

And finally, a few gratuitous pics of my lovely boy :inlove:

Grubby

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"What you doing in the cellar mum?"

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Sneaky noms on the lawn :ninja:

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And mum having a little nap on him

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joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
113
New Zealand
Sunday 10th March

A few weeks ago I took the Newfies out to do some clear-round jumping. My day started before dawn, going out in a freezing mist to dig the girls out of their field and take them up to the yard to get them ready. Put them in the round pen together and then tied them up in the shower one at a time to sort them out - their field is a mudpit and they all like to roll and lie down, so they were filthy! Twirl and Rags were sleepy and cooperative but Dessie knew something out of the ordinary was going on and was really on her toes. It was also the first time she'd met a hosepipe, and her legs needed a lot of scrubbing, so with her fidgeting all the time it took me twice as long as the other two! Eventually had them looking vaguely presentable, by which time my boss had finished feeding & haying the yard and we were ready to load up. We had two horses going as well so had to take the big lorry - all three ponies loaded perfectly, including Dessie who had only travelled in the trailer before.

The crosspoles and 60-80cm were running simulaneously so I walked both courses before we got any ponies out. The crosspoles were set up in a small indoor arena, which pleased me because it is much easier to keep babyponies under control if they are contained by solid walls! The 60-80 was in the big outdoor arena and two things jumped out at me - firstly that it was a long course, and I would have to try to cut corners a bit because Twirl wasn't very fit, secondly that the lower end of the height range seemed to have been somewhat overlooked! It would be her "fullest" course so far.

DESSIE

Since it was Dessie's first time out I decided to ride her first so that she wouldn't start getting impatient/fidgety waiting in the lorry. Her eyes were on stalks as I led her down the ramp, and when my boss took her to hold while I tacked up, she got quite bargy and was calling at the top of her lungs to every pony who passed by. I kept calm and quiet and got her ready as quickly as possible - "less time to stress" theory! My boss gave me a leg-up and led us through the sea of ponies to the warmup. A group of ponies from the same riding school had just finished and gone down to the arena, so the warmup was empty when Dessie and I arrived.

It was a really small indoor school with a narrow doorway, but Dessie bless her went straight in without needing to be led. We walked around once so she could see everything (not that there was much to see!) and then went into trot and just focused on getting her going forwards. She was stressy for a few minutes but settled a bit when another pony came in.. napped to the doorway a few times and did a couple of her super-fast spins, but by keeping my leg on and tapping her outside shoulder with my crop I managed to keep her more or less under control :tongue: Then we popped over the crosspole twice on each rein and went down to the arena to jump.

We had about 5 minutes' wait while the group of kids in front of us did their rounds - Dessie had stopped calling etc by then and waited quite calmly, she fidgeted a bit but seemed reassured by having someone standing beside her. When it was our turn we went straight in at trot and immediately did a figure of 8 around the school to get her going forwards, let her get her bearings, and get her past the entrance a few times so that she wouldn't try to nap out while we were jumping. When I presented myself to the judges I told them the pony was a baby on her first outing and they kindly let me get going ASAP!

The round. I know it isn't the best riding but we were just aiming to get over all the jumps with our accelerator, steering and brakes all in working order! I had a thick moment and forgot where number 7 was until we were right next to it and facing the wrong way! - I managed to turn Dessie without crossing our tracks, the jump was only a couple of strides away but she went with the flow and did what she was told bless her. We finished the round almost mowing my boss down because she didn't realise I had one jump left and I didn't realise she was standing in front of it until we were half way there. Dessie was unphased though! Clouted the upright at the end but it didn't come down so she won her first rosette!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEqtG-g0uvU

RAGS

Rags was a little star this time out! She was calm and quiet while I was getting her ready, and set off towards the warmup with pricked ears and a spring in her step. We didn't have a long wait for our turn in the warmup. I walked her around it once to let her have a look and then moved straight up into trot to get her going. She napped to the exit the first time past, got a tap on the shoulder and didn't do it again. We did a spot of canter as well but it wasn't really big enough in there to do too much. I took her over the crosspole twice off each rein and then put it up to a small upright and jumped that twice too – she was really popping her legs up and using her back, jumping like she does at home rather than the more hesitant "aaah I'm at a SHOW" distracted sort of jumping she did on her first two outings.

There was a bit of a backlog at the arena and Rags started to get really fidgety while we were waiting, so I kept her moving round in small circles and changing direction a lot just to keep her attention. When it was our turn to jump I took her round the outside track in a nice forward trot, she had a good look over the wall to the stables alongside the arena but glided smoothly past the exit without so much as a look outside. She felt much more relaxed than our last time out. I started her out in canter to get her going and she jumped the first two from canter as they were in a straight line with the arena wall to guide us, then I brought her back to trot for the rest so that I could focus on keeping her straight – it was a bit too tight in there to ask a baby to make the turns in canter! She made some good balanced turns and approached most of the jumps nice and straight, aside from a bit of a wobble going into number 2 and again at number 5. She jumped some of them properly and just trotted over the rest, and like Dessie she clouted the upright at the end but it didn't come down. Pretty rosette for Rags as well :)

Video. Still looking very green, but starting to get a bit more relaxed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MzN6x1SagA
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
7,002
2,997
113
New Zealand
TWIRL

Twirl was hilarious this time out, I have never known her so hyper :D She really loves her jumping and has now been on enough outings to know that when she goes in the lorry she is off out to a show! As soon as I got her down to tack her up she was high as a kite – prancing around on her tiptoes, shouting manically at the top of her lungs, head up and eyes darting in all directions as she tried to look at everything at once. Her ears were flicking all over the place and her attention was on everything except me – she was like a different pony to the cool, calm and collected one I had had at previous shows.

This was the first time she'd been out since they'd been having a winter feed, and I wonder if the sugarbeet had something to do with it! As my boss legged me up Twirl started marching off towards the other ponies and I almost came down on air instead of the saddle! I wasn't sure how good my brakes were so my boss took hold of her and led us up to the warmup just to make sure we could get there without crashing into other ponies or bowling anyone over :giggle:

The 60-80cm was in the outdoor arena and the warmup for that was next door – a big one, with lots of people watching and 10 horses warming up at once, plus the distraction of the current competitor cantering around the course. Twirl's eyes were on stalks! As soon as we were in there I asked her to trot straight away, within 5 or 6 strides she had taken hold and was shooting off in canter. I did my best to bring her back to trot for a few circuits but she was so over-excited I could barely hold her. Instead I decided to let her canter and try to get it out of her system – so off she went, and the only time I have known her go so fast is when we go for a blast across a field – she has never been so strong and fast in the school, and I hadn't had steering failure for about 6 months by then but we had a couple of incidents that day. She even did some bucking, which Twirl simply does not do!

By the time Twirl had stopped shoving her head in the air and trying to tank off, and we went back to trot, I was exhausted but she still had plenty in the tank ((and there I was thinking she was unfit :giggle:)). We jumped a crosspole once off each rein and Twirl really pulled me into them, but after those she settled down and we popped over some uprights much more quietly – she took off on the long strides and put in way more effort than she needed to clear them, she was jumping beautifully but at least I had got my brakes back! After flying over a 70cm spread, then an 80cm and nearly jumping me out of the saddle, it was our turn to go into the arena.

I handed my piece of paper in to the judge, and while the other person was jumping (in France they put 2 riders in the arena at once as it saves a bit of time – we have much bigger class entries than in the UK!), I went off to trot Twirl around and show her the jumps with fillers so that she knew what to expect. She barely glanced at them as usual – she doesn't tend to be bothered much by that sort of thing, but then I took her up to number 6 and Twirl took lone look at it and went "WOOOAAHHH"! It was a solid red wall with blue blobs on and solid red wings up the side, quite a scary jump for a young pony plus it was right up the top end of the arena and would be a very likely place to get a runout. Twirl gave it a really good look and even snorted at it a few times – this was the first time since she was a newly-backed 3-year-old that she had been truly wary of something!

We had a canter back down the length of the arena and then our bell rang and off we went. I had worked out a few turns where I could cut the corner to save her energy, but I didn't want to cut them too much because the jumps were up-to-height and it wouldn't be fair to ask Twirl to jump them if we didn't come in straight. As usual she was really well-behaved, she went forwards in a nice rhythm and did some super jumps even when the striding didn't come right. She is such a trier and so genuine when things go pear-shaped (check out number 4 in the vid - no way was she going to have that down even though the stride was awful!). You can also see her wobble big-time coming into number 6, but even though she was so wary of it, I asked her to jump it so she did! Really can't fault the attitude of this super little pony :inlove:

Video -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5LDw-kdGD0

A few stills

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The pro pic I bought of the last jump (the print is high quality BTW, this is a photo of the photo!)

Twirl800x600_zps58ac036c.jpg
 
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