Return of .... the SAFFY UPDATE thread!

Bay Mare

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Jun 21, 2004
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She sneezed today so it's back ;)

Just a few things ... she's not perfect and we know that she's not the finished article. We know her weaknesses and we know what needs working on.

This is just a record of my time with her so far and the twists and turns along the way :D It's been an interesting time and a great learning experience for me (though it didn't always feel that great!). I don't critique other people's horses without being asked and would ask that you show me the same respect.


I would ask that in the event of troll attacks we ignore and report to the mods if necessary. I've blocked the main culprits so I can't see what they write anyway.


Thank you to everyone who has supported me, your kind words and support has been fantastic :)


And one rule for this thread ........

PLEASE DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!



Thank you x



Did you know that there's a New Rider group on Facebook now?

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6441660291 or search for New Rider
 
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Bay Mare

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Jun 21, 2004
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It all started on September 11th 2004 .....

Introducing Saffy aka The Saffmeister aka The Saff Monster aka Saffy Moo Cow aka Saff Saff aka Saff Bags aka Saffy Lou aka Saffy Loulla aka Loulla!


It all started on September 11th 2004

I didn't actually go to buy a 5 year old or a grey or an ISH or anything under 16hh. I went to buy a 16.1hh dark bay 8 year old warmblood! The only box on my wish list that I could check for Saffy was MARE :D

Here is her piccie from the website:

img122.jpg
Fanny.jpg


There was something about her though which grabbed my heart so I ended up bringing home this rather gorgeous 5 year old RISH mare, steel grey with a mohican mane (she's never been a girly horse!).

Saffy.jpg


She loaded beautifully but didn't stay in the trailer long as she backed out at speed taking the skin from my ungloved fingers with her (the person taking her for me was in a hurry hence the lack of gloves). Mummy ended up in the burns unit getting the tenderised flesh on her hand and fingers sorted out!

On the first outing to the field she walked down most of the way on her back legs.

The first day in the school (in hand) she showed me her levade even tapping my on the hand to make sure that I was watching :eek:

When picking up even the lightest of contacts she stood on her back legs over a dozen times in one lesson. I was hit in the mouth while riding her twice :confused:

6be9db48.jpg


I spent one lesson with blood dripping down my face, when I got back to the yard they were all really worried as the blood had streaked all over my face and down my sweatshirt :eek:

Enter the Recommended Associate

The rearing was knocking my confidence. She was fine to handle but a nightmare in the school. Our RA rode her for just 5 minutes before figuring out the problem. She took off her bridle, put on a Dually headcollar and attached the reins to that. It wasn't as if she was in a harsh bit, I'd gone from a snaffle to a french link to a happy mouth to a rubber straight bar (which she ate!). I thought that she was nuts but Saffy proved me wrong and lengthened, overtracked and relaxed. Later that day I hacked her out in the Dually even though people thought that I had completely lost the plot.

The 'diagnosis' was that she was expecting either pain, discomfort or something horrible to happen when you picked up a contact. She was put in a hackamore for a few months and was 'cured' overnight.

She eventually went back into a bit, kindly choosing the KK Ultra costing me even more money! She obviously takes after her mother in liking expensive things :rolleyes:
 

Bay Mare

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Learning about feed the hard way!

The Pasture Mix Episode

She was pretty good to handle and on the ground but I came back from holiday to find that she'd dropped loads of weight, wouldn't stay in her stable and was a highly strung, shaking mess. She had reared at people in the field and even charged at the YO one day.

I hadn't got a clue what was going on but she was obviously in some distress. I got a phone call early one Sunday morning to ask how long I was going to be. I wasn't told why but when I got there (thankfully I wasn't too far away) she was stood in her stable dripping sweat from the tips of her ears to her little hooves.

I woke up at 2am the next morning, sat up and said "Pasture Mix". Thank you whoever planted that seed in my brain! I took her off it straight away, acting not on logic but on intuition, call it what you like. First of all she went onto Cool Mix and within about a week was much better though still not 'right'.


In the school

She was much, much better and hadn't reared since the RA visit but was still very stroppy and opinionated. She had all the regular checks and more, she was ridden in a treeless saddle (my beloved SBS), was in a hackamore, was off the Pasture Mix so it was her character ..... wasn't it?

She was completely upside down with a very impressive muscle on the underside of her neck which she used to great effect :rolleyes: She also had no bum, something I've strived for myself but never been able to achieve!

Saffytrottinginfield.jpg


Enter the Bowen/Reiki/AC lady

I'd seen this 'strange' woman at the yard, she seemed nice enough but reputedly 'spoke' to the horses (or they spoke to her). Others on the yard swore by her, I was more sceptical.

Anyway, I decided to give it a go and boy did she blow me away. Logically she can't have known or surmised half of what she came up with, what she was saying was far too specific to be a gross generalisation. She sussed Saffy out even though she was stood like a donkey at her haynet when she came.

Saff had been getting very, very tetchy when you touched her and you couldn't get near enough to actually groom her. She wasn't nasty just didn't want you near her skin.

The therapist said that Saffy's skin felt 'creepy' and that she didn't want the hard feeds any more and that she didn't want carrots but she did want grass, hay and cleavers, oh, and a couple of apples! Rather bemused by this I decided that it couldn't hurt and Saff had pretty much stopped eating her feeds, including the carrots, anyway (the therapist didn't know this). The change in less than 10 days was amazing. She was a different horse. She enjoyed being groomed again and whilst she was still a bossy moo she was much nicer to be around.

I finally discovered Simple Systems feed which has been a lifesaver. She only has forage these days and a couple of apples a day. She came out of winter as porky as she went in and her weight is pretty stable even when they went out onto the new grass!

Her behaviour improved immeasureably in just a couple of weeks. She's still bossy and she's still opinionated but it's measured and useable now.
 

Bay Mare

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Let the tree huggery begin :)

Let the tree huggery begin

So, we've been treeless from the beginning, are using NH methods for groundwork, have been bitless (though she was introduced back into a bit because I wanted to do dressage), has Bowen/Reiki treatments and is on a forage based diet, none of this hard feed that horses *should* have!

It could only get worse ....

I saw another livery at our yard have a WOMAN trim her horse's feet. This was strange in itself but then I noticed that she didn't have shoes put on. Now Saff was unshod at the back and had coped well but you had to have shoes on the front .... didn't you? Apparently not! A long story short I had her shoes taken off and she was sound straight away. She's been barefoot for about 18 months now and is more than happy to crunch up the stony path that comes down from the road. Her feet are rather beautiful AND she doesn't sweat up from physical exertion so didn't need to be clipped.

Saffy grows up

In handling, groundwork, lunging, long reining and hacking out she's a real doll. We still had problems under saddle though. She is a very dominant mare and is more than happy to argue the toss with you. She is also very persisent and will not back down easily. I've spent many a lesson with a neck in front of my nose and TWICE got bashed in the face when she was pratting about and bashed me with her head while I was on her back (as before).

Another time we tried canter in the school (her canter on a hack is delightful, very controlled and comes back easily when you sit up). She got, erm, slightly overexcited and took off around the school at a gallop. She did a very controlled 20 metre circles in gallop and I was appalling. The only two thoughts that I had were "oh **** she's going to fall over" and "shall I bail out? No, she's going too fast". Finally she galloped towards the wall at the end of the school .... I, apparently, was shrieking "ooooohhhhhh s********t" very helpfully :rolleyes: :p

I was convinced that she was going to attempt to jump the wall (she'd previously attempted to jump a hedge when she got overexcited until I (to my shame but it had to be done) had to almost pull her back teeth out to pull her up). Jumping the wall would have been bad enough BUT I knew that there's a humungous drop down into a sloping field on the other side. We would have been toast.

I had completely blanked out by this time and was completely ineffective. She, however, got to the wall, flicked her bum around, deposited me out of the side door up against the wall where I slid unceremoniously to the ground. As she cantered away (about 3 metres) she caught me in the chest with her (unshod thankfully) hoof. She then stood, turned around and looked at me as if to say "what are you doing down there?".

My trainer wandered across and then sped up as I lay there winded and rather battered. Thankfully there wasn't too much damage though my back was completely scraped up and bruised and I had a wonderful hoof shaped bruise in my cleavage. Oh, and I somehow got a humungous bruise on my calf.

Fast forward to 2006

Through it all she's been a kind and generous soul. A dream to handle, easy to catch (apart from one episode where I couldn't get near to her but later found that there was a very good reason for it :angry: ) and easy to look after. We still had the tantrums in the school though.

Saffycomingtomummy.jpg
Saffysleepingnewrug28August2005.jpg



Saying that, things WERE better, she didn't carry her neck vertically anymore and the strops were shorter and less dramatic. My trainer recently told me that although he thought that I WAS ready for a youngster he wasn't sure that I was ready for THAT particular youngster. He also said that it was touch and go for a while as to whether I'd come through it or completely lose my confidence. He says that he's very pleased with me and proud at how I came through it all and that a lot of people would have given up on her and sold her on. I think that I've gained a modicum of respect from him for sticking with it and coming out the other side I refer to those days as my 'darkest hours'. They only lasted a few weeks but boy were they tough. Thankfully what didn't (literally) kill me made me stronger and I'm a lot more confident now than I was even before Saffy.

Saffygate.jpg


Anyway ... having two weeks solid with her when I was on holiday paid off beautifully. She is a changed horse. She's still opinionated but now works nicely most of the time and doesn't cause half as much fuss when she is expressing her opinions. Her movement, when she moves correctly, is phenomenal especially the movement through her shoulders.


SaffyOct06-1.jpg
SaffyOct06-3.jpg


She also enjoys jumping the xc fences and even tackled the tyres without batting an eyelid. She's such a good girl. The thing is that I want to do dressage, she seemingly wants to event ...

My ex trainer has ridden her a few times. He wouldn't ride her previously because, as he said, it's his livelyhood and he couldn't afford to get hurt. Although she argued with him she went beautifully. It was nice in a way that she stropped a bit with him too. I'd have been completely mortified if he'd have got on and she'd have been a complete angel

So ... they do get better, it just takes time I love her to bits and she's taught me so much. It must have taken about 18 months to really bond with her. I thought that we'd bonded after 6 months and then at 12 months but each time I found new depths to our relationship. I love my little Saffy Moo
wub.gif
 

Bay Mare

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The Good Strop Guide

The strops

I have always wanted to know exactly what she's doing when she strops. Although I'm aware that she's stropping it somehow feels quite comfortable and not really unseating at all. I got a birds eye view when I watched my trainer ride her. Thankfully she doesn't do this any more ... well very infrequently. She has several 'methods':

Cantering on the spot - she does as it says on the tin! She literally canters on the spot

Makes herself tall - it's really bizarre, she kind of grows, hollows and 'tap dances' with her feet, her feet barely leave the ground, she just shuffles them around like she's tap dancing

Rocking horse - she rocks backwards and forwards from her front to back feet, it's quite bizarre to watch

The head toss - probably the most uncomfortable, she sets her neck vertically and throws her head around

The levade - this one is weird. I think of a rear as them levering themselves up with their back legs fairly straight. Saffy doesn't actually 'rear' anymore but she did ... well, I have to explain it really .... when my trainer was riding her she brought her back legs right under her, if I hadn't have know her I would have said that she was going into a canter pirouette. It was very strange and did look like the SRS levade rather than a rear, she was superbly balanced, her hocks were under her and well flexed and wasn't upright like you'd expect a rear to be. As my trainer said, let's just hope that she can remember that for when we ARE doing canter pirouette! It does go to show that she CAN take the weight on her back end .....

The Spanish Paw - this is one that she uses on the ground to express her disapproval or impatience. Like the Spanish Walk but she doesn't walk! She's careful never to catch me when she does it and if I'm not looking at her she'll stamp her front leg down so that I can HEAR her disapproval. She did it the other day, I turned around, glared at her and she backed up, dropped her head and kind of went "oh c**p" I don't mind her expressing an opinion but she does get reamed out for this method as it could be dangerous.
 

Kittycat

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Lovely story Bay Mare. Saffy is beautiful, glad you are settling together, you seem to have a very special relationship.:)
 

domane

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Blimey, I didn't recognise her in those early pics... she was much darker and had such a short mane......
 

Bay Mare

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It would be nice if they'd stay steel grey but she's a rather lovely dapple at the mo :) She's starting back in ridden work tomorrow so hopefully will get some new piccies soon :)

Anyway ... more adventures of the Saff Monster to follow :)
 

Bay Mare

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August 2006

August 2006 .... 3 steps forward and 1 step back

She was going well despite having not been ridden for a week (I was in London all week then moving at the weekend). She started with a 'dog stretch' (think front legs stretched in front, leaning RIGHT back onto her hind legs) though not while I was on her but went quite well in the school even doing a few teeny steps of leg yield

The next day, however ... ok, it was windy and raining ... it was like she'd been wound up and let go. She trotted around like she was on a mission, nice rhythm, just like Spotty Dog! FINALLY got some good work out of her (including better leg yield) but left canter for another day as I didn't fancy speeds approaching the sound barrier

There was a pigeon on the fence looking at us, unfortunately it was next to the 'spooky tree'. She was fine, ignored the pigeon, but then it decided to fly off making the MOST noise possible! Saff did extended trot for a couple of strides and then settled down again quite quickly (thankfully).

After her 'clockwork toy' routine on Thursday I decided to get her on the lunge on Friday. She wasn't naughty but she was up for it BIG time. At one point she was doind a 20 metre circle in GALLOP! Yes, true gallop. She was completely controlled and obviously just wanted a blast.

The day after ..... a step forward again

I tried to reschedule my lesson as there were gales, driving rain, mini tornados under every tree, you name it but my trainer was already out and about so that little ploy failed miserably. Now our school is open to fields on two sides and open onto a 'stack yard' which is open to fields on the other (with the YOs horses in!). Add in trees along one of the sides and you've got the biggest recipe for disaster that there ever was. The trees were blowing and making one hell of a noise. Each tree had it's own microcommunity of what sounded like a tornado.

There was NO WAY on earth that Saffy was going to behave.

But she did. She not only behaved but she didn't bat an eyelid even with the wind up her tail, in her ears and battering us about. She didn't even toss her head around. My trainer said "I want one like that" as she was just so well behaved. Not only well behaved but worked beautifully, even doing the lateral work

Let's just hope that she stays like that :D


SaffypostET.jpg


Here's her dozing after an Equine Touch body balance
 

Bay Mare

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Saffy the klepto ....

My name is Saffy and I'm a kleptomaniac

I'd been watching someone else's lesson for about 20 minutes while she had a snooze, came back to the yard to find that she'd unclipped herself (don't know how) and was 'on the missing'. Looked in the feed bin area, she wasn't there, hadn't got a clue where she'd gone. Someone shouted that she was over in the other stable block. I went over to find a very pleased with herself looking Saffy heading towards me with a Waitrose carrier bag dangling from her teeth ... in said carrier bag were apples that she'd stolen from one of the other liveries. At least she has standards (Waitrose carrier bag) :lol:

One thing is for sure is that life is never dull with Saffy around!


Saffy21August.jpg
 

Bay Mare

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I do tend to make light of it now but those first few months really were my darkest hours. I was struggling with being a new owner and the loss of confidence that brings and on top of that had not only a 'problem' mare but a bossy, opinionated mare. At the age of 5 she was barging her way up the herd pecking order (a herd of about 23 horses), the mares really didn't like her for a while.

Until you own one, you do NOT know zits about horsemanship ... just joking, but they are great teacher ;)

I know that you're joking but to a certain extent it's true. I'd looked after showjumpers, I'd worked at yards, I'd helped friends with their horses but never in my life had I come across a boss mare like this one. Even the dealer who I got her from recently told me that they broke the mould when they made Saffy. She was very honest with me and told me that she thought that she was a real baggage when she first came over from Ireland but that she got to love her the longer she worked with her, unfortunately (not for me) she was too small for what she wanted so she couldn't keep her. She has taught me so much and done wonders for my confidence (working on the military model of break 'em down to build 'em back up!).

What got me through this was a fantastic support system AND this love that I had for this little steel grey mare. She somehow grabbed my heart in her little hooves and wouldn't let go. Throughout it all I had absolutely no regrets about getting her. I knew that she would be with me no matter what. Someone once commented that I MUST love her after all she'd put me through and I did. She was definitely meant to be
wub.gif


I was told by an eventer (who I trusted and respected) that I should get rid. I didn't even consider her advice, from the moment she said it I KNEW that she was wrong. In one way her saying that only spurred me on even more.

I always was a rebel :p
 

Bay Mare

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I've got a lovely person working with her now while I'm away, she also does behavioural work and a lot of stuff with clicker which has really turned Saffy's attitude around :D She's doing really well now and learns most things very quickly (scarily quickly)! :eek:

Here are some up to date piccies ...


SaffyTrot-2.jpg
INSaffy17Mar07b-2.jpg


SaffyTrot.jpg
Saffy19Mar07.jpg



In case you're wondering about the ears in some of the photos .... she's ridden in an SBS, her back is fine and her bit isn't winched up. The reason for the ears ... well, every picture tells a story ....


INSaffy17Mar07-9.jpg


How observant are you? Got it yet?

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Here's a clue ......


Bag.jpg
 

Bay Mare

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A few more piccies (work in progress)

INSaffy17Mar07Spanish-2.jpg
INSaffy17Mar07Spanish-3.jpg


INSaffy17Mar07Spanish-1.jpg
INSaffy17Mar07Spanish-5.jpg




I should really add a disclaimer for anyone coming to Smeltings for the Heather Moffett clinic in May ....


These photos are selected from a whole host of photos. She is still a work in progress and though she can look lovely at times she also has other times ..... :p I'm only hoping that the clinic isn't one of those days when she has her 'other times'. At the least she will be entertaining if nothing else :D
 
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