Tuesday 16 July 2024

It's Non Stop. Yearling Check In.

I feel like I am doing SO MUCH, like I am the busiest person alive. Then I write these blog posts and am  "hmmm, but what did I actually do this week?" I'd have so much great content for you if this was a backyard handyperson, gardening, lawnmowing, landscaping blog - this time of year I feel like half my life revolves around just trying to keep the place presentable. I don't even know how those of you with a 'real' farm keep up - I feel like my 'to do' list is endless with 3 horses and about 3 acres of land to look after.

Weekend project - raise up the 'floor' of the pony cottage and add a sill to stop them tracking bedding everywhere.

Also, we have new kitties. They were supposed to be barn kitties in training, but our house cat approves of them...so...we'll see.

So small and cute

I think it's hilarious they're basically mini versions of this guy. G thinks I might have gone too far and having 3 nearly identical cats is weird ;)

Cool down location of the week

Anyway. Horses. 

Pony kindergarten hasn't been a thing nearly as often as I want it to be - I feel like I have great plans then Tuesdays roll around and I am either out of town or working late (or one memorable time, was on track to make it but forgot the key to the hitch lock on the trailer). I am pleased I managed to make it this month with Reggie when the WE course was up, disappointed I didn't get Buck there as well.

Sunset is accentuating it, but the black pony is pretty brown/buckskin looking at the moment. It's honestly been far too hot the last couple of weeks to be trailering just for the sake of a pony play date.

I'm trying to be kind to myself about it because it's not like the yearling coblets are just sitting in their paddocks all day either. Their summer field is down the road a little so they do need to be led to and from twice a day and that actually does feel like a valid way for them to see a bit of the world in a positive way. In the evenings when we get back I also usually alternate grooming one or the other. They're both excellent with traffic now, including buses and heavy machinery. Dogs are no problem, motorcycles, bicycles, people stopping to say hi. Recycling and garbage day bins created some suspicious snorts, but was otherwise uneventful and the actual pick up with the truck was watched from their field with much interest. 

Gratuitous picture of shiny summer pony coat 

Anyway, for our check in:

Reggie. June 'to do' list, with current comments in italic:

- Can be fussy/impatient with feet. Was perfect for his last farrier appointment, but can still get impatient with his hinds. July to do: work more with hoof stand and positioning, holding like farrier would.

- Dislikes fly spray/sprays, can panic if I assume too much. Currently I spray near him on a cloth and wipe on and he's suspicious but accepting. Same. I'll just keep on keepin' on.

- Dislikes being groomed. I think genuinely doesn't like the feel of most brushes, because is happy to be scratched. Still a bit fussy about where you're allowed to touch (his stomach and flanks are ticklish!) Way better lately! We did 2 weeks of gastroguard but also he's itchy and I think he finally connected the dots that I will scratch him. 

Look, I have finally groomed him thoroughly! ;)

- Looking in mouth. (This is on me, he was great, then we needed to deworm them what felt like a million times and he's not sure about it anymore because I didn't do enough to make it rewarding at other times) This is also better, but as is the way with baby ponies now he is obsessed with putting everything in his mouth and I need to work on that next.

Exhibit A

- Generally can get sharp and impatient, mouthy, can tend to spooky. Yep. Jen @ CobJockey said something that stuck with me, comparing cobs to shishito peppers. For the most part they're pretty mild, but there's always a random spicy one! July to do: Keep building confidence and patience, slow and steady will hopefully win this race. I feel like he's quite sure of himself, which is nice. I also have the dubious talent of being the most boring person and generally making reactive horses duller ;)

Buck. June 'to do' list:

- Can be anxious about back feet. Yes. He's good for me but wasn't great for the last farrier visit. He's the type to internalize things and when the limit is reached, your time is up. Less a feet handling thing now and more a game of me reading him better and expanding the comfort zone without pushing past. 

- Anxious about hose/spraying. I can currently hose around his feet, he's very worried if it touches him. This was actually solved by our heat wave. Someone is considering being a fan of drinking from the hose and being misted on a hot day. July to do: Can we bath him?

I can't believe how grown up Buck looks in some of my pictures this summer. He's maaybe 13.2hh right now, so in person he's still a 'baby' with lots of growing to do.

- Anxious about the trailer. I suspect it's more about being unsure and alone away from his friends and less the trailer itself. Loads, unloads reasonably well but anxious about staying in there too long (even with being served grain/treats). I don't want it to be a 'thing' so he just loads, stands for a few minutes, unloads and gets tons of praise right now. We'll start closing dividers and doors, then once he's good with that he can go on a short trip around the block. This has had zero progress. I've been passively hanging high reward (alfalfa) hay nets in and on the trailer and turning him out in the back by himself, and he's very confident about the trailer now. But if anything I'd say everyone has become worse as far as being herdbound. I think it's worse due to them all being out together this summer and (sorry to say) Sophie being a bad influence and getting really worked up if he is out of sight. I think everyone having turnout time separately at home might be the direction I go for now. Being a typical food motivated cob he can leave the others in search of grass and expand the comfort zone organically without me being associated with it all.

- Looking in mouth. (As with his brother, this is on me, he was great, then we needed to deworm them what felt like a million times and he's not sure about it anymore) This is better! And bonus with all the follow up required with his gelding, he is excellent for the vet and needles and temperature taking and all that too :)

- Blankets on horses, humans putting their jackets off or on. He's still terrified, despite me using all my tricks (hanging them on the fence, hiding treats in them on the ground so he can explore at his own speed. Folding things up super small to touch him, etc) We'll get there eventually. Can we add hats to the list? lol I wore a straw hat in the heat wave one day and I could not catch him and couldn't figure out why. He's actually good with the hat now, and while rustle-y sounding blankets and jackets still need work, he's better and perfectly ok with non noisy items like sweaters and hoodies off and on.

In general: 

-I'd like to try to be more accountable for getting to the pony kindergarten classes, and if I truly can't do to work conflicts, just going through the motions and getting there on an alternate day, group get together or not. It seems a shame to be wasting such a good resource (and missing meeting up with such a good crew of pony friends)

-All the pony handling. They both have their quirks and things that are 'off limits'. While there is no rush, also I'd be smart to keep pushing it bit by bit. Time flies and I want safe riding ponies!

Is excellent at standing tied, his brother Reggie is much more fidgety.

- I really, really, need to address the herd bound stuff. It's nice that they're all good about leaving, but if it is Sophie or Sophie +1 left behind that is currently problematic. She's not great alone, nor is she doing a great job of acting as calming company, she feeds off baby pony anxiety for their missing friend and spirals right along with them :). This could be helped by getting out more. Or maybe I need a mini or something as a companion. (Please no.)

Sophie takes her 'parenting' duties VERY seriously, no pony is left behind.


Monday 8 July 2024

Learning New Things

I’m so glad I ventured a little outside my comfort zone and volunteered at the Working Equitation show. The extent of my knowledge of WE prior to this was based entirely on a couple of clinics schooling obstacles and a very hasty read of the rule book. I felt a little out of my depth scribing the non dressage parts but needn’t have worried, the judge was fantastic about explaining how things are scored and why and how to note it on the sheets. It was a busy job, but a fun and interesting one too. Dressage day was standard dressage scribing where you don’t really have time to take in much of the tests, but I still took away some tips and tricks as a rider.

This guy might be handy enough to tackle a speed round or two in the future

Day two was a lot more fun and I got the ultimate crash course in working eq. I’d feel pretty confident now about competing at my first show if it was my thing. If it’s a sport you’re competing in or interested in I’d 110% recommend a day scribing. I learned a lot about the rules and what the judge is looking for and it was a nice low stress way to dive into the show atmosphere. You never know, maybe I’ll get out there as a rider, but in the meantime I’ll definitely keep volunteering. First impressions are that it’s a fantastic, supportive community having a lot of fun. 

Summer is well and truly here and I cooked standing out there in the middle of a sunny arena. Post show day lakeside cool down

And an ocean one

Horses not to be left out, they have new and improved misting systems

Mid day naps

The show marked the end of another weeks vacation, so I've had some free time and the yearling cob boys have also been learning new things. It became apparent a while ago that Buck didn’t actually know much about pressure and release or whoa/go. He’s a good guy and he worries about keeping you happy, so he just kind of follows along and stays where you put him despite being clueless. I was happy to turn a blind eye and leave well enough alone. However, that’s not setting him up for long term success so I finally started putting the time in. Of course he’s a Baby Genius so a few friendly learning moments and reminders and he’s on board and confident. 

For a pony that isn't a fan of flapping objects, this clothesline is incoveniently placed (or advantageously, depending on your point of view ;)

I could beat myself up for not setting consistent expectations from the start and creating my own need for a boot camp, but also I feel like a little extra time gaining confidence in people and himself didn’t hurt either - he’s not one to take advantage and letting him “get away” with little things all this time I think made him more confident and trusting long term. He’s really come out of his shell and is just the loveliest guy.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Reggie, who is always up for some trouble. He’s previously been the focus of most of my attention and is holding steady at good boy status these days. Again since they're young I don't have high expectations or big training plans. I want them to have solid basic ground manners and see a bit of the world and keep it very light and fun. Mr Reggie has been doing all the things and even had a magic lightbulb moment one itchy day a few weeks ago where he decided that grooming feels good. Fingers crossed the antsy wiggly 'don't touch me there!' baby is a thing of the past. (Keeping in mind I did also give him a couple of weeks of gastroguard just in case.)

Despite my threats to sell Sophie, she is still here because I’m terrible at parting with horses. It’s one thing to lease or sell to someone you know, another to open it up to internet strangers. At this rate she’ll be here another 10 years or so.  I’m ok with that, I like her, she’s happy here and there is no rush. I've decided that if it happens it’s going to be a matter of the right person crossing our path. She is a quirky girl and despite the logical advice of selling to the best home you can find and trusting they'd do the same if the time came, I'd worry about her being passed around. I love my ponies, but the slightly risky thing about them is that if they aren't the temperament to be kid safe you end up with a limited pool of size appropriate riders.