Thursday, December 31, 2009

is it over yet?

Oh la la, I've drowned in festivities and can't wait for life to return to normal. I'm stuffed like the christmas turkey on Thai seafood delights and too much fizz. Bah humbug, the mask is seriously slipping. Did I mention I'm not a fan of Christmas and New Year? May you all  have good things awaiting in the new year and if you don't...? then pray you be granted the good humour to cope. Did I mention I'm not a fan of.......

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

je ne mange pas de cheval/I don't eat horse

Well only once and that was accidental and I was on a school trip to France! I'm not so horrified about folks eating horse (although it doesn't sit well with me) but I am deeply concerned about the way these horses are travelled to slaughter. Hours and hours, days even, without food or water and pregnant mares and those with foals at foot . Sorry it's in french but if you can follow it do sign the petition.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

and about time too

The weather has been kinder these past few days, today we even had sun and warmth, hooray.
Finally got to play with my new pink bosal (pressie from Lydia) and both Moo and Chapsi seem to be very happy in it. Today I rode in the bosal and in spite of Moo being just a little bit full of himself  it went really well.
Chapsi was a little full on in the school today, we even had an unplanned halt to canter tranny (hehehe) but it's hardly surprising as he's out less, in more and just full of teenager 'beans'.

The neighbouring horse and pone left for pastures new today. I fear for them but can't do anything more, I've fed them hay the past few weeks and we had a nuzzle and a carrot on christmas day. I pray they fare well but I don't have high hopes :-(

Saturday, December 26, 2009


It was lovely to spend time with Di and Jim today. The 'big kid' in Di took a boing on Lydia's christmas pressie. I'm looking forward to getting back to work with the horses tomorrow...hope this dry spell holds.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Crimbo Everyone

I've OD'd on seafood and not sure if I have room for the foret noire buche. Have a very happy Christmas holiday everyone. Be your only problems those of over indulgence!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thawed out

After a week of cold weather and being stuck at home because of snow and ice (thank heavens I had been shopping) it was nice to wake to temperatures on the +ve side of the scale today. All the snow was gone but in it's place a heavy, grey, rainy day. Although with the milder temperatures I could turn on the waterers in the stables and save myself an age getting water.
Not much serious work done these last days, just enough to keep them ticking over. It honestly takes so long just to do morning stables and then with Christmas almost on us I'm finding it hard to find much time. Maybe next year I'll just give them December off.
How do you guys like Kate and HofC manage , do you get to work your horses much in these wintery conditions? I'm just missing my indoor school I guess.

Friday, December 18, 2009

there's no business like snow business

I know lots of you bloggers live in colder parts but this is our first significant fall in a couple of years. Above the neighbours neds come to tell me they would like more hay.

Below is Chaps and Cacahuete enjoying themselves.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jaile, the story finished

As winter fast approached it was time to up the ante and get on with the job in hand.
Now as I mentioned I was a total novice in the art of catching the uncatchable (that is excepting age 6 when my first welshie took the pee for 3 weeks when we got him home and refused to give in even when I wept).
I felt a book was in order so sent off for Kelly Marks, Handling the Untouched Horse. The book was full of good common sense.
The basic procedure was join up. I'd done a little of this type of stuff but never with an untrained horse, let alone one I'd never caught. So I constructed the pen and a track leading to it from the stable that he had been using. So he could be in the pen or in the stable. Off we went to the pen, shooed him down into it and...
Hey, I was good! I had join up in five minutes (ah yes pride, fall etc).
He joined up, did the licky chewy stuff and I walked up with my rope. He ran off. We joined up (he was like a bee to a honey pot), he legged it.
Now being rather dim I took this to heart and re-read my Kelly book (lucky it was short). I was NEVER going to get near him holding a rope so what the hell was I going to do?
Day two and more join up. I now realise this was a bad move. He wasn't unhappy to join up and he had 'got it', what he didn't get was contact.
Now had I been clever I would have quickly put two and two together and realised that he did the same thing in the field with the other horses. He would stick close, follow them around the field but the second they turned to him he backed way off.
As I said I was blind to what he was telling me, I do hope that today I would have picked up the signals quicker. In any case it finally clicked (after days spent in the pen, talking, walking and making it gradually smaller) that something more extreme maybe required.
I put guided him into the stable. I had a plan and I got all my tools to hand.I went into the adjoining stable and clambered (via the manger) onto the adjoining wall. I took my long rope in my right hand and hurled it through the rails on top of the wall. I fed a good bit of the rope through the rails and over his neck and then used a garden hoe to 'pick up' the loose end of the rope dangling by his feet. I fed the loose part back through the rails to my hand.
The amazing thing was that whilst I did this he showed no fear, he just stood stock still and stared at me.
So now I had him but I was still in the next stable (scratch head, I suppose I hadn't thought this would work so I hadn't planned too far ahead, doh). I decided to leave the rope over the wall, through the rails and try going into his stable to grab them. The gods were on my side and I managed to grab one end of the rope before he turned away. The rest is a bit foggy. I'm a girl I probably cried or at the very least misted over. I got the head collar on with no fuss and I reckon Jaile just breathed a huge sigh of relief.
It wasn't the most technically brilliant catching of an untamed horse and I definitely won't be selling any books off the back of it but it did teach me some big lessons. Lessons in humility and communication. I should have worked it out sooner that the poor chap just couldn't bridge the gap between closeness and contact?
Within a week he was in the stables across the lane, farrier had trimmed him (with little fuss) and he would lead around the place like a lamb.
Over the winter we worked on the ground, in-hand and lunging (wish I'd known clicker then) and he would wear his bridle and saddle with no fuss. I had lots of work with three of my own plus liveries to work but fate was at hand. I had met a lovely lady called Lou and being very interested in horses she asked could she come round and see ours.
To cut a long story shorter she met Jaile, I explained his history and she asked what I would do with him now I had caught him. The truth was that I had not got enough time for him but there and then I offered him to Lou. Jaile was free but I was insistant that she had a companion for him when she took him home to her place. We worked further with Jaile for a couple of months until Lou was confident to take him home.
Lou and her family are still friends and I still see Jaile from time to time, he blossomed into a calm horse, suitable for Lou AND her kids to ride. He hacks out on the quiet chemins where they live and shares his life with two mares. For me a very happy ending to his story.
Oh dear, I'm misting again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jaile's story

Well I was hoping to be able to tidy up the 'loose ends' these last few days of the year. I want to finish the early clicker training threads but in this freeeeezing weather I haven't braved the video camera, hopefully soon though.
I still have the stuff on turning to complete too but I want to try out my new bitless bridling before I put that to bed.
For the new year my 'fundamental' list will be making an appearance but as always it isn't quite what I thought...a list? More like a blinkin' thesis. Still it keeps the grey matter from decomposing to quickly.

So tonight? I'm going to tell, briefly, the tale of Jaile.

When we bought our last house, moving over the channel from England to France, the property came with a horse. In 2003 we moved in and 'acquired' a purebred, 6 year old arab by the name of Jaile de Moulin. When we signed on the house it was made clear that this pretty chestnut horse was not able to be caught, had never had the farrier. He had dreadlocks any rastafarian would be proud of and would wander near just as long as there was a fence between you.
Jaile had been born at Moulin de Cros, our new home. We learned snippets about his past; let's just say the vendors were a little vague with the truth. It seemed that he was left to the vendors as a yearling by the previous owners who had bred him. For two years our vendors had travelled back and forth from Holland before finally moving to the farm when Jaile was about three. In this time we believe he was on his own. At some point a 'whisperer' chap had caught him and and then they left him with a headcollar on...they never managed to catch him again and the headcollar disintegrated.
Jaile was kept out with their other horses and a 'steering' fence had been built so that when the others came in to the stables, Jaile went through a separate gate and wandered along his track that lead directly into his stable! Never touched and with rotten great cracks in his feet he was truly a project.
With the enormous task of settling humans, equines, canines and felines into a new home; not to mention brushing up the french enough to teach and starting a new business, Jaile was left on the back burner for 3 months.
He had been turned out with our horses about two weeks after they arrived but winter loomed and I wanted to put mine in the stables alongside the school so that winter working would be easier. This caused a headache as Jaile couldn't be caught and the school/stables were across the lane.
I've worked with problem horses and started youngsters but I had (and never have again) tried to catch a feral one. In the three months we'd known each other I had spent many moments across the fence from him but the second I reached my hand over he would back off and leave.
I'll conclude this tomorrow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I am not a believer in ''methods''. I'm a believer in fundamentals. So reads the first lines of Jack Nicklaus' book 'My Way'.

I read this quote a while back and it hit me bang between the eyes. Although he is talking about golf, this could so easily apply to equestrianism.
Top trainers sell books and clinics off the back of methods. The thing that has hit me this last 12 months (yes it's almost that long since I started blogging) is that methods don't matter. Fundamentals are what count. I'm going to create a list of fundamentals over the next few weeks and the bad news? I shall bore you with them, lol. Any thoughts will be gratefully received (as always) and I shall look on them in the new year as if they were resolutions.

Back to the mundane, too windy still for Moo (blimey he's a handful coming in, very polite but bronc-ing all over).
Chapsi and I took a windswept walk down to the bottom of the property and he just about held on to himself and so we returned and did some work in the yard with me standing on the bucket and leaning over...he is quite happy with this work now.

Friday, December 11, 2009


The wind that is. Not only a stiff breeze but some hefty gusts thrown in for good measure. Sunny though!
There were high jinks on turn out this morning, well behaved walking out but cavorting about when released. Bringing them in an hour ago and Moralejo was on two legs (he couldn't decide which two he preferred so we may be in the running for Stricly Come Dancing next series) :-o

I almost didn't work Chapsi because it was so windy but I'm so desperate I did, lol!
He was a bit jumpy going down (the tarp on the leveller was blowing about) but I unhooked him, said a prayer to Epona and off we went.
He was very good, a bit edgy but came back to me every time (even trotted back twice) and backed, walked on, halted, targeted and all the usual. Just twenty minutes but I'm glad I bothered.

Unlikely to do anything tomorrow as I have to be the perfect mother and take out daughter and friends for her birthday treat...think of me friends!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

back to school

Lovely mild day today so I worked Moo in hand, just mobilising the shoulders and haunches, halting, backing and a little shoulder-in. Oh it felt good to be back in school! Weird but his spanish walk was bold and energetic and he offered alternate legs with no encouragement...maybe he's been mulling it over whilst I've been laid up.

I've just taken the last antibiotic, yay, and can now ponder the benefits of being grotty. The major one being that I've shed the soft bits (5.5kg) and am back to my 60 kg fighting weight. I'm still being good in the hope that I can shed another kilo or two before christmas...and then I can put it all back on over the festive season!

The best benefit though is the proof that I still love working with the boys, I missed it so much. It will make the winter slog worthwhile I hope.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


It’s 2 1/2 weeks since I did any work with the boys. Today I got my fix!
Chapsi and I headed up the hill through the village, saying hi to Beethoven (the St Bernard) on the way. I decided that, instead of moaning about how little passing traffic there is, I would turn up towards the farm and go visit Christophe’s yard (he’s my neighbour the builder). We did lots of snorting at heaps of sand and other aggregates and then did some targeting of the lorry, diggers and trailers. He coped very well and so we headed home, stopping on the way to chat to a neighbour. The only blotting of his copybook was a big snorting dragon impression at the neighbours barrow filled with hedge clippings. Still very pleased with him though as he hasn’t done a thing for so long. The targeting has made him very brave; he will snort first and then creep up to the offending object and touch it with his nose. He’s quite upset that this doesn’t automatically lead to a click if I haven’t given the touch cue; horses are so much cleverer than us eh?

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the up

I'm definitely feeling lots better and if it hadn't been for the dire weather I would have worked one of the boys today.
So I have nothing thrilling to report. There has been a good debate going on over at HorseofCourse see here and here regarding trainers and students, so go take a look whilst I'm quiet on here!
It's an interesting thought, just what makes the perfect trainer/student partnership. I think a perfect relationship is actually a chemistry that builds between the two. It has to be based on trust and respect. I worry that some students almost worship their trainers in a weird 'cult' way, not healthy and a place I've been (on the receiving end I would add) and wouldn't want to return to.
Hopefully normal service will resume here soon :-)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

hurrah for friends

I've had a lovely day today. Di came over and brought food parcels...homemade soup, crusty bread and we lunched well on delicious grub and put the world to rights! I had forty winks on the sofa when Di left and now I'm feeling beautifully rested and about to go and do hay etc.
Thanks Di it was great and really cheered me up.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Exciting today, first thing we noticed that next door's pone had escaped (again) and was eating our grass! Put him back and made contact with the neighbour (he only visits once in a while and doesn't live here) who told me he thought he was jumping out, LOL. I said 'if he jumped that fence then I'll buy him!' of course the crafty little monkey had shimmied under (not difficult with one strand placed so high). It appears that he has sold the place to some more Engleesh :-( just hope they're nice and friendly.
Finally had to go to the docs as Patrick said he wouldn't help me any more if I didn't! Turns out I have bronchitis and pneumonia (just in the left lung at the mo :-)) so hardly surprising I wasn't feeling too good. Ah well, I have some antibiotics and other goodies and best bit, Di's coming over tomorrow to see me.
Don't think working horses will happen soon but if I can be well for the festive season I'll be content.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

all lurgied out

I've had quite enough of this lurgy now. It's been ten days and in spite of a real improvement on Friday/Saturday I seem to have flatlined again and although mucking out is going better it leaves me too kncked to do anything else.
So sorry that this is just a moan but I've done nothing with my pones for so long and I've had enough.
Tomorrow will be beter I'm sure.