Sunday, 17 April 2011

Photos from today

Today has been a successful day for everyone. Daughter got brave and cantered Lukey on both reins, she went over a cross pole even though she would rather not have done, and Lukey went past the scary donkey(who wasn't even there today!), although it did take 15 minutes to get him to  comply!

Anyway, here are some piccies from todays adventures.

Monday, 11 April 2011


It was such a lovely day yesterday.
The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the plan was for C to go out hacking with her friends whilst I stayed at the yard and mucked out.
I'd already had a word in Lukeys ear about what behaviour was appropriate, and the type of behaviour that would put him in the dog house. I think I'm going to have to build him a kennel after this.

Groomed and tacked up, C wanted to ride in the arena before going out.  He was a little bit forwards *ahem*, but given half an hours hard labour he'd calmed down and relaxed.

Everyone was ready, and the scene was set for a lovely ride .



So, off they went.

And 5 minutes later they were back.
That was very definitely NOT the plan.
I'd got as far as opening Lukey's stable door in order to begin mucking out, and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a horse, without his rider.
Shi! Wha? Huh?

Oh damnit.
Right! Where is he? And what's the little git done this time!?!?!

YM grabbed the loose horse, and I ran(or an approximation of) up the driveway to try to find Lukey, and make sure that C was ok.
Phew. Tis ok, C and Lukey came trotting up the road trying to find Myles(loose horse).
After establishing that she was ok, I asked the question that was uppermost on my mind. What the fook did he do? I know it was him, I can tell by the look on his face(think smug).

Apparently he'd spooked at the sound of a dog jumping into the river, done his usual spook, spin, run routine, and all 3 horses had bolted across the field. C had stayed on, and had eventually managed to pull him up to a trot. The lady riding Myles had had a fall and Myles had come home alone, and C's other friend had pulled up and got off to check on Myles' rider.

Bloody hell. Bloody, bloody hell.

After everyone had recovered, and some semblance of order restored, C took Lukey, with me walking alongside, back to the scene of the crime. He was told in no uncertain terms that he WAS going to behave, although he had another strop, stamped his feet and squealed, but didn't naff off this time, and was taken to the end of the track and back home again.

Naughty, naughty boy.
So, Lukey now has another name. Verymuchathicko will be going back out today with me onboard. He will be back on his anti naughty boy powder(agnus castus), and he will tow the bloody line.
Or else!

Monday, 4 April 2011

I should have known........

.......when I went to fetch Notsofatso from his paddock and he stood stock still while I put on his headcollar and walked politely up to the yard. I should have known when I tied him up and he stood stock still and politely ate from his haynet, lazily chewing every last bit. I should have known when he stood stock still and offered each foot up in order to be picked out.
I should have known that I had indeed entered The Twilight Zone.

Normally I go to fetch him and he wants to play tag. This is cool if you aren't in an hurry. Normally putting on his headcollar entails him trying to eat it, then offering to hold the leadrope for you. Normally bringing him in means you either have to drag the little sod, or march very very quickly up to the yard. And normally, eating at the haynet is done with tremendous force and violence, as if he's never going to eat again.
Not today.
Today we're behaving.
I am very suspicious at this point, and wonder if I need to say a few Hail Mary's before carrying on!
Not to worry, I'll just tack up, as per usual, and wait for Louise to arrive.
So, I do just that. I get a text to say Louise is on her way, so I take Notsofatso to the mounting block, and he stands stock still while I do stirrups, check girth and get on.
Now I'm confused.

Over the previous weekend I'd had a migraine, and it was still hanging around in the background, so I'd taken some codeine. I put these strange events, and my sense of foreboding down to that, and decide not to worry, it just means that our ride will be fun, and incident free.
Yes, I really am that stupid.

We spot Louise at the end of the driveway, and pootle up to meet her. Lukey stops dead in his tracks and refuses to move. I nudge gently, nothing. I kick. Nothing. Smacked bottom, ok, we'll move. We've hacked out with Louise several times over the last few weeks so no need for Notsofatso to be so silly.

Louise goes infront, and we do the small amount of roadwork we need to do before picking up the bridleway. Louise and I chat, ponies mooch along, not a care in the world. We cross scary bridge, no problems. We pass milk carton tied spookily to tree, no problems.
We come to the field where we usually go and Mr Farmer has ploughed it. Shit. Ah no, it's ok, Nice Mr Farmer has left a little skirt around the edge so we can still go this way. Brilliant. Bring it on!

We turn left along the bottom of the field and Lukey spots the horses over yonder. They're normally turned out in the bottom paddock, but today they're in the top field. Excellent. Nothing for Lukey to get worried about today.
Lukey turns himself inside out, upside down, every which way but the way we're meant to be going just so he can get an eyeful of these damn horses. We slip off the skirt of the field and fall flat on our faces. Pick your feet up you pillock is the order he's given. In one long, furry ear, and out the other. We slip off the skirt again, then slip trying to get back up it. Oi, fuckwit, pick your damn feet up!!!

Phew, we're out of sight of the horses, and about to cross the road.
Wait for the traffic to clear,and off we trot. Clip clop, clip clop. Excellent. Road successfully crossed.
Oh My God, there's a fecking great tractor(Lukey HATES tractors).....Oh that's just marvellous, there's another one. All ride, halt! We take the ponies to the side and turn them to face the tractors, me expecting Lukey to turn into fire breathing idiot at any second. I want my mummy.
This is weird, waaayyyy too weird.
We can see another tractor coming towards us, so as tractor number one goes past we decide to follow it, and trot along behind it. Look Lukey, we're chasing nasty tractor away.
Woohoo, the tractors wander off into the field, and we carry on trotting. Lukey isn't pulling, he's being very good, I'm actually quite liking this. Louise is onfront on Earl. Big brave Earl. Fearless. Strong.
Next thing I know I'm practically sat on Earls backside, Lukey's head is jammed up inside it(well, not quite, but you get the idea). Big, brave Earl has spotted..........some black plastic. And it's going to get him. Louise swears a little, Earl ignores her. She smacks his bottom, and he ignores her. Then he decides to just carry on. Problem, what problem?
I die laughing, Lukey gets over the horror of almost losing his head, and Earl carries on regardless.

 Entering the forest, we both think that that's it, we've tackled the tractors, and Earls little hiccup, so we're fine, and can enjoy the rest of the ride.
Oh dear. Delusional much.

For the most part, the next hour or so is indeed incident/heart attack free. Until we reach Lukey's nemesis, The Donkey.
Immediately prior to this, Lukey had been a very big , brave boy, and crossed the road as lead pony, no mean feat on a major A road with cars whizzing past. I am so pleased with him, tell him he's so so good. What a plonker.
As we near The Donkey, Lukey starts to slow up. I give a little reminder and he carries on, albeit reluctantly. Louise takes the situation by the scruff of the neck and puts Earl into trot, Lukey, as was the idea, follows. I spot The Donkey first, but keep my leg on, look ahead, determined not to let it bother us.
One minute I'm trotting smartly forwards, next moment I'm going backwards at an incredible speed. Lukey had spotted the offending animal, and it was lying down. This is all too much for Notsofatso and he craps himself. Then the damn donkey rolls, and now Lukey is convinced that this animal, this thing, is inherrently evil. He snorts, his eyes out on stalks. I'm peeing myself laughing, and almost fall off. Louise is peeing herself and has tears rolling down her face. Earl is not amused.
Then Lukey spots Funny Man Carrying Manky Dog, and in that split second I take the opportunity to kick him forwards(Lukey, not the man), and Lukey responds by shooting off. Louise is still laughing.
We piaffe past the man, and I pray that Lukey doesn't knock him over, trying to explain about Lukey's aversion to Evil Donkey. Old Man looks confused, Earl is still not amused, and I need a change of underwear.
Once past Evil Donkey, Lukey calms back down as if nothing had happened. What donkey?

I now need a strong drink, and am glad that we are very near to home. Nothing else can go wrong.

Lukey tackles scary bridge as the lead pony*good boy*,  and all is well with the world until we hear the train. Now I'm convinced that this is the end, I am going to die. Surely huge noisy train = massive strop and spook from Notsofatso.
He just watches it go past without a care in the world. I breathe a sigh of relief.

We get to the road, and once again Lukey takes the lead. Good boy, whose SO brave eh? *pat the pony*.

Then he jumps.
What now?
A bloody daffodil!
One is now fed up, and Notsofatso gets a verbal earbashing.

I'm just about to say hello to Nice Man Gardening when Lukey stops dead in his tracks and tries to spin.
What the holy f*ck is wrong now?!?!?!?! There's a bloody car trying to get past us(cheers mate for waiting, cretin) and I'm almost sat on his bonnet.
Lukey has decided that Nice Man Gardening, who wasn't there the first time we walked past that very same garden, is going to kill him, and I ask the man, through gritted teeth, to say hello to Lukey so that Lukey realises that it's just a human bean and it's OK, he won't hurt him. Nice Man Gardening's son is obviously confused by my request, and waves.
Oh dear god, I'm going to wring his neck. Speak, not wave, you fool! It's not that difficult, alright? Just say the word, 'Hello'.
Nice Man Gardening then says that very word, and Lukey concedes to walk on. Dear god I'm going to cry.

I'm now in the throes of a nervous breakdown, Louise is once again peeing herself laughing, and Earl is convinced Lukey is an idiot.

Earl, my friend, I'm right there with you!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Breakthrough of sorts

After last weekends total washout due to some seriously inclement weather(see below), I arranged for a friend of mine to come and ride Lukey for me to see if she could help.

Turns out it was a decision well made, as the difference in him after she'd ridden(and coped with his tantrums!!) was amazing. Lukey has NEVER felt so infront of the leg, has NEVER taken me forwards like that without me being in need of oxygen!
My friend works for a hunting yard, and is well used to much bigger animals than Lukey throwing their weight around, so I knew nothing he did would bother her at all.
I don't think he was prepared for someone on him who wouldn't back down.......he's used to me being a coward and totally backing off if he gets grumpy! His initial reaction was one of confusion

followed by arrogance 

Lukey chucking a strop
 but eventually he worked out that she wasn't me, she wasn't scared, and she wasn't putting up with any of his shit!

He even began to enjoy himself

What tuesdays session proved was that he is worth persevering with, and that his 'problems' aren't his  problems, they're mine in as much as they reside in my head. He gave in pretty quickly once he realised he was no longer top dog, and having seen that for my own eyes, I can now confidently move forward with him knowing that I CAN deal with his tantrums, if and when he decides to throw them!
So, an huge thank you to aforementioned friend. I was so so happy tuesday afternoon, even happier when I rode the next day and I still had that forward going pony to ride. He even listened to me when there was a little incident out hacking and he wanted to run, he wanted to panic but he didn't, and I was very proud of him for that.
Good boy! He even worked up a sweat, bless him.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Counting sheep

Bugger, bugger, bugger.

What I should have done is end the session early. It was going rather well. We had bending, stretching and flexing in walk, and a reasonably forwards trot, which, although not pretty, was a step in the right direction. I may even have been heard uttering the words "Good boy", although if questioned under oath I will strenuously deny it!
I'd had to tell him off for being lazy, and his mini threats didn't bother me in the slightest, they just earned him another circle, or serpentine etc etc etc
He felt relaxed, back was soft, he wasn't fighting, and was even listening to my inside leg when circling and not falling in. We went over the trotting poles all without fuss, and I was on such an high after wednesday's successful, totally without incident hack.
I had this blog post practically written in my head, and I was smiling.

Then I spotted them.
Bloody sheep.

Our arena is directly outside the stable block, behind which is a big hedge.....and for Lukey this is a big deal as it always freaks him out being able to hear, but not see, whatever's going on behind it. Add to the mix the occasional gap in aforementioned hedge and you have the ideal opportunity for Lukey to act like a big girl's blouse!
Travelling up the arena, I spotted the woolly critters and shouted to my YM, who was also riding, that the sheep were around and playing silly buggers. Lukey, at this point, was pretty relaxed, alert, but chilled. Then HE spotted the sheep, through the scary gaps and before you could say mint sauce we were hightailing it down the arena at a fair old lick. I was OK, hanging on, fairly confident that he'd stop soon enough(anyone trained in the fine art of smelling bullshit may well wrinkle their nose up at that one.)......and he did stop, albeit wih abit of a screeching halt and a spin and snort.
Stupid boy, stupid sheep.

So ofcourse then he'd forgotten all about bending and stretching, all about listening to the aids, and probably most significantly at this juncture, he'd forgotten all about relaxing.

YM left the arena and went to chastise the offending animals, which Lukey took as a cue to act the pratt. We had a tantrum because we weren't allowed to piss off out of the arena, we had a strop because YM's horse had left the arena, then, because he'd been told to behave and NOT allowed to exit stage left, we decided to try and ditch the old bag, and he bronced, then bronced again.
Positives from this encounter are that I stayed onboard......I wish I could carry on this sentence by saying that we had an epiphany and he was an angel for ever and ever, amen, but, after he failed to put me on the floor, his dander was up, and his head had gone. I circled a couple more times(prayer works in these circumstances!), but I knew my time in the saddle was about to come to an abrupt end, so I chose to dismount, and take Disgraced Pony back to his stable.

So, I am feeling rather flat, kind of bleurgh.....don't think either of us came out on top today. I undoubtedly chickened out of having it out with him then and there. BUT, on previous occasions when he's thrown a paddy, I've landed on my well rounded derriere, then vowed never to climb into the saddle again. This time I stayed in the saddle, and am determined not to be intimidated, or beaten.

Maybe there ARE some positives to be taken from today afterall?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

It was all going SO well.

I should have known really what was in store for me when I went to bring Lukey in from the field and had a silly, snorting fool on the end of the lead rope. Ever since a) I've taken his rug off, and b) the electric fencing has been working properly he's been a sod to bring in, or rather, a sod to get through the gateway. All our fencing is electric, with gate handles on elasticated rope. He can hear the 'click' and must, at some point since his rug removal, have had a good zap off it, because he now really hates going anywhere near that gateway. It's very good that he now has a decent level of respect for it, but not so good when you're trying to take him through the gate without getting trampled!

Anyway, I digress.

Got him in, brushed him off(well, scraped the worst of the mud off), and tacked him up. Saddle, bridle and bungee fitted over the head, through the bit rings and clipped(on one side) to D ring on the saddle, and tied(because the stupid sod snapped the clip) to the D ring on the other side.
I had decided to lunge him today, as on all previous occasions over the last week he'd been long lined.
 Now, on the lunge, Lukey throws tantrums on the left rein, and just arses about on the right rein(remember that bit for later).
So, with lunge line attached, hat and gloves on, and lunge whip in hand off we went.

From our last few sessions, he knew I was going to ask him to work from the start, so I only had to gesture with the whip and he jumped into trot*good boy!*.
I had, before I tacked up, set up some trotting poles in the arena, and planned on using them once he'd knuckled down abit.
We began the session on the left rein, and I was expecting tantrums. Well, I didn't get tantrums, more a diluted version of his usual threats. If I pointed the lunge whip at his quarters he swished his tail and did a silly little bunny hop(in previous times that would have been a full blown buck), so I took that as a small sign of progress. I kept the pressure up until he stopped his bunny hopping, and had him going round in a nice working trot, then changed the rein.

Now, Lukey loves trotting poles. No, honestly, his face lights up, and he will, if loose schooled, take himself over them of his own free will.
Today, however, he decided that they were there to get him......cue first bout of stupidity. He set off in trot ok, he's always more forward on the right rein, he'd rather rush than actually work as he finds this rein more difficult, so once the trot had settled, and he was listening, I bought him round to go over the trotting poles. Well, Lukey had other ideas, screeching to a stop, snorting and setting off in the other direction*idiot*.
So, got him back round on the right rein and presented him at them again......he went over them without even blinking, little sod!

Anyway, just to digress, again, for a moment, the whole point of his current regime is to rid him of his attitude, and stop him taking the piss, which he has been doing, royally. He is, or has been, incredibly lazy, and would buck/throw a tantrum if asked to go forwards.
Today, we carried on last weeks work, which was to let him know that this behaviour wasn't acceptable, and that it stopped, NOW! I kept on working him, asking him to go on, to open up the trot, then to come back, but keep the trot, rather than grind to a halt as he had been doing. Things were going so well that all I had to do was take my arm out to the side to cue him going forwards, and bring it back into my body to ask him to either walk, or shorten the trot strides. I didn't even need vocal cues at this point, and the whip was just passively there.
The ground today was pretty crap....our arena is grass, and add rain to winter mud and you have sticky, gluey surface, so all I wanted was him to go forwards in the walk and trot. I changed the rein again back to the left rein, and continued. He was listening so well, and seemed so willing to go forwards, that when I indicated that I wished him to open up the trot stride again, he offered me canter. That was good, great infact. It appeared that he was willingly offering to go on without me needing to get after him, so I allowed the canter to continue for a few more strides, then brought him back to the trot. Carried on working him, he again offered canter, all with a smile on his face, so I decided to change the rein back to the right, and have the last 5 mins just consolidating what we'd done in this session.
Pah! Double pah! Lukey had other ideas.
Sent him off in walk, asked for trot, got abit of a head shake and tail swish, but nothing serious, so ignored it and just kept up the pressure until he was happy to carry on of his own free will.
I opened my arm out again, as I had been doing all session, to ask him to take the trot more forwards, and bam! Explosion. It wasn't really a tantrum, more of a micky take........he set off at 100mh, totally taking me by surprise. Even though I had gloves on the sudden yank of the lunge line still hurt my hands, and in the end I just let go. I was worried that either I'd get pulled over, or he'd slip in the mud. So, off he went, bucking and farting, then scared himself silly as the line was following him, dimwit.
I caught him, and then made him work, and work, and work. Had he just behaved he'd have been back in his stable eating lunch, but all that his foolishness got him was a further 15 minutes hard labour.

He was tired by the end of it, and suitably contrite, as he bloody should have been, little sod. It had all been going so, so well. Why oh why did he have to go and spoil it?

I left him, in disgrace, in his field eating his lunch.

 Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

Monday, 14 February 2011

A brief introduction

Lukey, or Ipley SkyWalker, is a rising 5 New Forest gelding by Brookshill Brumby out of Twiggs Lane Foggy.

He came to me almost 4 years ago, and it's been a steep learning curve along the way.

Luke as a foal

Over the weeks and months ahead, I'll share some of my pictures of Lukey(of which there are many!), but not yet.
Lukey has always been a little, erm, special. He's tried every which way to either injure himself, or die(idiot). Post gelding he nearly lost his life, he's had colic(through being greedy and escaping into a grass filled paddock), laminitis(brought on by him escaping into a grass filled paddock and gorging himself!).......he went through a period of losing large patches of fur when changing from winter to summer coat, or vice versa. He used to always come in from the field either covered in bites(from pissing off his field companions), injuries(from doing god knows what), or with his rug in tatters either left hanging round his neck, or discarded, buckles still done u, for me to go and retrieve.

Since his first brush with laminitis, grass has been his enemy, and balancing keeping him happy whilst restricting his grazing and keeping an eye on  his weight can be challenging. Like most ponies, Lukey thinks, first and foremost with his stomach. He gets very grumpy and agitated if his access to food is limited, so spring and summer see a return to soaking haynets and sectioning off his paddock, much to his distaste.
Now, erecting electric fencing poses a problem where Lukey is concerned, due mainly for his total disrespect for it. He will simply go round picking the posts out of the ground, having first travelled along the length of the fence testing for any weak areas in the flow. This pony is FAR too clever for his own good!.
He's also not allowed to be turned out with mares, as he finds them just a little too irresistable. Despite being gelded he still takes an unhealthy interest in them, although he has now started on vitex agnus castus(or monks pepper as it is also known) to try to put a stop to this behaviour. Only time will tell if this has a positive affect on him.

Lukeys general behaviour can be challenging, although that is partly due to my being too easy on him, and allowing undesirable behaviour to continue. A new, hard line regime is now in place to get him back on track. Allowing him to carry on as he was doing would have been dangerous, and ultimately made both he and myself miserable. This is really the main reason behind setting up this blog.
I wanted a record of his progress(ha ha), somewhere to write down my thoughts, and to be able to see just how far we've come together.

On that note, I'll leave you with one of my favourite photos of Lukey, one which I think explains his character and mischevious nature without the need for too many words.

Until next time.