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.