Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Starting again

I know Grace has been ridden - I've done it myself and didn't have any issues. But I know she hasn't had a good 'start' and I know that probably most of her brief time under saddle has been complicated by EPSM and human failure to understand.

So we are starting again.

I guess we really started the process last year. For me it's about more than the tacking up and riding out. First I had to try and understand a bit more about Grace. Get a bit of two way communication going and help her to be happy in her skin.

Only in July I didn't realise just how unhappy in her skin she was. Now she is on the EPSM diet she can properly relax for the first time in who knows how long.

As for most things Grace takes having a saddle on her back for the first time in months in her stride. And what a stride :-)

Monday, 19 April 2010

But I want to play on the swings........... (pout pout)

It's been fun packed few days. Can you hear me gritting my teeth and smiling all at the same time?

Grace has a lami paddock which she shares with one or two others depending on what they are up to.

If it is just the one companion Grace decides that she has to patrol the borders. I sat and watched her and she matches every minute of munching with another of stomping round the fence line. A rough measurement has her completing at least 1000m every hour, probably more. So somewhere in the region of 3-5 miles per day.

When she has two companions; lets call them A and B, they have to be kept at opposite ends of the field, which is long and thin. No sooner has she got A corralled at one end then she peeks over her shoulder to find that B has moved from their alloted space. So she stomps over and sorts them out only to find that now A has moved out of position. I can't measure the mileage for this - but it must be fairly high and requires much bossiness. Apparently you can hear her snort in frustration from the yard.

It's only been a few days but the effect on her feet has been fantastic. Her bum is in better shape too, but oddly she still has a stomach a whale would be proud of.

Grace now feels so good she can pogo on rocks and doesn't appear to feel a thing. Of course I am pleased for her, although a pogoing horse is a bit of a challenge...........

She is feeling so good that on the way in from the field she puts on a RADA worthy impersonation of a shuttle on the launch pad with all engines firing. Not a missed step, unlike the shod horse in my other hand which is slipping and tripping all over the place despite playing at snail.

Going out in the morning presents a completely different challenge. Grace is a bit stiff from having been in overnight. It's not good for EPSM horses but I don't have a choice at present. But stiff or no that doesn't stop her from diving off at every opportunity to go and see her best friends; the ducks. I have even tried changing our route to the field to avoid going anywhere near the duck pond. No good though, Grace knows every possible little alley that she could dive down to get to them.

I did try taking her to see them in the evenings, but this just feeds the addiction. She will stand for a considerable length of time mimicking their head/neck movements and just totally transfixed. She will come away when I ask but I feel sooooo mean!

I so feel like the Mum in the park with the pouting toddler that is stomping their feet and whinging about wanting to play on the swings. Only 1000lb is one hell of a toddler.............

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Someone forgot to tell Grace

My wonderful vet contacted Grace's original vets to find out some info about her for me. Very very kind of him and I really appreciate it.

This was in the early days and the news was discouraging. One of the litany of problems was inability to canter.

Only someone forgot to tell Grace. My equally wonderful helper/trainer is having quite a bit of a challenge persuading her that it is possible to exercise without cantering. And she does it beautifully too.

On a more sober note - a bit worried today because she has a new field mate, and they had obviously spent a lot of time cantering up and down. Grace came in extremely sweaty and svelte. But when I left her post more unintentional cantering she seemed fine. Cross fingers and touch lots of wood!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Climb every mountain..............

Working Grace in the school today. We did a tiny bit of loose jumping (all of a ten inch cross pole).
As you can see Grace was totally unfazed by the artificial climbing wall which was hydraulically raised and lowered in the background as she was working.
Just how often do you get to train for that?! This yard is great :-)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Dietary changes

The EPSM diet so far (touch wood) is going well. I don't understand how Miss Fussy Boots Princess can stomach the stuff, as it's a thick slimey, oiley mess. But just like a puppy she is licking her bowl clean.

The canine transformation is evident also in a new 'field behaviour'. At bringing in time when I catch her and her pal she holds her pal's lead rope while I put the headcollar on. It gets given back to me when all is secure.

I have no idea what is driving this, but she is happy, pal is happy so I am happy. Don't mess with what works!

All this time we have been quietly working on Grace's feet, which are Frustration Central. I have no solid evidence, but I am pretty sure that tying up episodes have a negative impact on their development. Growth appears interrupted and the soles drop just a little. The horn however is still granite hard.

So hard that it continues to make mincemeat of my tools. I really must make the effort to soak her feet for a bit before I try to trim them again. Anyhow I was showing someone a few things today and using Grace's feet as a teaching tool.

It only struck me on the way home that just a couple of months ago this would have been almost impossible. Two people in her space were bad; two people in her space with her feet being messed with just wouldn't happen.

Today though she was totally chilled about the whole deal, even letting me hold her feet up for extended periods of time so we could get a proper look.

You know what - I think I'm rather falling for this horse :-)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A hard lesson learned (I hope)

It is time to start Grace onto the next stage of her journey. I must ensure for her own future that she is comfortable being handled by different people and that others besides me understand how to best faciliate a healthy productive relationship and future with her.

So I introduced a really nice professional trainer to work with me while we get Grace rebacked and enhance her education. Unfortunately he got a little over enthusiastic and Grace tied up. Really badly. Poor guy was a bit shaken. I think he now understands that EPSM is not to be taken lightly and that I am not a fluffy wuss that fusses unnecessarily over my horse.

We have another trial run tomorrow. It may be walk only because Grace was still very sore today.

On the more positive side we had a very interesting experience with geese this morning. I was taking her for her consitutional and she practically dragged me down a particular track that leads to a lake. There were geese on it and she just had to go and inspect them.

The curious thing was how she spent a minute or two aping their head and neck movements. She soon gave that up but she never got bored with watching them. In the end I did so we moved on. It seems the bigger the bird the more interesting it is - I wonder how she would take to ostriches?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Touch wood

Grace got a compliment today. Someone was observing me trim her feet and they remarked how good she was/is. I didn't know whether to wet myself laughing or beam with pride :-)

But yes she was very good. How things have changed. I just point my rasp at the relevant paw and up it comes and away we go. Wonderful - so pleased with my girl :-)

Also they remarked how she stands on two legs while being trimmed....... well she is not the only one that does that, but she is probably the most well balanced (excepting the old grey mare who was fab). Grace cheats a little by leaning on the wall but is remarkably steady.

To be honest so long as the horse is properly 'set up' on the diagonal and doesn't have any physical problems then it matters not a jot to me if they do this. If however they are wobbly or physically impaired, then I don't encourage it because they end up using you as a prop, and they are too heavy for that. With Grace I barely know she is in my hand. Super super horse, I really don't know why anyone ever had a problem trimming her feet. It certainly doesn't seem to come from Grace.