August 24, 2008

Kapiti Combined Training

The first show of the season for me (and quite a few others who were out there), so I guess this means things are officially underway. I was on the road at 5.45 to make sure I'd have time to get the horses all ready before things kicked off (and I still ended up running out of time! I hadn't factored in the 16 white socks that I needed to clean, it seems). I had entered all the horses into the only straight dressage test available, which was unfortunately a Novice test - but I figured at least it'd be a big arena, and we were only going as a training outing anyway. Luckily it was nice and low key like I'd hoped, but annoyingly it was in a short arena.

Alfie had a bit of a meltdown at the whole situation (so many new things for him - traffic, umbrellas, horses jumping, arenas) - so we talked to the judge and opted to just walk and trot him around in the arena for 6 minutes instead of doing a test. I'm really glad we did it that way as it gave Alfie a real no-stress introduction to being out and about. He started to settle after a few minutes in the arena too. His forelock has some weird centre part too, so strange:

And please don't look at the chop job I did on his mane!

Ned was fairly stiff through his neck in his warmup, and didn't really start to soften and listen until about halfway through the test. I'm pleased with his effort though, as he is a big horse, and needed to be quite responsive to get the movements inside that little arena. I really would have liked to have had the opportunity to do another test later in the day with Ned, but there just wasn't anything on offer. Ned's pics:

And more of Ned - I still need to work on getting him more together (I feel like I need longer legs!):

Kody was about the opposite of Alfie. For a horse with about the same experience/exposure to things Kody just pricked his little ears up and soaked everything in. I am so stoked with him. Even coming into the arena for the first time, he just slowed down a little to get a good look at the gateway, then marched on in like an old hand. He was really soft to ride throughout the test, and seems to have mostly gotten over his habit of running through the bridle when he gets anxious. My superstar Kody (check out my beaming smile from him going into the arena no fuss):

As Kody's dressage was so cruisy it's a bit of a shame that there wasn't a real baby CT class, with teeny jumps that I could have entered him in, but I guess it's good that his first outing was so casual - it will make the next one super easy now that I know what to expect:

And of course Master Neo. He did 2 tests, as I late entered him into the Open CT class. Halts were a pretty tough thing with him last season, we rarely sustained a decent halt at all that I can remember... and today we had 6 halts between the 2 tests and he nailed 5 of them quite well - it might only be a small victory, but it's just one more thing showing how much he's growing up and settling down. His 2.4 test was quite choppy, but his 1.6 for the CT was a really nice test for him - scoring in the high 60's. Not a bad way to start the season off:

We had a 3 hour break (in the pouring rain) before Neo had his jumping. I'd decided not to do a practise round, as he hasn't jumped at all this season and I didn't want to put too many jumping efforts under his belt while he's still not quite at peak fitness. After attempting a pole on the ground and getting a stop then a stagleap I wasn't sure if I'd made the right decision! But he did a few more practise fences and then went into the ring. It was like picking up where we finished last season, he hadn't 'forgotten' anything, and coped fine with the height (especially in the slippery, wet and deep muddy conditions). His dressage of course put him out of the ribbons, but I am very pleased with that effort from him. More dressage pics seeing as we don't have any jumping ones from today:

So I got what I wanted out of the day - a good relaxed first outing of the season for all of the horses. I now have a better idea of where each of them are at and will be able to go back to my calendar and sort out some plans for at least the next few months of competition.

Oh - and as a little extra cool thing, Kody loaded this morning with no bumrope - he just walked up perfectly. Yay!

August 23, 2008

Arena Time

Today we were all set to head down to Battle Hill and get some work into the horses in a nice flat open space, but it turns out that the paddocks at BH are currently closed. So loaded everyone back onto the truck and headed down to the arena...
Alfie was so much more confident than he has been previously. He's still extremely green and hard to keep straight or focused at this stage. But he's getting so much quicker at picking up basic signals, and his transitions aren't too awful really (even into canter)... downward transitions are still a bit shaky keeping the forward momentum - but he will get there. Just need that neck shape to come through a bit more and then he can start really working a bit harder:
Sarah's Ned is getting more supple and we're starting to understand each other a bit better. He's not longer setting his neck against me, and is quite happy to work through various bending and flexing exercises. His canter I'm finding to be very long, and may try some spurs on him just to shorten him up a bit. He does have lovely movement though! And of course he's a pretty man:
Kody was quite a wee star today - after a little tiny bit of flatwork (he was super about being in a different surrounding too.. a few lookies at the things going on - traffic/lawnmower/kids... and then he was pretty much listening to me). He doesn't have much fitness or muscle, but as there were some jumps set up, and he had a jumping saddle on I thought I'd try him over a few things and he was just a real dude about it all. We did a few grids and I'm not sure if he's seen a double before, but he worked things out pretty quickly. I think he will be a snappy wee jumper. Flat pics:
Poor Neo missed out as it was starting to rain and get dark (and I needed to get home and put rugs back on Lily and Pip who spent the day lounging naked in the sunshine).
Nick helped me put a new bridle rack into the truck, so now I have all my bridles hanging nice and tidy beside the saddles (instead of crammed into the chest bins where they were), so that is awesome. However it does remind me that I need to clean my bridles!
Tomorrow is an early start to head up to the Kapiti combined training day. We're really only up there for an outing, to let the horses see a dressage arena (Kody & Alfie won't have ever seen one I don't think), and warm up around other horses. I've entered some classes, but the only straight dressage available was bloody 2.4! So I don't know if I will actually ride in the class or not, we'll see how they're each going on the day... but I really do want them to be somewhere busy and just soak up the atmosphere (there will be jumping going on as well). Neo is entered in one of the combined classes, 80cm I think. He hasn't jumped in 4 months or so! Could be interesting!

August 22, 2008

Banoffee Pops

So 'Alfie' has a showname now... 'Banoffee Pops', and there are no prizes for guessing which absolutely yummy food product he is named after. Toffee Pops banoffee pie flavour, so scrummy.

Got the farrier out today - all went pretty well. Neo proved just how much he has grown up by being very brave about the whole thing and only moving twice (such a change from the horse who used to back away whenever someone new approached him). So he's got a full set of shoes on, while Kody and Alfie just have fronts on seeing as they will only really be in light work for the next month or so I'm expecting.

Ned and Lily are fast becoming creek-crossing experts... Lily is even happy to trot through the creek when you call her (so cute! it's wonderful having another mare on the property too).

August 19, 2008


On Sunday we went and got official height certificates for the riding horses! Alfie & Neo loaded like total pros, and Kody wasn't too bad after a few minutes with the bum rope on. It was lovely and sunny when we got to Belmont, so it gave me a chance to try and get the mud on their legs to dry enough so that I could brush it off.

Some pony club kids were helpful and held the spare horses while I took each one in for measuring. Results were as expected, really - nothing at a very thrilling height, but I'd say everyone except Neo is likely to grow a little more. So - the heights:

Alfie [15.3hh]
Neo [15.3hh]
Kody [15.1hh]

When we got home it was time for the new arrivals to turn up! Sarah's horses, Lily & Ned have come to stay for a few weeks while Sarah is on holiday. Lily is mainly going to chill in the paddock with Pippa and do a little led work, but Ned will be coming to some shows!

Some pictures are the measuring day tied to the truck, and chilling out in the paddock at home:

(Ned in the foreground of the first one below):

And bonus pictures of where I very almost got the truck stuck (I do a 3-point turn in the same area every time I put the truck away in it's parking spot after an outing... and this time it took rather a bit of effort to get forward movement again!)... and also Alfie & I showing off our matching laser eyes and chestnut hair:

Farrier is booked for Friday for new shoes all around on the riding horses - fingers crossed that the weather stays good on Friday!

August 09, 2008


It snowed today! I've never seen actual snow falling... so it was very cool to see. I was riding Neo at the time, he wasn't quite as impressed with the snow as I was. It's been a week that the horses have been in work now. Too early to see any difference in them, but they have all progressed to trotting most of their work (fitness slowly improving) and all doing a short canter today too - without any issues, which is good!
Alfie is still very "upside down", but before I can really get the long & low work into him he needs shoes on, he's a bit of a wimp with his naked footsies. Thankfully his mudfever has cleared up, and his legs are looking good again. He's still got some rainscald up around his ears - which the clipping has helped a bit, and a few washes (provided the weather agrees) should sort out the rest.
Neo was a bit of a crazy man today. He is absolutely full of beans... but being lots of fun. I will have to start working him on the hills this coming week, as he is more than fit enough for it.
Kody had a bit of a cough this morning, so I went and bought another underrug for him so he can be toasty warm. He's coming along well. Still a little nappy about going away from the others, or encountering new things, but he's arguing about it far less now... and in fact today he was really moving forward happily and charging through the puddles like a pro.
I moved the riding horses into a fresh paddock so they can get some grass into them. For the moment I've left Pippa in the sacrafice (mud) paddock, though I'm not too happy with how she is looking. So I will up her hay, and put her back on hardfeed and just monitor how she's doing. Of course, to make things harder, last night she ripped both of her rugs in half... so I've had to dig out fresh rugs for her to ensure she stays nice and warm. Lucky I bought new rugs for all the boys recently, so she was able to steal a bunch of Neo's old rugs that he'd inherited from Silvi.
There has been quite a bit of wind lately... and it seems that the woolshed has decided it would rather like a skylight. Not sure exactly how I'm going to fix that! But have also been putting a bunch of stuff that I don't need/use on trademe... someone came along last weekend and started dismantling the 2 carports - it's already opening up the space. Can't wait to see what it looks like once all of those buildings are gone, and the new shed is put up beside the woolshed. We have had the okay from the Historic Places Trust (the woolshed is protected under some law apparently), however now an archeologist wants to check the site as it was occupied prior to 1900... so more waiting (and probably more expense!) before the building of the shed can start! Till then the horses will just have to put up with getting tacked up in the tractor shed. Poor horses.

August 05, 2008

Not enough hours

I was thinking to myself that there aren't enough hours in the day... but I think I really just mean there aren't enough daylight hours. I managed to get 2 horses ridden tonight, not the 3 that I'd planned - it just got so dark. Got an (awful) pic of Alfie, you can see how dark it is and he was the first one I rode! Poor Kody had to put up with pitch black. Also the goat totally owns the dog kennel now:
Hopefully by next week I'll be in a bit more of a routine and be able to get things done a bit quicker, which will all help with getting all the gang exercised. Must get farrier out to empty my bank account too - so I can start heading up the hills.

Alfie's turn

Got home from work a bit late yesterday, but really wanted to ride Alfie seeing as he missed out on Sunday. I put Neo & Kody in yards and went and got Alfie. By this stage it was pretty much pitch black (stupid winter)... so I got a hanging light and propped that up in the tractor shed (she'll be right, mate!) and tacked Alfie up in there. His clip doesn't look as bad as it did on Sunday, or possibly I'm getting accustomed to it... He's still skinny, but I think the weight is beginning to go in the right places so I'm not too concerned at this stage. Will just keep pumping the feed into him, and see if the additional supplements help too.

So I got Alfie saddled up, and have still not put any stirrups on the saddles... so I climbed onto the quad bike and called Alfie over so I could clamber on him from there. He wasn't quite sure about me heaving myself onto him in this manner (he turned his neck right around and started sniffing at me like "what on earth are you doing up there ya crazy?"). He was very timid to begin with, but that is quite typical for him (and this is still only my 4th ride on him!)... but once he got into the swing of things he happily plodded up and down the driveway in the pitch black, using only the crunch of gravel under foot as our indicator that we were heading the right way. I was thinking "this is all going well!" then Pippa must have seen us with her super night vision and she called out and Alfie got the biggest fright and almost fell down in a heap! Poor fella... he had a bit of a shake and a worry - but didn't hoon off to do anything naughty. Once he got his bearings again he was good. Such a well-behaved man in the circumstances!

Fed Alfie in the shed and then put him out with Pippa for the night. Kept Kody and Neo in the yards. I'm switching which horses yard each night as I think it will help with Alfie's slight attachment to every horse on the planet.

My plan (surely only made to be broken) is to get all 3 of them ridden tonight. One of the Foxton Lancer's shows has been postponed and will be held this coming Sunday. Alfie and Kody aren't ready for it, though would both benefit from the drive and being tied to the truck to take it all in... but I'm wondering if I can get Neo sane enough to have a potter in the pleasure hack classes or something like that. He really is busting at the seams to go and do something... I've never seen him enjoying things so much and I'd like to take advantage of that and let him do some types of outings that we normally never would (I mean, it's Neo... he's not exactly your stock-standard showhack!).

Oh - and a ferral goat is living in our dog house - good thing we don't have a dog.

August 03, 2008

08/09 Season Begins

August has arrived... all the horses are officially a year older (Alfie & Kody are 5, and Neo is 8), and it's time to bring them back into work for the season.
Yesterday I drove up to Pahiatua to pick up Neo. 6 hours driving! Neo loaded and travelled well, and although he was a bit upset to be leaving Zak - he was very excited to have lots of horses waiting for him at home. I wasn't really feeling spritely enough to ride anything after that busy morning, but did re-arrange grazing/paddocks and started the riding horses on their supplements and upped their feeds. Happy horses!
Today I finally got to ride again! It was raining, and of course the ground was wet as anything too.. but I managed to clear a space in the tractor shed so I could tack-up in the dry - and I dug out my hideous saddlery warehouse rain suit to keep me dry while riding (I love this thing, it might be ugly - but it does it's job very well). I wasn't sure how the horses were going to behave after their time off, but I'm not a fan of lunging to quieten them - so I just popped a saddle with no stirrups on so it was all nice and laid back (and I got to leave my big sloppy gumboots on too - fantastic). Pics of poor drowned rats, Kody & Neo:
Kody was quite spooky coming into the shed (and past the woolshed, and over the gravel driveway, and anything else he could have a bit of a freak about) - and I've never ridden him before, so I was thinking "this might be interesting!". But he tacked up well - wasn't bothered by anything, and even let me jump on happily. We rode in the front paddock, down the drive to the road, and up to the house - just seeing as many different things as we could. All just at a walk, but he was a real dude. Slightly nappy and unsure about the big puddles- but a good boy all-up. I think he will be a really sweet horse.
Neo was as if he'd not had a day off since the last time I rode. He's looking fit and well, and has grown while on holiday (not a park hack anymore, I don't think). He marched around the farm happily and if I didn't know he'd had a holiday, I would have assumed he was in full work and ready to go to a show tomorrow! I'm glad he's been such a dude about it - as he can fret about things, and I wasn't sure how he would react to me, and to riding, after his holiday. Of course he's still a bit neurotic! Not too keen to stand still, and chomping at the bit... but it's all just a front! He likes to act tough.. but he's actually very soft and easy to ride. Can't wait to take him out this season and see how he's matured.
Decided against riding Alfie - and got out the clippers for him instead! My first ever time clipping, and his! He stood like a rock, and was very patient. I left his legs and face woolly, as I haven't really got the facilities to get them clean and then dry - so they can wait for another day.
So glad to have the horses back in work! Suspect I'll be tired tomorrow though!