Monday, 31 May 2010

Hoof boots

Hmm... not too sure whether I want to leave this lovely field of grazing to go to Nor'dzin...
Oh, well... alright then.

Dee came happily to have her headcollar put on after only a few moments of hesitation.  Red also did not come to call as readily as usual, but was pretty obliging.  Who can blame them for not wanting to leave their pasture after the winter we have just been through.  Yet despite the hard winter they are both fit and really well.  I cannot get over how athletic Dee is looking at age 20.  She moves with great suppleness and energy. 

We took them on the longest hack we have ventured in quite a while and were out for 2 hours.  Today was also the first time we have taken Dee out for a proper ride in her hoofboots.  She has been feeling some discomfort from the stony tracks in her unshod back hooves – always seeking the soft ground and being reluctant to move faster than a walk on some parts of the trail.  She got used to the boots quickly and soon realised that she was more comfortable.  It was amusing to watch her going for the softer bank, realising she didn't need to, and then strolling across the stones.  She was definitely more relaxed and much more willing to sustain the higher gaits.  We had a few nice canters today.  It was also a relief to not be teetering on the banks of the trail which I used to worry were not always too safe.

Today's ride certainly put the Cavallo Simple boots through their paces.  We took the route across the stream in the Wenallt and then up the really steep track to Ridgeway Lane, near where we used to livery them.  Then we rode into Ganol Wood and back across Rhiwbina Hill into the Wenallt, taking a left after the stream so that we ended up at the top of the hill to ride back through Briwnant fields.  'ö-Dzin nobly dismounted and remounted twice in order to negotiate the gates.  He took the next picture from Red as we rode these fields.
The boots are really... well... simple... to put on and the pastern wraps reassuring that they will not rub.  One pastern wrap had worked its way down into the boot on this ride, but Dee had no sign of any rubbing or sensitivity to wearing the boots.  It was a delight to experience her feeling more relaxed on the trails.  I know how I feel when my feet hurt, so it is not surprising she was a bit tense and reluctant to go forward sometimes.  I'm really pleased with the boots and would recommend them.  They seem quite wide but Dee did not seem to feel insecure in them and the length is a good fit.  They also stayed on without moving out of the correct fit, and showed no sign of working loose despite scrambling up hills and sploshing through the stream twice.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Red - the wonder horse

It's been a long time since I posted – and quite an eventful time.  Dee suddenly started to lose condition at the end of the winter.  This clashed coincidentally with our vehicle being off the road for five weeks.  I therefore made an arrangement with Briwnant for them to feed Dee every day for me and she quickly was back to looking better.  It is difficult to get Briwnant without transport – expensive by taxi or a long uphill walk from the nearest bus stop, so this delayed our getting back in the saddle.
I lunged Dee when I could and managed two or three rides over that time.  She now looks fantastic – fit, shiny coat and athletic.  The herd have been in the top fields for the last few weeks.  They have to go right to the top for the best grass, but back down to the bottom for water, so she has had her strengthening exercise just by living at grass.  When I eventually was able to take her round the Wenallt horse trail, she seemed as fit as at the end of last summer.
We've had several nice rides over the last couple of weeks, and my elder son, Daniel, came out with me last Wednesday.  This was good because it gave me the opportunity to ride Red for a change.

When we first decided to put Red on working livery at Briwnant I had my concerns.  I do not think Dee's experience of working livery was very good most of the time at Pontcanna, but Red is having a great time.  As well as the lessons and treks he does for the riding school, he also gets schooled regularly and this has included some jumping.  Now some time ago I commented on my blog that I thought Red was a good horse and could potentially be a very good horse with an experienced and more capable rider than me to bring him on.  This is happening for him at Briwnant.  They have a new tutor, Alfie, who is an experienced and excellent rider, and he has been putting Red through his paces.  It turns out that Red is a bold and confident jumper and we are going to start competing him in a few weeks with Alfie riding him.  He is such an extraordinary horse.  'ö-Dzin can ride him perfectly safely and he will be quiet and well behaved.  They put beginners on him for lessons.  Yet he can also be a powerful, forward-going and adventurous horse. 

This afternoon we went back up to Briwnant to watch Red in his jumping practice.  Unfortunately there was a mix up over the time and Red had already been jumped and fed by the time we arrived.  So we watched Alfie jumping Saffron (below) and then Kalif.  He is a brilliant rider.  He told us they put the jumps up to the top notch when they are training Red.  I can't wait to see that and will definitely post some photos when we have them.