Thursday, 5 September 2013

High Jinx

Here as promised are a couple of short videos of Red jumping on the cross country part of the Briwnant fun ride, Bank Holiday Monday last.  He needed pushing on a little!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Fit, fat and fabulous

We do not see so often now that she is retired, but we enjoyed visiting her on Bank Holiday Monday after helping out at the fun ride at Briwnant.  Dee is looking fit, fat and fabulous.  She is always happy to see us and comes to call for a treat, but she doesn’t hang around very long.  At the moment she, and a few other non-working horses, are living in a little herd of their own at the top of the Wenallt.  There is plenty of grass and the weather is still good – horse paradise I think.

Red—who now belongs to Briwnant—took part in the fun ride and I hope that I have a video of him jumping during the cross-country part of the event.  I will post it if it is any good.  He still looks out for me when I am around and I may well ride him occasionally with a group ride.  I’ll see how I feel.  At the moment life is so full of other things that it is just a relief to be free of horse responsibilities.  To find out why life is so full please go and check out about the opening of Aro Ling on my other blog.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Summer coat

Dee has her proper summer colour for the first time in three years.  She is a dark bay in her winter coat, but much lighter—almost chestnut—in her summer coat.  The summers in Wales for the last two years have been so wet and cool that she never really fully lost her winter colour.  It is great to see her looking so sleek and chestnut.

She seems happy to see us – but not really interested.  She will accept treats but soon returns to grazing – clearly a contented mare.

We looked around for him, but did not see Red this visit.  Hopefully we will see him next time.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Times a’changing

Red enjoying the race to the hay pastures
I am pleased that my previous post was all about Red, because it has turned out to be my last post as his owner. 

I am about to start a new venture which will take up a lot of time and energy.  Things are still at the formative stage at the moment, but hopefully I will be able to announce it fairly soon on my other blog.  With this in mind I have had to rearrange some of my commitments and this has meant re-thinking my responsibilities with regard to Dee and Red.

The solution we came up with has been to give Red to the Briwnant Riding Centre and to put Dee on retirement livery.  Our primary concern has been the welfare of the horses.  They are both settled and happy at Briwnant and we did not want to move either of them unless it was absolutely unavoidable.  Dee has become increasingly relaxed over the last year and is loved for the way she has taken it upon herself to look after the weaker members of the herd.   Briwnant seems as stable (no pun intended) as any situation can be in these times of recession, and we trust them completely with regard to the horses’ care.  The new arrangement means that the horses will not have to be unsettled at all – in fact they will probably be totally unaware of any difference.

Detail of the above picture with Red in the centre
We did not buy Red as an investment and so preferred to give him to Briwnant rather than sell him and possibly lose all contact with him.  Red will  continue to be used for lessons and enjoy regular hacks.  I will still be able to see him when I want to and even ride him if I have time. 

With regard to Dee, she will now get more attention more regularly from Briwnant staff so that I do not have to worry when I am busy and finding it difficult to get up to see her. 

I do feel a little sadness that Red is no longer ours, but I think this solution is better than selling Red and not knowing about his future.  Hopefully everything will work out for the best for everyone.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Fun ride

While Dee was safely grazing in the hay pastures, Red had fun taking part in Briwnant’s fun ride.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Head for the fields!

On Sunday the herd was allowed to graze the hay pastures.  The news soon got out.  Shame it was raining.
Here they come . . .

"Hi Mom!"  "Hi Dee - where's Red?"

"I may be a tiny, lame rescue pony, but I can keep up!"

"Whoa! Scary people behind the gate!"

"Don't be daft.  They aren't going to hurt you."

"Okay.  If you're sure . . ."

Friday, 15 March 2013

Time and Patience

T and I rode out together recently – the first time I have ridden this year.  Dee seemed quite keen to go out and we soon settled into a comfortable ride.  One of the nice things about riding out with T is that she is an experienced rider and happy to ride Red, so I am able to ride Dee.  Usually I am with less experienced riders and have to ride Red.  I love him, but I do miss riding Dee.

All seemed well, when suddenly Dee panicked.  I have no idea what scared her but she suddenly lost her confidence, whipped round and headed for home.  I think I got a bit tense and forgot to release and then ask her to slow down, hanging on to the reins a bit too much instead.  This did not help to calm her.  After a couple of minutes I remembered and released and asked, released and asked – and then she calmed down and slowed down.  T eventually realised that we were no longer plodding along behind her and Red, and came back down the trail to find us.  We tried to go on again but Dee was not having it.  There was something frightening down that trail and she wasn’t going to check it out.  The slightest urging produced little rears and backing up – her usual napping reaction when I try to take her out on her own. I was very glad it was me on her back and not a less experienced friend.

There was nothing we could do but head back to the yard.  When we arrived back at the beginning of the Wenallt trail, we took them both a few metres up the pedestrian trail that we are not supposed to ride – just so that we could end on Dee moving forward as asked rather than going straight home.

She is quite edgy at the moment and she has lost some tone in her hind quarters because she is less active in the winter.  Hopefully in a few weeks when the weather gets warmer and there is spring grass she will feel more confident – though spring grass can seem to create a spooky horse.  We’ll try taking her out again soon and hopefully get along better.  I am not ready to retire Dee yet as I am sure she will still be up for a few more years of trail riding if I can build up her confidence again.

The photograph is one of my favourites of Dee, taken in 2008.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Wonderful Red

I received a lovely message a little while ago:

Hello, I ride up at Briwnant, and found your blog – well actually I decided to try Briwnant out based on your blog.  Red is such a lovely boy, they started me on him back in August after a 15 year break from riding.  I had a fall in December from Major which has knocked my confidence a lot as well as hurting my body too!  Yesterday I plucked up the courage to phone Briwnant up and booked a short lesson and arrived to find Red tacked up ready for my first ride back from my fall. I just wanted to tell you how wonderful he was yesterday – he was perfect for me, very responsive and looked after me really well and I can't wait to get riding again now.  Thanks for reading!  J W

It is so good to receive such nice news of Red.  I wish I was able to ride him more often myself, but I am delighted that other people are able to enjoy him.  He seems to be a great favourite at Briwnant.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Winter feeds

It is at this time of year that I have to keep a close eye on Dee because she can start to lose condition quite quickly.  Often the weather can seem to be moving into spring but then suddenly it becomes very cold.  Last year it also became very wet.  At the moment it is perhaps the coldest it has been this winter.  Dee needs her extra feed to help her keep warm and in condition before the spring grass starts to grow.  It is mercifully dry at least and it feels quite strange to see the track to Briwnant looking quite dusty rather than muddy.

We got Dee in yesterday and gave her a good check over and groom.  She is fine – still a good weight and with a nice shine in her coat.  Her mane is particularly shiny and silky at the moment.  Today we made a quick visit and dropped her feed over the fence onto her haylage.  She is now quite used to and happy with this arrangement for the days I do not get her in.

It looks like it is going to take some time to get Dee used to going out again.  Last week I rode with T out onto the Wenallt horse trail.  We had not got far into the woodland however when Dee freaked and turned for home.  She did not exactly bolt but she was quite definite about heading for home.  I do not know what frightened her, but I was glad it was me on her back and not a less-experienced friend.  She would not respond to gentle encouragement to carry on with the ride and started to back up and jump up her front legs.  I know from experience that this quickly turns in to full rears if I push her, so we had to abandon our ride that day.  We went a little way up the top trail (the one we are not supposed to use) just to finish on her going forward, and then turned and went home.

Dee had been edgy and wound up even in the barn when I was tacking her up, though she was happy to accept her tack and seemed keen to go out.  Never mind . . . I’m sure we’ll do better over the next few weeks.

As we left Briwnant Red was about to go out on a ride.  He accepted a few treats and cuddles.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Visiting horses in the snow

It is not possible for us to drive up to visit the horses when there is snow on the ground.  It takes a 4 x 4 to get up Wenallt Hill and into the lane, and our van is only an ordinary front-wheel-drive vehicle.  So we get as far as we can and walk the rest.  If time is not tight, this is actually most enjoyable.  It is always possible to wrap up against the cold.

The horses are doing fine in the snow.  I am lucky in that Dee will come to the gate on the lane when I call her, even if she is out of sight in the second field.  She knows I will have a feed with me, so why would she not come if she can hear me!

She is certainly more tolerant of certain horses being near her when she is feeding.  Last time it was a piebald that she was content to have also standing at the gate while she consumed her feed.

The snow has mostly gone over the last couple of days and we have had rain rather than snow, so hopefully we will be able to drive into Briwnant again.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Dee makes a friend

Dee has made a friend – or perhaps more accurately: she has befriended a little horse.  His name is Goliath and he is two years old.  Dee will let him share her pile of haylage and be right up close to her.  I fed her at the gate the other day and she was quite happy for him to be by her while she fed.

Red, as usual, was not too far away from her but she would not let him any closer.  He only had to come within a few yards and she would whip her head round to stare at him, ears laid flat.  I was able to scrabble down to the fence a little way along from the gate though and called him over for a few treats, so he was not completely left out.  He always looks so forlorn but it is just a big act.