Friday, October 8, 2010

Aaargh Grazing

A wee while ago, I wrote about the opportunity to move to new grazing. I went and looked at it yesterday and was highly disappointed. I mean I had seen it over winter as that is where Smurf went for a while and is was okay back then. But now Spring has arrived and bugger all grass has arrived just a butt load of weeds. Not to mention it is still soggy in some places when even the soggy paddocks where Fox is now have dried out. but I'm hating it out where I am.

Here is my carefully thought out pro and con list.

New Grazing

-Close to house which saves time and fuel and I don't need to feel guilty about going out twice a day if I need to.
-Somewhere to store my stuff. I could finally move my stuff out of the garage and into a container they have there.
-Close to local equestrian park. The all weather arena is locked but I have access to everything else.
-Other horses near by. I don't really want Fox on his own though sometimes it does seem easier. - Shade

- Grass is rubbish
- The fencing is not really suitable for horses. There's a bit of post and rail but that also has wires running in the gaps, the rest is deer fencing - bad and tensioned 7 strand fences - bad.
- Fireworks. Houses all round have fireworks at Guy Fawkes and probably at New Years too. He would either have to get used to them, (me too), but it's not really the safest place for that or I would have to move him in and out of town.
- Location. The paddock is surrounded by three houses and one boundary is next to a relatively busy road. Not peaceful to say the least.
- Wet and soggy underfoot still. I was glad to see the last of the mud and I don't really want any more.

Current Grazing
- Location. It is up a quiet valley road, plenty of orchards riding and quiet road riding easily accessible.
- Grass, lots of it and good horse grass too mostly
- No fireworks!
- Fencing is two sometimes three strand low tension wire. Good posts apart from a couple of warrants.
- Two of the paddocks are a hill, good because it gives him a workout

- The arena is always closed and now I'm wanting to get lessons, it is going to be a pain in the butt
- The owner, still weird.
- Fox keeps stressing out whenever the one other horse that is there leaves. I turn up and he's covered in sweat and the skid marks he leaves are rather alarming.
- Two of the paddocks are a hill, bad cause the sight of him running full tilt down said hill is enough to give me heart palpitations
- Distance, it takes time and petrol to get there. Though if I start biking it'll just take time.
- Nowhere to put my stuff which means if I bike I have to ride bareback
- Good shade in only one of the paddocks, the other two have piddly sometime shade

To me, it kind of looks like out there is better for Fox, apart from his tendencies to nut out when he is left behind, and in town is better for me. Really, I should put Fox first. But is leaving him out there to charge at fences really the safest thing? I have no idea, I am so confused. What are your thoughts?

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Rehab Plan

Well September flew by.

Apart from getting Fox cleared for riding, I really haven't achieved much due to absolutely horrendous weather. A storm the size of Australia battered New Zealand and caused havoc. We got off lightly in the top of the South and we had snow, hail and icy cold gale force winds for two weeks. Not fun. Southland had intense snowfall and freezing temperatures. My thoughts go out to all the stock that lost their new lives, 500,000 lambs. Up North, many places lost power and had roofs blowing off. And the last few days, there has been more hardcore rain and flooding in the local area.

But in saying that, I have been for a grand total of 3 glorious rides. Fox is pretty stoked about them too. He'll barely stand still for me to hop on.

The rehab plan for this month is a not as structured as my last ones have been but I'm aiming to do pole work 2 days a week, stretches and massage two days a week and the rest of the time just hacking building up length and adding some trot work and transitions in.

I'm also keen to get a lesson every few weeks to try and get Fox working his body properly. Poles will help and so should the transitions but I'm pretty inexperienced in that area since I'm more of a hop on and go kind of rider so an experienced eye will make the difference I think.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Updated Horsie Wish List

Leather bitless bridle for Fox - I'm still not sure what style I would like to go with as I'm not sure about the crossunder style for Fox. There's so many different types now!

Saddle for Fox - This could possibly be changed to getting a good saddle fitting as his topline is really starting to look good.

Proper equine first aid kit - Still need most stuff but I've got a few things

Rasp and hoof knife now I'm getting my head round trimming a bit more. Need a sharpener too.

Gloves 2x - one for trimming, one for riding

Wheel barrow - my current one is falling apart and is literally being held together with electric fence tape

Riding Lessons! - not quite yet but very soon.

I would love a proper tack shed and a paddock shelter but they are really just a dream since we don't own our own place yet. One day........

And if we're on the topic of dreams a float too!

We're in the process of getting hopefully a nice towing vehicle though the BF's ute does an ok job just round town.

Bareback pad - Lovely present from BF, looking forward to some good rides in it!
Chiropractor for Fox - No longer needed!!!!
Breastplate for Smurf - I got one, should probably sell it now I don't have the little guy.
Girth for Smurf - Ditto
Poo picking gloves - Simple things make an unpleasant experience so much better.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Great Success!!

Had Fox's physio appointment today. After a rocky start things shaped up really well. The appointment was supposed to be at 9.30 so I turned up at the paddock at 9 so I could give the mud monster a good groom. Got a message saying sorry can't be there till 10. Ok cool, thanks for letting me know. I gave Fox a super good groom which took till 9.40. Sweet just enough time to give him a quick handgraze.

10 rolls around, still no sign. 10.05, nothing, 10.15, still nothing. At 10.20 I text her and asked how far away she was. Didn't hear anything back but 5 minutes later she was there. So feeling more than a bit put out I just tried to be polite. I do my best writing first thing in the morning so wasting an hour really peeved me off. Fox didn't mind though cause it meant he could stuff his belly full.

She was lovely as usual so my annoyance didn't last for too long. Until she saw Fox's feet and said I needed to get shoes on there as soon as possible. Um no thanks. I just smiled and nodded thinking that would be it but she did rant on about it for quite some time. I really wanted to say to her, there are reasons my horse is barefoot and will continue that way so thanks for the advice but no thanks. She is right about one thing though, his near hind does need attention, the M/L balance has gone out again after being good for a while. Apparently if I trim that side frequently, I should be able to keep on top of it between proper trims. Will be starting tonight!

Anyhow, onto the good news. Fox has been completely cleared for riding, she said he is more than ready and good on you for being cautious but it really wasn't necessary. He isn't stiff, you're just overthinking things. So that's one big fat YAY. She said he is feeling and looking really good and there are only two spots that need attention. One on each side of his last ribs and down behind his shoulders. She said keep up the massage twice a week to keep him supple and you'll be good to go. No restrictions on circles or gait. I'm so stoked. I'll still keep it slow and steady but I might be able to speed up my rehab plan a wee bit which would be really great.

I might even try and sneak a ride in after work tomorrow providing the weather is good. It has been so crappy lately it's not funny. I'm so over rain and mud and wetness. Another good point, Fox has come through this winter with no mud fever, he does have a touch of thrush but I'm onto that.

An update on Smurf. He's doing good today, had a few minor attacks over the last few days but got through them himself. He's now completely off hay to control his COPD and is moving to some new grazing in case it is the change in pasture causing the colic. He is really in the best possible home right now. I'm still so mad at his old owners for putting him through that. I just keep thinking if they had let me buy him when I wanted to, all this would have been prevented. But then I wouldn't have Fox.

Another thing the physio said you've come on a real journey with this horse, had a real learning experience. Which jogged my memory about this from the Jumping Percheron blog

The Five Horses We Meet in Life

1. The Intro Horse
We each came into horses in our own way, but it was always with a horse leading us. This might have been a friend’s first pony, or perhaps it was a draft horse on a farm you once visited It might have been a real-life meeting, or an imaginary one.

2. The Experimental Horse
Once you had crossed the line between “Darn, they’re big!” and “Wow! Can I try that?” you found yourself face-to-face with the horse that would suffer through your early attempts at figuring out the whole horse experience … wherever this horse came from, he probably didn’t benefit from the encounter as much as you did…

3. The Connected Horse
The first horses we meet don’t really connect with us, nor do we with them. Those are experiences in survival and tests of endurance. The Connected Horse is the first horse you truly bond with. This is the horse that sounds a chord that lives so deep in you that you might never have heard it otherwise…

4. The Challenger
Into each horseperson’s life, a little challenge must fall. You’ll have read that one final training book, bought yourself a clicker and heading rope, and there you’ll stand, arms crossed, assessing the situation as if you actually knew what the situation was. It might be difficult to believe, as you are flying down the aisleway on the losing end of a braided cotton line, but you actually need this horse in your life…

5. Your Deepest Heart
There will come a time when you will look at yourself with a cold, appraising eye, and you’ll have to be honest about your continued ability to deal with The Challenger and other difficult horses. At that point, you’ll seek out the horse that will be your soul mate forever… You’ll have bought him the most comfortable, best fitting equipment… Maybe you’ll still go to shows and ride – brilliantly or barely – in the Alzheimer’s class. Maybe you’ll just stay home. Whatever you do, one day you’ll realize that after all the money you spent on animal communicators and trainers, you only had to stop and listen and you would have clearly heard your horse’s thoughts and desires…

My Intro horse, a wee chestnut something or other with a blaze called..... Blaze. Tiny, lazy, feisty. The best pony to learn on. On him I progressed from learning to walk, trot and canter to riding out in the orchard and going for my first runs which were the only time he ever enjoyed going fast.

My Experimental horse was a pretty dun QHxTB bred for barrel racing but wasn't fast enough. Her name was Clover and she was the sweetest horse ever. I definitely tried a lot of new things on her, gaining confidence and learning how to push out of your comfort zone. She helped me tremendously when I was going through my early teenaged angst years. At the time, she was the only thing that made me happy. Sadly I gave up riding when I was about 15 though I can't remember why now.

My Connected horse is definitely Smurf. We just had such a good bond. He would do things for that he wouldn't do for anyone else and we came such a long way with his training. If I could have bought him, I have no doubt he could have become my deepest heart.

Fox is my Challenger, for sure. I have learned so, so much and I am so very grateful for the experience I have had with him. As well as learning about horses and Fox in particular, I've also learned a huge amount about myself. I would like to think Fox could become my Deepest Heart but for Fox and I, I think it's early days yet.

Friday, September 10, 2010


If you know the start of my story with Fox, you will know that I experienced this once before. Now I and the new owner of Smurf are getting to experience it again.

The poor wee guy is very ill. He coliced on Monday night and they were close to losing him. He pulled through only to colic again yesterday and is having problems with his breathing. The vets suspect it is parasites causing the problem at this stage so he in on a long course of wormer.

His new owner is obviously worried and distressed, doing everything she can trying to find out what is going on. I was told when he arrived at the end of April that he had just been wormed so I didn't worm him. He was due when the the new owner picked him up so he was wormed a week later. The place where he originally came from have a worming program but it is the standard Ivomectin drench that is bought in bulk, they just fill up a backpack and squirt a bit down the horses throats. They don't rotate drenches, their schedule is highly variable and who knows if the horses are getting the right dosage. Knowing this I should have wormed him. But I didn't.

I also remembered that the old owner had given me some homeopathic stuff because Smurf had been ill last Winter eventually being diagnosed with a hay or pollen allergy. I never had any problems so forgot about the stuff. Having the little guy so ill made me remember it so I passed it on to the new owner. She did a bit of investigative work by calling the homeopath and found that Smurf had nearly died in January. Turns out he was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD by the vets and she had helped treat him. I also found out that he was still being used as a guide horse whilst being on the brink of death. I felt really sick and wanted to cry. The homeopath reckons it was possibly from the moldy hay they were feeding him which she saw with her own two eyes.

Needless to say, we are all highly upset and disgusted that this condition was passed off as an 'allergy' when it is clearly so much more. As the new owner said, at least he is in a place now that he can get the proper care and treatment. But still, it really just makes me so wild.

At this stage the wee fellow is holding up ok but it is really touch and go so any good thoughts you want to send will be much appreciated.

Friday, September 3, 2010

September Rehab Plan

It's Spring and it's WARM. There's that Spring smell in the air and things look wonderful. Or they would look more wonderful If I wasn't still swamped with assignments.

Well week one has kind of slipped by me. I've been super busy with assignments and life in general. So starting from week 2 (which we are half way through now LOL) here goes

Week 2:

Monday - 30 mins handwalk and stretches
Tuesday - 30 mins handwalk and stretches
Wednesday - 30 mins handwalk and stretches
Thursday - stretches and handgrazing
Friday - stretches and hand grazing
Saturday - stretches and pole work
Sunday - Day off, mostly for me LOL

Week 3:

Monday - 30 mins handwalking and stretches
Tuesday - 30 min hanwalking and stretches
Wednesday - Physio appointment!!! Very excited
Thursday - stretches and handgrazing
Friday - stretches and handgrazing
Saturday - 30 mins riding
Sunday - stretches and ridden pole work

Week 4

Monday - 30 mins riding and stretches
Tuesday - ridden pole work with stretches
Wednesday - 30 minutes riding with stretches
Thursday - stretches and hand grazing
Friday - stretches and handgrazing
Saturday - ridden pole work and stretches
Sunday - 30 mins ride

Week 5

Monday - 30 mins riding with 5 minutes of trot
Tuesday - ridden pole work with 5 mins of trot
Wednesday - 30 minutes riding with 5 minutes of trot
Thursday - handgrazing and stretches
Friday- handgrazing and stretches
Saturday - ridden pole work with 5 mins of trot
Sunday - We'll see what happens

Looks a bit boring doesn't it but slow and steady wins the race right? I will evaluate when we get there whether I feel that it's ok to trot. At this stage I think it will be, Fox is progressing so fast but I will reserve judgement until we reach that point.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Dogs Purpose

In lieu of anything exciting to say, this really touched me.

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.' Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The Six-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that , so they don't have to stay as long"

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Author unknown

Friday, August 20, 2010

Progress - I think

At the end of week 3, things seem to be progressing well. I'm sure Fox has finally started putting on weight. I was really worried for a while as nothing seemed to be happening so I de-wormed and started him on a low dose of Devils Claw again in case it was worms or pain that was causing him to stay skinny. The only other thing that I can think that could be contributing is anxiety/loneliness as he does not currently have a companion. Unfortunately I can't do anything about this at the moment. Grazing owner will most likely have another horse in quick smart as soon as the grass takes off though so hopefully won't have to wait too long.

According to my plan, I was supposed to get the physio out next week but I'm going to put it off for another week which means the start of September will be the start of my riding if everything goes well. And I think it is, Fox was running around again the other night and he looked strong and sure, just not very fit LOL. Feeling confident about his recovery is good and I really think having the plan laid out on paper (or on blog) really helps that. Though I have to learn not to stress if I can't do something on a particular day, it's not the end of the world!

The pole sessions are going well. I start with them all on the ground quite a distance from each other. We spend some time warming up over those then I put them close so he really has to engage then one pole goes up slightly. We only spend 20 minutes or so doing this as I don't want to push it at this early stage. And it's important, I think, to note that I'm not lunging him over the poles, I'm leading him. Circles at this stage are still too rough on a body like his, we've gotta build some strength before we can start circles.

Clicker training has been nonexistent. Previously I've just been using my mouth to make a clicking sound but it sounds similar to a sound I make to go so I didn't think that was a good idea. So I thought I would get a proper clicker. Could I find one. No. I'm weighing up the options of starting with my mouth again then using a clicker when I can get my hands on one. But I'm unsure of how the changeover would be. Would everything have to be relearned for the new clicker, or would Fox not care? Still mulling over this.

I have first dibs on the new grazing but the current lady, Smurf's new owner isn't moving out till probably the end of October now. That means we'd move in start of November and with November comes Guy Fawkes. Things were insane with fireworks where we are so I would probably leave him where he is until the end of November. Then I would have to move him out for a week over Christmas/New Year as there is always fire works around then. Or I can figure out a plan to get him used to them. But to be honest I'm a bit frightened about the whole thing after last year. Even at New Years when I knew he was in a place with no close fireworks, as soon as I heard them I felt quite anxious. My problem, not his. Apparently he was getting used to them by the end last year. Got a couple of months to figure it out yet though.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Just a minor one thankfully, but it could have been worse. But isn't that the way, you make a plan that involves a horse and invariably something happens that will disrupt all your hard work.

I got to the paddock after work after on Friday, Fox was standing on the top of the hill in a bit of a strange place not moving. At first I thought he was stuck. He wasn't moving an inch. I got close enough to see with relief that he wasn't stuck, not a scratch on him in fact. We were due to go out for some handgrazing so I haltered him and attempted to lead him down the hill. He was acting rather strange, like he didn't know where his feet were going and kept trying to go back up the hill. Eventually we made it to the flat and when he started barging around me shaking his head and stamping his feet that's when I realised. Staggers. I honestly hadn't been expecting it this early but the grass has started growing at a rapid rate so I should have known.

As soon as I let him loose he hurried over to the corner of his paddock where there are a few bushes. Fox has rather atypical symptoms, so much so that the first time this happened the vets didn't think it was staggers at all, they thought he was in advanced stages of liver failure. This was only a few months after I had bought him and I was terrified that I was going to lose him. Luckily someone suggested I try a toxin binder and what do you know, after a few days he came right. As well as the typical twitchy neck and shoulder, Fox also gets hypersensitive which leads to stamping and charging around when you try and do anything with him. He also likes to hide in bushes and in corners. No one has any idea why, but if there is a bush handy, he will literally stand in the bush if he can. But now I know his early warning signs I can nip any further deterioration in the bud.

I haven't got a toxin binder yet, wasn't planning on getting any for a few weeks yet so I didn't have any to give him straight away. I could however move him off the rye grass and onto one of the paddocks that have been resown with horse friendly grass. I also gave him the weekend off. So a wee bit behind but yesterday he was looking back to normal so we will resume our programme today providing he still looks ok.

I also did a bit of a scavenge around the orchard and sheds and found 3 PVC pipes of similar thickness and one log that is about the same length and width. So now I have 4 handy poles without having to go to the arena.

My wonderful boyfriend also got me a bareback pad. Not the one I was looking at but I'm not gong to tell him that. It's a Zilco one and it has pockets. I'm quite excited about the pockets, no more worrying about where my phone is going to go and I can fit some snacks and a water bottle in there. Sweet. It's nice and cushy so will make the bareback experience for Fox and I more pleasant, I wont have to worry about my bony bits digging into Fox's back or his bony bits digging into me. Won't get to ride in it for a bit but it means I don't have to use the saddle at all until Fox bulks up a bit.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Turned up at the paddock last night to find my crazy horse being, well a crazy horse. Running and kicking and bucking all over the show. This included sliding stops into the vicinity of fences. Far too close for comfort, not that that seemed to phase Fox at all. Despite my heart being in my throat watching his antics it was really nice to see him feeling good enough to have a good play.

We had some handwalking scheduled, (more on the rehab programme a bit later) and I have to say I was slightly nervous at the prospect of taking my very fresh horse for a walk. But he surprised me and apart from getting a bit pushy he was pretty good. Only a few minor spooks at I have no idea what. He was striding out so well that I was hurrying to keep up and he would have liked to have had a trot but I was in my gummies so no running for me.

I'm sure he's finally started to put on a bit of weight but I'll leave it for another few weeks before I call the physio. Hopefully he'll have filled out a wee bit more and will be starting to build some muscle so I won't have to be quite so embarrassed.

August rehab programme

Week 1 that we're part way through

Monday - Hand grazing
Tuesday - 20 minute handwalk
Wednesday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Thursday - 20 minute handwalk
Friday - Handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Saturday - Poles
Sunday - Clicker Training - going to work on the friendly game, standing at liberty for massage and picking up feet for now

Week 2

Monday - 30 minute handwalk with massage and stretches prior
Tuesday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Wednesday - 30 minute handwalk with massage and stretches prior
Thursday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Friday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Saturday - poles with massage and stretches prior
Sunday - Clicker training with massage included

Week 3

Monday - 30 minutes handwalking with massage and stretches
Tuesday - 30 minutes handwalking with massage and stretches
Wednesday - 30 minutes handwalking with massage and stretches
Thursday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Friday - Handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Saturday - poles with massage and stretches
Sunday - Clicker training with massage

Week 4 - get phsyio out and hopefully get cleared for riding

Monday - 30 minutes ridden walk with massage and stretches
Tuesday - 30 minutes handwalk with massage and stretches
Wednesday - 30 minutes ridden walk with massage and stretches
Thursday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Friday - handgrazing with tennis ball massage
Saturday - Ridden poles with massage and stretches
Sunday - clicker training with massage

September we will reassess and make adjustments depending on the progress of the previous weeks. If all has gone according to plan, add 5 minutes of trot and gradually build up.
I would also like to get a collection of poles that I can quickly put out without having to go the arena that I can incorporate in our handwalks, nothing too intensive, just enough to walk him over a few times. We'll still leave the big pole day to the Saturday but I think the extra times during the week would be beneficial. Thursdays and Fridays I work so don't have a lot of time before it gets pitch black but come September there might be enough light to do something a bit more significant. Not that Fox doesn't like getting out on yummy fresh grass.

And September is Spring YAY!!!!!!!!!!! Which means he probably won't need any extra grass as we'll most likely be overrun. Bring on the toxin binder BOOOOH!

I really REALLY want to be riding this Summer. Don't want to do anything fancy, just ride. Maybe get to the beach a few times, or the river. Just have fun. And at the end of Summer reassess again and see whether he would be able to start some low level dressage training again. Maybe even a wee bit of jumping.

So long term I'm hoping the plan will go something like this

August - start building muscle and fitness
September - start riding and introduce trot work
October - increase to longer rides with longer trot work
November - introduce circles and maybe canter is a straight line
December - Increase rides further, introduce light schooling
January, February - Fun times!

That's the ideal plan anyway and if takes longer then it takes longer. November may be to early to start circles but we'll just try and take it week by week, month by month, assessing the situation as we go.

There seems to quite a number of bloggers with horses in rehab and I just want to give a massive shout out to them. The commitment and time is intense, not to mention the cost. But good on you for sticking by your horses and seeing the process through.

I will admit that the thought of giving up has crossed my mind. Putting Fox in a boarding place and forgetting about it. But I love my big crazy horse and I love the time I spend with him so this schedule is a commitment to myself and to Fox that I will see this through.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well the little fellow is gone. I said good bye to him in the morning, gave him a big hug and a face scratch and had a wee cry. In the afternoon his new owner came to pick him up. He loaded and unloaded like a champ. He settled in quickly after putting on a show for his new buddy a tiny wee hairy pony. And that's that, down to one horse again.

Fox fretted for hours after Smurf had left. Up and down the fenceline, calling and calling. I found it quite distressing to watch so after working up the courage and writing the text three times, I asked the land owner if I could move him up with the other horses. She said no. At the time I was fuming mad but in hindsight the reason she gave me was perfectly valid, her horse is recovering from who knows what and she didn't want him running around. Then I had to go to work so I had to leave him. The land owner did after a while say she would keep an eye on him which she only had to look out her window to do, till it got dark which was only half an hour but hey that's something I guess.

It took Fox a few days to settle down properly but he seems back to normal now. It's nice being able to spend proper time with him and give him the attention he deserves.

He's looking like crap at the moment which is awful. He's been out of work for a year now so has no muscle or top line at all, and he's skinny which makes it even worse. He's getting a ton of food and is started to look a bit better now but still not good enough. I'm also working on yet another rehab programme. And I still have to call the physio. *Sigh* so much to do. And it's raining again.

Monday, July 19, 2010


'What you looking at?'
Feel the love, isn't the big monster cute?

Most likely, providing we can get Smurf over his aversion to a single float he is off to a new home in the next couple of weeks. We tried for an hour and a half on Sunday to get the little critter on the float but he wasn't having a bar of it. His owner said he has mostly been floated with other horses so facing travel by himself on a single may have been a bit daunting. But the little guy totally had our number so it may have been a people problem instead LOL.

I am going to have a wee cry if/when Smurf does go. He's definitely got a piece of my heart and had my situation been different I'm sure we could have been lifelong partners. His owner wants a piece of his tail to make into a bracelet and I have one of his shoes that I will scrub up for her too. I'm going to keep the other one for me though.

This means I may also be able to move Fox into town. I've been offered grazing at a place a few minutes up the road. This would be so awesome! The price is the same but I would have access to the local equestrian park with an all weather arena with jumps etc. Nice. But I can't go if I still have the two horses so fingers crossed that the little bugger decides he's ok with the single float.

There are also a couple of horses there that I could ride if I had the inclination which would be nice. Though I will start working on Fox's rehab more thoroughly again when Smurf goes. But having the option is good. I'm really craving some proper riding, I mean I love hacking but being restricted to a walk and the odd wee trot is a bit tough and being constantly worried that I'm hurting Fox sucks. I'm also really tempted when Smurf goes to start getting the odd lesson. There is a new lady who is apparently great. She has lesson horses too so wouldn't have to worry about Fox.

I would have to move Fox away again for the Guy Fawkes season and probably Christmas/New Years due to the fireworks. Last year we had a ton in this area and I'm not going to risk another injury. I could move him out to where he is at the moment which would be fine or set up something temporary at my dad's place. Though the cost of buying an energiser might negate that option.

Other good news, I think I've found a chiropractor for Fox. He comes up from Christchurch and is hopefully due in August/September. They are getting back to me about final dates. This (we would have to travel the racecourse in Richmond for the treatment) and the possible move means I'm going to have to start on the dreaded floating issue that I have been doing my very best to avoid.

In the meantime, I'm going to save up for a couple of visits from the physio to get the ball rolling. Though I do have personal issue with her (I tell you the things I've heard, it's like one of those cheesy daytime soaps) I want what is best for Fox and at the moment she is it.

Interesting happenings here anyways, could be some big changes on the horizon and with the shortest day well behind us now and the weather for the most part being gorgeous, I'm feeling positive and really looking forward to some good weekends with Fox.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gene Ovnicek

Fox and I at an unregistered Dressage day last year. My first dressage test ever. You can see how nervous Fox and I both are. I believe we got fourth, the second test I was eliminated LOL. We got best turned out though.

Well last night I was lucky enough to attend a seminar held by Gene Ovnicek. I did take notes but half the time I was concentrating so much I forgot LOL. If you don't know, he is the Natural Balance guy. I was a bit worries that he would be touting his products all night but he didn't. He said the main thing to take away from the night is it is the natural balance trimming style that is important, get that right and what you do or don't put on the foot with some exceptions is largely irrelevant. And everything he talked about just made so much sense, some of it I already knew but those topics were always expanded on.

We covered the feral horse studies he had done, how they compared to current domestic horses and the things we put them through. The most interesting thing was that the lameness's that we are seeing now are completely different than what was going on even 50 years ago. Horses mainly travelled at slow to medium speeds in a straight line. Now horses are turning more and more circles. They aren't really built for turning in circles which is why there are so many new things cropping up. The coolest picture I saw was they put black ink on a board and rubbed the feral horses hooves on the board. What they found was that the frog took up the most ink. Some sole around the outside of the foot but barely any wall did. Fascinating.

We did a lot of basic anatomy which was really cool. I was fascinated at how important the check ligament at the back of the leg is and how much of a role it plays in a horses movement and the shape of their foot. If you have a short check ligament, you have a club foot, if you have a long check ligament you have a long low foot. Another interesting point was that the pairs of feet do not need to be the same. If your horse has a club foot, let it be a club foot. If you try and fix it by taking the heels down all you are doing is putting added strain on the internal structures of the foot. Same as trying to build heels in a low slung foot.

We did a lot of stuff on the breakover and the importance of the sole callous. Having a long toe means that the internal structures of the foot are put under a lot of additional strain just lifting the hoof off the ground. The sole callous is so important as that is where the point of the coffin bone is, if you weaken that, you put the coffin bone at risk of descending.

We learned about how a large deviation at the top of the foot by the coronary band indicates a thin sole. We learned about hoof mapping to find the centre of articulation and where the coffin bone sits in the hoof.

The section on mediolateral hoof balance was really interesting especially since I had just done some work on it for an assignment. Basically the traditional may of finding the M/L balance is fraught with error as it all depends on where you stand to look at the hoof. His way of finding the M/L balance is to look at how much wall there is around the sole. If there is the same amount of wall over the top of the sole all the way around, the hoof is in M/L balance. If one side is higher or lower then the hoof is not in balance. I'm so trying that with Fox today. He also emphasised how bad it is for a horse's M/L balance to be out. It compacts the coffin joint on one side and causes joint pain and difficulty moving and the horse eventually changes the position of his leg to make it more comfortable.

He then showed some remedial work done on pigeon toed horses. Amazing. The traditional way of trimming a pigeon toed horse doesn't see where the proper imbalance is and therefore trims it the wrong way. His way looks at all these different points and measurements and finds out that it is actually the lateral side of the hoof the is longer and trims accordingly. And you have a happy horse who stands straight.

He also talked a lot about how the balance of the feet affects the body. Out of balance feet often mean an out of balance body. So all this stuff got me thinking about how Fox's crazy feet have contributed to his overall going and body issues. What came first I guess is a kind of chicken or the egg kind of thing but it is definitely something I'm going to talk over with my trimmer and see if we can get Fox's feet straightened out really well. There is a workshop for farriers and trimmers today that I really hope he is going to. At the end, someone asked a question about body work that I didn't hear properly but Gene said if the feet aren't balanced you can do all the body work you like but unless you sort the feet out not much is going to change. So that's what I'm going to do.

By the way, you know it's cold when the fridges seems warm and your olive oil has solidified.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Fox and I doing the Beginners level ODE before everything went pear shaped. By the way, I didn't know how little the jumps were going to be LOL.

I have been mulling over this problem since I saw those photos of Fox's feet. The thing that bothers me the most is I can't tell when it all started. Has he always been like that or is there something that has happened with me that I haven't noticed? I think it was there before his accident in October as the physio mentioned that the mediolateral balance of those two feet were out in particular that back one. But she blamed it on the farrier which now I don't think is the case. Poor guy I feel a bit bad now. Not that he minded me not calling anymore cause Fox was a bit of a pain to do.

Another thing that makes me think it is a long term thing is that he's always been a pain with his back feet. Ever since I got him he's been giving farriers and trimmers and me grief. It was one of the things I attributed him to being a crazy horse. Now I'm not so sure and am more inclined to think that it is uncomfortable for him to lift his back legs like that.

I thought I knew about horses when I got Fox but never having owned my own, I always put the difficult stuff in other people's laps. Not intentionally but it was like they told me what to feed, what gear to use, the farrier looked after the feet etc. So in a lot of ways I was totally ignorant. Which is not excusing myself for not noticing it earlier, I just genuinely wouldn't have known what to look for.

From my research I kind of know what is wrong and the general outcome of these types of problems which isn't particularly good depending on where in the back/pelvis the problem actually is but I have no idea how to fix it. I am very reluctant to use the physio again as after the all this research, some of the things she says just seem like rubbish. But she is a qualified physiotherapist so I could be the one that is wrong. The only other local is the above farrier that the physio thought was doing a bad job. He does some chiro stuff with the local standardbred racing horses. But I have no idea what his knowledge is like. I used him at the start of the year when he said Fox's hip was out and put it back in. So he may be worth a try. The other person isn't a therapist as such but she has a heat gun thing that detects where inflammation is. But since I kind of already know where it is it might be pointless. I could be wrong though.

The really frustrating thing is I can do all the rehab I like, poles and hills and ponying him but none of it will change the fact that there is something actually wrong that this stuff just won't fix. And I guess it all boils down to money. If I had unlimited funds, I would be trying all these things just in case one of them would work. I would get his whole body x-rayed as long as it didn't require sedative LOL. But I don't. I run two horses on $80 a week which in the winter with the extra hay, doesn't stretch that far. When Smurf goes, which there is a good chance of as the lady decided the other horse was a bit green she just has to sell her current horse, it will free up a bit extra. Even if it was purely my own money, I would be making myself broke trying to sort his out but it isn't. And because the situation is no longer an emergency like it was in October, I don't get allocated anything extra. And if I could physically work extra hours I would but even the extra four I do really stretches things. I have six assignments due before the 6th of September plus all the required reading. According to my course notes I should be doing 40-50 hours study a week plus I work 20 hours a week, have a house to keep, horses and dogs to look after.

But pity party over, I chose all these things so basically I just have to suck it up and deal.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It' a Miracle!!!

We've had sunshine for nearly two weeks!! It's awesome. Cold but awesome. This morning at 10 when I went to take covers off the ground was still frozen solid.

Still no buyer for Smurf but I've had a good time getting out and about with the couple of people who have come to look at him. The lady who I think would be perfect from a previous post has decided to sell her boy, so it interested again but is going to see another horse this weekend. I've got a feeling that she will prefer this other one but we will see.

It's been very interesting to see how Smurf reacts to different people. He really is one smart cookie despite not getting clicker training at all LOL. I gave up, not that I really needed to do it with him just wanted to see what I could get him to do. With the lady I would like him to go to he is a perfect snuggly angel. She even got him looking absolutely wonderful in the arena despite him not liking schooling very much. She has exactly the right mix of firmness and softness to keep him in line without being harsh.

One of the other women who came to see him was lovely but I really think he just didn't take to her at all. He just shut down right from the beginning. And when he figured out that all she would do when he put his head down to eat was tap him on the bum with her hand it was all over LOL. He just walked all over her after that even when she tried to do ground work it was just a mess. I felt really sorry for her.

I've been riding Fox when I've taken the people out and he has been great. I don't think he is sore a the moment as he is more than happy to run and kick in the paddock. It's always a sign that he is sore when he doesn't want to do that. He doesn't seem to have any twinges along his back either. We still have the persistent funny walking. For one of my assignments I had to do a conformation study on two horses which involved filming them moving and analysing how they stand and their feet and everything. Was very interesting. When he trots his near hind swings inwards but his off hind swings more the outside. His near hind foot and off front foot are all funky. The mediolateral balance is a lot better than is used to be but the solar view is quite distorted. To my limited knowledge that is indicating a compensation for something further up.

Off Front

Near Hind

Compared to the other diagonal pair.

Off Hind

Near Front

Thoughts anyone?

Friday, June 25, 2010


I'm craving sunshine and riding Fox. Only problems are the weather won't cooperate we are getting more damn rain and my horse is still broken.

Called the chiro, she is now on maternity leave and apparently there is no one else who does quite what she does. Bit gutted. She is going to try and see if she knows anyone else that comes this way. She is back in October so I will still keep her in mind just in case.

There is another lady coming to look at Smurf sometime, another local thank goodness. It makes a big difference. Haven't worked out how I feel about the whole thing yet. A bit relieved, a bit sad and a bit anxious that he goes to the right person. He hasn't felt like my horse anytime since I've had him, I just want my Foxy back to be honest so it's probably for the best since the owner can no longer take him. I still wish she could and if I won lotto I would send him over there for her. And I never thought I would be able to say that! I guess it's Kind of like when you see an old boyfriend that you thought you would never get over. Then you see them and don't feel what you used to. It's good and bad.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

For Sale

Sorry, another long break, exams suck!! But all over now, just have to wait for results :(

Anyway, Smurfs owner has finally decided to put him up for sale. Pretty heartwrenching decision on her part but probably the most sensible. She hasn't been able to find the work she is after as quickly as she thought so sending him over has become a bit unrealistic. So we are on the hunt for the best possible home. Both of us are going to be pretty fussy too. She is taking the initial e-mails and I get to meet the people and show them Smurf.

Had the first one on Sunday. It ended up being a no go as she decided to stick it out with her current horse. Would have been perfect as I know her personally and she is a local. Next best one seems to be from Auckland. Very far away but looks like a fab home. Will be interesting to see how it pans out. I've never sold a horse so will be an educational experience.

And I have to say, I'm looking forward to being a one horse woman again!

I can also cross a breastplate and girth of my wish list. Spent total of $45 on both. Yay for Trade Me! Next up is the chiro for Fox.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I had the trimmer out at the weekend, he pulled the shoes that were on Smurf's fronts. he has lovely feet, far too good to ruin with shoes. Fox on the other hand is constantly unbalanced. The trimmer is certain it is coming from somewhere in his back end. Yes that old cookie again. I have e-mailed the chiropractor to see if she comes this way. Fingers crossed that she does!

Anyway, I showed the trimmer all Fox's muscle wastage and strange bits. His first thought was that Fox's body belongs to a much older horse. So he looked at his teeth. He reckoned Fox was about 20, not the 14 he is supposed to be. I have no idea about teeth but I have to say that the idea that Fox is older had crossed my mind before. It would make his body issues make sense.

The trimmer said he would do some research online and let me know. Sure enough, he reckoned 20 if not older. From what little I could see and what the trimmer pointed out to me, I did my own research. Yes indeed it looked like Fox was older. I was gutted. I did not want it to be true.

So the next day I went back to the paddock and looked at Fox's teeth again. It is a mission let me tell you to get the big guy to stand still long enough to have a good look. I took mental pictures of all the things that indicate age. Angle and shape of teeth, spots in the middle of the teeth, Galvayne's groove, everything. And I went and did more research. And I went and looked at his teeth again. My conclusion is, whilst the marks on the top of his teeth look consistent with an older horse, and initially his Galvayne's groove looks like it is at the bottom of the tooth, the shape is not triangular enough and the angle of his teeth isn't acute enough for him to be 20 and his actual Galvayne's groove only extends down a small bit of the way, a lot of what looks like the groove is actually discolouration of the tooth not the actual groove. So everything I could see was consistent with him being 14.

Who knows though as I am not an expert. The dentist is due in a few months so I will ask him. I also e-mailed the old owner but I think she may be overseas at the moment.

So what do I have, an old horse with old age muscle wastage and arthritis or a middle aged horse with a fucked up body?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oh The Drama

Still raining, we also have snow on the hills and it is bloody freezing!

Went to check on the boys last night, purely with the intention of covering Smurf and chucking them their daily allocation of hay, that is all as I said it is bloody wet and freezing.

We pulled up to the paddocks and what did I see, a little grey horse, not where the little grey horse is supposed to be. Oh crap! Instead of being on the hill, he was in the paddock below Fox's. His paddock gate was still closed and the gate of the paddock he was in was open. So he hadn't been moved by a person. Oh crap!

Still from a distance, I analysed his movement, looked for patches of red. Nothing. My heart was racing as I ran up the laneway that felt a million miles long. Smurf stayed on the far side of the paddock, not letting me get a closer look. Then I saw the state of the fence of his proper paddock. It had totally been destroyed, there was wire everywhere. Oh crap! There is no way he managed to get through that unhurt. On top of that, in between that fence line and the laneway and other paddocks is a ditch. The wire had been dragged completely across the ditch. What the hell had happened!

Smurf let me get a bit closer but he was very skitterish, I eyeballed him all over. Nothing. What the hell? I waited till he had calmed a bit and ran my hands all over him. Nothing. What the hell? How on earth he got through that unscathed, I will never know! He was jumpy about me covering him, not too sure about anything. I threw him some hay and breathed a huge sigh of relief as he settled in to eat.

I'm going to give him another thorough going over again tonight in case I missed anything. I have no idea what made him do it, did he get a fright that made him go through the fence or was he being a monkey and trying to get through the fence and gave himself a fright in the process. I guess we will never know. I am just supremely grateful that he wasn't badly injured.

Land owner is NOT happy. But then, I did tell her that section of fence was unelectrified and that I would like it on.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Horsie Wishlist

Still raining.........

Here is my current wishlist of horse related things

Leather bitless bridle for Fox - his current one is crappy looking synthetic and a crossunder style that I find doesn't give a good enough release

Chiropractor for Fox - Another opinion on his issues

Saddle for Fox - Since his old one doesn't fit anymore, going to be a loooong time coming though!

Girth for Smurf - Fox's is too big, it needs to be at the top hole on both sides to be tight enough

Breastplate for Smurf - Saddle slips back, planning on getting some cheap second hand gear though not new stuff

Rasp and hoof knife now I'm getting my head round trimming a bit more.

Gloves 3x - one for poo picking, one for trimming, one for riding

Bareback pad - cause the saddle's going to be a long time coming

Proper equine first aid kit

Thats all for now, I'm sure there's something I've left out though LOL.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rain, Rain and More Rain

What gives Weather Gods?! Drought, now rain, rain and more rain. Makes life difficult I tell you!!

Took Smurf and Fox out on Saturday when we had a bit of a break in the weather with a friend of mine. Didn't go too far but did a bit of exploring of some tracks I'd always been curious about. Unfortunately they were all dead ends. Well dead ends if you're on horse back anyway. Was really great to be getting out again. Fox was keen, ears pricked and striding out well. No sign of discomfort from his back until I went downhill. I jumped off quick smart as soon as I knew what he was telling me. He seemed fine without me though. Obviously me + bareback + downhill = not very comfy so get the hell off!

I'm going to stop riding him again, as much as I want to, I do think if I can strengthen his back first it will make things a whole lot better in the long run.

There is a method of training called Kukkuli, which is in short:

"The Kikkuli Text, a horse training text dating back to 1345 BC, caused the Hittites to become a powerful Empire whose warhorses surpassed all others. Hittite horses had to march hard for 4 weeks then gallop all day in battle. . . . . In 1991 I (the Author) replicated the Kikkuli Text regime with 10 arabian horses, and this became known as the Kikkuli Experiment. The training programme set down by Kikkuli lasts for 7 months and in the Kikkuli Experiment the training regime and feeding programme were followed precisely. The methods used in the Kikkuli Text enable modern horses to be trained without injury. One of Kikkuli's techniques was to use long periods leading the horses in their work rather than riding them. The use of long periods of leading in the first half of training strengthens horses without straining them."

The Kikkuli Method:

- makes much use of leading the horses at the gaits of trot, canter and gallop before subjecting them to the weight bearing and psychological stress of a rider or driver.
- uses interval training. At no time is the horse brought to the point of fatigue, thus reducing the risk of injury.
-allows the trainer to pinpoint the precise moment in training at which the horse has adapted physically and mentally to its training.

The Kukkuli Experiment can be bought as a book and sounds fascinating but *sigh* books are sadly not in the budget at the moment.

BUT, I think these basic principles are worth exploring with Fox. I mean, I have the two horses and I think the outcome can only be positive.

So this means a new rehab programme.

3x a week ponying from Smurf, 1 hill day, 1 longer day and one day where I will be introducing short trots to get the transitions.

5x a week pole work, 3 short days on the days that he gets ponied and 2 more intensive sessions

As many times as I can manage, massage and stretches.

It's a bit of a compromise, but I really think it'll work.

Just have to fit it around the weather!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Well I've been given the go ahead to move the boys to a different paddock, only problem is its on a slope and apparently that's not going to be good for Fox's back. I'm wondering if this may have contributed to his long recovery time as his previous paddock was also a slope and he would always do little slips.

I'm looking forward to there being some more grass for them, current paddock is getting very sparse! I'm also looking forward to having electric fencing again, YAY. Smurf is a nightmare with fences. It makes me very frustrated and honestly quite worried, he leans on them, goes through them, under them. Last night I found one of the fence poles has become wobbly, both horses are intact though so not sure what happened there.

I'm going to try and sweet talk the owner into letting me put Fox into the only flat paddock left. Fingers crossed that goes ok. Which means they will have separate paddocks which is both good and bad. It'll be nice to be able to feed them separately and Fox won't get chased anymore but on the downside, they are both used to being in with other horses. Fox tends to pace a bit when he's by himself. They'll still be able to see each other though and another horse is moving back soon too, so there'll be three of them. Which is really useful when I want to take just one out. Not sure how Smurf will go on his own, I hope he doesn't cause too much mischief!

I've got a few more exercises to try on Fox, and really need to start poles again. I may just lead him over them instead of lunge him, we'll play that one by ear I think! I've really got to start riding again, or riding Smurf and ponying Fox, it's been a while. But I've got exams coming up and I guess they are the first priority.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Too Many Horses

Who knew that I would think two horses was too many. Not me that's for sure. I thought I would love having two horses to brush and love and ride. Well I don't.

It's not the cost, Smurf is a very cheap horse to run, if only Fox was that cheap then I would be having far less arguments with my boyfriend LOL. It's not the maintenance work, it only takes me 5 or so minutes more a day to do the feeding and mucking out. It's just the whole dynamic of the thing. I don't like dividing my attention, I don't like how Smurf chases Fox which means he's got a sore back again and some nice bite marks, I don't like feeling guilty about leaving one behind, I miss the one on one time I used to have.

So if I could give Smurf back tomorrow, I would. Very surprising. I am strictly a one horse woman LOL. Maybe if it was summer I might feel different or he was my only horse *sigh*. I thought about finding him a rider but that's not what his owner signed up for and I don't want anyone else working with Fox not that he's in a fit state for anyone else. I'm very torn, I want to give Smurf the best home possible while his owner is away but at the same I don't really want him there at all. And I don't feel I can give him back. I haven't even had him for a month yet which means five more to go. I'm hoping the owner calls for him sooner rather than later.

I've started a routine of massage and stretches with Fox again. I want to get that wee bit of soreness out of his back before I hop on again. If anyone knows any good exercises to strengthen where a horses back meets his butt let me know. That seems to be Fox's weak spot. I'm going to start going up the hill again with him, they were doing some logging up there so I had stopped but that all seems to be finished now. And poles which he really hates on a lunge so as soon as I can get him feeling fine I'll ride him over the poles.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I've always thought that Smurf was the horse that got away, that he was my horsie soul mate. Which is why I went into such a mad panic when I saw he was for sale. But having him with me for the past few weeks has opened my eyes.

I prefer Fox. I would much rather be out riding with Fox. I want to give Fox more scratches and give him more treats. This was so surprising for me. It's also been a huge relief. I thought that once I had Smurf, I would never want to give him up again and that I would have to really make time to be with Fox. But now, I'm more than happy to be his caretaker until his owner sends for him. I enjoy having him, cheeky monkey that he is, and enjoy our rides but most of the time I'm wishing it was Fox.

I'm riding Fox 2-3 times a week and Smurf the same. If I can get someone to come with me like I managed to last night then it benefits us all. It's going to be an interesting few months juggling both of them. Fox obviously still isn't capable of much though we are going out for longer now and have added a few wee trots. He's feeling good, keen to be getting out more even if it's only to munch some grass. But if I want to go for a blast or a long ride, I take Smurf.

I'm actually looking forward to the six months being up which is so strange. I'll probably be sad to see him go but at the same time it'll be good to devote my attention all to Fox again.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Good Times

Ok, so having two horses isn't as easy as I thought. The maintenance work isn't the problem, it's my feelings of wanting to make sure they both get the work and attention they deserve. It's tricky especially with daylight savings over. At the moment it gets light at just before 7 and is dark by 6. On the days that I work, it means not much except for feeding and mucking out and a quick groom or massage. That's ok, I'm sure they don't mind that. But I'm loving riding and I love riding them both. So I think I'm going to have to work out some kind of schedule that I feel happy with. And also rope friends into coming for rides with me.

I've been riding pretty regularly for about two weeks now and bareback is feeling pretty good now. I'm not scared anymore which is a huge relief, I like having that old confidence back! Smurf is a whole lot easier to ride bareback, his back is nice and flat with no bony bits. He's also a lot closer to the ground so even if I do fall off its more of just a slide and land on your feet. Hee hee, I did that on my first ride. So embarrassing, I tried a wee trot and totally wasn't prepared for the different way Smurf moves and just slid right off. Luckily he is nice and easy to get back on to.

I tried my saddle on Smurf and oh joy it fits! Much better than it fits Fox actually. So still wanting a bareback pad as I don't want to use that saddle on Fox anymore.

I've had three rides on Smurf so far, two just quick bareback rides but yesterday I went with one of the other grazers on a sweet two hour ride. The day was absolutely stunning and Smurf was looking at everything in a really curious way but he was perfect. He also has an amazing ground covering trot that took a while to get used to. I'm going to try and do a CTR very soon possibly even this months one.

I've also ridden Fox a few times. He is feeling really good. Even though his legs still look funny, you can't feel anything different about his gait when you are riding him. And at the moment he's just stoked to be getting out and about again. Well now that he has actual grass in his paddock.

The other thing I've noticed is how different their personalities are. Fox has always been a very aloof horse. He's not too bothered if he doesn't get hugs or pats as long as he's getting his food and getting out and about. Smurf on the other hand is constantly watching, constantly interacting. He's also a very cheeky wee monkey. He'll ping the fence with his nose while waiting for dinner and figured out how to get under the middle tape in a bout two seconds.

So feeling really good right now!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Arrival

Smurf arrived late yesterday afternoon to lovely wind and rain. Not so fun for the horses but great for everything else.

They were running a bit late and Fox was a bit upset that I had pulled him away from his buddies and was running around and calling out. He eventually settled into grazing. It's been a while since he was in a paddock with grass worth eating. After what felt like an eternity, the float finally pulled up. Fox immediately lifted his head and called out to the new strange horse. Then he decided he needed to show off. So with his tail in the air he ran up and down showing everyone how pretty he was.

Smurf unloaded fine and was very curious looking around and smelling all the new things. I had split the paddock in half so they could get to know each other without any fights. Smurf pranced up to the fence line and they had a wee sniff. Fox had a wee squeal and then decided to show off some more. One of the ladies who had come with the owner was like 'that's the horse with the sore leg?' Ha ha put me to shame really. Luckily Smurfs owner could see his weirdness.

Contracts were signed. The owner gave me a hug with tears in her eyes. I told her I felt a bit mean but she said 'this is the best possible outcome for me, I'm really grateful.' I told her I would e-mail her as much as possible. She waved goodbye to her horse and pulled out of the drive.

It was hard to be properly happy as I really did feel for the poor girl. She is leaving the country tomorrow so maybe I can be happy then.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Three Days!!!

Well after my downer post yesterday, I realised that whatever happens, I can handle it. So I'm now ready to be super excited because Smurf arrives in three days. THREE DAYS!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Large parts of New Zealand are currently locked in drought. Unfortunately one of those places is where I live. There is no grass. Anywhere. Some people have been feeding out their winter hay rations for months now. I only started feeding out a month ago but already I'm finding that the quarter of a bale Fox is getting just isn't quite cutting it. And the price of hay has gone up. Only one dollar a bale but it adds up.

Now I'm thinking maybe taking on that second horse wasn't such a good idea. I've figured that with my extra hours I can budget for a bale a day for the both of them, maybe a bit more. Is that enough? Don't know, we'll have to find out I guess. And it all depends on rain. We're supposed to be getting a bit this weekend but likely it will pass us by. If we do get rain, it's still warm enough for some grass growth so fingers tightly crossed.

Luckily we've had a good local hay season but likely by the end of winter, things will be getting tight. And I buy my hay as I need it rather than in bulk so that puts me at a disadvantage. I'm thinking that it may be a good idea to look at buying bulk next year.

I'll also probably add hemp and eezybeet to Fox's feed for the extra boost. Smurf is an easy keeper but if he needs extra then he'll get it too. I can just imagine the look on my partners face! I may end up having to work more than four extra hours a week.

And there is a clause in my lease contract that if for whatever reason, I can't keep Smurf, I can take him back to where he's been boarding. I really hope not to have to do that but I like having it there just in case.

It's only four months till September, only four months till Spring, only four months till new grass. Can I do it? I really hope so.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I did it, I sat on my horse for the first time in I don't even know how long! We only walked a total of about 500 metres but it was nice all the same and I sat on him while he had his grazing time.

This experience highlighted some things very clearly. I am now a fraidy cat! I decided to ride bareback as I wanted to feel what his back was doing. If anything went wrong I wanted to pick up on it straight away and be able to get off without causing further damage. Last time I rode bareback I fell off. So the whole mounting and getting reacquainted process was rather nerve wracking for me. It felt truly horrible to be afraid of something that used to be second nature. I felt really out of place and it took a long time for me to relax properly and enjoy the experience fully. In fact I spent most of the gazing time with a tuft of mane clutched in my hand. I know, pathetic right!

Fox is an angel. As we have swapped out a lot of our walking time for eating time, I was a bit worried that Fox would be a bit feisty. He proved me completely wrong to my great relief. He ambled around the orchard like I had ridden him yesterday. He did have one mini spook when an apple fell off a tree :eyeroll: but that was when he was eating.

He is a very old 14 year old. The number of cricks and cracks coming from his body, mostly from his right hind somewhere was highly alarming. Its not something that you really hear when you are in the paddock with him or handgrazing. But when he is moving and you are right on top of the source of the noise it becomes very clear. I have had to drop his dose of glucosamine as I'm waiting for my new order to arrive. Maybe that has something to do with it. Made me pretty sad anyway.

I need a bareback pad. Even though I was only sitting on Fox for maybe 15 minutes, it was rather uncomfortable for me and if it was for me, then I imagine is was for him too. I have rather bony sit bones and I was very conscious of how they must be digging. A bareback pad will give us both a bit of padding without losing any feel.

But despite the negatives of this first ride, it really did make my day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bad bad blogger

It seems my blogging has been getting a bit inconsistent! I've just not been feeling very inspired I guess. All my writing attention is still on assignments. I've decided to aim to get my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology so I need to make sure my grades are top.

Winter is definitely on its way, Fox is starting to puff up now. Since he is going to be mostly out of work I had decided to not cover him this year. However with the lack of grass, he's just not getting enough food to keep him warm enough. So he'll be covered and fed as much hay as I can afford.

He had ANOTHER accident on Tuesday. Not too serious this time but still enough to leave me a bit shaky. He's got a few cuts and numerous hairless patches after an encounter with his fence. I'm not exactly sure what happened but the bottom wire was completely broken and there were patches of hair on the wooden post. Apparently he had been running his fence line a bit and it was rainy and very windy. So whether he slid into it or got a foot caught I don't know. All I know is I think he was very very lucky not to be more damaged.

We've been doing lots of work with clicker training. Standing still while grooming, head away, foot up and the coolest, I think walk and whoa. He is very in tune with his food!! He stops and starts on a dime.

We also did our first session over poles. I haven't got Fox targeting and moving yet so it was in a traditional lunge fashion. Fox was most unimpressed. Mainly I think because there was so much grass in the arena and all the poor guy wanted to do was stuff his face and I was making him work! He coped ok once I had got my spacing right. We started off with five flat poles, both directions at a walk. Not too much circling more on a straight line as I don't want to put any pressure on. I then put one side of the last pole up so he really had to work.

So apart from as much time handgrazing in the orchard as I can give him, that's pretty much all we're doing. He's looking really good though and I'm thinking that he'll be ready for very light riding very soon. Maybe once or twice a week for ten or so minutes. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime I will have Smurf to keep me busy riding wise. He's arriving on the 28th and I'm really really looking forward to it. It's been so long since I've been on a horse.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Clicker Training and Hoof Trimming

I've recently changed farriers again! I will have to post some pics should Fox be cooperative. He's now come twice and I am very pleased with his work. The first time, Fox was a right PITA. This guy is a proper trimmer not just a farrier so he actually spent more than 10 minutes on Fox's feet. Fox was not pleased by this and played up quite a bit. The guy was fantastic though, very patient and actually thought Fox was a pretty cool horse.

So to make my life and the trimmers life a bit easier I decided to work really hard with Fox's feet picking up. Which meant back to serious clicker training. I started Fox targeting on the hoof pick again, then standing still while I rubbed the hoof pick over him and down his legs. Then I moved onto actually picking his foot up, me cleaning it and tapping it a bit and putting it down nicely. Fox is a smart cookie and remembered all this from when I was doing it before. His front feet he is pretty much perfect now. Back legs can still be an issue sometimes but I'm thinking that has more to do pain.

The next step was to try it while he was getting his feet trimmed properly. I was a bit nervous as some people have a very low opinion of clicker training but my trimmer was perfectly happy and even helped me out so I could get the timing right. He also said there was a very noticeable difference in Fox's behaviour. With the front feet he was very very good and the trimmer said he felt really relaxed. Back feet were still a bit of a problem but Fox stood nicely instead of trying to dance around, he just pulled his feet away a couple of times. So overall I'm very pleased and will obviously continue to try and improve.

An update on the vet. They would want to start with nerve blocking. If you don't already know, Fox takes great exception to vets and most especially needles. There is no physical way the vet would be able to get a needle in as accurately as needed as sedation is not an option either. If you haven't read the Guy Fawkes drama from back in November, Fox cut his chest and it needed stitching. The vets comment was 'this is the most drug resistant horse I have ever met.' It took a dose of oral sedative, 2 intramuscular injections and 2 intravenous injections having pretty much nill effect before the vet decided to bring out the big guns. Ketamine and diazapam. Whilst this did finally drop him, he was barely down for long enough to stitch the wound up, maybe 7 or 8 minutes. Ketamine should have them down for at least 20. So the nice woman I spoke to is having a word with the vet who does the lameness diagnostics to see if there is any other way we could go about it. Fingers crossed he will have some ideas.

Update on Smurf. I am off to see him and his owner tomorrow and go over all the details. My biggest problem right now is grazing. The owner of the current place hasn't got back to me about having another horse on the property so I'm on the lookout for somewhere new. Well I was anyway but now the pressure is on. I'm starting to think that six months might work out for the best. Having an actual horse to ride while I'm rehabbing Fox may very well save my sanity and after six months, who knows, maybe Fox will be coming right.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sad Days

Well I think I've finally come to the final understanding that Fox isn't going to be good for anything other than light hacking. He is sore again. Still perky but sore. As you know, I've been aware that this is a possibility but I've been putting the final decision off for so long, thinking he's going to get better, he's going to get better. Now I think I need to accept it.

My partner saw him sitting down like a dog in the paddock yesterday and I know some horses do that but he's never done it. Is this a result of his weak back end? I don't know, maybe he just decided to give it a try.

Fox was meant to be my dream horse, the horse that I started competing on, the horse that took me places. And it's all crashing down. I'm trying to stay positive but at this stage I don't even want to ride him in case I make it worse. I'm not going to stop taking him for walks and I'll still try and think in terms of rehab but I honestly think he's as good as he's ever going to get. He'll have good days when maybe it will be ok to pop on for a short ride and bad days when all I'll do is handgraze him.

I'm going to call the horse vets tomorrow and find out how much scans and xrays etc would cost. No-one else seems to know what it is and this may shed some light on things. Though I am wary of doing this for the stress factors of him being around vets and also the travelling. It's not a short trip, would be nearly an hour each way and if his hind end is really as weak as I think it is floating doesn't seem like a good idea. And what will it actually tell me? Sure it would be nice to have a diagnosis but the chances of them saying exactly what I already know are pretty high.

Aaaargh horses!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Smurf - The next decision

Well, I've finally been in contact with the owner who thankfully remembers me from the trekking place. I'm still annoyed that they sold Smurf to her but when I was riding him they were intending to keep him and I guess the timing was right for her. She is more than happy for me to have him but the catch is she wants a lease. At first glance this works out the best for me as I haven't any money put aside for a horse as I wasn't planning on getting one any time soon. The problem is she loves him so much that there is a very strong possibility that she will want him back. She is going to Oz for 6 months minimum. So I would have him for at least that long. But she might come back or she might end up shipping him over there.

So the next question is, can I face the heartbreak when she does want him back? Will having him for 6 months be worth it? So again I am in a place of complete confusion.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dream Horse

Smurf - a 15.1 hh 9yo possibly QHxArab or maybe a stationbred and the horse of my dreams.
I am in a massive bind right now. I have just found out that my dream horse is for sale. I'm not sure I've talked about him on here before. And if I'm being honest I couldn't really say he is my dream horse, he's actually pretty much the opposite. But he is the horse I've always wanted and have continued to want even owning Fox.

I rode him when I was working at a trekking place. It took a while but we really bonded and he would do things for me that he wouldn't for other people. In the end, I couldn't face him being taken off my every summer for other guides and clients to use. I would be heartbroken every time it happened. And he wasn't for sale. So I decided to get Fox.

I don't regret getting Fox now that I've learned Smurf is for sale, after all he has been my biggest teacher. But now he is for sale and I'm pretty gutted. I'm scheming how I can get him, how I can afford another horse, how I can afford the extra time all those things. All I know is I want this horse so badly it's making me sick.
My wonderful boyfriend says I can get him on certain conditions. He can give me extra hours at his work which I have to do without fail and no complaining. I can't get behind in my schoolwork and I can't let the house go and I have to keep up with the renovations. These things I can do, but there are so many other things to take into account. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. The plan was in about four or five years I would get a young horse probably a purebred arab and bring it on myself as much as possible. By then Fox would be close to retiring and it would work out perfectly. I'm so very confused right now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Carolyn Resnick

I've been meaning to write this post for about a week now but all my creative writing juices seem to be going into my assignments at the moment. Probably the best place for them to go but I miss writing here.

Anyway, a friend lent me the DVD of Carolyn Resnick's Waterhole Rituals. Her explanation of how she wants to train her horse and how she wants to be her horses leader match really closely with what I want. I like how her method is based on the natural interactions of horses in the wild herds she has studied. however this is also a downfall which I'll explain a bit later. Her theory is that there are certain rituals of interaction that horses follow in a herd. There is some dominance based stuff like one step called Taking Territory which involves chasing a horse off his food and keeping him away until you are ready for him to eat his food. But it is mixed with a lot of trust building and leadership defining.

Step 1 - Sharing Space
Step 2 - Saying Hello
Step 3 - Taking Territory
Step 4- Leading from behind
Step 5 - Eye Contact
Step 6 - Magnetic connection
Step 7 - Come up and Go trot

Her website is

We are slowly working through the steps. We can get to step 5 without too many difficulties but after that things kind of fall apart, so much more work is needed on those initial steps. They are fun to do and at the moment Fox seems to be willing to go with it.

While her concepts appeal to me and the methods she goes about them are generally agreeable to me, it is still too much about being the 'alpha horse'. I believe that leads to problems and still prefer the attraction based training aka clicker training so I throw a bit more of that in. The main point of me not wanting to be the 'alpha horse' is that I don't want a horse/horse relationship, I want a horse/human relationship.

The good thing is that these two methods are pretty compatible so I'm just mixing and matching and going with what feels right. Liberty training is another thing that I like and is the same as attraction based training. You are giving the horse the option to be with you and your goals are to make him want to be with you.

So yet again, another perspective. I really like the fact that I am now confident enough to say yes I like that bit of your training and that bit of another persons and no I don't like that bit and being able to melding them into something that works for Fox and I which I think is the number one goal of interacting with your horse.

An update on where Fox and I are in our rehab. The stiffness is mostly gone, still noticeable but only if your looking for it. We are up to half an hour hand walks which Fox is still loving. I took him up the hill behind his paddock a few days ago to start getting those butt muscles working again. I also want to start pole work but the arena is still closed grrrrrrr, apparently the ground is too hard now. But it's ok for her horse to graze on and run round like a mad thing whenever Fox and I walk past -eyeroll-. All I want to do is walk Fox over a few poles. But I knew I would have problems moving back here. The grass is almost all gone too so I'm on the lookout for another place again -sigh-.

So we're getting there and I hope in a few weeks I will be able to have my first ride!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Crazy Horse?

I’ve just looked at the title of my blog, Life with a Crazy Horse. There’s not been much crazy going on lately. When I started this blog, I was convinced that Fox had something wrong in his head. Since then, I think a couple of things have changed.

For one, my whole attitude has changed. I am no longer afraid of him. It took a while to admit to myself that I was. It was a pretty shit feeling. Now I am more assertive and no longer lose my temper. These things have made it so that when Fox does act up, then it doesn’t affect me in the same way it used too.

During this very prolonged rehab process, we have formed a much stronger bond. There has been a lot less of me going ‘You will do this’ and a lot more hanging out stuff. I really feel like Fox is no longer so aloof or distant. This may be just wishful thinking LOL but I’m pretty certain.

I have more knowledge. More knowledge of learning and associations and reinforcement. How bad experiences have shaped Fox’s behaviour and how to unlearn them. Some obviously will be easier than others to unlearn.

More knowledge of Fox’s history, I’ve not been told anything new, but have picked up on a few things. For example, Fox hates being wormed. As some of you who have read from the beginning may know, Fox was regularly sedated by a past owner. She would sedate him to do pretty much anything including riding. I’ve recently found out that the sedative is oral and looks a lot like a wormer tube. The association Fox now has of something that looks like that is ‘in a few minutes I’m going to feel like crap’.

I also have more knowledge of training. Not saying that I’m a trainer by any means, just that I now know a lot more techniques for dealing with problematic behaviour.

So I’ve learned a whole lot that has affected Fox’s and my relationship. Sure Fox still has ‘issues’ that will need to be dealt with, float loading, worming, vets and so much more but now I have a bigger ‘tool kit’ if you like that I can use to deal with these problems.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Autumn is here. Officially it started on March 1st but there are a few other signs. The light is changing. Autumn light around here gets a soft rich glow, especially in the mornings and evenings. The mornings are cold. Cold enough that I now wear track pants and a jersey to see Fox in the morning. Today I even had a puffer vest and merino headband on! But I am a complete wuss about the cold. But it warms up by about 9 and the days are still scorchers. Bring on the Indian Summer. We didn't really have much of a proper summer so I'm going to take all the sunshine I can get!

Fox is still improving. We are going for daily handwalks now that take about 20 minutes. Fox is loving getting out and about, he was getting a bit impatient about being stuck in his paddock. When I started walking him on the road I noticed a slight off beat to his walk rhythm but now that seems to be back to normal with a nice even four beat. His hip, stifle and hock seem to be moving freer. Not ready for any riding yet but the exercise is probably doing me good too!

So it looks as if what I'm doing is working and it's just going to take time. I am still unsure of exactly how sound he is going to end up though but I'm coping with that ok at the moment.

Have really enjoyed taking photos every day (see other blog Photo of the Day) but I haven't taken as many horsey pics as I would have liked. Though I do get a bit pushed for time some days!

With the daylight hours slowly dropping away my time is becoming more and more precious. Study is my main priority at the moment. I want to get more consistent grades then last year. I don't want another C+. Even though that is a pass, I know for me, if I get that grade then I haven't made much effort. Fox, the dogs, photography, yoga, my part time job and the house (renovations as well as cooking, cleaning etc) all vie for the rest of my time. My partner is working insanely hard at the moment so I hardly get to see him. When the pressure is on, sometimes it feels like life sucks. Responsibility sucks. But when I'm able to take a step back and have a look at my life. I'm pretty happy, I'm doing all the things that I enjoy. I've got goals and ambitions to work for. What more could anyone want? (Well quite a bit actually, but it's unlikely I'm going to win Lotto anytime soon!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Conversation with the Enemy

Well not exactly the enemy, this woman happens to be a friend of mine who generally is a 'good person' but our views on horses couldn't be more different. I try and avoid the topic of horses when we are together but since we both have them it can get a bit tricky.

I happened to see her over the weekend and almost every thing she says I disagree with. Doesn't make for an easy friendship that's for sure. Bear in mind though that I used to look up to her as a horsewoman so she is quite accustomed to me drinking in all her words of wisdom. Oh my how things have changed over the last few years.

A lot of her attitudes are everything that I think is wrong with a lot of the horse world. Again, at the very low end of the scale but I still find it incredibly hard not to rip her head off.

1. I am too attached to my horse. Sure, I will concede that maybe I am a bit, but her attitude to Fox is that I should just sell him. Over my dead body. And even not then. My partner has instructions on what to do should I die before Fox does. She doesn't get attached. She could sell her horse tomorrow and not really care where it went or what happened to it.

2. She treats horses as nothing but a commodity which is not the bad thing, it is her attitude that they are disposable. Her horse wasn't cantering properly and she couldn't fix it. Her thoughts were that he may as well be dog food. I told her that I would take him before that happened. She thought I was crazy. Thankfully her horse improved. When Fox initially hurt himself and I said how long the recovery would be, she said "but what if it takes longer?" I said "then it will take longer." "What if it takes two years?" "Then that will be how long it will take."

2. She is so, so rough with a horses mouth. She tried to tell me that a horse has hardly any feeling in its mouth and that I could pull harder and harder until he did what I wanted which at the time was forcing him into a frame.

3. She rides her horses front to back. As above she forces her horses into a frame. Her recommendations for Fox's recovery were that I start lunging him in side reins and getting him nice and round again. Um no. That when I start riding, I start forcing him into a frame again. Um no.

4. She ear twitches. Bad bad bad! If a horse isn't standing still enough to brush or plait etc instead of teaching it to stand still she just twitches it, neck, nose or ear.

5. She thinks I am absolutely mental to be riding bitless. Again not the problem I'm fine with people using bits but her arguments for using a bit are a little shoddy. I made a comment that I didn't ride in a bit at all anymore and said the only time I need it by regulation is when doing dressage or showing. She was very surprised that you could use it for x country and then seemed to think that it was just a backwater NZ rule but I gladly put her straight saying no those are British Pony Club rules. She seemed quite miffed. I went on to comment that I thought it was bizarre that they let people go x country but not do dressage bitless. She got all up in arms and said "but you can't do dressage without a bit." I asked her why not. She said "because a horse needs to be on the bit and accepting the bit." I said "the term on the bit is just an expression for the outline of a horse when he is collected and yes accepting the bit. But if your horse is properly trained, he shouldn't need a bit or even reins to hold that. It is called self carriage. If your horse can't hold that frame without help he isn't properly schooled or ready for being in that deep a collection." She seemed to grudgingly accept my point. Can you imagine what her poor horse would do if she asked him to carry himself?

6. Harsher bits are the answer to everything. Her horse has started leaning on the bit, I wonder why? Her solution - "I need a bit with more bite to it to teach him not to lean." When I was abusing poor Fox under her instruction, her answer to him not wanting to put his head in a frame was "you need a stronger bit to get him to listen." Thankfully I never took that bit of advice!

7. She wouldn't have let me buy Fox in the first place. Ok so this one is personal! I did everything right when buying him, I asked a million questions, rode him, had him on trial, got several experienced horse people to have a look at him. How was I to know that the seller had basically lied to me. And she seems to forget that the first time she saw him, she approved of him also. The injuries Fox has had could have happened to any horse I bought, we're just having a really bad run at the moment. And knowing her track record with behaviour problems it is highly unlikely that she would have noticed Fox's. And you know what, I would probably bought him anyway.

She is everything I don't want to be in a horse person. I guess in that regard I have her to thank for giving me such a strong role model of what not to do!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Verbal Diarrhea

I definitely had it yesterday! It's the times when there are so many thoughts swirling around in your head and they need to come out somewhere.

After reading it today I think I was trying to make four points. Though the way I did was almost incoherent!

1. I want to train ethically
2. I want to be Fox's leader but not dominate him
2. I think that play is important for horses
4. I want to introduce play into the relationship that Fox and I have

There! Much clearer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Horses and Play

These are just some thoughts that have been going round and round in my poor little brain.

In terms of my training, my number one priority is for it to be ethical. My standards of ethical, which are probably different than other peoples but by no means at the extreme end of the scale. Also, that is not meant as a judgement. On some people and their forms of training definitely. Rollkur anyone? But on your average person no. I just want to do things differently.

I want my horse to enjoy what he does. I want to feel that he has a choice. I want to be his leader but I don't want to dominate him. When I say I want him to have a choice, I want to be able to ask my horse to do something and him want to do it. This is a huge distinction in my mind from telling and forcing a horse to do something. I'm sure a lot of people will read this and laugh and think I'm out of my mind. That's cool. But I really hope that there are some that think along the same lines as me.

This brings me back to horses and play. In a wild setting I am unsure how much time a herd would have to play seeing that they're busy surviving and all. I'm not going to glamorise wild horses, they have a rough hard life that I'm sure most of our domestic horses given the choice would refuse. However foals play even in the wild and I know for sure horses kept in a herd out at pasture will play. The sight of horses running and bucking just for the pleasure of it is one that always gives me a big grin.

I think it is important for every horse to experience play and to experience it with their human too if possible. So much of the interaction between human and horse is purpose driven. I feel very sad for the horses who live boxed 24/7 with hardly any contact with other horses. The ones that are pulled out and worked like machines and put away. This is the complete opposite of how a horse is designed by nature to live. There is no spontaneity, no play. I do think that people are becoming more aware of this though and there has been a definite change. More and more people are just hanging with their horses. There are more and more trainers who are advocates of play and fun with your horse. So I'm having a look at what I do with Fox and seeing what I can change.