Saturday, 26 September 2009

Free schooling and jumping

I haven't been able to do anything with Lancelot this week because I fell over last Tuesday and did some real damage to my already badly damaged arm. I am now back to square on with no movement at the shoulder and a lot of pain.

Lancelot seems to have less injuries and bite marks on him now because we have separated Jed who was definitely bullying him. We have also stopped all the feed he was having and he now only has hay. This has definitely calmed down his lumpy bumpy skin. I am going to have to find a feed for him though because he does need something as well as hay when he starts working.

I decided this morning that I should try to do something with him because he needs to keep interacting with me.

I took him out in the manege and started free schooling him which he seemed to be really enjoying but he is so forward that it is easy to keep him trotting and even cantering but it is impossible to make him walk. It is really something I need to work on. I will do it on the lunge rein and not free though as I have more control them.

He does have such a lovely trot and is very floaty though today he looked a bit stiff.

We have the new jumps up permanently in the manege and I had moved the poles out of the way so that he could do complete circuits. I decided to put a pole on the ground to see what he thought of that and to be honest he hardly even looked at it and took it all in his stride.

I then made it into a small cross pole and again he jumped this without a second thought.

He seemed to be enjoying himself and from time to time got very excited and was bucking and farting his way round and then at the last moment just popping over the jump.

At the end I just put a straight pole with a ground line up at 60cm and he jumped this beautifully too. No effort at all and at one point was doing a pooh so stopped about 5 strides from it, did his pooh then just trotted forward and jumped it.

I know that if this had been Jed he would never have been so obliging.

I am pleased because it never crossed his mind to run out or turn away from the jumps. He just sees them and pricks his ears and over he goes.

The other thing which I love about him is that when I had finished I turned my back on him and went to stack the lunge whip where I keep it and to pick up my sweater. When I turned around Lancelot was there right behind me and then proceeded to follow me around like he was on a lead. He is very attached and I said to Mike he is definitely a Monty Roberts Joined up horse.

My plans now are to start long reining properly. I would like to have a go tomorrow if I can in the manege and then do it every day after so that I can walk him out.

I have long reined him once before but the reins were on the cavesson and not the bit.

I don't think I will be riding Lancelot for quite some time so I need him to be working on his mouth even though he is not ridden.

He is such a kind and gentle boy and I don't think that he has ever had a nasty thought in his life. I do like him very much.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Riding in the school for the first time

Tonight I wanted to tick another box for a first with Lancelot and ride in the sand school at home.

I tacked him up and took him out and lunged him first. I worked on just going up and down from halt to walk, walk to trot and back down again. He is very forward and so it is hard to get him to slow down or stop but we are working on that and I think I have cracked it on the lunge. I lift the rein hand forward and step sideways so that I am stepping slightly in front of him. At the same time I say 'Walk' or 'Whoa' or whatever I want. We are getting there slowly and he is definately more responsive now.

I hoped Mike would be out there with me to just watch and make sure I was ok but he went off somewhere to do something and in the end I decided to just get on with it.

We had to have a few goes with the stool that I use for mounting as I want him to learn that he must stand next to it and not just walk off. Today I didn't want to make it the lesson for the day but I still had to do some work to make him stand because I was on my own.

Eventually I was able to get on and he was so good and just stood while I adjusted my stirrups etc. Then we spent about 10 minutes just walking. I have a new saddle and although it is the same make as my old one it really has altered my position and my legs are way too far back and my shoulders are forward. In the end I shortened my stirrups so that I could keep my legs forward and my heels down, this encourages my shoulders back. It is not brilliant but I am working on it.

He is very responsive in walk and nice and forward but halting is another matter. He just leans on the bit and yaws his jaw. Each time he did that I gave the reins and tried just to use my seat and voice to halt but mostly we were doing half halts. If I want to stop I have to take a firm hold and then give and then repeat this about 4 times before he eventually stops. As time progressed he seemed to listen to my seat change but we never quite perfected a halt. I don't want him to lean on the bit so I am very conscious of giving when he does it.

Then we had a couple of trots. I was very apprehensive as I had no idea what he would do or in fact if we would be able to stop at all but he was very good and once I had my balance sorted he became very relaxed and although forward he was in a nice rhythm. I kept the rein nice and loose and with really no contact and he was happy with that. As time went on I took a little bit of a contact but really let him go as he pleased. We did a few rein changes and he seemed to be really enjoying himself and once I had got used to his stride and I relaxed myself I have to say I enjoyed it too. If he wasn't so young I could have stayed out there a lot longer and done a lot more. We did a few trot, walk transitions which were done with only seat and voice and he was very good.

We walked then on a long rein and I called it a day as I was so pleased with him.

I need to find out why he just holds the bit in his mouth and doesn't chew or play with it at all. His mouth is very dry when he is working although I am using a French link Fulmer. I wonder if I changed it for the sweet iron if that would make a difference?

I need to work on the downwards transitions. I want to stop him leaning and yawing on the bit.
I need to work on making him stand at the mounting block.

All in all a brilliant session and I can't wait to ride him again.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

28th August 2009

So he is on his way and I have just had a phone call from the transporters to say he will be arriving at about midnight tonight.

He is still very immature in his body and he is quite gangly still and so the plan is to do loads of ground work with him whilst my arm is mending and to allow him to grow into himself. He is expected to make 17 - 17.2hh so he has a way to go still. When I first saw him led out of the box I couldn't believe he was 4 as he is so foal like. They usually back them at 3 but left him until he was 4 to allow him to grow.

I am excited but apprehensive. Hopefully it will be third horse lucky.

I asked all the lads at the yard where he is what the worst thing about him was and none of them could think of anything and they all said with total conviction that they had never, ever seen him with his ears back.

29th August 2009

He's here!!! They arrived at 5am and he is now in his stable tucking into a big haynet. He is very wobbly after his trip and every time he puts his head down to drink he sort of overshoots the bucket! There will be pics in the morning as we took loads. He is so lovely and very sweet and cuddly. I am sooooo excited!

The lorry has gone on now to Portugal with the rest of it's cargo. Two very nice ladies brought him and we are both very impressed with the service.

Will update it all in a couple of hours when I get up to do a double gite changeover!

Night night

Gail xx

I've just been out to check him and he is fine and is eating and drinking well.

He has quite a few bumps and rubs. I think the head collar has rubbed him quite badly. The rest of him is fine though and there are not hot spots or swellings.

I am just off out to see him again and sit and have my tea and toast with him... I can't believe how friendly he is. He just wants to be stroked and be with you.

Jed and Lancelot are twins!
Their heads are very similar but their bodies are very different. Lancelot is much lighter built and lacks the muscle that Jed has. When you see them together you can see the ID in Jed.
Lancelot is a definite finer built TB. He has a lot of work to do to build his neck, top-line, shoulder and quarters up. He was only backed in May and then turned out for about 6 weeks I think and then came back in only a couple of weeks ago. There is no doubt he is a real slow grower, but I have time to let him grow.

Lancelot is sound asleep out there now. He must be absolutely knackered... bless him.

Mike has decided he is going to change Jed's name......... He wants a knight too ... so he's going to call him ....................Jedi.......

30th August 2009

I have spent today going in and out of the stable with Lancelot and I am pleased with him. He really is such a sweet boy. He is very kind and gentle and just likes to 'be' with you.

I was trying to figure out what was different about him from Jed because they are both big horses but it is not easy to be in Jed's space.

I realised that Jed likes to move you around by crowding you. He makes you move by swinging his head to look around you or over you or at something behind you. It is not comfortable to be in Jed's stable as he is definitely in charge of his space.

Lancelot just stays where he is and lets you rub him or massage him and then he moves over if he is asked but he never once made me move out of his space. His energy is totally different to Jeds.

It peculiar how safe I feel in his stable but I still dont feel safe in Jeds.

I am so reluctant to enthuse about him as I have made the mistakes before and got so excited about other horses. I felt so foolish when it all went wrong.

So ... I like this horse, I feel comfortable in his company and I want to spend time with him.
Early days but it feels good

31at August 2009

We were out all day yesterday at a horse weekend organised by our horse group. Mike took Jed and rode him in the parade and so Lancelot was left at home alone.

When we got back although it was late I wanted to get him out and let him stretch his legs so I took him up into the sand school so that he could have a roll and a buck and fart if he wanted.

When we got in there and I just led him around at first he was lovely. He followed me with no barging or pushing. I then took the headcollar off so that he could go off but he just stayed close and followed me around.

Eventually he went of and rolled and then trotted and cantered around and I started to play with him, sending him away and turning him by using my body and he was sooo responsive.

He had great fun and displayed his breathtaking trot which just floats over the ground.

When I had enough and wanted to catch him again I was a bit worried because he had stayed well away from me but I changed my body language and looked at the ground and turned slightly away from him and he stopped and turned in towards me. He took a couple of steps towards me and then stopped but he was still about 20 metres away. I walked towards him then and when I was about 5 metres from him I stopped and looked at the ground and he then walked straight up to me and waited for me to put the rope back on him. It was all text book stuff and felt fantastic.

He is a lovely boy and when leading him if I stop he stops. The only thing I need to sort is that when he is stop he does this thing of sharply nudging me with his nose. He did it on my bad arm yesterday and lifted my arm with his nose and I can't tell you how painful it was. I thought I was going to cry.

11 september

I lunged Lancelot this morning because I really want to crack on now with his training. He is so easy to work with and if he doesn't understand what you are asking for you can see him thinking it over.

This was just a simple exercise just to see how he moves and how he responds. I was so pleased with him.

11th September 2009

Mike had his one to one lesson today with Damien and so we took L-lot too.

Mike had his lesson first and was riding without stirrups and fell off... not a good omen. He was fine by the way.

I had to take L-lot up to the main yard because he kept calling to Jed and I tied him up in the entrance where he promptly went to sleep.. I thought this was a good sign because here he was in a new yard with loads of different people and different horses and he was very calm.

I tacked him up with his brand new Wintec 2000 saddle (a bloomin bargain at £299) and his new bridle both colour co-ordinated in brown and he was ready!

Damien lunged Lancelot first and he was very flighty and fast. I think he didn't understand what Damien was asking him to do but they sorted it in the end.

Damien then rode him walking, trotting and cantering and then came back to report to me.

He has no mouth to speak of and doesn't understand the rein aids at all. He said he was nice though and then said to me to get on.

I was absolutely quaking in my boots (that's putting it very politely) when I got on and to be honest I had a job to get on as he is so blooming tall. He isn't as big as Jed but still tall and I am still one armed.

I was very frightened and walked gently first and Damien kept telling me to trot and I kept saying 'In a minute'

Eventually I trotted him with one hand on the neck strap and Damien talked me through every move and made me lengthen and lengthen the reins and once my seat got stronger and I relaxed and then Lancelot relaxed things started to flow.

We have a long, long way to go but I am happy about that. I knew that by buying a young horse I would have all the work to do but I have superb teachers and Damien has given me lots of advice. He says that L-lot is literally just backed and has no understanding and that I must be so careful of his mouth. He goes well off the leg which is great because Jed is the opposite and ao now I have what I wanted.

This is the beginning of a long road but this is a path I want to follow. L-lot seems so calm in his head and when we got home I was able to shower him off with no fuss or drama and then take him for a pick of grass on the lawn.

I will post some pics later which are mostly of Damien riding him but there is one or two of me. When I looked at them I realised that I must lose some more weight!!

Gail xx

12 september

Today I have ticked another box. We went for a hack! We went out with Jed and Mike and it was a bit breezy but because he had the lesson yesterday I knew he was a bit tired today. I thought it was the ideal time to hack for the first time.

We went off up the lane and Jed is very lazy and it takes him a while to get going and so L-lot was in front. Jed just never really went in front after that. L-lot was more than happy to lead the way, I couldn't believe it! Once he spooked at a log... I think it was a horse eating log.... All he did was stop and look... no leaping... no jumping..... no swinging round... just staring at it.

We only walked and weren't out for long because I didn't want to tire him too much but he really enjoyed himself.

We met some men working in the woods with dogs and chain saws and that never bothered him either.

He is being a very good boy!

Yes Endy is home and he and L-lot are in lurve... Mike says they are a couple! L-lot just follows Endy around the field worshipping him.

Jed is a bully and I think tomorrow we are going to separate them and put Jed in a field by himself because L-lot is covered in bites, some of them are quite nasty too. Jed will be next to them so he wont be lonely but they will be separated by electric fencing.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Welcome to Hartpury Lancelot

On 20th August 2009 whilst I was in the UK visiting my family I went to look at a horse......... and I bought him.

It's a long story and so if you are not interested then leap forwards a couple of paragraphs and miss this bit.

About 3 months ago, just after my accident and being once again horseless someone posted a thread on here because she ran a site which advertised horses for sale and someone had been naughty and was stealing commision on the horses. A few mins after she posted the thread the Mods pulled the link to her advertising site but not before I had clicked on it and saw and ad for a horse that I really loved the look of. He is a 16.2-17hh 4 yr old 7/8 tb Sports Horse. His sire is on the shortlist for 2012 so he is well bred.

I am a great believer in fate and how horses (or dogs) find us, not us looking for them. Anyway I saw the pic of him and thought I should go and see him.

He was being sold by Hartpury College Stud where they breed the stock for the students to train with and so they are sensitively handled and then backed. Once the students leave at the end of May then the backed horses are sold on. Hartpury Lancelot is one of these.
I asked Susan (Follyfoot) to come to the UK with me to view him but because of commitments she was unable to come.
I phoned a horsey friend of mine and asked her to go and look at him. She said 'I can do better than that, my friend is the chief instructor at the college so I'll ask her about him'

Phone calls were made and it turns out that Bekki was the instructor who actually supervised the students who backed Lancelot and his initial work training. She said he was a rock steady, unflappable, loving and all round lovely boy. She said he had a few confirmation faults which would mean he would never win at Badminton but for medium level eventing then he would be fine.

Having put my Badminton dream on hold I made a decision to go try and see him. I made a few enquiries at the stud and got some video and pics of him sent ot me and then one day found that the ads had been cancelled and thought then that Lancelot was obviously sold.

I was so disappointed but then thought things happen for a reason.

I then booked flights to go to the UK to my sisters 25th wedding anniversary and after they were booked and a few days before I was due to fly I was trawling the net and found another ad for Lancelot on the Hartpury college site.

I went and saw him the day after I arrived and just loved him. He is very cuddly and sweet and he has the most gorgeous floaty trot.. It was a very windy cold day when I went to see him and because of that I actually did not ride him myself. He was absolutely impeccably behaved and never took any notice of the wind but I didn't want to push it with my arm. On the ground he is perfectly well mannered and just loves to be fussed and loved. I saw him ridden, lunged and led and he was fine. The vet came that same day and vetted him and apart from some minor confirmation stuff ie he dishes slightly on his off fore he passed with flying colours.

I took my Dad who is 76 years old and an ex jockey to see him the next day and he fell in love with him immediately. He trotted him up and loved and fussed him and was in his element. They have a very strict rule at the stud that food is food and treats are rubs and strokes so consequently he never looks for treats or nibbles etc. So we paid the cheque over and Hartpury Lancelot was mine.