Sunday, February 28, 2010

Darcy :)

Doing his usual pose as soon as the camera comes out!
After one of his many pamper sessions. My friend Sarah and I go down and spend a whole day washing and grooming and plaiting and generally pampering them until they shine, and both Darcy and Altibo absolutely love the attention. People actually ask me if I'm selling them when they see me take photos of them, as most horsey people don't seem to lavish much attention on their poor horses, and the shock of seeing someone just play with as opposed to ride seems to be too much for them. My logic is, the better they feel in themselves (and boy, do they know they look pretty!) and the more time we spend together forming a bond on the ground on our non-riding days, the better bond we have in the saddle!
Darcy last night after working over the jumps. That boy loves to jump! And currently, also to go mental when it's stormy. Hmmm!
I finally dyed his mane - it was awful and bleached from the sun, and he looked like a shaggy common pony, but now he's all sleek and handsome and thoroughbred-y :)
As soon as the camera comes out...!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best few days - Ever!

After much theatrics - eye rolling, snorting, only going in reverse - from Darcy, we did it - and h LOVED it! To the extent he was soon taking one look at the dam and trotting into it. I can barely keep him out!
And after the near-death experience Alti had on the way to the dam (involving his reins getting tangled around his legs and him panicking, rearing and falling over...not nice) he was an absolute angel as soon as he'd recovered. All it took were a few calming words, a bit of a cuddle and a big, big nuzzle from him, and it was as though it never happened. I was so, so proud of him for relaxing so quickly as soon as he heard my voice - I still don't feel like we've got that connection yet that I do with Darcy, which I will know will come with time, so to know he trusted me so much was amazing. And I don't think Cam will ever let him walk with loose reins again... but look how nicely he's working for Cam now!

We did it!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Aside from the minor incident of Darcy getting stuck in a fence (how? why?) and doing the above to his legs, everything's going well with the boys. I moved them to another paddock as the 17hh Steeplechaser in the next field was bullying them, and they've now got a bigger area and lots of big, shady trees for the Summer months. I've been giving Cam regular lessons on Altibo, and Darcy is being lunged every second day, and walked in and around the arena and jumping paddocks to get him used to different sights and sounds when we ride out. I'm feeding them both myself now, and they're both glowing without their rugs on. Both ripped their Weatherbeeta's off, and Darcy destroyed two cotton rugs completely, along with Altibo getting through 4 pairs of over reach boots in 3 weeks.

I'm seriously considering dressing them up for Christmas, and I love this saddle pad! It's probably a good thing they already have two custom saddle blankets being made to order with their names embroidered on them, otherwise they'd have some cute (faux) dead bears on their back, to go with this...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Together at last!

Darcy & Altibo moved in together on Saturday, and were instant buddies, much to my relief.
Meeting for the first time

Darcy in his idea of heaven - knee deep grass!

Happiest girl in the world with her two boys :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Darcy & Altibo Updates

- d a r c y -

Having a chat with his pal Cookie in the stables.
Darcy's been enjoying a spell over the past few weeks, and is coming back into work without a trace of stiffness - or sensibleness. His coat's coming through (and his Winter fur is flying out in handfuls, mostly into my mouth it seems...) and he's looking sensational. He was moved to a paddock next to a 17.2hh mare, who appeared to terrify him, but now he's got two whole paddocks and some fresh Spring grass in the laneway, as well as two overflowing buckets of hard feed a day to get some condition up.

Pretending to be a Brumby in the round yard.
We had a fun time in the round yard yesterday, and after he finally settled down he did the most perfect, lovely extended trot I've seen. I was quite unaware he could have such beautiful action after having only seen him hobble and lurch around recently.

Got racehorse?
He had a much needed bath after his work out yesterday, and even had Cameron put a 3 minute conditioning treatment through his mane and tail! He smells nicely of peaches now, which I'm sure wont last too long. He's moving to his new agistment place on the 1st, where he will be sharing a paddock with my other boy, Altibo.

Pre-bath glossiness - and that tail just keeps growing and growing!

- a l t i b o -
'Gimme that! Now!'
Altibo is certainly a character. Part giraffe, part horse, he can contort himself into the most bizarre way to get to what he suspects might be a carrot. He's nearly consumed my phone, a hoof pick and my sunglasses in several seperate attacks.

Death by horseback.
We're having weekly lessons (and I will on D Boy too, when he moves there) and I fall off after a half hour, sweating, incoherent and unable to move. I have never worked so hard in my life - Alt is the sort of horse you have to make do EVERY little thing I take for granted (i.e don't randomly turn left/halt/do some strange humping motion the second I take a tiny bit of pressure off the rein etc) but I certainly feel like I've acompished something when we're lucky enough to do a semi-decent circle at a trot together.

Posing for carrots :)
On the ground, D and Alt are very similar ponies. They're both super alert of where I am at all times, pick their feet up the second I ask them, constantly maul me for any trace of food. I can leave them unsupervised with Cameron and I can be assured I wont return to find him, laying mangled and kicked to death from his amusing attempts at rugging/bridling etc.
I'm looking forward to having them both together and not having Livery any more, so I can spend my mornings feeding out and grooming, and, lets face it, swimming in the dam with them in Summer.

He loves the attention.
No, really.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Winter fun

"You've got the camera out? Again? Here, let me give you my best 'I am Brumby, wild and free pose..." - Darcy in his lovely new rug (not white for long, I fear...)

Darce and I have been enjoying winter the past few days, with some very easy work, light trotting and battle of wills involving walking over trotting poles (I find he enjoys launching over all three, as opposed to walk sedately and using his legs and bottom properly).A rather damp Darcy after our wait for the rain to stop didn't work so well...

There's something almost romantic about riding in the rain with no one around, simply he and I having little chats (which are, mostly, strangely one sided...) and working on diagonal aids and balancing exercises. I sometimes forget what a lovely boy he is until I ride him - sure, he's a delightful pony to work with on the ground and be around, but when we have one of those rides where we're completely in tune and it's just us two in the world, or so it seems, I'm reminded of what an obliging, happy boy he is. He constantly tries to do as I ask, and doesn't get upset when I can't quite indicate enough what I'm asking for. I love that we're both learning together, and I'm too excited for words that soon he'll be in his new paddock with his new friend Altibo Bay, and we'll be able to GO OUTSIDE THE ARENA and trot happily along for as long as we both please in all the gorgeous trail rides around.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Darcy's lameness update

So nosy!
Last Monday, I had the vet out to Darcy as he hasn't been responding to any of the other treatments he'd been receiving for his lameness. After trotting him out, lunging him and a good feel, the vet gave me the news that Darcy had a degenerative bone disease in his knee, and would - if given monthly injections - have a working life of around 12 months. I was completely devastated, and as soon as I got the chance to be alone, had a good old sob into poor Darcy's mane. The vet recommended light work, if I was keen to keep him - although the message was clear: put him down or get rid of him. I was told that, as I'd only had him a short time, I couldn't be attached enough to want to keep a horse I can't ride, but I was adamant I would never be parted from him. (Darcy, I mean, not the vet).

After ride cuddles <3
I spent a few days mulling over options with Cameron, and left it a few days before I saw him again to see what dramatic improvement Darcy had made from the medication he received. When I saw him yesterday, he was the worst I'd seen him - proppy, and practically limping as he came up from the paddock. I'd been vaguely expecting some sort of miracle, like the vet had implied the drugs would be, and was shocked to see him looking so sore. I put him in cross ties, and gave him a thorough grooming and lots of cuddles before I walked him around to see how he was. As I walked him out, he looked slightly better, and soon Matt, the guy who keeps two horses he's training at the property and is the dressage riding instructor who works there, came up for a chat. He'd heard from Gemma, the girl who works where Darcy lives, what the vet had said, and he suggested getting a second opinion as the vet is known for being somewhat fatalistic.

Getting his teeth done - he was such a good boy!
He was the 3rd person in the past week who mentioned something similar, and as I chatted to him, Matt got me to trot out Darcy - who was almost completely sound. After an hour of being up at the cross ties, fidgetting and moving around trying to play with his pal Lorenzo, and having me stretch out his legs and apply pressue to his back, he was a different horse. Matt went on to say he's seen Darcy look stiff before, and I mentioned some days he appears completely sound, happy in his work and practically bolting towards jumps, whilst other days he's sore, lazy and unappy. We talked some more, and Matt pointed out Darcy is the laziest horse on the property; never tearing around the paddock or acting up. He spends his time standing still and daydreaming, or moving very slightly whislt grazing. So while I get a vet check done on a horse I've been trialling, I'm going to work Darcy slowly at a trot and work with some trot poles to strengthen his back, and see how he responds.

Teaching Cam to free-lunge.
And his future home of 2000 acres in the country is looking like it will be put off even longer; whether I buy another horse to compete with eventually or not, I'm going to move Darcy to a new home (which will be cheaper by $75 a week) where he can play with other horses, swim in the dam and work in the floodlit arena year round, until he either gets better from his stiffness, I locate the actual problem, or he gets progressively too bad to ride any more. If that's the case, he will go into semi retirement close by so Cam and I can go for gentle hacks out together, and I can still go and play with him every day. The future's actually not looking as bad as I once thought.

Cam's first lesson!
In other news, I've been getting Cam up on D-Boy and giving him lessons on the weekends. He's getting more and more relaxed, and better and better each time, and Darcy couldn't be a better horse to teach someone on - he's like a little lamb. He's by no means lazy, he just refuses to do anything Cam asks for unless he really asks him - trotting, for example. As soon as I hopped on Darcy to show Cam what I meant by keeping leg on, his ears go up, his hocks come under him and I can practically hear him say 'To the jumping paddock!' and gets somewhat annoyed that I don't take him from the round yard. He pretended to be scared by Hal, another girls horse, leaning over the fence pulling faces at him when Cam was riding, and did a lovely bouncey jump to the left, which Cam wasn't expecting. As soon as he realized Cam was a little unbalanced, he calmly stopped and waited for him to give him directions.

Lunging is made somwhat difficult by the fact he constantly wants pats!
Also, when I took off his rugs yesterday, Gemma said how lovely he was looking - I'm far too critical and think he looks too much like a common garden pony rugged up, with his shaggy mane flapping in the wind and his legs and head covered in mud, so to hear someone say he looks nice puts the biggest grin on my face. I've been using show-shine on his mane and tail, which looks lovely, and now his paddock's not as muddy he's not constantly hiding under 2 inches of bog. I've been told he's not only the nicest horse people have met, but also the cleanest (they clearly haven't looked under his mane/back fetlocks when I run out of time to groom AND ride) and he keeps his paddock spotless. When Matt, who I have a bit of a crush on professionally as he's the best rider I've ever seen, said that Darcy was well put together and a lovely boy, I had to wipe away a single tear of happiness. When he's standing next to a 16.3hh, $50,000 Warmblood with the prettiest face I've ever seen, and someone says he's not bad, it makes me all warm and fuzzy. I know he's not exactly a show horse, or worth more than the entire contents of my house, but to me he's absolutely beautiful.