Mounted Shepherds

Over Christmas Cookster and I had a Very Exciting Adventure.  We were riding up the hill and met a flock of sheep – not actually all that unusual but these sheep were neither in their field nor accompanied by a human.  We drove them back up the hill away from the main road and hoped that they would be obliging and slip back into their field.  Of course, they didn’t.

Luckily my parents were also out with the dog so my Dad could skirt round them and drive them back towards me and the gate.  Cookster had been boggling at the sheep the whole time so it was a lot easier for us to stand still and block the way back to the main road.

20191229_113130

This time the sheep were very obliging.  I swung the gate open, they trotted in and I shut it behind them.  All very simple really in the end!

20191229_113143

Learning to Stop

Several times recently I have been at demos which have told me that when I’m working on something with a horse and they get it right I should stop.  This is something I know very well in theory but for some reason I find it very hard to put into practice.

It is just so tempting to think, ‘Hurrah he’s got it – we’ll just do it once more and then we can stop.’  Of course, then we make a complete mess of it and end up doing whatever it was five times more until we get it right again.  Every time it happens I remind myself that next time I must reward Galahad by stopping as soon as we get it right.

20200106_105026

Yes Galahad is still wearing tinsel here. I took the picture last weekend – before Twelfth Night. All tinsel has since been removed!

It’s not necessarily that easy though.  We have recently been working on a pole work exercise which doesn’t always go to plan.  Today we got it right first time and it’s very difficult to stop after only one attempt – it doesn’t feel like a proper schooling session at all!  It’s yet another thing which will take time to learn.

Standing and Staring

When I bring the ponies in for the night I quite often stand and watch them eat for a few minutes – just enjoying the peace and the sound of the munching.  It turns out that it’s actually a very valuable stable management tool.

I was watching them on the evening of Boxing Day and realised Cookster didn’t look quite right – a little tucked up and shivery.  It had been cold and drizzly for most of the afternoon and Cookster is not always sensible about seeking shelter.  He was eating okay though and seemed fine in himself so I dried him off as well as I could and tucked him up in bed in pyjamas.

20191228_074613

PJ pony!

He was very quickly himself again but the next morning I sent him out with a thin waterproof rug on – he’s barely clipped so I didn’t want him too warm, just kept dry because apparently he can’t look after himself.

20200105_080351

Now of course I have the extra dilemma every day of wondering whether he should still be wearing it or not.  If it’s just cold and not wet then he doesn’t really need it but can I guarantee no rain?  Thankfully, as it is just a thin rug the risk of over rugging is pretty slim at the moment and he has certainly shown no signs of being too hot.  It’s a bit of a different experience for him though – he didn’t roll in the field for two days, although he was quite happy to lie down in the stable!