The last six months have been a real roller coaster with more downs than ups! Last September Holly and Ceilidh went to the new Equitec Dressage to music qualifier at Ingleden Park near Ashford, both competing in the individual class and Holly also in Ardingly Riding club team. Turned out to be a very long day, very early start, over fifty miles to get there and big entry, inevitably I had been put to go first for my team which meant I had an early time in both classes with Holly. Ceilidh was nearly last to go in the individual so at least the organisers were kind to me!
Both ponies really tried and Holly in particular who thinks anyone who wants to ride round little squares needs a brain transplant still likes music and provided I get it right can keep on the beat the whole way through. Ceilidh does his to Jimmy Shand and on the whole the judges seem to like the music.
Well against all odds Holly won and Ceilidh was second, sadly my team mates with their smart horses couldn’t even look at us in the mounted prize giving so not much team spirit there.
In the afternoon team competition holly made it plain as she had already done her test and had her moment of glory she was not impressed to do it again but still went well and got a good mark, I then had to sit there for over three hours as there was to be a presentation for everyone at the end of the competition, my team mate did better being 1st and 4th as individuals, Holly was 5th so we won the team qualifier as well and were supposed to got to Hartpury in March this year, I was not that keen to go as knew I would be the odd one out in my team and despite the fact one member lived quite near would not be offered a lift in her smart lorry so would have to make my own way there but in the end it never happened as the expert of our team dropped out to go to a christening and there seemed little point in spending the diesel money to go as an individual, if it had been nearer I would not have hesitated, so after belonging to the riding club from when it started I have decided if I ever do another team competition I will have to find another
club that is both friendly and has fun but a very sad end to a long connection.
Getting home very late found a note to say Ensay was very lame and she and her four month old foal George had been brought in with vet’s help and she had a huge bandage on her leg and was loathe to move. Next day X-rays revealed a fracture just below the hock and so began what turned out to get nearly four months of box rest, very expensive bandages had to be replaced weekly, George ad to learn to go in school and play with other colts, Ensay had to learn to accept this without doing more damage to leg, luckily as she had been ridden a lot she was used to being in and settled into a routine very quickly as long as she could see him, the other foals had to be weaned and brought in so George had play mates etc etc. With hindsight I was probably wrong to keep George in all the time despite the fact he had exercise but by the time Ensay would have tolerated his absence the weather had broken and with clay soil my paddocks had become a bog and needed to be shut up for the winter and as time went on regularly became flooded.
Next blow had a friend’s pony for a couple of week’s schooling, friend came each day to muck out, talk in particular to George and Ensay who liked the attention took pony home, rang me later to say they thought they had strangles so fair chance she had carried it to my place! within twenty four hours George collapsed, very high temperature and when vet came out, (after hours call out) thought he was on verge of pneumonia and would not last the night, gave him antibiotics but said if he had strangles this might be the worst thing he could do with dire consequences of bastard strangles and so on. Ensay was to be X rayed again next day so Ben the vet was lucky enough to take over. Ensay’s leg showed no improvement although she was virtually sound, so more box rest and George was still with us. For the next three months George continued to be spasmodically ill, high temperature, spasmodically coughing more expensive antibiotics, improvement and then as soon as he came off them within a few days back to square one.
Finally I had to make the decision to take him to the vet’s for Endoscope, X rays to try and see what the problem was,the vets had anticipated lungs in bad state, fluid, abscess and no hope of recovery and I anticipated having to make the decision we all dread, Poor George had never been in the horsebox I had no help and at one point he escaped by climbing over a large bale off haylage I’d used to block one side of the ramp. The result of all this was I could spend more money which I had not got, his bill was already huge, have cultures done and special antibiotics from America at a £100 per day, the alternative a cheap drug given intravenously which I couldn’t do, so vet fitted catheter and in theory I took over, wrong again. George thought of a hundred different ways to remove pot off catheter, had to
have it replaced and in the end was stuck in as well as stitched with super glue and poor George wore a hood which he hated, ironically when I was finally told I could remove the catheter George had done most of the work for me, sutures already broken and only super glue was sticking it to his hair. He was still coughing so the last treatment was steroids via an inhaler, ever tried to use an inhaler on a small nose with a very active mouth so not a great success, by now I was a totally neurotic wreck, so bought some cheap cough mixture from the saddlers, guess what George loved it and learnt to open his mouth and suck it out of the syringe.
Touch wood he now seems fine and it has made a great difference being able to have him out in the fresh air so fingers crossed for him. Ensay had a third X ray still showing no improvement so was allowed to go loose in the school as I said she could not stay in her stable for ever, she tested the leg to the full, bucked, stood up on her hind legs, rolled a hundred times and seemed none the worse for it, she is now at long last out although there is a big possibility she may be in foal which may or may not be a good thing time will tell but at
least she is having the freedom she needs.
I had originally planned to concentrate on Summer during the winter and do some dressage with her but by the time we knew there was no risk of strangles on this place and I had spent more money having swabs done to make sure I had rather lost my enthusiasm and instead of a better trained pony had a wild unridden one! However not all was gloom and doom as I had sold some derelict buildings that used to be my stables and when I finally got the money had the choice of being sensible or spend it and enjoy it while I could and got planning for an outdoor school.
I did not go for a recommended firm but chose the local Hardcore Groudworks who had done my Equifence the previous year and had their own horses so were well used to working amongst animals and although long winded it has worked very well. The advantage being that they fitted in the work more or less when the weather was least unhelpful and although we had plenty of mud nothing like it would have been if it was a big
firm working to a time schedule, it is now finally finished apart from some cosmetic work and so now ironically I want rain as it will ride fairly deep till we have a good soak but it will be bliss next winter when the ponies can use it instead of a quagmire to stand in. I am planning to have an arena warming later on for highland enthusiast people and friends, barbecue if I can get help and some sort of performance from the ponies to amuse people but I will keep everyone posted when I get organised.
Have now started to compete a little and Summer has been doing quite well at baby dressage tests, canter is still quite difficult but at least there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. she has taken a long time to travel happily and now is confident enough to go on her own without worrying and I am sure that this goes back to her trip to Malvern last year when I sat on the M25 for three hours with two very unhappy ponies in the back, she hated to being in a strange stable and the fact the doors were too high for her to see out. Holly has a sadistic sense of humour as she is not a friend of Summer’s and never normally opens her mouth if she is left in the horsebox but somehow she knows when summer is about to start her dressage test(even if she cannot see) and starts to call and do her best to upset her, then when we get back to the horsebox she is all smug and eating her hay as though it was nothing to do with her.
Summer is appendix registered and when I bought her I asked Susie Robertson what restrictions there were re competing on her, she said none apart from Olympia qualifiers so I thought that is fine as she does not pretend to be an Olympia pony, since then many doors have closed to us with societies stating the animal has to be registered in the main body of the stud book so I feel cheated on that as I still wanted to go to NPS shows with her and am now confined to unaffiliated ones. I am not blaming the HPS but more some hideous guy with a computer sitting place unknown on the continent!!!!!!!!!!!!! In view of this I was particularly pleased to creep off to local riding club show, nice big ring and good going and to my delight she won the ridden M and M and qualified for the
Balanced Horse Feeds Championship show in September, the standard will be far higher there as one tends to get local Olympia qualified ponies going so we won’t have a tremendous chance to shine but it is really nice to feel she has achieved this and will give us something to work for through the summer.
The first foal was born last week a little girl for Stocks Sorcha, partially because I was so busy with visiting mares last year and also by design none of my mares were covered early in hopeful anticipation of the ground drying up enough for them to foal out. It was Sorcha’s first foal and as she had Ensay and Holly B,(Succoth Holly) as companions I thought no problem, I did go out a couple of times to check and when I went back about half an hour later the foal had been born although not up and Ensay had commandeered it and wouldn’t let Sorcha near, it was a real job trying to remove Ensay and Holly in the dark to give Sorcha a chance, baby was very quickly on it’s feet and latched on to the milk bar in record time, the downside Sorcha did not cleanse for ages so another expensive vet’s visit. Anyway the sun is shining now although it is bitterly cold so hopefully things will start to simmer down and we can settle back into a routine now the school is finished.
Whilst I would give anything to live in real countryside I am perhaps lucky in view of the soaring price of diesel that I have the choice of very many shows within about 30 miles, even so one ill have to restrict want one goes to unless one has a millionaire somewhere in the family. Other horrors too like emission zones are very close to home here and if I still had my lovely old lorry no way even forgetting the prohibitive cost could one of upgraded it to the required standard, there must be a great many people who compete and take their ponies out for pleasure rides, club meet ups who will be badly affected by this, so much for the modern world we live in, Deirdre
2008 UPDATE ON CUMBRIA PONIES
Avid readers of HPEC message forum may remember last November after a lot of hassle I bought back two mares I had bred and sold as yearlings to a hill farmer in Cumbria. Sadly he had died and the son who was also executor wanted the ponies out and was threatening to send them to a market, they also had two foals at foot. I had been promised that they would put them in two trailers and take them somewhere which would be accessable for a large horsebox but like everything else this was not done and the luckless lorry driver had to go right to the farm to fetch them, the lorry was as big as Gillies and got damaged trying to make a right angled turn off a narrow bridge but they did somehow appear here with four ponies.
Obviously they had hardly been handled since they left here and one of the mares had turned really nasty with teeth or claws ready to attack, not surprisingly her filly foal was the most unpleasant terrified animal I have ever met. the other major problem the foals were not registered and despite the fact both parents were, plus they had been given covering certificates for both foals the late owner had never got round to organising a prefix which was necessary quite rightly for registrations.
Suzie Robertson was a saint sorted things out with HPS council’s approval and all the executor had to do was join the HPS, register a prefix and then the foal registrations would be straightforward. I was sent the registration forms to fill in the ponies descriptions, not easy as I had a job to get near them and risked my life going in a stable with them but I got the forms back to Susie just before the deadline at the end on November, after a lot more hassle I finally got the registrations and passports for the foals in February, I had been afraid I might have to pay but in the end the executor coughed up so I was spared that, I reckoned the state they were in they were expensive ponies anyway.
The two mares settled very quickly and must have remembered where they were and the colt foal became tame quite easily but it took months to get the filly to trust me and to be able to touch her without being savaged Now she’s become a special pony and looks like she may become a permanent resident as she’s the third generation of ponies I have bred, she has recently had to be separated from her boy friends as they are all getting very colty and she’s been chatting Ronay up which is a bit forward for a yearling and he is her grandfather as well! I had no other filly foals so she has had to go back out with her mother and aunt. At least now all four are happy, Grouse the colt was entered for South of England show but seems he has little chance of going as he manages to slice a large layer off his frog and is only just about sound again now. both foals were by Grouse of Langley and pleased me as this particular family of mine is breeding very true to type, I like them even if no one else does!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LONG OVERDUE FOR 2008
I had planned for all the mares to have their foals late so hopefully they could foal out and the weather would be better and my clay soil to have finally dried out. Wrong again because as soon as the foals started to arrive the rains came in earnest and we were waterlogged once more. I only brought them in as little as possible so the youngest could at least sleep on a dry bed and apart from when my new neighbour had the next door field sprayed with some sort of weed killer which was blown into my field all went more or less according to plan.
Great was the relief when Ensay had her foal, a lovely filly by McInnes as we had never really known whether her injured leg would stand up to the strain of carrying a foal full time and touch wood she is still quite sound and leading a normal life, but I’ve decided not to ride from her again but perhaps breed one or two more foals I ended up with six foals, four by MsInnes and two by Alick so a very successful year on the foal front. This year will be a lean foal year as it is easy to acquire too many ponies and very recently the Water board have announced they are putting in a new pipeline to bypass Blindley Heath in view of three burst on the A22, closing the road for over a week and causing major damage and flooding to some homes. I am fortunate to be higher than the bursts but the end of my lane as spasmodically blocked due to road works replacing damaged pipes and now it is almost certain that the new pipe line is going to come across my property and through my foal field which I rent so looks like more problems on the horizon.
Ensay’s foal known as George - really Eorsa has really fallen on his feet and ended up in a 5 star home with Lorraine, Christine and Stuart, particularly nice as he is only about four miles from here so I can see him quite easily, he went to just one show with Lorraine in the autumn and won his class but will be out and about a bit more this year.
The new outdoor school is a great success and has coped with everything the elements have thrown at it ,it too gives me a dry turnout so ponies can get some exercise in the fresh air as most of my land is shut up and rested during the winter and in theory ponies do not go back on it till we have some grass but the big question mark this year is when the water company will be working on my land and what sort of mess is all the machinery going to make. My new neighbours are race horse trainers and are planning on having resting thoroughbreds and brood mares next door, they have just spent £70,000 on new fencing and they too are having the pipeline partially across their land!
A lot of the shows we wanted to go to were cancelled due to the rain but one that did happen was the SE and Thames Valley Highland show, summer and Holly went and had a really good day, summer won the nursery novice ridden, potential competition horse and was 2nd and 4th in the dressage. Holly was even busier and won the Intermediate ridden and was Reserve Ridden Champion, won Family pony , 2nd Riding Club Pony and 2nd and 3rd Dressage, a very busy and exhausting day and if Brenda and Carol had not been with me helping me fly from one pony to the other I could not have coped. It was a very happy show run very successfully as always by Julie Robertson and helpers.
Without a doubt the worst day of the year was when my black stallion Ronay left here to go to his new home in Scotland, he had been born here and had produced some lovely foals and although never ridden on had had the potential to be an outstanding ride and from day one when he was backed was balanced, forward thinking and everything you could wish for, if his girl work had not taken priority, plus the fact he was happiest when living with a girl and I had had a suitable young person to ride him his life might well have been very different. I just hope it was the right decision to let him go and that he is now living out all the year round with his wives as company. I think almost the most unbearable part of his departure was when he had trusted me to load him in the strange horsebox early in the morning, the ramp was shut and as he drove away down the lane I could here him calling, if I had been able I would have run after him and fetched him back.
At the end of August we had a great gathering of friends and members of HPEC for my arena warming, over seventy people came, some of the visitors were girls who had started their horsey life here over thirty years ago, (and we’re still friends) and other friends I have known even longer. Visitors were wined and dined with a barbecue where one of the master chefs was a nephew plus other friends, and the entertainment side was an Introduction which gave me the chance to tell everyone how Kitty Lucas and Ceilidh were responsible over twenty years now in getting me involved with highland ponies and to quote TV’s Master Chef ‘ she changed my life’ this was followed by long reining, a talk by Christine Stevenson on type and Conformation and the audience judging the ponies won by Ceilidh, did wonder if the fact kitty had been able to come influenced the result! Summer and I gave a short display of riding a green pony and the afternoon ended with Ceilidh doing his highland fling to music. visitors hda been able during the afternoon to mooch round and see all the ponies and foals. It was a very happy afternoon enjoyed by most and I had lots of lovely messages from people afterwards.. It certainly could not have happened without the help from all my friends who rallied round and did an enormous amount of work to keep everything running smoothly.
At long last after nearly three years Summer can now manage to canter in a dressage arena and has progressed from Walk and Trot up to Prelim, not perfect but vastly better than a year ago. our aim for 2009 is that she should be able to do presentable novice test and may be some music competitions which she does not like!!!
I had joined a very small friendly local riding club this year and had qualified for them with both Holly and 24 year old Ceilidh to compete in the London and SE Dressage to music championships in October. the ponies had a really good day, Holly was 2nd in the plain clothes competition and Ceilidh 3rd and Holly 4th in the Pas de Deux. Ceilidh did his usual highland fling routine but trying to be different Holly and I went as deerstalker and pony and she got a 10 for her actual costume as I had tried to make it look as authentic as possible she carried a stuffed reindeer too which took a fair bit of practice as she was not impressed, amazing what you can find at car boot sales.
Holly on the other hand likes music and a bit of atmosphere. to finish off the year Strictly Come Dressage in aid if the Emile Faure Foundation was organised at Olden Craig Equestrian Centre on a bitterly cold day in December, classes for Individuals, Pairs and quadrilles, all in costume and to be either a Dance or Film or Theatrical Theme. Entered chiefly as the venue is very local to me and it is a very worthwhile charity. One’s aim being to enjoy it and hope the audience did too. Holly did the individual class and also paired up with Sian Littledyke on Lilibet of Karunda in the pairs. Lilibet had only been in Sian’s family’s ownership for a very short while, had never been to a show and never been indoors, luckily Sian who rode her was well used to competing and a very competent confident rider. We had to plan our display to a very simple pattern and at this stage could not canter as a pair but Lilibet was brilliant and although unplaced took it all in her stride, the audience loved it which was our aim.
Marilyn Page put a nice post on HPEC message board which I am quoting as it is a good description of the place:
‘Last Sunday I went with some friends to ‘Strictly come Dressage’ at Oldencraig Equestrian Centre in Surrey.- it was a musical dressage competition to raise money for charity. It was very grand, a food bistro, shop, amazing toilets with scented soap ,etc. We watched lots of large warm bloods and posh dressage ponies . many of them shied at the glass restaurant, the strobe lights, the judges, the crowd. and then! In came Deirdre on Holly with 3 arabs to do a quadrille. I wish I had been filming. Holly checked out everything and then took centre stage and was in her element, it was fantastic. Her encore was in the pairs with another highland I did not recognise. The introduction mentioned John Sergeant and Strictly, so the audience were totally won over, and I’ve never seen a highland fling like it. the ponies were fantastic and the crowd clapped and shouted-the ponies did not mind a bit about the noise although for previous entrants no one had dared to clap! my last sight of Deirdre was holding a large trophy and an armful of rosettes’
Holly’s individual class was in the afternoon, again using Scottish Dance music and me wearing what I called my silly Jock outfit, although I did cheat and wear a red sequin jacket that I had used in our Sorcerer’s Apprentice quadrille at Olympia as I thought I needed something sparkly. As I could not do posh dressage, added a bit of acting and a wee dram or two which amused the judges. the actual programme went well and Holly can really stay on the beat if I get the right music for her.
She got two 10s which was amazing for the artistic bits and ended up against all odds winning the class. I was really pleased as I had more or less been mown down warming up by one or two people on their smart horses who obviously thought we should not be there! At the end of a very long bitterly cold day Holly ended up Reserve champion overall so out of nearly a hundred competitors a brilliant way to end the year.