The Current Crew

Given how sporadic my updates have been recently, I thought it’d be a good idea to give a brief recap on everybody in my crew. I think I have fifteen horses in for schooling at the moment, which keeps life interesting and leaves one good and sore at the end of the day, but I thank God for them all. ❤

Obviously, there’s the usual five-days-a-week lineup – Arwen, Magic, Nell and Exavior. Then I’m on the three schoolies once a week to keep everything tuned up: Thunder, Stardust and Lullaby.

There are a couple of other horses that I school once a week for various reasons. The first is the ever-annoying Zorro, who irritates me because he doesn’t like me even though I feed him. He likes his child, he will be nice to his child, and that is that. I can’t fault the dude’s loyalty but he and I have had a few, uh, discussions about not bucking and running out just because I’m not his child. Zorro’s child competes on him so he’s fairly finished, he just needs to go over some basics again (like CONNECTION and RHYTHM because apparently dressage is a Firn thing and not a child thing, viz., evil).


The other is Jamaica, a little Appy crossbred gelding, who is made very attractive by his cute curves and black spots. He is a bit of a brat and needs a lead mare to put a back hoof in him once or twice, but otherwise he is a friendly puppy dog. He infamously jumped a fence and broke his scapula right after arriving at the yard (he was one of my first liveries, so that was especially fun) so I’m just kind of here to feel any unevenness before I see it. He also has a child and is occasionally well behaved with her.


Now for everyone who is in “full” training – three days a week. Some of them have already made an appearance on the blog, being Olive, Quinni and Midas. Olive and Quinni are both well beyond starters now; Quinni has 3 gaits and all her buttons installed, and is nearly ready to start jumping and connecting and fanciness. Olive should be going to her new home shortly. I’ll miss the floof, but I’ll admit to some relief. She isn’t thriving in my program mostly because Olive was born for somebody to enjoy at a relaxed pace, not for a harassed, paid person to attempt to make progress on. Nonetheless she has achieved significant progress and now actually knows that kicking = faster and will even consent to trot slowly when begged.

I also got on Midas about two weeks ago and he’s coming along famously, doing his walk and just starting to trot. He is a rather forward-going fellow and I have reservations about my ideal of selling him as a lead rein pony, but I enjoy him hugely. I may be able to tie my ankles in a knot under his tummy but he doesn’t appear too bothered and carries me forward happily with his cute little short strides.

he is just under 13.1hh so I was kind of hoping I’d look really tall. epic fail.

Two new starters complete the motley crew: Zara and Tara. These two pinto girls come from the same farm and the same year, so forgive me if I refer to them as sisters despite having no blood relation. Both in for training and selling, they only came into work two weeks ago now so we’re still working on fairly basic stuff. Tara has been here since June, but was desperately underweight and only two and a half anyway so she was pretty much in a field just learning very basic groundwork (boxing, bathing, and basic lunging) until now. In the past two weeks we refined the lunging and added a bridle and roller, which she both accepted without a problem. I rather like her – she’s still in the ugly duckling stage but she’s willing, hardworking and cute as a button. I admit that the buckskin spots really do it for me and I don’t even like pinto.


Zara is something else. She has quite the movement on her, but it’s like she’s just not connecting with us. She started her first session in fine style by crashing through the side of the lunging ring, twice, with all 48kg of me flapping helplessly behind her on the end of the lunge line. Things have mercifully improved from there; she’s still not quite decided to be present and try for me yet, but on the positive side she is really quiet and levelheaded, not at all the hot-blooded sport horse I was expecting. She took bridle, roller, and horsebox without a qualm. There’s a cool horse in there somewhere, I just need to find her and drag her out to the light.

gawky baby will become beautiful baby if I have anything to do with it

And lastly, there is the yard favourite – Lancelot. With the SI soreness that started to rear its head in February, he really didn’t work much this year. I sat on him in the middle of February and then he only did very light lunging until about the middle of May. We restarted him then and put in his three basic gaits, but after only about two months of solid work he became sour and grumpy to handle, very uncharacteristic for happy-go-lucky Lancey. It was before he saw the chiro, but I think it has much more to do with the fact that he’s just a really late bloomer. There’s a two-year-old brain wandering happily about in a four-year-old body, and amiable and intelligent as he is, it cooks very quickly. So we gave him another eight weeks in July/August and brought him back sort of in the beginning of September. Since then, he’s gone from strength to strength. I’m still watching him closely for burnout symptoms, but we’re out in the big arena now doing three gaits and circles super nicely. On Monday we even introduced his first 30cm vertical and he was absolutely super to it. Nothing beats a good attitude, not even a good brain!


I still have one full training spot open, but I’m guarding it jealously because I already booked it for another resale project. After ENDLESS shopping (do you know how hard a tiny, quality Nooitie is to find? Really, really hard, that’s how hard) I picked out an adorable palomino mare from one of the big stud farms. She was completely wild when I saw her, so the owners very kindly offered to get her halter tamed for no extra charge, and as soon as that’s done we’ll get her home and whisk her into training. I can neither confirm nor deny that I am as excited as a nine-year-old getting her first pony ever.

Glory to the King.

Exavior Update

After finishing all Exavior’s groundwork in the beginning of the year, I turned him out somewhere in mid-March to go grow up. The dude was only two years old and had his saddle, bridle, long-lining and voice commands all in place; there was nothing left to do except get on, and his brain had cooked. So I forgot him in a field for six months. It was longer than I had intended, but that’s just how the logistics worked out, especially with him being a colt and starting to really act like it.

Then in the middle of September we squashed him into a horsebox (seriously, you guys, it is scary how much space he takes up in his partition compared to the ponies) and shipped him off to the vet’s to be gelded. This turned out to be a very impressive thing to see. I’m used to the rural vets, who sedate it, anesthetise it, lie it down and then tie up the legs very securely before they start any cutting. This vet did him standing, and it was amazing. Because the horse was actually still on his feet (and thus presumably could still kick if he was so inclined) it was virtually impossible to work on him if he could feel anything, so the whole experience was pretty much pain-free for him. The most traumatic part was putting a catheter in his vein because of somebody being incredibly needle-shy, but they got it done (and after seeing how much fun he was to inject, sent me home with a tube of local for next time I have to do it). It was all over and done in an hour and we could take him home.

For the next week, I had instructions to lunge him for 20 minutes twice a day. This on a horse that hadn’t even seen a lunge line for the past six months. My preparation, as you can clearly see, was woefully inadequate, but we got it done. I had to lunge him in the field because he was still quite the stallion and couldn’t be safely brought down to the ring amongst the mares, but he surprised me by being quite manageable. And within about six or seven days his attitude completely changed. Suddenly and magically, he was my quiet baby horse again. He didn’t bite, he didn’t fuss when you groomed him, he didn’t call to other horses and he certainly didn’t rear up in hand. You guys, there is a reason why they call it brain surgery.

By the end of the week we were bringing him in to the ring in a headcollar like a normal average horse, not a psychotic warmblood stallion. And even before then, I was on him. I hadn’t realised exactly how much I’d been wanting to look between those particular ears until I saddled him up again for the first time, and as it turned out he lunged quietly with the saddle so I clambered up. I can tell you that after backing Midas (13.1hh), the view from up there was quite different. It is a terribly long way down! But he was as quiet as they come. Probably one of the quietest I’ve ever had the first ride on.

so much derping going on here I can’t even

In the next two sessions, the Mutterer assisted us with an amazingly simple quick fix (more on that later) to get Exavior to actually move, and then things were pretty much peachy. Within three more sessions we had whoa, go and turn without any drama. He does like to get stuck in reverse gear and wander backwards across the ring while I kick and kick, but I’ll take it over doing handstands any day. I was fairly convinced that this horse was going to kill me during his first rides so I am one hundred percent content with the miracle monster.

It’s incredible how quickly we bonded. We’d never been really close like this before, but the better he behaved the more I trusted him and the more I trusted him the more I actually had hope for our future together and the more I hoped the more effort I put into him and the better he behaved. Soon I was looking forward to our sessions instead of fearing them, and he was asking for ear scratches instead of trying to bite my arm off. It follows, of course, that just after I had fallen head over heels for this horse, he became suddenly and spectacularly ill. (This appears to be a requirement for all my own pet horses – Skye did it, Magic did it, and now this monstrosity has done it). Naturally, since it was my own horse, I the practical and coolheaded yard manager melted into a puddle of panicky mush. We rushed him to the vets, who gave him antibiotics and reassured me that my creature was not actually going to die. He brought it on himself, of course. If he would let us inject him he could have had more effective preventative antibiotics after his surgery and would probably never have gotten an infection, but he’s a horse, i. e. has the self-preservation of a lemming.

Either way, just as he got over his infection (like seriously, his first session back), he smacked his hindleg against the side of the lunging ring and lamed himself. Because horses. So he’s back on paddock rest again, but I have faith that he’ll be back in work before very long. And after that, well, with his miraculous journey so far, who knows where God will take us next?