Monday, June 28, 2010

Wonthaggi ARC and Ilona leaves home

It was rather wet and cold in Wonthaggi at the weekend but it was great to catch up with nice people and horses. Flatwork in the morning and pole work or jumping in the afternoon. Of course the afternoon was really a continuation of the morning. The better the horses go on the flat the better they jump. The new sand arena had perfect going with no boggy spots despite the rain. We came back to the grounds for dinner. The clubroom more than warmed up with the wood burning stove, alcohol,  masses of delicious home made food and good company.

We had fun with horses of all sizes and shapes

My this year's foal Ilona, out of an eventing bred thoroughbred (Lady Dalrymple x Woodmount Magic) and by the Dutch warmblood show jumping stallion Valhalla has left home! She has gone to Churchill to be with 2 other foals who are about to be weaned. She led the way down a totally strange track with lots of horses and ponies being very curious about tiny Mojo.

It was a huge day for Ilona. She is now in a lovely big paddock with the mares and foals and a rather large sheep.

We let her stay with her pony friend for half an hour and then changed him for lucerne hay. I do not know how parents leave their children at school for the first time - so much can go wrong! I managed not to call and have now heard that she has settled well and is following the others around and waiting to be 'included'.

Friday, June 25, 2010


As I drive through Labertouche between my present home in Bunyip and future one in Jindivick I am always attentive to the regrowth - or not - of the trees that were affected by the fires of last year.

Now there are big white X's on the condemned trees on the roadsides. Some have already been felled. What makes me sad are the trees that were burnt but were able to sprout out new growth from their trunks, only to fail in their attempt to survive.

The trees that have survived are disorderly in their regrowth - but they are alive and hopefully will not be felled by a chainsaw. It is easy to tell how long ago fire went through. The undergrowth is starting to thrive and it is obvious which trees will survive.

On a happier note - Thomas the Terrible has not tried to scratch his stitches out of his ear so he does not have to wear a bucket on his head at the moment.

This weekend will be lots of fun as I am teaching at Wonthaggi Adult Riding Club. I am glad to remember that their clubhouse has a wood burning stove.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Variety is the Spice of Life

Yesterday was a long and most enjoyable day at Werribee Park teaching the Young Rider Dressage Squad.   This seems to be a popular pastime as there were a lot of young riders of all standards. They seemed to be having fun. It was nice that there were only 2 in a lesson, and the 14 riders I taught were well matched in their pairs which made them easy to teach.

Of course it was a little difficult convincing some young riders that doing the 'tricks' of dressage is great but they are dependent on the quality of the paces! In the end it is up to the riders to learn for themselves. Yes, as a coach it is frustrating to know how much better a horse and rider combination could be performing but some riders are just not ready to understand the value of a correct way of going. What I do find interesting is how obvious the good ones are. They are not necessarily on good horses but talent, interest and dedication just oozes out of them. They take responsibility for their own riding. These are the riders that keep us coaching.

Two of the younger riders on their lovely ponies.

Last night I had dinner with the Martindale family from Tonimbuk. It was John's birthday. People say that if you have a handful of real friends you are lucky. I have a handful in one family so am extremely lucky. Catherine is an EA Level 2 coach and a racehorse trainer, and Jane and Sarah are Level 1 coaches. Hopefully they will all progress up the levels. It is young coaches of today that hold the future of equestrian sport in their hands.

I was away for a short time this morning and returned to find that Thomas the Terrible had sliced his ear and had a 3 cm cut, so his ear was very much in two parts.  Being a Sunday there was no vet nurse working so I helped the vet as he had to have a general anaesthetic. Every time I hold a pet while its front leg is shaved for an IV injection it is to say a final farewell. It was a very odd, and not very welcome, emotion as my subconscious got ready for 'the end'. I had to convince myself that Thomas was going to come home very much alive. Stitching an ear is a very intricate operation. On one side of the ear he now has a running blanket stitch and on the other individual stitches. Thomas may have to wear a bucket on his head if he starts scratching the stitches.

As there was no-one working at the clinic today I took Thomas home as soon as he was conscious. He has spent the rest of the day in front of the fire.

Friends of mine came to help move hay and it managed to stop raining just in time. About 12 bales fell off the back of one of the trucks, despite being strapped on. When we went back to where the bales had fallen off someone was already putting 5 bales in their trailer. When I went home later the last 2 bales were being strapped on to someone else's trailer. So at least 3 people will have had a 'windfall' today!

Moving hay is an aweful job. I think one would lose friends pretty quickly if they had to do it too often!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Melbourne Three Day Event to Bunyip

It was a cold Queen's Birthday holiday morning at the final vet inspection of Melbourne 3Day Event. The Ground Jury of Pollyann Huntington, Barry Roycroft and the Japanese Sumiko Suzuki with the veterinary delegate Kirsten Neil concentrate as Shane Rose's elegant and beautifully presented Star Am I trots up.

So now it's back to Bunyip where the last spring mattress succumbed to the scissors. Thomas the Terrible was most upset that the 'innards' went quickly into the rubbish skip. I quite understand how 'infected' mattresses can become full of dust mites and the like.

Sammy Davis Jr. surveys the world from a dog safe place.

They know the rules. With the half full skip in the background Thomas and Bessie wait for the end of a lesson from outside the arena - of course. With horses there is no room to compromise safety.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Melbourne International Three Day Event

The weather was kind today. Cold but not wet. Good crowds enjoyed the 1*, 2* and 3* cross country.

Ewan Kellett's courses rode well. The good riders making the courses look deceptively easy.

It would have a been a bit chilly for the commentators on the cherry picker from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It is always an outing for 'horsey/doggy' people showing off the latest dog fashions.

Film maker of the future Charlotte Sweeney and her cousin Amelia Curran work on the same plot with photographer Anna Sharpley.

Cross country horses need to be 'sharp' with their front legs but it is the strength of the hindquarters that is needed to keep them out of trouble.

Luke Jones from South Australia rode beautifully through the 3* apexes.

Danny Marwood from Pakenham, Victoria had a great ride in the 2* moving up from 17th to 6th place before tomorrow's show jumping.

There was lots of practical discussion about the safety and future of the sport in the FEI Officials course interestingly directed by Roger Haller from the USA. When the first horse in the 1* galloped past our classroom tent we all had to concentrate about the 'FEI legal issues' and not listen to the hoof beats. galloping past.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The cost of saving $40

Now I know all about mattresses! There are certain regulations about what goes into a rubbish skip. Mattresses with inner springs cost $20 each to dispose of unless the springs are taken out. At first sight it looked relatively easy until I found that every 10 centimetres there was a little metal ring attaching the cloth and sheets of foam rubber to the springs. Each ring had to be individually cut off - without blunting the scissors of the coils of wire. Then, rather like eating a fish - where one eats one side and then flips it over and eats the other side, the mattress becomes less stable as the material comes off. Full of satisfaction at finally finishing the double bed mattress I then found a single one. Confident that I knew how to do it I was very surprised and dismayed to find that it had thick coconut matting and large, hard to get at, staples. Having started on it I did not want to give up and have to pay the $20. As the saying goes 'once bitten, twice shy'. At the back of the cupboard I found another inner spring mattress.

I have until Tuesday, when a new skip arrives, to decide whether to pay $20 or attack it with the scissors. I am mildly interested to see what it is made of.

Tomorrow I will be thinking of other things as I go to Melbourne Three Day Event to take part in the FEI judges clinic. Such a wonderful sport. I am really looking forward to it. At least as I am driving there I can take clothes for the cold, the very cold, the wet and the cold and wet.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Raining cockatoos in Jindivick

Out of the cold and damp fog came a screeching flock of cockatoos.

Its amazing how loud these birds 'sing'.

The intricacies of nature made visible by the fog.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Home bred horses

Jenny Thomson's eldest home bred Irish Sport Horse is finally coming off the forehand! The problem with breeding is that you can never know the size of the progeny. Flynn grew rather large but has a delightful temperament. His brother Bobby features in the DVDs 'Ride towards Excellence'.

The helmet rim is far from a fashion statement but is very practical and sensible.

Wilbur watches on!

Para Equestrian competition ends at WindReach

The WindReach competition was a great success. It is the most lovely horse establishment. The arena is light and airy. The facilities for people with disabilities are second to none. Riders from around the world are now going home. Some ecstatic having gained qualifications for the Kentucky WEG (World Equestrian Games). All riders have to reach a qualifying score to be available for selection by their national equestrian federation. Whether chosen or not at least they have the satisfaction of knowing that they have reached the FEI criteria.

There are those who are disappointed by missing out on their qualifying scores, while others after their first international competition are going home full of enthusiasm knowing that they have achieved the first rung of the ladder.

Unlike the able bodied variety of dressage where horses are graded, in Para Equestrian it is the riders that are graded according to their disability. This means that at international competitions novice riders compete against the top riders, so there is always a huge range of marks. It also means that the riders have a good idea of where they are and where they are going - and when they get there!

It is not all about winning a class - though that is obviously important for experienced riders and those trying to be selected for teams. Riders compete against themselves to improve their personal best scores.

There is such a nice 'feel' about Para Equestrian. I hope it continues. People genuinely want to help the new nations and inexperienced riders to be safe and 'grow'. The Americans still talked to us despite Canada winning the Team competition!