March 28, 2011

+14 C, and close to a bath

Finally spring has arrived here as well.
Last week we had temperatures well above zero, with a top record on Wednesday of 14 C/57F.
A week ago I decided it was time for my annual spring project - digging out the terrace:

My helper the Sofa Princess, who is in heat and sensually rolls around in the snow, something she never would  do normally!

OK. let's go find the terrace, it should be buried here somewhere

Oh yeah, here it is.

Halfway. Very packed snow, so it was hard work!

Ready - finally!

A week ago, we still had a lot of snow left

But the lovely temperature during the week has really made some difference.
Like I almost got stuck with my car trying to get home on Monday...

Anyway, the weekend came, with some lovely weather on Sunday.
I took Fame out on an early bareback ride as I was to attend a clinic later that day.
The nights are still cold, so when we reached the creek there was a layer of ice on both sides - not strong enough to carry the horse, but thick enough to be unpleasant.
Fame was a real star and just walked through it on both sides. Good girl!

Snow in the forest...

I was not so lucky further on in the forest.
At one place a brook had changed path and started to flow on the path we were travelling instead.
We almost managed to cross it, but on the last part there was a thick layer of ice which did not carry our weight, and we kind of got stuck. Fame tried to save herself by heaving herself into the snow, but got stuck there too.
She kept calm though, I jumped off her and we somehow managed to turn and get out of it.

Now, with this fresh in mind, we were to get home over the creek again.
With the ice.
She stands still, thinks a bit, and then takes a LARGE jump straight over the ice into the middle. Got me totally unawares (yes, I know, should have anticipated it!!) and as I had no saddle I ended up sitting on her neck instead of her back.
The water is cold now.
I guess it was the thought of just how cold it was that somehow made me able to cling on and wriggle back in place while Fame was steaming energetically through the water towards home. I kind of got my balance back before the jump up on the other side.

On the way back we saw a little Bambi.
I just love how close you get to the animals while on horseback.

Finally Home!
...and as you see she has regained weight after the colic.Hahem.

I was lucky to get to join my daughter for a ride on Sunday!
Not as much sun as on Saturday, but a lovely spring ride.

Riding out

Feeding place for the moose. I guess they need something to eat too. Perhaps.

The race horses overtook us

Bye, bye

Lovely ice formations on the mountain sides

On our way home

This weekend Jimmi is returning for a weekend training, I am looking forward to that.
Siri took some pics from the jumping last time - so here you see, the overaged geriatric dressage rider and her eager mount.
Yeah, yeah - small jumps, but now we are getting back on track:
From next week we will have weekly training!

March 12, 2011


There has been an interesting discussion going on, starting with Laura's post Trust over at Equestrian Ink, and followed by Kates post Sometimes you feel like a nut at A year with horses.
It's about how we interact with our horses.

In a way the discussion itself makes me smile, because communication is not easy - whether it is between humans or horses. There are many similarities, are there not? It is much about interpretation, and trying to understand.

It also made me think about how much the horseworld has changed.
In the old days, as nowadays in some parts of the world, your income might have been depending on your horse.
Or even your life.

Since the de-horsing of the farms in the 50'ies, we now mainly use horses for pleasure.
That arises some other thoughts about the horses we have around us.
What is fair?
What can I ask from my horse?

All herd-bound animals - be it humans, antelopes or horses, must have a set of rules to interact safely with each other.
I guess we all can agree that we need a set of basic rules for our horses, to be able to handle them safely.
But after that, the use and our opinions of how to handle the horse might differ.

Us horse people can be very conservative.
Most of us live by old traditions, and when we do things, we do them in a specific way because that is what we learnt once upon a time.
As an example, look at how we build and work our barns.
Compare it to how cows are kept. During the last 20 years a large degree of automation has taken place. Now cows even have robots to milk them. Fully automised feeding, based on chip marking. Each cow gets the amount it should.
One can ask if this is all good, but at least the farmer is not as bound to be home for milking or feeding as in the old days.
But when it comes to horses?
We still muck out in wheel-barrows.

Now I am going to reveal something very controversial.
I use treats when training.
Never mind that dog trainers, dolphin trainers and I guess every animal trainer in the world now uses it, in the horse world it is still a bad word.
And I wonder why?

Please allow me to ponder a bit more on this.
We are much coloured from old traditions.
These traditions were mainly made by  men, where (sorry guys) the macho-factor sometimes comes into handling of horses.
Be firm. And if the horse doesn't want to, make him. By force, if necessary.
So, it is more accepted to hit the horse than to give him a treat.
Isn't that strange?

Now, on the other hand, I believe most horses (like children) test you out from time to time. Some in a subtle way, some more flagrant.
The more experienced you are with horses, the more you are able to read them.
And you can by reading the horse often avoid that tricky situations arise. Both you and the horse can relax more.
You can allow to give and take a bit more, and listen to each other. But keep the borders firm.

I do not have a bad conscience to make my horses work.
It's their job.
The horses that don't have a job don't live here anymore, most of them.
Where are the farm horses?
Where are the army horses?
I also have to work, to keep my horses and to get food on the table.
So my horses have to work too.

I keep horses for pleasure. I am not in a hurry, because I don't base my income on them.
I work with the horses I have chosen myself, and I chose them much on a sound mind and body.
So I guess my horselife is pretty much uncomplicated.
But I also see that it limits my experience, even if I have been around horses for a long time.

On the other hand, I know that there are other people out there that have their income based on horses.
The trainers often get the horses other people can't train.
I can see that their situation, and their experiences, might differ from mine.
If your safety is on the line, how do you react?
Does an unsafe horse have much of a future?

What is abuse?
I suppose we all can agree on beating up the horse is abuse.
But what about the more subtle things?
Keeping a horse stabled 24/7?
Putting on three rugs?
Only doing indoor arena work?
Is that OK?

Many people have sighed for the 'good old days' and regretted the 'passing of the horse,' but today, when only those who like horses own them, it is a far better time for horses.  
~C.W. Anderson

March 06, 2011


Life has been quite busy lately, so not much activity on the blog for a while.

I have been to Gothenburg Horse Show with my daughter.
We had a lovely trip, and I also had the possibility to meet two childhood friends. One of them I had not seen or had contact with for 40 years. A funny feeling, meeting now and I still see the little girl in the woman sitting opposite me.

I was not happy watching the dressage.
Too many short necks, unsettled mouths and trailing hindlegs.
How Adelinde Cornelissen could get 82% when her horse was working behind the vertical large parts of the program beats me.

The best part was actually Angelica Augustsson, the Swedish 23 yo girl who won the World Cup qualifier in jumping.
She was in tears at the prize ceremony, and I believe everyone who was there saw the birth of a new star in the jumping circuit. She was very close to win the Gothenburg Trophy (1.50 class) the previous day, finishing second, so it was not just a lucky ride.
The roof almost lifted off the building when she won.
It was very popular with a Swedish victory, as you can imagine!

At home we had some lovely weather today!
Lots of snow still, but wonderful sunshine.
In a way it is the best part of the year - we have the plum part of winter left, and all of spring and summer.
It is a bit like a Friday afternoon, when you get home from work and have the whole weekend in front of you, but on a larger scale!

What is really irritating is the moose.
My friend Anne  is back in Norway for a short visit, and we took the horses out for a ride on Wednesday evening.
It turned out to be more of a moose safari than a quite hack, and as the moose was standing on every path (and refusing to move, two even moving towards us) we planned to take.
Even on the path leading home.
We ended up going over the creek at a different site than we normally do, which included very high ice edges down to the water, a drop down and a jump up in the dark.
My brave girl took it without problems, with me hanging on, frantically grabbing the mane as I once again rode bareback.
My daughter's pony thought it all too scary, so we ended on separate sides...
I could not go back, because the drop on my side was too high and the bottom of the creek was made of large stones, which made it an uneven surface to land on.
So we had to split, meeting again at the proper bridge a bit further down.
I really want the snow to melt away now, so the moose can get lost somewhere up in the mountains again.

The blue colour of the sky is incredible!

Jimmi is here for the weekend, and we had dressage training yesterday, and jumping today and tomorrow.
Fame really loves to jump, and was very "enthusiastic" today. If you get my meaning.
Poor thing, we have to jump more often!
Our normal trainer has been away for a while as she has had a baby, and I am far too lazy to get the jumps out just for me.
Hopefully that will change as our trainer now is back in action from next week on.

Passing the creek on our way to the jumping - on the normal place this time!