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Hoofbeats - The Blog 

Welcome to our blog page, HOOFBEATS, where we talk about the countryside with a main emphasis on training and caring for horses and ponies. If you would like to contribute ideas and information about your own experiences, we would be delighted to hear them. Please email to editor@horseandponyinfo.com or post to our Facebook Page, Horse and Pony Info. If you're into Twitter, you can contact us @horse_ponyinfo.

IMPORTANT - The opinions expressed here are from personal experience and we strongly advise you to contact your veterinary surgeon or your riding instructor if you are seriously worried about your horse. Prompt action is important.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

A nervous pony – what’s going on in that little head?

I have bought several horses and ponies over the years from dealers. It’s not Ace.JPGrecommended, especially if you’re buying your first horse, but it does have advantages for me. The animals are usually young and, while they may require schooling, they haven’t fallen into too many bad habits. My best show and dressage horse came from a dealer when he was a five year old and he certainly needed a lot of work to get him right but turned out a Championship winning gentleman.  The problem is I can sometimes feel sorry for an equine I don’t need to buy.

In an act of pity, I acquired a pretty Connemara type pony from a dealer who had previously been bought by a man for his six year old daughter. This man had him for an eight weeks trial, then decided to keep him and paid a good price for him. Within four months he was sent back to the dealer as unsuitable. I had admired him before he was sold and agreed to take him when he was returned but I paid half the price.

When I got him home, I discovered he was terrified, would shiver all over if I put my hand on his back and was also extremely difficult to catch. When I lunged him, he tore round in circles flat out and would drip with sweat in five minutes. I rang the dealer and pointed this out. She said he had never been nervous when she had him but something must have happened when with the six year old girl. I told her that no six year old would be able to manage this pony. My husband was, by this stage, beseeching me to send him back but I still felt sorry for this 12.2 hh dapple grey gelding with the big, sad eyes.  I felt he had been let down in life and I didn’t want to let him down too.

I had never come across a pony with no time for humans before. He just wasn’t interested. Even food couldn’t tempt him to leave his field on occasions and there were moments when I really dispaired of ever progressing with him. To make matters worse, I had no child of the right size to ride him and had to rely on visitors – my friend’s daughter from the UK and two French students who come in the summer to learn English, as well as a school friend of my son’s.

The little pony has gradually improved and is well behaved once an experienced rider is on board but he always panics when the rider first sits on and shoots forward like a racehorse. He is very honest and jumps everything put in front of him including cross country fences. The older children love riding him but he is still unsuitable and too nervous for children the correct age for his height. And he still sweats badly and wears himself out. What to do?

The latest thing I have tried was suggested by a friend with many years experience with horses - cranial osteopathy. This is, the osteopath explained to me before he proceeded to work on my pony, a biodynamic treatment which involves putting hands gently on the pony and feeling areas which are ‘blocked’ and then helping to free them. I have no idea how it works or whether it works but thought it worth a try as my friend’s horse had been ill, lost a lot of weight and was almost a right off. After being treated by this man, the horse was putting on weight and seemed happier in himself. (The horse has been checked by a vet) . The osteopath had, apparently, calmed down her very lively pony as well with long lasting effect. Now I am a sceptic, I admit it, but this friend of mine is a sensible, horsey woman. Aceoverlog.jpg

The man knelt in the stable and kept his hands on my pony for a long time. At times the pony closed his eyes, looked like falling asleep and then woke again and started fidgeting. I did the same as I waited at the end of the lead rope for the session to finish. When it finally ended, I was told that my pony didn’t ‘finish out’ as well as the osteopath had hoped and that he had some sort of injury to his poll. He was not to be ridden but has to go back for more treatment in two weeks time.

My friend’s husband thinks this is a load of nonsense and suggested his wife ‘might as well be throwing holy water ‘ over her horse. And my husband agrees. Am I wasting my money or will the nervous little pony improve? Only time will tell.

1:27 pm gmt 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Horse Breed Puzzle

How many breeds of horses or ponies can you find jumbled up in the following sentence:

'Shethany, called Shet for short, was bred on the land and, as a child, she remembers a mountain and a forest beside their new house with the old stable yard. Her Granny was Welsh and had a thorough knowledge of ponies. Her father was Irish and used to sit by the fire with a rug under the door to keep out the draught.'

The answer is further down this page on the right hand side ... but don't look until you've had a go at working it out!

5:22 pm gmt 

First Aid Kit for Horses

When we set off from home with our horse, we've usually packed the car or lorry with everything we think we need: tack, grooming kit, rugs, sponge, water, hay nets and several outfits of clothes for ourselves. But have we remembered to pack the first aid kit? Or, even better, two first aid kits: one for us and one for our horses and ponies.

We asked our readers what they would put in a First Aid Kit for Horses and received a comprehensive list of suggestions. First and foremost, don't forget the mobile phone! As if... we never go anywhere without our mobiles and they come in very useful if there's an emergency at a show or out hacking. I heard recently how it's a good idea to have your contacts list in your mobile clearly labelled so that someone else can call your nearest and dearest while you are being attended to. This means putting: 'Husband - Bob' (or whatever his name is), 'Mother - Jane' and 'Dr Domuch' for example. The only problem is, for those of you who are worried about identity theft, the thief who steals your mobile has an immediate wealth of information about you. Hmm... on second thoughts maybe not such a good idea to be too explicit.

What else is in the First Aid Kit? People suggested antiseptic cream and wipes, bandages, sterilised water, cotton wool, Dettol and ice packs. Don't forget scissors or a pen knife and perhaps even baling twine. One useful suggestion was a disposal nappy. Apparently it makes a good emergency dressing and, think about it, has the adhesive straps all ready for sticking it on. I must admit I haven't tried this myself but I'm tempted.

To see the full list of items suggested for the First Aid Kit for Horses, click here.

4:35 pm gmt 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Merlin weaves magic for owners
The results of the 'Horse of My Life' competition, kindly sponsored by www.derryleatrees.com, are out and for the first time ever, the judges decided to award First Prize to two entries. Our September competition was slightly different - we still asked for photos but we also wanted a true story on how a horse has contributed towards its owner's life. And we certainly got more great ones.

Both winners' horses turned out to be called Merlin (they are not the same horse!) and the judges loved their owners' heart-warming stories. If you didn't get a chance to read the stories on our Facebook page, then go here to see them.

Our October competition is underway and we have 20 entries already. Arjento Equestrian has generously agreed to sponsor this month's photo competition and you can read more about Lauren Preskey's business at www.arjento-equestrian.co.uk. Lauren schools and trains horses, prepares for the show ring, helps with problems and will also advise on nutrition.

As always, if you have any ideas, comments or problems you would like to put forward, please get in touch by email or visit our Facebook or Twitter pages. There are links to both of these social networking sites on our Home page.
4:03 pm gmt 

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Horses racing on a frozen lake in Switzerland
copyright: Gilles Oster - Fotolia.com


More info: 

UK and Ireland


Reading on the beach or in the bath? - STAR PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

I'm addicted to reading and I love the NEW KINDLE OASIS because it's waterproof. Believe it or not, you can drop it into water and it will still work. No more worries about taking my Kindle to the beach or pool. It's ideal for my husband who likes to read - and fall asleep - in the bath! It's also got built-in Audible so I don't need to take two devices with me and can switch from reading to listening whenever I want.

(Suzanne - Editor of Horse and Pony Info) 

Watch out for laminitis in small ponies and Native Breeds. Keeping weight under control is vital.


Bitless riding is becoming more popular. Read our articles by three experienced bitless riders


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Horsey Brain Teaser

Answer to Brain Teaser No. 3 is 80

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Answer to Horse Breed Puzzle

There are 5 breeds mentioned: Shetland, New Forest, Welsh Mountain, Thoroughbred and Irish Draught.


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A pony who had been abused

Do you have ideas or a problem which would interest our readers? Please email to editor@horseandponyinfo.com .