Friday, 27 March 2009

News about Belle update 3-4-09

Bells first scan notice the cyst to the left of the pregnancy

Belles 21day scan - the vet says it's starting to implant! Fingers very much crossed still but by Wednesday week, if all is still well, we should have a heart beat - frightening isn't it?

A Guest did these cartoons - I'm not having a good day downloading!


Well our vet came out this morning for THE scan at fourteen days the moment..........she is in foal. It's very early days of course and the vet didn't have his printer to show you the evidence but at the moment bounce bounce bounce!

Our vet said he would swing by next week for another look (as we bought her as scanned in foal ah hum) so as I said it is early days. The pregnancy is very vulnerable for some time yet but if we should get a heart beat it should start to attach itself at the twenty eight days scan bounce bounce bounce!

Watching the vet work with the scanner is fascinating as Belle also has an old cyst on her right ovary so it was interesting to see the clear difference between the two orbs reflected on the screen - the pregnancy having two white shadows, top and bottom, created by the scanner by nature of the near perfect sphere, whilst the cyst has no shadow by virtue of its less regular shape.

Sootty hasn't been so well this week but at twenty three with Cushings he sometimes needs a quiet week pottering around the local village. Danni on the other hand has had three sessions in the school working on his canter changes with a bob trot stride and managed a perfect silky smooth flying change by Wednesday after riding many simple changes of leg up the centre line in the gale. And today, I'm sure Charles kept me cantering for most of the three quarters of an hour I was in the school , inclining across the diagonal, up the centre line, tuning across the school and he was very calm and obedient but no change today - one trot stride alas. His trot felt soft but expressive though and I've started to discover a sort of scissor action with my legs as I get hotter and hotter attempting the transitions. I reminded Charles of the programme on television about trophy children before staggering home!

Am I!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Spring for the horses

Well, Thursday or Friday of this week will have sealed Belles fate - has a little fertilised egg descended to implant itself in her womb? She certainly looks plump and happy but we will just have to wait for next week to know if we are condemned to another round of scans, injections and tail bandages - our fingers are firmly crossed though!

Sooty and Danni's daily hacks have been made a great deal livelier of late, by the advent of of a cabbage field with white plastic bags mounted on canes as far as the eye can see, at the cross roads out of our village. Whilst Danni is a laid back, pragmatic, individual, Sooty is convinced that the fact there is no recorded cases of a horse killed by rattling white polythene that is no reason to drop his guard...............and he hasn't for over a m0nth now of rocking horse canters, a strange lateral walk or the piece de resistance trotting with the front legs and cantering with the back ones. Luckily Dani turns a blind eye to these antics as he has a much more pressing problem of his own "The Diet"

Danni usually waits in the corner where his food is placed at the first rattle of a corn bin lid and waits patiently for the delivery of his feed but today when I took his hay net out he stood beside the empty tie ring waiting for it to come back. Now that is an organised horse. I'll say in our defense the the corn merchant has delivered second cut silage/horsehage and it is very rich with a certain "effect" on Dani's digestion shall we say so we thought it wise to feed some extra chaff and less horshage ah hum..........

In the school I've worked Danni, mainly in canter, using the long diagonal with a change of leg upon reaching the track, gradually reducing the number of trot strides to a bob or if you shut your eyes the vestiges of a flying change without too much suspension. But it's a start - I've used the same route around the school to add anticipation to the recipe and kept counter counter away from the corners keeping the centre loop of a three loop serpentine for that to avoid confusion. At the moment I spend a lot of time in forward planning "inside seat bone forward outside heel slightly raised, use the collection of the approaching arena wall, new inside shoulder back..........." I had the most success after Canter halt Canter at C to collect and then inclining across the diagonal and over the last couple of sessions his first few strides of canter from halt have been more forward as apposed to shuffling on the spot.

It's Purely conjecture on my part of course but I do feel that the lateral exercise of leg yielding to and from the track has helped Danni to assimilate the idea of a flying change by engaging the information from the two sides of his brain more quickly. As a teenager i had lessons with Baron Blixon Fineche and one morning he said "The horse conceived himself as two halves, One ear one eye one leg and he doesn't send the message so easily to the other side of his body as we do." He said a great deal more but of course it was a long time ago but I quickly learnt that although your horse has grasped an idea on one rein you have to start again on the other. And for me the first work I did with the Baron is very different but in fact the same to the more classical approach that I am attempting to learn in my fifties.

But to move on Sooty was young again today just for a while. We hacked out across a mining down and passed a livery yard this morning and there the local MFH had gathered a group of children on various sizes of ponies at the start of their cross country course. Ulp Sooty doesn't do EVENTS. As the first pony plodded obediently over the obstacles the guy was alerted by Sooty's very loud snorts of his presence. Amiable chap that he is he kindly stopped the children to allow Sootty to passage deftly passed feeling fabulous, accompanied by the long suffering Dani ridden by my husband Charles. The volume of Sooty's snorts have to be heard to be believed and I hate to think what effect he had on the well organised gathering as we sailed majestically off down the road. And that brings me to my second Christineism of the day can Sootty passage quite well because he is capable of the collection of a little Piaffe? But only if motivated by a plastic bag or Pony club camp I'm afraid or the little imp on his shoulder............One day Danni One day!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Belle and the AI

The thing - sorry about the quality of the picture but I took it!

Well a strange looking contraption arrived with the vet bearing the Lenard's frozen semen for Belle.

She was successfully ovuplanted at twelve o'clock at night whilst "sitting up" in bed and this gave our vet a tighter ovulation schedule to work with. He arrived at seven o'clock the next morning to scan Belle prior to ordering the semen.........and the next day too but this time it was D day. Belle was very relaxed for her morning scan as usual and the decision was made to inseminate at lunch time, as near to the active right ovary as possible .........after the second scan of the day to check for oedema in the womb.

The vet returned again at five o' clock for the third scan of the day and whoopee she had ovulated so he conducted the second and final insemination. Surrounded by discarded rubber gloves and cast off tail bandages we felt in need of a rest for sure but wait she would just need an anti rejection drug at 10.00 pm precisely and any thoughts of an early night went out of the window.

Belle had another scan the next day to check the health of her reproductive track with a wash out and a spot of anti biotic... plus two more dosed of something at 2.00pm and 9.00pm........or did that happen before - by this time the whole thing was starting to seem very complicated and more like a test tube foal. We had Sunday off from Belles Derriere but Monday - Monday the vet and his scanner were back again - i was fortunate that it was the guests Breakfast time and just left a newly washed tail bandage outside of her box as my contribution to the proceedings - i did pop out with a mug of tea and a croissant for the vet before neatly retreating back to the house.

Danni watched every move that the vet made but only showed any real stallion interest around the point of ovulation - now that is a clever horse!

Charles walking Belle around the outside yard after insemination - she had a busy day!

And no need to even remove the rug

Danni is now studiously ignoring Belle! So would we do it again? well it is quite a undertaking of time and effort and also it must be said our vet dedicated a large portion of his day (and great expertise) to the project. Just fourteen days until the next scan!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

This week at Ednovean Farm

Lizzie settling down with her supper this evening

Lizzie as you can see is blooming with Danilon's first foal - in fact groping for her cross over surcingle of her night rug, the other night, I joked that you could fit a brigade of Gurkha's under the vast expanse of her stomach. Still Lizzie is content and is usually already installed in her stable ready for her tea at night. We will bring her into the main yard as her "due date" gets nearer and eventually Charles will set up his camp bed in the tack room with the cat on the end as a guard "dog" for the final countdown.

Mean while Belle has taken up a lot of our time of late. After much soul searching and bearing in mind her warm blood elite status (not to mention the credit crunch) we elected to put her in foal to a warm blood stallion and chose Lizzie's sire the Holstein Lenard. Lenard has been dead for many a year but we are allowed some rare frozen semen held at West Kington Stud and think and hope and pray that the resulting progeny MAY be our next stud stallion - so a filly is more or less guaranteed.

Our vet has scanned Belle throughout her last season to monitor her usual ovum development and we have kept the stable lights switched on in the evenings to help her to start cycling regularly and on this oestrus our vet has already scanned her three times this cycle, monitoring her follicle from less than point 2, to 2.4 and then today with the sudden warmth and sunshine a mega leap to 3.5. This was the news that triggered the ordering of the frozen semen from the stud (who had already been on the phone to check Belles progress) I must admit i did ask if the size of the erupting follicle would prejudice the quality of the foal but no the eggs are all the same size but there will be a greater amount of hormones in a larger sack which may trigger a better ovulation/fertilisation. So now I know! Hmmm Our vet will return at midnight tomorrow night to deliver an Ovuplant injection to help to trigger ovulation and then the semen should be inserted on Friday with a further scan in the afternoon - followed by a possible second dose of semen - followed some hours later by washing out the womb (advice from a previous owner)


And if all that doesn't work Danni will be happy to oblige as Belle is growing stronger and fitter by the day and will quite be able to handle Danilon very very soon!

Of course Sootty is a far greater expert and the result of his latest sniff test is "Not yet" but he definitely had a spring in his step today and will grow more and more "opinionated" as Belle progresses through her oestrus. This definitely gives me the opportunity to practise controlling the shoulders with the outside rein as i move my hand across to hold him on his line as he spooks at this and that. Danni, ever the gentleman mostly concentrates on his hay net.

We've only managed to work in the school twice with Danilon since our last PMG course but I have been working to improve the angle on our Shoulder in and the amount of flexion in our Travers. The halt to canter is progressing nicely but the first few steps appear to be on the spot at the moment so perhaps a snappier depart from the leg is necessary. I think tomorrow I will again concentrate on cantering the straight lines in the school - the centre line and the diagonals - ridden with balance and rhythm they do imbue a free balance to the horse.................and I wonder who will be sitting up with Belle at midnight waiting for the vet..........Charles??

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Dani's march PMG clinic

Photos from day one

As I write the gale is gathering and the rain is lashing down (so definitely a good day to man the office!)but we have just had the most perfect weekend down here in Cornwall. Warm spring like days and blue skies that allowed us to ride int the 20metres by 60 outdoor school for all three days of the March clinic with Peter Madison Greenwell.
Dani is a laid back horse and always follows the same routine in the morning: breakfast of staypower muisly followed by his haynet, glance up as the brood mares depart for the fields and then back to bed for a glorious snooze, flat out with any dropped hay used as a pillow! But on Saturday he spotted Charles going into the tack room to clean his tack so "new something was up" and got out of bed uncharacteristically early to supervise and watch points. Charles always likes to be ready in lots of time so by the time I had manged to twine Dani's two foot of mane into a fairly neat plait, he still had half an hour to wait, wearing his squeaky clean white numnah and brushing boots. Peter had advise that I should start to ride with gloves or I would back off the contact and Charles had found a beautiful fine deerskin pair on the Internet in err very bright yellow (I tried mucking out in them but they have remained relentlessly yellow so are now officialy know as my Micky Mouses!)
As I hacked down to the village I relalised that our tenant farmer had decided this was the day to flail the hedges at the bottom of Ednovean Farm before careering off through the village to atten to the odd garden hedge and the resulting din, echoed around the entire valley but Peter still managed to make himself heard despite the mechanical competition. At one point Lizzie and April bombed across our front field to join in the fun before Lizzie heavily pregnant with Danni first foal stretched out in the sunshine for a morning nap plump pregnant belly pressed high in the air.
Day One
The first day is always a "set up day" and i have had a lot of problems with rider straightness - my excuse is that i always led one horse and led another if not two, so tend to swing my right shoulder forwards whilst letting my right seatbone slip back.........Anyway enough of that!
Dani was very enthusiastic to be back on a Peter course and frolicked occasionally, like a spring lamb as he settled down to work - mostly in canter for about thirty five minutes, working very forwards through his canter trot transitions, and concentrating on straightness to the line of the circle using the outside rein to move the shoulders around in front of the quarters and "Let go of the curb rein" poor Peter intoned at regular intervals...............Actually I'm pretty sure my curb rein is self tightening because I can't for the life of me think why it keeps coming under tension. Anyway we had a great session that left me with just enough energy to collapse in a chair to watch the evening lecture demo at St Pirans. Packed full of information as always it covered a black board session on schooling shapes ( for which I was berated the next day when trotting an inaccurate 10metre circle) rider position, body balance, use of the inside leg to outside rein, effect of loosing the outside rein, pelvis position in canter demonstrated with two young stallions and finishing with work in hand to approach Piaffe with B before Peter mounted to follow through with mounted Piaffe.
Day two
I shall add the next two days reports " 'dreckly" but alas rain or no rain it's time for morning exercise.

For the second day we had booked two consecutive sessions with Peter and find that this really helps with an in depth consultation. Peter rode Danilon first using a number of neck flexions and lateral exercises to free Danni throughout his outline, make him more forward from the leg and engaged from behind. The lateral work was expressive and easy for Peter with his range of techniques and he could easily reposition and correct within the movements. We were particularly struck by some majestic sweeping steps of half pass with Danni really stretching through each pair of diagonal perfectly parallel. The Canter work went particularly well, the collected easy canter being one of Peter's mainstays and again he went on to half pass and even approached a few steps of canter pirouette. Upon dismounting Peter said Danni needed to be worked more forward in his lateral movements but he was pleased with Danni's outlook. I walked Danni around on a long rein for a few minutes before work recommence to build on the feel of following an advanced rider............So no pressure then!
Danni again felt super - very light and free with greater straightness and elevation through his outline - magical in fact. My nerves vanished with the new easier Danni and to my surprise we worked in trot from shoulder in to traver to half pass before moving up to a wonderful slow rhythmical canter that would have done justice to any show hack. Danni was able to lob up the centre line to finish and halt from canter without fuss. I "muffed" one turn completely and froze but Peter remained calm and encouraging and Danni came out from behind the bit and forgave me I can only say that I was thrilled with him err Danni! Peter then spoke us at length about Danni's diet and it was decided to withdraw the rather sugary mix and try a Stay power muesli to give him a harder physic to add to his undoubted stamina.
The third day

For the third day Peter wanted us to work in with un petit trot - very soft and rhythmic, working with a relaxed, shortened stride and using lateral flexions to the inside to encourage the horse to lower the neck. As Danni offered this lowering of the neck, then I was to apply my inside leg to encourage the inside hind leg through. Rider correction was to think of embracing the horse with a very relaxed lower leg and think of lifting the back into the hand. And so Danni became engaged but very relaxed and we then moved on to shoulder in around the school setting up for each one with a ten metre circle before shoulder in on the centre line ( which is making more of an appearance in our lives these days!) The exercise was repeated in an unpressurised way in traver and the shoulder in to half pass, supported by Danni's new balance and unfailing rhythm. - I forgot to mention that the previous day we had spent a little time leg yielding to and from the fence in trot which sent me into a frenzy of diagonal changes but encouraged Danni to be more responsive to me.
And on to canter ............ Danni still had the canter from yesterday - it felt rather like sitting on a cloud. We worked again turning frequently up the centre line with Peter intoning "Straight - Straight - I want you straight" as I peered disconcertedly at the A marker for guidance - it only occurred to me afterwards that he might have meant Danni's bottom! Sorry Peter We then returned to the circle and finished with canter halt canter transitions which Danni might have managed a bit more easily without me but I was eventually persuaded to keep my bottom still and let Danni do the strike off on his own tentatively but earnestly obedient. Thank you Peter for a super three days...........but May seems a long long time away. and thank you Paul and Rachel for putting on the clinic