Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Charlie's First Year Under Saddle

Charlie June 2013

The Beginning

Charlie has experienced so much over the past year. 

He has gone from being a lanky, inexperienced four year old horse, to a much more confident five year old who is building stamina and strength.
Charlie July 2014

The year has been one of intense learning, for Charlie and for us. Training a horse was not a new experience, but Charlie has been something of a project.

All of his learning has been done at a pace he can manage. Here is his year in pictures.

July 2013 

July 2013

Charlie started to explore his world once he was familiar with communication with his horseman's halter and  line. He had  on a bareback pad so he could get used to having something on his back

August 2013

The next step was to use a real saddle. Charlie quickly adapted to this. 

All the while he was doing exercises to build his muscle strength, so he could support a saddle and ultimately a rider.

September 2013

Charlie spent many lessons learning how to move around with a rider on his back. With all of the foundation work a rope hackamore was used before a bit was introduced once Charlie understood enough about communication and signals.

Charlie quickly grasped the basics of communication within the confines of the arena.

In September it became clear decisions had to be made. Charlie was on lush grass and the regime was for the horses to be in during the day and out at night, unless Charlie was to be on his own, this is what he had to do too. But he didn't adapt well to this routine and often we found him tired and grumpy because sleeping during the day was - as anyone who has worked nights knows- difficult.

He needed a place with facilities where he could better develop himself no matter what the weather. At this stage we were noticing issues at canter as we have mentioned in other posts. Charlie needed  to be able to do a lot more work at canter than he could at this yard. And so we decided to move.

The yard we moved to was very large. It had a big indoor arena and two outdoor ones.  

Charlie certainly improved his canter here but as time went on, it became clear Charlie was not happy. Tying up to the point of not being able to walk. He fretted a lot and couldn't settle. 

As winter became more cold and damp Charlie became more upset and worried. 

We got to dread seeing him. Finding another rug torn to pieces, another kick mark and a miserable horse.

This was the first yard too where people have complained about our 'odd' practices. Meaning natural horsemanship. Maybe out of fear of something different, maybe out of jealousy. 

By now we had started to suspect Charlie had PSSM and his new high fat low NSC, no grain diet was beginning to help a lot.

 New Yard, New Start

Charlie and Benni
Yard three was a very happy place for Charlie. He liked it from the first day. We had started to regret our first move after all of the upset the previous four months but here, Charlie got on well with a nice herd of geldings and he was able to follow his training plan without any real problems.

February 2014

Meeting old stable mate Alfie

By February Charlie was turning into a proper riding horse. He was becoming more confident and lighter to ride. He hacked out with yard companions and in spring went to a local show. He also went to his first ever show jumping clinic.

One the Mover Again - July 2014

Sadly, as those of you who follow Charlie on Facebook will know, the yard owners decided to close the latest yard, so that meant looking all over again for a suitable place. By now we decided to look at yards which met as much of the criteria as possible recommended for horses with PSSM.

Turn out
All weather arenas with all year access
Quiet environment

Charlie, day 1 at new yard
By now the bond with Charlie was strong enough that moving again was not too hard on him. He showed very positive signs of settling very quickly.

We have all had such a lot to learn in the past year. Moving yards has been an education and we have met many more people as a result, which has proved a good thing. 

Charlie has been able to develop nicely and the canter  issues of 2013 have gone. 

What we know about Charlie now is that he is a performance horse with a lot of potential. He isn't a 'happy hacker.' He enjoys challenges and stimulation and he can set his mind to most things provided he has leadership and clear communication.