Archive for the ‘Horses’ Category

Pastures being the appropriate word, the boys could hardly believe their luck when they were turned out into their new field full of grass!

On the journey to their new home with John and Carolyn, Leo was very stressy and didn’t travel well causing Corrie to become somewhat wound up too. We safely managed their ‘enthusiasm’ to leave the trailer (!), and after a cursory glance at their surroundings and a quick explore of their field and barn, they both settled to eat.

It’s wonderful to see them in such fantastic surroundings, but it was a wrench to leave them there. It’s impossible to not become attached to horses even though I know their time with me will end when they find their forever homes. I’m sure I’ll miss them far more than they’ll miss me though!


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We left early last Monday to go and collect Corran Ard with a fair degree of trepidation. We had no idea what we were going to find, and the cloak and dagger atmosphere surrounding the location of the farm made us wary.

We had to telephone a number when we arrived at the nearest town to the farm, and someone came to guide us there. In the surrounding fields were heavy cob type mares, many with foals at foot. There seemed to be a lot of animals for such a ramshackle set up, and you have to wonder as to what their future would hold.

Whilst polite, this was all about business. The passport was handed over, the headcollar taken down, the horse brought out of the barn and the cheque changed hands. At this point the atmosphere mellowed and we chatted as they led the horse to us and gave us charge of him.

My first impressions were of a sad depressed horse with no hope in his eye,
and no interest in those around him. He wanted no contact, or attention, he turned his head away as I tried to communicate with him. He seemed as if he wanted to run away, but didn’t know where to go. He’d totally switched off from people.

I put a tail bandage on him for the trip, and when I went back to his head, he turned to put his nose gently against me, as if to recognise an act that he remembered from when life was OK for him.

He was caked with muck and stale bedding, so the priority was to wash him and have him feel better. It took two sets of lathering to run the water clear, and as we did it, again there was the recognition of something he was familiar with, and his trust and confidence grew unbelievably in such a short space of time. It was heartbreaking to see how obviously he had missed the kindness of a human touch.

He’s a few nicks and sores, and is very thin, but nothing that won’t fix. He’s alert and pricking his ears forward when he sees me now. Watching him relax, as the realisation dawned that he was safe and comfortable, was humbling.

What trust these horses put in us, and how often it is horribly betrayed.

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Within the space of a few weeks I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum of horse welfare from the extreme neglect of the unwanted souls at markets, to the minutest attention to detail paid to the horses behind the scenes at the Saumur 3* 3DE.

After recent outings to several Foires des Chevaux, it was wonderful to be going to a horse event simply for fun, with no intent other than to catch up with old friends and enjoy the competition ……. it’s been a while!

Watching the care received by event horses was just sheer pleasure. Riders not only pay great attention to their charges well-being in general, but also when on the cross country. At Saumur there were concerns about the ground, not only about the turf areas being firm, but also about the pull on the horses’ legs from the sand tracks. UK horses had left fairly chilly weather, so the French heat was an added factor to be considered.

The preparations for each horse before the riders get on takes about an hour. The horse is plaited, groomed, studded, booted, saddled then bridled, with last minute aesthetic touches of quartermarkers and hoof oil completing the picture.

As riders leave the stables, their faces show the focus for the task ahead, the horses march out purposely underneath them, supremely fit and gleaming, full of anticipation for the task ahead.

Grooms and helpers go to the main arena, with the kit for attending to the horses as soon as they finish. After warming up around the showground, the riders arrive at the start, last minute tack adjustments are made and the horses’ legs greased. The tension builds as the starter counts them down, then they’re off and connections wait anxiously, straining to listen for news of the rider on course.

After ten minutes of seeming eternity, suddenly the horse appears over the last fence and into the arena, and all hell is let loose…. tack off, the event vet takes the horse’s temperature, countless buckets of water to wash and scrape again and again, the horse is walked, given a drink, the XC boots come off and the cool boots go on and the horse is kept walking.
5-10 mins after the finish, when the horses temperature will be at it’s highest, yet another vet check to guage pulse rate, respiratory rate and temperature, then more washing, more scraping, more walking, studs out and finally the horse is taken up to the hoses in the calm of the stables to stand under cool running water.

Ice is then put under the boots or bandages to cool the limbs, the horse is throughly checked for any nicks or marks, and then left in the stable to rest with some food.
Any potential problems are treated or avoided with cooling products such as leg ice, various magnetic and pulse therapies and the employment of back and massage specialists. The horses are continually monitored until the stables are shut for the night.

Before the Trot-up

The vet check in the morning is a trot-up on a firm surface to ensure the horses are fit and sound enough to do the show jumping phase on the third day. Only one horse was spun, the riders’ worries having proved unfounded with most horses showing no ill-effects from the previous day.

The CCI3* was won by Germany’s Frank Ostholt on Mr Medicott, and the CIC2* won by France’s Nicolas Touzaint on Neptune de Sartene.

You can see the full results on the SAUMUR site.

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A fascinating chiropractic study has been undertaken in two French riding schools. A worrying 74% of horses were found to have severe back problems, with only 26% with mild problems, or unaffected. About 60% of horses had problems in more than one area.

Nineteen horses were examined and assessed at work and rest, and the resulting findings then compared to the way the individual horses had been ridden, and how the riders had been taught.

The problems found in the resting horses correlated directly with both the horses’ demeanour in work, and the manner in which the horses were ridden. Significant differences in teaching styles between the schools showed a markedly different impact on the rider and horse posture.

A very brief summary of the data suggests that one of the schools focussed on control of the horses more than riders’ posture and technique. This in turn produced riders with higher heel positions and shorter reins/higher hand postitions, causing the horses’ way of going to be hollow backed with a high head carriage. All the horses in this school were found to have back problems.
The second school concentrated on rider posture, and lower heel position and longer reins allowed the horses to work with a low head carriage and round neck, which caused much less negative impact on the vertebrae, with a proportion of horses without back problems. The study also touched on the behavioural problems associated with back pain, such as head shaking and aggression.

It’s good to see such a study undertaken, lets hope that the message is received and acted upon.

The full study is HERE

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One horse has tested positive, and 28 horses were Coggins tested on the 8th March for EIA in MONTCARET, DORDOGNE. The horses have been under surveillance since the 25th of February 2010.

This is a very serious notifiable disease with any positive horses facing compulsory slaughter. The symptoms are listed HERE, the second disease on the list.

There is no current indication where the disease may have originated from, or the nature of the premises involved.

Click the link for the WAHID Report

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The beautiful Cairanne has been on our website looking for an adopter for a few months now. Although she is 22 yrs old, she is in good health and could be lightly ridden by a competent person. Being good with other horses means she would also make a very good companion for a lonely horse or as a nanny to youngsters as she has been a broodmare herself in the past.

She is papered, microchipped and vaccinated and ready to be rehomed now.

Please contact us if you are interested in adopting Cairanne.

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Today we were out on the road collecting 2 equines thats have come into ERF’s care. Princesse is a little grey pony who suffers from arthritis so is not able to be used as a riding pony any more. Her owners contacted ERF after hearing about us from a friend of theirs, who happened to be  Ossie’s old owner. As chance had it, Ossie’s new adopter was looking for a companion for Ossie and so agreed to adopt Princesse from us as well. Both Ossie and Princesse have the most wonderful temperaments and are so good around the children. I think we now have a love affair going between these two ponies and next week they’ll be moved to their new home, a stones throw from the field where they currently are at Trinas.

Princesse (right) with her new companion Ossie

Princesse (right) with her new companion Ossie

Our other new arrival is yearling donkey Gucci, who was very lonely after her owners bought her as a pet from a local market and contacted ERF realising that she needed donkeys friends. We may have somebody coming to view her this week so fingers crossed she’ll get a nice new home soon with some donkey company that she’s so desperate for.

Beautiful little Gucci!

Beautiful little Gucci!

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