I am sure that lots of you, like me, are following the updates from Aachen with interest and a number of fingers crossed!
What another fantastic result for the British dressage team and another chapter in the amazing development of dressage in this country.
I will also be watching the reining competition with interest as a friend, Shane Borland, is competing on Shiners Lena Oak. Although Shane is originally from South Africa, we have a similar background and got to know each other through playing polocrosse against each other a good few years ago in the UK. While we have since pursued different career paths with horses, he remains one of a group of riders who I enjoy a good chat about horse training with. I am sure he will do GB proud.
The yard is very busy at the moment, with 17 horses in for starting under saddle or retraining. I try to have between 10 and 14 horses at any one time, which I ride myself and supervise my apprentice trainer, Annie, working with. However, some take a little longer than envisaged and there is always the odd “emergency” that we get sent so the numbers can creep up! When you add in the lessons, clinics and the launch of Your Horsemanship, my online training website, life gets a bit hectic at times. You have to remind yourself that there are absolutely no short cuts and I have to take as long as each horse needs, rather than rushing through any processes to shorten the day.
It is not just the horses that need time, owners need it too. This is especially the case with horses in for retraining that have developed behavioural and ridden problems and have either hurt or shaken the confidence of their owners and riders.
A case in point is a big horse I have in at the moment for hacking problems. I have got him to the point where I can trot him down the lanes happily but he reverted to type when his rider hopped on during a recent session. Unfortunately, he has diminished her confidence to the point where she is finding it hard to ride with enough positivity and conviction to make him realise that she is boss. In this case, I am confident that I can turn the partnership around so he views her as someone he can respect and trust to go where she asks him.
I mentioned in my last blog that I am fortunate enough to be starting Headley Britannia twins (gelding pictured). They are coming on really well and have nearly finished their four weeks. They will go home for a break before coming back for a couple of weeks consolidating the work I have done before they go and start their careers. I can’t wait to follow their progress; it would be a wonderful story if her progeny had half the success their mother did!
I was interested to see what differences they had, if any, in either temperament or trainability. The research into embryo transfer and the influence of the recipient mare is mainly focused on physical aspects and there is evidence that the size of the recipient mare can influence the size of the foal and bone measurements. However, I am more interested in whether the temperament of the recipient mare can influence, or nurture, that of their foal or whether the foal takes their temperament from the dam.
Although they look very similar, the filly is smaller than the gelding, which was probably due to a virus she contracted as a two-year-old. She is also a little more confident under saddle than the gelding, which may be due to her having more handling and life experiences due to her illness rather than traits from the recipient mare. However, with embryo transfer becoming increasingly popular, it could be that assessing the recipient mare will become an important factor.
On a completely different note my new tractor arrived today! Although I much prefer the four-legged variety of horsepower, I am secretly very proud of my new purchase and looking forward to testing it out on the fields tomorrow!