Monday 29 June 2015

Triple Threat

In my quest to keep the girls svelte but not mistreating them through starvation (lack of grass growth) and/or upsetting their delicate digestive systems by them not having enough grazing to keep everything ticking over healthily.
I resigned myself to the fact they would have to get hay ... but on my terms. No way did I want them to have 24/7 access to a round bale of hay allowing them to become stagnant and fat in the process. Been there - done that & Kika would have bust the t-shirt could she wear one she got so ginormous!

"Why i never!" - indignant Kika
Enter my strange request to the yard owner for a hay feeder without hay & for a hay bale to be deposited where we keep the hay for winter turnout (aka 5 strands of wire away from Kika - 2 strands electrified & 3 strands on the other side to try stop her scurrying under the other two). In this i lucked out as the girls got their summer turnout field bordering their winter turnout patch. Happy days & fingers crossed the (a) the haynets don't break, (b) they don't tip the whole metal thing over & (c) the horses don't hang themselves.
I'm not sure how (b) & (c) could happen, I know i can't picture it but if I've learnt anything from my love of horses over the years is that they can get themselves in the strangest situations wihout even trying.

Trying a slightly different set up to yesterday today, 
three has to be better than 2 right?! ;-)

Which brings me to (d) i hope Miss Kika does not try to climb into the bloody metal frame!!! I have no idea why she would but she is an odd creature & has been known to try to climb things by putting her front feet into them and standing up tall looking around at everything from a different vantage point. I have personally ally caught her proudly standing with her front feet in an old stone feeding trough at our old yard in Ireland & have often caught her dunking her front feet into her outdoor water trough since moving to Lux. Not the automatic wall dispensers as someone thought I meant when I told them the story the other day. Knock-on-wood i haven't yet heard of her trying to get a paw in them - thankfully as they're a good 1m+ off the ground! O.o

In fact her first summer on turnout here the owners stopped me one day to say the other horses were refusing to drink the water from the trough because she had made it so muddy. I'm not entirely sure what they expected me to do about it. I mean she's a horse...there's not much I -the puny human- can do to stop her dipping her toes in the water to cool down. The saying "you can bring a horse to water - but you can't make them drink" isn't a one way street - there isn't much you can 'make' a horse do when it is living on 24/7 turnout unless I was to camp by the field and not sleep so that I could correct her/stop her anytime she tried to dip a toe...

#teamwork to counterbalance
the swing
Needless to say I haven't ever tried to stop her, she is apparently still at it as other livery owners stopped me one day last week as i was bringing the girls back to the field. They asked me how was the which I went sorry? They said they'd passed the field some day and Kika had her front feet in the trough - she does make me giggle. Needless to say I have never had a problem getting her into water ;-)
Our favourite thing to do when hacking in the woods is splashing through puddles. Luckily we both like to splash so we both get a kick out of it...Nancy on the other hand - not even a little bit. A stream/river/the sea is ok for Nancy she doesn't love them but she won't make a fuss about going in but don't make her walk through a puddle!
She tried to decapitate me  with tree branches last Tuesday in her bid to avoid a puddle. Had I not had been holding Kika on a lead at the time N would have gone through that puddle as decapitating me is NOT an option. However that will have to be a lessen for another day...

Saturday 27 June 2015

Personality Pondering

In reply to Stephanie's comment on my last post i had accidently typed out a humongous long-winded & detailed reply with some of the intracacies of my darling girls personality differences. Sadly between cut & paste I lost all the witty repartee & hilariously funny anecdotes i was going to share with the blogosphere. Yep I am kicking myself & so will you be, poor dear readers, when you have to read this second rate drivel as i fish around in my abysmal memory bank to try and re-create the awesome that was the first attempt. *sigh*
So with that fabtastically uninviting intro i shall blather on and hope to entertain while sharing a peak into Kika & Nancy ☺

We're best buds who look out for each other
I think it is fair to say that Kika is a Diva/Queen Bee of the playground & Nancy is like a giant dog and everyone's BFF.

"Pffft, what nonesense" says Kika
 "I'm obvs not a Diva"

Field/turnout behaviour
Let's start with their personalities when greeted on turnout. They both come to meet the human, Nancy may start the amble to the fence line but as K is the boss by the time they reach the human she is invariably in the lead. As an aside herd dynamics are fascinating, there is no obvious body language cues from K like ears back or tail-swishing to get where they are going first yet inevitably she is often the first greeter of the two.
They are both equally friendly and polite with the humans but rather like a cat, if the human has nothing to give Kika (ie: no treats and she has no scratchies that need reaching) she will wander off to graze and do her own thing...a right Little Miss Independent - Kelly Clarkson would be so proud.
Nancy on the other hand is a real pocket pony and will stay with the human(s) to be fawned over & loved upon even if there are no treats in the offering. She is such a giant people pleasing sweetheart.

Nancy shadowing me perfectly
exhibiting her pocket pony tendacies

In saying that when I be faffing with the fencing they're personalities also come into play I'm different ways. Nancy = Little Miss Playful & Kika = Little Miss Curious. They both follow me and sniff at the stakes (plastic temporary white ones easily wielded by weak humans like me not proper wooden ones that require a tractor or stake driver to put them permanently in the ground) while i space them out before threading the tape/white-rope-wire through them. Nancy is hilarious & zig-zags her way through the spaced out stakes making her own fun. Whereas Kika becomes my shadow and stays near enough to me yet not in the way till she comes for a closer look before moving away slightly again. She keeps a beedy eye on me the whole time spying for weaknesses in my fencing that her horsey houdini brain can exploit after all my hardwork is done. Kika's version of being a pocket pony - always has self-serving needs. I honestly think she has more brains than me *blush*

"You're petting Nancy?!
 Imma comin'"
Indoor personalities
Starting with their stable greetings, I can think of two videos I've shared on the blog in the past showing Nancy's typical vocal greeting. If i somehow "surprise" her and catch her lying down 9 times out of 10 she leaps up to enthusiastically greet me neighing and whoofing air through her nostrils as she rises. I have yet to be able to pet her when she's lying down as she gets up before I can fawn over her.
Kika's greeting while rarely vocal is almost more intimidating/calculating. She always knows where I am - she is always watching and if i am not doing things fast enough for her liking she will kick the door with a front leg to speed me up. She does get yelled at and stops momentarily but is not stupid and knows doing so again will get my attention and speed me up = positive & desired outcome for her...boy does she have me trained! *blush*
They are stabled side by side and usually during Kika's petulance and my yelling at her Nancy always stands there patiently waiting and watching with big chocolate puppy dog eyes.

"We're walking...wait why have
 you stopped? Let me see..."

Funnily though (or at least to my mind) their behaviour shifts when they are tied in the grooming areas. Kika is still a demanding wossface & Nancy is still the epitome of calm and elegance. Yet Kika is a better listener - go figure eh?!
Well she responds better to verbal cues. Namely 'NO' but (a) she hears it more often & (b) i have had her longer ;-)

"Mama we love you...
now feed us"

K is also slightly better at picking up her feet for cleaning and usually holds them for herself. Sometimes she pulls her front right one from my hands - but that is the best one to stamp you know priorities! K offers her feet without fuss as i run my hand down her legs, she usually lifts her foot before my hands reach her knees.
Nancy can do this but may not, it depends on her mood and how heavy she is feeling that day. Sometimes she picks up her feet for me other days I have to almost wrench them from the ground. At least she doesn't lean on me while I'm holding them as dang is she a big girl vs little ole me!!

Kika is quicker to respond to a prod to move out of my space. Whereas Nancy settles in an awkward position, cocks a hind leg and grows roots. Considering how much she HATES flies landing on her she can ignore the shniz out of a poke from me to move over. I often have to shove/push her side to get a response and then she overcompensates and rather than moving one step away from the side she tends to swing her whole back end to the other side. Rarely can she stand in the middle of the grooming bay, she is almost always over to one side or the other. *giggle*

In fact Nancy tends to lean into such pressure, after ignoring the prod but before she gets a bit of a slap on the side for not I don't beat my horses. She does not ignore me 100% of the time either. As she does the same woth the farrier/barefoot trimmer ot came up in conversation the last time that leaning into pressure like she does is a real carthorse thing to do. I mean duh right?! The horse has to lean into the harness to get the cart to move...The hitch (lolz geddit?! sorry coincidence i swear) here is that so far as I know Nancy has never been in a harness let alone pulled a cart of any description. I bought her from her breeder (my aunt) and although I haven't actually asked i have known my family to train a horse to pull so i don't know why they would have started with Nancy... So it got me thinking perhaps her lean is a throwback to her draft daddy DNA, maybe there is something genetic ingrained in her to lean into pressure like that...who knows. She is prob just being stubborn and ignoring me as an inconvenience - she has also done this to me under saddle, talk about making me feel like a fly on her back! Twice she has outright refused to walk forward when I was on her. Once in the woods way back when & once in an arena. No amount of leg of whip aid (i was not excessive or cruel) got a response from her. She can do a killer Thelwell impression when she wants *nod*

"Don't believe a word she says,
like Mary Popping we're practically perfect
in everyway"

Oops this has gotten super long-winded again!!
Although I'm sure I could go on and on about their personality differences I'd best stem the verbal vomit there and hope to have shared enough pics to ease the eyesore of the preceding wall of text.

Friday 26 June 2015

Friday Funzies

I skadaddled outta work early today at 3.30 so that I could go for a long stroll in the woods with the girls & a friend of mine. I now feel kinda bad as said friend prob hasn't sat on a horse since this time last year and we went on a mahoosive 2h+ amble through the woods...even poor Nancy was tired - Kika as always was a different kettle of fish *steam+my ears*


As always when hacking with someone else; i take silly sod Kika and give my companion steady eddie Nancy for their safety and mine if Kika pitches one of her bitch fits and cannot possibly forward. Nancy is the best at hand-holding and ambling along like nothing has happened...she may even have a patented look reserved for waiting on Kika antics. I call it the get-your-shit-together look. I think if Nancy could physically roll her eyes at Kika she would.

K striding out boldly in the lead
with happy pricked ears

In saying all that Kika really wasn't bad considering the amount of time we were out & the fact that she hasn't been ridden in the woods in months (think April when my sis last visited - LINK). Sure she regularly accompanies myself & Nancy as we stroll in the woods - K walks alongside us in a halter as i hold her leadrope but in all honestly she is practically sleep walking and almost snotted herself walking *ahem* stumbling down a tiny incline on our before last wood walk adventure. To be fair for our last forestry stroll on Tuesday she was wide awake to take full advantage of scoffing opportunities and the fact I forgot to grab a crop to dissuade her from tasting everything we passed. She is usually good & listens to NO but only if i catch her before her teeth latch on. Sadly for me yet luckily for her if i am concentrating on Nancy or cyclists/joggers/dog-walkers/cos-players (yep I've come across people dressed up for cos-play including plastic swords before while hacking in the woods) then K rather rightly deduces scoffing is fair game - can't blame a girl for taking chances and grabbing any opportunity life offers.

"Pffft please - i ain't afraid o'no ghosts" cos K is a
"BAMF who don't take no shit from nobody"
(brownie points for guessing the awesome movie quotes)
Yes dear readers when food is involved spooky-scardey-cat K
 is all over the otherwise terrifying tarp *eye-roll*

Kika really only had two meltdowns and both were towards the end of our ride. The first one I managed to get her back on track without major fireworks & drama. The second time I dismounted and led her part of the way before remounting.  As the big dumbo turned anyway but the way I was asking - namely heading back down the trail we had started 2 hours earlier. *eye-roll* She really is her own worst enemy as up until that point i had been so super proud of her good behaviour and bold striding out to the front and leading for most of the way home.
She was really just throwing the toys out of the pram and didn't want to turn the way I was asking - just because I was asking & she was in front by her own steam no less! I reckon had she been dawdling along behind Nancy (who was on a real go-slow at that stage) i honestly don't think we would have had any issues whatsoever.
It is almost comical really as they are such different personalities. As Nancy tired she slowed and slowed some more practically dragging her nose on the floor. However as Kika relaxed into the ride she'd end up power-walking well in front of N & be happy out striding with her ears pricked until an offensive dock-leaf was leaning more onto the path than the others or there was a patch of sunlight that she found offensive then she'd spin and try to hide behind Nancy to hold her hand and pass the big bad scary. Whereas Nancy had the same attitude for the whole spin - the only thing that annoyed her were the flies which she cannot particularly abide & that is absolutely fair enough. *nod*

Thursday 25 June 2015

Decisions Decisions

Please help me pick top two options from the following photos of these Nancy headshots I snapped on Sunday. I hope to commission a drawing of one or more of them to add to the two I had done of Kika to adorn the walls of my new flat.











I was lucky enough to have been able to commission the following ones of Kika a few years back. Now I want to get some made of Nancy so they can both be equally represented on my walls. I am not an artist so these may not even be good angles/quality photos to work from but they are a start...

LINK - to post with the oroginal photo this was drawn from

LINK - to diff post but for same reason
Also if anyone has any recommendations for Sketch Artists who would send a commissioned piece to Europe - I'm all ears as I have sadly lost the contact details for the wonderful artist who created Kika's drawings. :-(

So which two Nancy headshots would you choose?

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Hump Day

Although I could spam you with a wordless Wednesday post of adorbs Nancy headshots (IMO obvs) taken yesterday I thought it prob best I include some vocab lest anyone missed my verbal vomit postings.

Such a cayutie-pie

The girls and I have been keeping well, as has become somewhat of a regrettable norm i am not getting as much saddle time as i would like but I really don't think the ladies mind as they are happy stuffing their faces on 24/7 turnout. The three of us went for a lovely stroll in the woods yesterday. I had the day off work for Lux national day & took full advantage of a rain free hour to scarper out onto a forestry trail.

Between the ears "action" shot

Other than that my riding time has mostly been relocated to weekends and the odd week night when I get my act together enough. I cannot fault either girl, both have been very forgiving and get right back to work where we left off the previous spin.
I know i have been saying this for months now, but i really do hope that this time i can turn the corner and get back to more of a regular riding schedule as we are all loosing condition and although none of us are looking too pudgy; we have all lost considerable muscle definition...not sure I really had any to begin with but the lassies did and it gives me sads that they've lost it because of moi.

Despite poor growth i don't think they look too shabby although I am super biased & responsible so rose-tinted glasses perhaps...
Poor grass growth is to thank for the lack of roundness vs anything I've done work-wise as otherwise Kika would be like a tank expecting triplets. Homegirl knows how to store fat like a whale. The same cannot be said for Nancy and she isn't as easy a keeper as K, so I have had to bite the bullet and request a hay dispenser for their field. However I am going to be an awful witch and limit their scoffing to haynets filled by yours truly as they are, after all, still on grass. They will not starve if the haynets are finished; this should also hopefully stop them ballooning with haybellies should my riding schedule not stabilise as i would like. I am optimistically hoping to ride one an evening wih perhaps Wednesday off for all of us & rode both each weekend day - hopefully I can make the manageable & the new norm. As much as i love seeing them every day, they are expensive lawnmowers if i can't organise myself to ride moar.

I think i might actually have to dedicate a post tomorrow to helping me narrow down Nancy headshots as i want to use one to commission a pencil drawing of her. I have two of Kika (one framed & the other will be) so i also need at least two of Nancy to adorn the walls of my home...