Bridget and Nikki Brown - Getting fitter
Christmas, colds and flu out of the way and Nikki, Irene and I got back to work with the horses. Zeph for once was holding his weight and starting to build up and fitten up nicely. The regular pole work lessons were paying off and so was the long lining in circles in the field on a hill. Nikki and I boxed Zeph and Chico out for a slightly longer ride and a change of scenery for us all. The boys were delighted and powered up Poverty (long steep hill) in trot before stretching out for the first gallop of the season up to the Beacon. Well Chico did, Zeph extended his canter just enough to keep Chico in sight and arrived at the top hardly blowing giving me the distinct feeling that "gallop wasn't really his thing!" The next week I got a good 18km ride in over the moors with Irene on Murphy and we again had a good trot uphill for about a mile before cantering along the disused railway for just short of 2 miles. The boys just loped along effortlessly arriving at the end feeling full of running although a little hot and blowing. After this we started to seriously ramp up the hills just in walk but going up the side of the hill behind us up to three times. It is very steep in places but they throw everything into it and it was pleasing to see how quickly they recovered once at the top.
Murphy went into January looking abit to well, the hay this year has been fantastic so as I don't like them to be without during the night and Murphy can eat like no other, I started mixing abit of straw in his net. Needless to say this didn't go down well, but he did eat it and I have to say it made no difference to his weight at all. Trying not to worry I figured that the extra work would help and he attacked it all with great enthusiasm. We fair bounced round the fields in our short rides and he showed is disapproval of long lining in circles by remembering every trick he had tried as a youngster when I broke him in, being 15 years old made no difference! So with Irene on board we decided that some serious miles and hills were needed so along with Zeph we set off across the moor, up and down some really steep hills and then along the disused railway at a "under control" canter. He pulled up after just short of 2 miles blowing and sweating like a pig but happy and game for more. Irene had a grin from ear to ear and it was one of those moments when we just felt so lucky to be alive. Following this Murphy joined Zeph in the serious hill climbing sessions up the side of the Nab through deep heather. He throw his heart and sole into it and I was pleased to see how good his recovery rate was once at the top.
Sadly Nikki got proper flu over Christmas and it knocked her flat for nearly 3 weeks but she bravely carried on getting Chico out on short rides around the fields and the moor. Chico was raring to go which didn't help with Nikki's strength impaired but she thoroughly enjoyed our hack away from home and a good gallop to the Beacon did wonders for both their spirits, however I do think that Chico dictated the speed slightly more than Nikki, but to see the ear to ear grin as the arrived at the top was beyond special. On a rather annoying note though we continued to have trouble with the boots for Chico, They either wore away or just broke and he ended up having to finish rides without which wasn't helping his feet at all. A coffee and chat with our farriers Paul and Callum, and it was decided that our riding was just to rough for them so after careful inspection of Chico's feet we decided to give him a couple of weeks and re-shoe him. His goals for the year have been adjusted or lengthened but that dosn't matter, we will get there in the end
With Nikki being poorly Sandy got abit of time off after Christmas but it worked out well as he had had another growing spurt and once again looked bigger behind. We kept him very gently ticking over with a pole lesson which he really settled into this time and worked fantastically. We were so proud of him as the other horses on the yard weren't distracting him nearly as much and he was also alot more settled in the wagon travelling. He also still enjoyed a few short hacks and Nikki also took him hacking round the moor on his own for the first time in a howling gale. He was just perfect, calm and gentle and even came back where he could see the mares and his manners never slipped once. We will keep him ticking over and very much tailor his work to his development especially through the spring when he has a couple of mares to cover
So game plan (bad word) changed, enter the girls ! Tinkerbell's Image (Tink) 14.2hh Welsh/Arab of 13 year old premium mare and Doonfellin Khamsin (Kassy) 13.2hh Welsh\Arab premium mare both belonging to Nikki. Tink had had a complete year off work as we had wanted to breed a foal from her but sadly it wasn't to be. We had planned to cover her this year but with a goal in mind, covering her later in the year was defiantly an option. The goal for Kassy was also to be covered but Nikki was also keen to keep up both the mares qualifications so we attacked them with dandy brushes tacked up and away we went. The timing couldn't of been better really as just when we decided that this was the way forwards the weather changed and being as we seem to have our own eco climate up here we had days and days of snow and ice. The boys were confined to the fields for fear of them slipping with shoes on but the girls were barefoot and managed perfectly. What fantastic rides we have had on them in the snow, both bouncing along with ears forwards just loving the attention. Those two really are something else, they just make you smile no matter what has gone wrong during the day. They both feel very well and steady work out hacking and on the lunge is very quickly toning them up although I think a date with the clippers will be necessary very soon.