DiDi - Whither goeth SHe? - Page 11 - The Horse Forum
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post #101 of 371 Old 03-06-2011, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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DiDi has a turn

Didi has a turn. (1700 words)

Well yesterday we reached Defcon 4 with DiDi.
It is true we were half an hour late getting to the stable by which time she was alone on the yard with her head over the stable door. In passing I stopped for a moment to say good morning to Claire which did not help.
I should have gone over and straight away have given DiDi a stroke and an apology for being late.

DiDi looked at me and I could sense her saying : Where the bl**dy h**l have you been?”
I gave her a stroke on the forehead and she pulled back as I did so.
I opened the stable door and she turned her butt towards me.
I moved to undo the straps of her top rug and she fidgeted.
All in all she made life difficult. The day was not starting well. Her feet needed picking out and with much reluctance she eventually allowed me to clean all four but by keeping moving she made it as difficult as possible . Before the job was done I had to tie her up to the haynet hook, which is not usually necessary.

By this time the grooming area was free so I led her out and over towards the bay. Immediately she looked around to see which horses were still in the stable block. She was on her own.
Sniff Sniff Sniff.

We reached the grooming bay and I went to hook her up on both sides of her head collar.
She snatched and tugged at the crucial moment. Attaching her took time.
Then I went round the back of her to free up her under rug. Her head was restrained but her back end wasn’t so she moved about.
“What are you doing now?” she asked.
I told her that I was going to give her a groom.
All I got in reply was a muffled :”Well get on with it“.
She made life difficult. I moved to get the mud off her face. I tried to remove the earth stains from the white patches. I went to wipe her eyes At each stage she fidgeted.

It was very obvious already that she was in a Mare’s Mood. We’d reached Defcon 1
I used the soft brush which is not so effective at cleaning but at least it did not scratch. I was being considerate. I had to use the comb on her mane, what little she has left. That gave her an excuse to shake her head. I moved down her back to free up the hairs under the saddle area. She fidgeted.
“That hurts” she muttered
Then we came to her ample butt. That’s where all the power is hidden. But the winter coat is beginning to come out and so I used the comb on it to remove the loose hairs. She started to wiggle like a belly dancer performing in front of an arab sheikh.

The legs had to be done as they were splashed with mud from yesterday I reached down to get one. She pulled away. We were by now at Defcon 2.
I called out to her and said that the sooner we had finished grooming, the quicker she could go out into the paddock.
“Get on with it then” she said irritably.
Then I went to comb out her feathers.
Instantly there was: “You’ve done my feet already
I told her that yes I’d done her feet but not the feathers. Anyway she need some hoof oil applied to her hooves. “Why?”
I tried to explain about hooves needing protection from the mud.
“Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle, that’s all you ever do”

Eventually she was ready to tack up with the Pessoa. She was going to be lunged today. Once she saw the saddle blanket, that was it.
“Oh no you don’t“. she said.
I told her that was the plan.
“Oh No you don’t”
It was pointless to argue. Lunging was what she was going to do. She was in no mood to attempt to ride.
The hard bit of fitting a Pessoa is getting it tightened up and she knew it. Even though she was tied by the head, she could still move. All of a sudden down came her front left hoof and it grazed my boot. I shouted back at her to behave.. We were at Defcon 3.
Finally I managed to get the straps tight enough.

Now we were ready for the lunging cavesson. I had to get the head collar off and the cavesson on. I needed her cooperation. I looked around to make sure the various gates were closed. If she made a break for it then she would never let me catch her. She and I both knew that.
Getting the head collar off should be easy enough but I knew I had then to get it round her neck as a temporary restraint. I almost managed but at the crucial moment she pulled her head back to teach me that it was not going to be that easy.
I shouted again to be still. For a moment she hesitated and with that hesitation I managed to attach it round her neck.
All remained was the cavesson.
At the critical moment of fitting it, she pulled back and again down came the foot. At the same time she gave me a body nudge This time I felt the edge of her iron shoe grazing the edge of my foot.
This was war and I dare not allow her to win.

I shouted at her, perhaps the loudest I have done for sometime. It is a tone of voice which I rarely use with her. BEHAVE! I stared at her straight in the face and I poked her chest with my digital finger. She backed off. I got the cavesson round her nose and tightened up.

Where had my kind natured, gentle, compliant, pretty, little mare gone?
What had caused all the kerfuffle?
Normally when she is tacked up and ready to go, I give her a tidbit. On this occasion if she calmed down and behaved then I’d give it to her. She looked at me and for the moment I was deceived. So I put my hand out with the biscuit on it. She snatched it off me. But at least now she was in a mood to be led. Or so I thought.

The arena was by now free. Claire was down there and she is better at lunging than I shall ever be. So I led DiDi down and passed the lead rope over. I warned Claire that DiDi was in a mood, not that I had to, she had already heard the noise. As Claire clipped on the lunging line

DiDi exploded. The horse knew the routine and she pulled back and took off immediately into a circular canter around Claire Usually she would start the exercise in walk and in control. This time there was to be no mucking about.

She went from canter, to gallop to racing gallop.

I watched her leaning over at a 45 degree angle going round and round with Claire in the middle desperately trying to shorten the lunge line. At one spot, her feet were by the edge of the elevated section of the edge of the unfenced arena - if DiDi had misjudged it, she would have gone over the edge and dropped almost five feet.

There was nothing to be done. Claire let her work it out. DiDi went round and round and round in a display of raw power It was Defcon 4. I have never seen DiDi behave quite like that ever before. My Rottweiler sometimes bursts into ‘super hype mode’ and here we were witnessing the horsey version. The raw power was awesome.
Eventually she slowed and finally Claire got back control.

The lunging session ended with five minutes or so of very active walk. DiDi was steaming.
Claire was a little abashed to say the least.

I went down and took back control. I looked up DiDi.
I asked her if she had had enough of exercise for the day.
She looked at me. She was as a child who had had a tantrum.
She gave me a muzzle nudge. We were down at Defcon 2
Where is my biscuit” - but the tone was this time acceptable.

I reached into my pocket and brought out a carrot. She made to grab it but I told her to wait. She waited.
I gave her the carrot. I must never get angry or bear a grudge with an animal.
I took her back to the stable. I dismantled the Pessoa and slung the sweat rug over her.

It was a cold day and with half an hour or so, she was cool enough to put her day rug on. This time, butter would not melt in her mouth.
By now we were down at Defcon 1 - not quite submissive but almost.

Leading her out to her field was not straight forward and she tried to nudge me over, but when I pushed back at her with my shoulder, she behaved. We walked past the other horses who had all been witness to the fight in the arena. She snorted a couple of times and I think she was saying to them: “Well I am back“.

Of course I don’t know what the interlude was all about. All I know is that whenever the moon is blue, or a comet crosses the night sky, or DiDi fancies a fight, there can be an explosion of tremendous energy. If I can recognise at the beginning that she is in that mood, then it is best to leave her wherever she is. She would certainly be dangerous to ride.

As I took off her head collar and went to leave the field, she turned round and gave me a very gentle nudge. Almost as if she was saying “Sorry, Boss, for being naughty“.
I reached into my pocket and gave her the last remaining biscuit. We were friends again.
The Defcon emergency was over



Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 03-06-2011 at 09:55 AM.
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post #102 of 371 Old 03-06-2011, 12:59 PM
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I stole this from the thread: How much does a thought weigh?

"So, how hard do I have to work to get his thought with me? Well, that depends on how much a thought weighs. If the horse gets that thought really strong and heavy onto something, like, "I wanna go home" or, "my friend is calling me back" or, "I think that dark red thing over there is going to eat me", THEN I will have to be strong to bring that heavy thought back."

I have some other names I use for when my horse reaches Defcon 4. Sometimes I call it "angst," sometimes I call it "snort and blow."
Where does it come from? Sometimes the weather, sometimes from the springtime air. Sometimes from a stallion nearby, sometimes from the wind. Sometimes from too much time in a stall, sometimes from being very fit.

Ah well, I used to say. I didn't want to ride today anyway...

Nowadays I have gotten to the point where I can ride through the angst. Getting tacked up and on can be the problem. But movement, especially a good gallop can be the cure. Sometimes I just watch the horse leap around on the lunge, throwing in bucks that appear too agile for a horse of that age. For me it is best to just marvel at how powerful and beautiful a horse can be, and to be amazed that such a creature decides to let me work with her at all.
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post #103 of 371 Old 03-06-2011, 01:39 PM
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Barry...that was a wonderful read. I'm sorry you had such a time with DiDi but I most thoroughly enjoyed that!
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post #104 of 371 Old 03-18-2011, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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DiDi goes flying.

It has been some time since DIDI has jumped through the hoops, in the meantime she has been practicising the dressage thingie. So when the other day we set up a jump to introduce a young mare to the sport of show jumping it was thought a good idea to see if DiDI still remembered what to do. She certainly had.

And here are a couple of the photos to prove it.

One thing we learned pretty quickly - DiDi doesn't do small jumps.
It looks as though she's got the taste for the big stuff.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Up and over.jpg (61.6 KB, 181 views)
File Type: jpg Up and over 2.jpg (54.9 KB, 177 views)
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post #105 of 371 Old 03-19-2011, 11:44 PM
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She is absolutely adorable, mare attitude aside. Great read Barry, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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post #106 of 371 Old 03-20-2011, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Examination Day
Tomorrow is a big day for My Girlie. She is going to be ‘examined’ by a Grand Prix dressage rider. The Countess is going to ride her according to the programme of DiDi’s latest test and then the expert dressage lady will give her opinion as to what DiDi is good for in the World of Dressage.

The first thing for a newcomer like me to absorb is the complexity of the league ratings of the competitors in this sport of fancy horse dancing. First there is ‘affiliated’ and ‘un affiliated’. The ‘affies’ are the pros and the semi pros who play the game to compete. They are serious riders and the ‘affie’ judges for this reason tend to be the best and most consistent in their opinion and therefore their markings. The theory is that a competitor should know at the end of the test whether they did well and similarly they should know before they get off the horse if they fluffed it.

The ‘unaffs’ are the amateurs who play for fun. The tests for ‘unaffs’ are in principle the same as those for ’affs’ only the judges are a little bit more generous in their markings - usually. But because the judges are ‘amateur’ judges there tends to be more variance with the perceived performance. There can be arguments between the competitors as who who really deserved to do well.

Similarly the ’affie’ judges reflect the latest trends in the sport. Once DiDi signs up to being an ‘affie’ then her results are recorded at head office.

The Countess feels that DiDi’s walk is her weakest link in that she doesn’t wiggle her butt in accordance with the latest fashion. From the sidelines it seems to me as though Marilyn Monroe could have done well in this game, whereas my DiDi has child bearing hips But who am I to judge! Anyway tomorrow we shall discover if DiDi should do Unaffiliated Preliminary or Affiliated Novice - or indeed Affiliated Elementary. All is very confusing.

Now the difference between Walk & Trot, Preliminary, Novice and Elementary is in the complexity of the manoeuvres called for in the test. But as I understand it ‘Affi Ele’ is way up the scale for an inexperienced maid like my DiDi. If she goes into the ring at that level, which is way up from the first rungs appropriate for a horse who has only just started to make her way in this world, then she’ll be up against the toffs.

My Girlie is a shortish, dapple grey, Irish cross country girl, whereas a lot of the competition will be very tall, expensive, muscle and butt warmbloods who have been specially bred for the job. DiDi cost a few thousand £pounds but the real keen ’Affie’ competitors make sure that their horse can bend its neck by buying warm blooded horses with long necks. Such horses cost tens of thousands of £pounds and are mostly imported from Europe.. The newly purchased 'Affie’s' horse usually arrives on the stable yard speaking German.

The Countess has a feeling that DiDi might not be able to compete at the highest level because she is the wrong shape - so we are going for a knowledgeable outsider’s opinion. It seems that a 15H1 close coupled, broad backed , power house like My Girlie is not this year’s vogue. We’ll see what the expert opinion says.

She’s approachable, My Girlie, she’s not the least bit stuck up as to whether her rider wears a top hat and tails. I just hope that all this attention doesn’t mean that she’ll ignore me when I go into her paddock to collect her.
She’ll be asking for matching rugs and a new saddle next.

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post #107 of 371 Old 03-21-2011, 02:30 PM
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Barry, I'm concerned about Claire holding Didi's nose in as she jumps. You may want to research the subject.
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post #108 of 371 Old 03-21-2011, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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Well DiDi had her lesson today with Madame Mandy - the Grand Prix dressage rider I watched for three quarters of an hour whilst DiDi went round and round in circles. As usual there was a lady in the middle of the ring wearing knee high boots calling out instructions in a strident voice. Towards the end of the lesson the tone of the instructor seemed to soften a little and a few smiles started to appear on the face of both instructor and rider. DiDi looked over to me and seemed to ask if she was doing OK. I smiled and gave her a little wave.

At the end of the lesson I had words with the instructor, Mandy.
“She’s fabulous“, she replied with broad smile on her face.
Enter her at Affiliated Novice level and she will do OK She is short backed and for that reason will need to be taught how to extend herself, but in the same way she’ll find collected work easy“.

So that will be the way forwards.

My having a second opinion on DiDi’s training and the results she achieves in tests will better enable me to understand what is going on. The martingale went today. We shall again raise the issue of the flash in due course. As for jumping, well that can go onto the back burner for the time being.

My Girlie did well today and by the time we got her home she was quite tired. I fitted her day rug, gave her a pear and two carrots and put her out in the field for a couple of hours. She trotted off, seemingly content with herself.
and when later I brought her back in, she was ready for her tea.

On, and hopefully, upwards we go.
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post #109 of 371 Old 04-14-2011, 06:22 AM Thread Starter
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DiDi's career is for the moment in suspense. Oliver , The Countess's own horse is in the process of moving up the list in the Nationals dressage competition.
For that reason he is getting all of the attention.

He is a funny horse, one minute he is psychotic and dangerous, the next minute he performs a superb dressage test.

In the meantime DiDi is taking in the rays. She's out 24/7 and the heat is off her. But soon she will be back on the tread mill - bless her.
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post #110 of 371 Old 04-21-2011, 04:35 AM Thread Starter
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It has been decided. DiDi's next performance will be at Affiliated Preliminary in the second week in May. Before then she will have another lesson with the Grand Prix rider.

She's being used for utilitarian duties in the meantime. She is helping to sell a couple of The Countess's rescued waifs. Her being an example of a difficult horse to ride - the waifs being by comparison relative angels.

The question of a dressage saddle has now arisen. The Pathfinder is seemingly not appropriate - it is flat topped with minimal knee rolls. DiDi and The Countess want an Ideal Jessica - typical. There are four saddles hanging on the racks in the tack room and none of them are appropriate for the work. Yet if we were in the USA, I could buy any wide fit saddle off the internet and stuff a thick saddle blanket under it.

If it were me I'd get her a nice light Western saddle, without a horn - or maybe even an endurance cut treeless. An Australian WOW would be nice. A Spanish traditional would suit her flat back. Sadly none of those would be acceptable with the Top Hat brigade. Women!

There have been whispers about her entering into dressage to music - will she have to dress up for that too?

On we go.

Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 04-21-2011 at 04:37 AM.
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