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DiDi - Whither goeth SHe?

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        01-24-2011, 01:38 PM
    Walkamile. Thank you.
    Wednesday she visits an indoor arena - to find out if full length mirrors upset her, then on Sunday, all being well, it will be the next test.
    I get a bit of a buzz from watching her, but I am a little sad that it is not: 'Her and me' but rather: 'Her and Claire'.
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        01-24-2011, 01:53 PM
    Green Broke
    Why do I picture Miss DiDi finding the mirrors to her taste? After all, she will be in them! A looker like her must have a touch of vanity.

    Barry, I understand that wistful feeling of seeing your horse performing beautifully, but alas, someone else in the saddle. But I am confident that you can slightly close your eyes and image that it is you there! You know how she moves and feels. Enjoy.

    Also, though I am over stepping here, you should not give up on finding another Joe. Life is so very short. Maybe an elderly gentlemen' s horse is just waiting for you to find him. A horse that will have new meaning and purpose because of you. One that would relish those rides in the morning with you and be glad to wait patiently for you and his treats. Just a thought.
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        01-24-2011, 02:22 PM
    WKM, as we get older so we get more cautious. I am well aware that if I
    Take on a young fit horse, that it could live longer than me - or certainly longer that I can be sure to be able ride it. Anyway, there are a couple of horses on our yard which I am welcome to ride. My problem of late is that after Joe and DiDi, plus a few other horses which I have memories of from the past, these days I seek a Gentleman's Riding Horse and such are not easy to find. Mostly one has to take someone's left overs and repair the damage.

    A day dream would be to introduce DiDi to a 16.2 Lusitano stallion in Portugal and bring home the makings of a dapple grey colt with long flowing locks and a floor length mane. But DiDi's says her career in dressage comes first.

    It is no good, I'll just have to develop a taste for equine ballet.
        01-24-2011, 02:30 PM
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    Here is DiDi strutting her stuff with Claire
    What a great thing you've done.

    She is BEAUTIFUL by the way.
        01-30-2011, 02:35 PM
    Well, today was another step forwards. DiDi had been stroppy this week and the weather had been untypically cold. We got up early and went to another riding centre near Gloucester where a competition was on to pick the regional contestants for the Royal Windsor Horse Show later this year. The final will be held at Windsor - that is 'toffs ville par extraordinaire'. The Duke of Edinburgh, better known as The Queen's Consort (a King if he were British) is patron. DiDi is indeed mixing with class.

    Anyway, she went in as the first contestant. First up front is never a good place to be but, heigh ho, she was judged to be a qualifier for the regional competition and given a certificate to prove it.

    DiDi in effect is now in Round 2 of the prestigious RWHS, where if she were to win next month, and that is a really must be a fond hope, then we shall be off sometime in the Summer to compete in the castle grounds of WIndsor Castle.

    Now for a horse who has only competed four times in her life, this is heady stuff.

    As I led her back to the horse box. She gave me a little snicker, as much as to say : 'Didn't I do well!' Indeed she did.
        01-30-2011, 05:31 PM
    That is so great!
    I know the feeling when you see your horse doing great with someone else, but what an opportunity! I've been to the RWHS a couple of times, and my most prominent impression was the amazing difference in class between those gorgeous, beautifully trained horses and my muddy happy hackers! Haha. DiDi looks like she would fit right in though, she's beautiful!
        01-31-2011, 04:25 AM
    It is indeed pleasing to see her do well - and I must say I do get some pleasure out of it. She was a good girl yesterday and in my care she remained poised and calm throughout the day. In this RWHS class there were several very big fancy looking and very expensive warmbloods. My Girl at 15h2 looked small in the warm-up arena. But she held her own.

    Nevetheless it would be nice if I could also say that she was a 'go anywhere' riding horse. If she can be so obedient and responsive in the arena, why isn't she of that frame of mind in the big wide world?
    She's been called several times 'a Diva' - I think I should change her name to 'Prima Donna'.
        01-31-2011, 07:14 AM
    I take you have tried to desensitize her to the scariness of trails. Have you tried sending her out, a lot, with a brave rider who wouldn't be too bothered if she had a total meltdown on the trail and would project an attitude of "whatever" to her?

    My current horse (Gypsum) and the one I owned before her (Angie) could both be difficult on the trail when I first got them. Angie would plant her feet and simply not move no matter what you did, or try to wheel around. Gypsum would audition for the Spanish Riding School. When I sold Angie after four and a half years of consistent work, on trail among other things, she had become an awesome little trail horse who would go out alone, lead a group, chase cows, anything. The woman who bought her had been in the market for something fairly unproblematic and straightforward to take out on easygoing trail rides, and my neurotic little quarter horse had become that kind of horse. Amazing. Gypsum has also become an awesome trail horse, who will go out alone, with others, lead a group, go at any gait, etc., (not so great with the cows, though we're improving). It took me about three years to get her to the point of being unlikely to have a trail meltdown. When I first got her, she was (and still is) awesome as a dressage horse and it would have been easy to say, "She doesn't like trails." The first time she had an epic freak-out on one was shortly after I bought her; we rode over a ridge and when we got to the crest of the ridge, we had an amazing view of the mountains and the city of Boulder below them. The sight of all this space totally wigged her out and we started crow-hopping, rearing, cantering in place, all on this little narrow ridge which was a little bit not fun. About five or six years later, we were leading trail rides of small children on school horses over these same trails.

    The point is, even a horse who seems like it's going to be an utter lunatic on the trail can improve with time and mileage. I've known only a handful -- I could count them on one hand -- of horses who were never able to handle it. So ask Claire to take DiDi out, maybe? Even on wee short ones until she gets the confidence to go out for a bit longer. At the very least, it's great cross-training for a dressage horse, as they get to stretch their muscles and use them in a different way than happens with collection in an arena. In my experience, that sort of thing keeps them sounder for longer.
        01-31-2011, 09:19 AM
    Originally Posted by Barry Godden    
    She's been called several times 'a Diva' - I think I should change her name to 'Prima Donna'.

    She sounds like a truely 'mareish' mare! I have one of those. Normally so quiet, but around what we shall simply call 'certain times' - she can get a bit 'MeMeMe!' and insist that only she is important. I have managed to get her to a pub at least! I love her to bits but I can sympathise with you, that behaiour isn't ideal for what one might call a gentleman's riding horse. However DiDi seems to have quite a talent there! It is so nice that you are proud of her. My mare is rather like myself, a jack of all trades, master of none.

    I think she'd look like a nice 'Prima Donna'. Maybe you could should nickname her Prima DiDi!

    Perhaps if I make it to Windsor again this year I shall have a Diva to whatch out for!
        01-31-2011, 10:21 AM
    Ladies, I am not sure that whatever training I were to try on her that I would be successful in making her into a safe riding horse. DiDi is as sharp as can be. Her undoubted forte is in that quiet, flat level, sandy arena, prancing about on an equine stage, insulated from the ways of the real world.

    A safe Gentleman's Riding Horse would be something very different. Such a steed is curious about the world and so long as nothing has happened in the past to dissillusion its trust in man and his creations, the horse has no need to fear. The rider's role becomes merely to direct the horse to where there is no danger and to relax in the saddle and to keep only the lightest contact with the horse's mouth.

    In the old days when I used to ask my cob Joe to stand in a layby, whilst a car driven by some local 80 year old pensioner lady, drove past on a country lane, then he would stand as bidden. If the driver happened to be the mischievious local horse dealer, who would delight in seeing just how close he could get to the Joe's legs then it made no difference, Joe would still stand his ground. Then that same devil of a dealer would stop alongside me sitting in the saddle - just to see what would happen. Nothing ever did, except for the dealer to ask how much I wanted in exchange for stoical Joe.

    Whenever I have suggested to Mistress Claire that we set up an obstacle course for DiDi - with dustbins, plastic bags, waving flags, poles laid on the ground, perhaps even a car with a running engine - she has asked me not to, in the fear that I will make DiDi anxious about entering any arena.

    My only hope for DiDi has been that her self confidence would grow with age and experience. But so far in three years it hasn't happened. The last time late last year she went out for a hack in the lanes with a calm four year old, TB/Warmblood cross novice mare leading the way, just in case the bogey man was about. DiDi followed the leader and refused to take the lead. Anyway the young mare was the faster of the two at both walk and trot.

    So I am coming to terms with the situation. The term 'Happy Hacker' is a put down. The couple that will go where no man and his horse has gone before is now an oddity in modern parlance. The sporting horse reigns supreme.

    I'll be looking in second hand shops for one of those old fashioned bowler hats next - especially if My Girl wins an invitation to Queen Lizzy's palace grounds in Windsor Great Park.

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