It all started with my grandaughter Mollie going to a birthday party at a riding school. She wanted to learn to ride so I took her along for lessons. I was soon "bullied" into riding again (I learnt some 15 or so years earlier) and I was completely hooked, even helping out at the stables looking after the horses. Then one day one of the instructors said "when are you getting your own horse?" Well - I hadn't thought about that but soon decided that I would really like my own and the search was on.
I have "horsey" friends who helped me sort through all the adverts and I decided that I really needed a well schooled gelding about 16 hands and 10 to 12 years - breed not important but I really fancied a friesian!
I had every intention of taking someone along with me to view the candidates, but every time I arranged something I was let down. So I went to see a horse at a dealers - poor boy looked tarted up for the occasion and stood there dejectedly - I said sorry but not for me, not enough bone in the leg! He had 4 matchsticks for legs! On another occasion I went to see a mare called Ella - she started off by double barrelling her fieldmates at the gate then running off, followed by being obviously difficult to control when being ridden - owners mum said they wanted rid as she had reared in hand and kicked her daughter - would I like to ride her? Erm no ta I'll pass on that!
Then I saw an ad for a mare in Little Clacton (just up the Essex coast from me) she sounded interesting and the picture caught my eye - this horse had loads of presence. She was home bred and for sale as the owner had no time to ride her.
Enter Scully! 17hh of warmblood mare, rising 6 and green - total opposite of what I was looking for! I went to see her the first time, still alone, but my friends had said that she looked a distinct possibility from the advert. I watched her ridden
Scully - You Tube
Scully jumping 2 - YouTube
And then got on her - well we stood there for 5 minutes having a discussion about whether she was going to move or not - the owner offered me spurs and told me to whip her as hard as I liked because she was lazy like her mum! I declined and after a while she walked, then trotted and then offered me the most fantastic canter I had experienced.
I was sold! The vet came out a couple of days later and pronounced scully fit and the cash changed hands. Bit of a panic then as I hadn't got a stable for her! I had a couple of possibles but neither were ideal - then I mentioned to the riding school that I was looking for a stable and they pointed me to Butler's over the road - so the next Tuesday the owners lorry appears and Scully is led into her new stable.
First day in her new field and she settled down quite well with her new filedmates.
However I soon found out that we needed to do some work with her - in the first fortnight she broke 2 leadropes, a headcollar and the stable light because she pulled back when tied up.
This was soon sorted only to be replaced by being difficult to catch,
Catching 1 - YouTube
Then once that was sorted she wouldn't load,
Then she wouldn't go forward in the school... and so it went on - she was certainly trying my patience with each new development.
I had lots of support from the yard staff, my RI and various NH people and slowly we worked our way through all the issues - then she went lame! A bout of cellulitis the vet thought!
I had her booked in to go up to Ashen for Becky Chapman to help school her and those plans had to be put on hold - but when she was fit again we loaded her up and took her to see Becky. We had a plan to get her working in outline and start building her topline. After the first day, Becky sat me down and said I had the most complicated mare she had ever come across and we needed to go back to basics - she was twisted to the left and unbalanced. Becky worked her magic and Mish worked on her back and after 4 weeks I took her home to continue the work of getting her going properly. At the same time I decided to take her barefoot as some of the issues were pain related in her feet.
So by Xmas 2008 I had owned her for all of 9 months and we had come quite a long way together but so much further to go...
2009 - the new year started with having he front shoes removed, the backs were always bare. Frantic reading up on the barefoot horse and a steep learning curve started - so much to know about frogs and soles, white lines and heels, horn and abcesses! She was quite sound even on gravel - this was her walking the day after shoe removal-
Scully front feet - YouTube
Landing a bit toe first - but that was how she landed with shoes and part of the reason for taking them off.
She was also flat footed with loads of false sole and constricted heels -
Needless to say she soon picked up a couple of abscesses - the first the vet dug a huge hole in the sole to find the abscess and failed!
It eventually burst out round the back of the hoof! The second abcess wasn't found by the vet either.
So the early months of 2009 were spent doing lots of in hand stuff because of her hooves but some ridden work on soft surfaces was possible so we continued the work started at Becky's. Using an exercise band round her bum helped her build topline and bum muscles - here Laena is putting her through her paces with the band
Scully020309 - YouTube
Then in June I found out that there was a stable available at my local yard - just 1/2 mile from home so notice was given at Butlers and on 2nd August we moved to Blatches. You can see how good she is to load (mostly!) at the beginning of this video - she travels loose in the box and is always chilled!
Scully's big move - YouTube
So a new home and new friends - she settled in fast
Then we made our second visit to Becky's
Becky said "Wow, different horse! You have been working hard!" We spent two very productive days with ridden sessions and groundwork too and then on the third morning we went out for a nice hack - Becky on big Mac and me on Scully - Mac shied at temp road signs, Scully ignored them she was just a star! So we came back with more exercises and games to play, including standing on a mat and weaving round pole pods.
The mat game -
mat.wmv - YouTube
Then I thought it would be good for her to do some jumping and as we have a field set out with show jumps I got Hayley to try her out!
MVI_0464.AVI - YouTube
She soon got bored of doing that so we tried her over XC jumps
Scully jump & gallop - YouTube
Only trouble was she really needed a good look at each jump before she would go over it - we would take all day to get round the average XC course!
Gallops over the stubble fields at Butlers - this was the first time we had tried her out in a big open space so I put my test pilot, Hayley, on her and she put on her body protector!
Scully at speed - YouTube
Then - after the galloping - a very extended trot!
Trot - YouTube
The verdict - totally sane and still had brakes!
November 2009 and Scully got a really bad dose of thrush in her near hind hoof and despite treating with hydrogen peroxide and an antibacterial spray the vet gave me, she was really quite lame for a couple of months. The really wet weather and then the snow & ice didn't help at all - it was almost impossible to keep her feet dry. The frog all but disintegrated with a very soft pink centre that occasionally bled -
As the weather improved, so did her foot and by March 2010 she was fully sound again and I could resume working with her.
Here is her reaction on being put out in the field after she was sound and the field was dry enough for them to go out - she had been confined to stable for about 3 weeks!
MVI 0553 - YouTube
One of the issues I had with her was her reluctance to go forward in the school - out on a hack with other horses or even on her own, forward was no problem, but in the school she had to be ridden very firmly and this really is not my style at all - I want her to be comfortable and relaxed.
Enter another friend - Kelly - she knew us from previous attempts at solving Scully's issues and also knew Becky's approach so she came over and helped guide me in teaching Scully what I wanted.
So back to basics getting my confidence back and getting my position better to allow Scully to work in outline, it started off slowly - very slowly at times!
Scully ridden 23/3 -2 - YouTube
Just getting her to walk without napping was a major achievement and it took the best part of a month to even get her to do a complete lap of the school without stopping. Once I had a forward walk, I started asking her to lower her head and work long and low and gradually she started to step right under and work from the back.
Just to ring the changes we did some work on the gallops round our paddocks and took her out in company for a hack -
Ignore the rubbish attempt at trot on this next vid - it was our first time!! But you can see how much her walk has changed.
MVI_0589.AVI - YouTube
And here we are again another month on - trot is no longer a battle to get and we can now start asking her not to do her donkey impression when trotting!
Scully 9th June 2010 - YouTube
Here is a little clip off the end of one of my videos which rather nicely illustrates the relationship I have built with her.
scullyfollows.wmv - YouTube