DiDi - Whither goeth SHe?
Some of you may be wondering where DiDi has gone. Well the answer is that she has gone over to my friend Claire’s new place over in the next county. DiDi now lives amongst the toffs of the English equine world. The sad fact of life which I had to accept was that she is not a horse for hacking around the woods and being left outside the pub whilst the Old Man had a glass of wine as was my cob Joe. DiDi is a working girl and she thrives in the dressage arena.
I am not sure how an Irish Huzzy up from the countryside is going to mix with upper class English TBs but I do know that DiDi was bred out of a Connemara mare by an Irish Draught stallion to compete. The area in which my wife and I presently live is in many ways a paradise for horses. Woodlands abound and quiet country lanes lead up from the paddock in which DiDi was kept to the surrounding hillsides but the sad fact is that DiDi was not bred for hacking out, just her and me, she is too highly strung. The pheasants, rabbits and deer to be found in those woods gave cause for many a shy. Sadly, where she now resides, there are no such woods but there is a brand new Olympic sized arena.
As a pensioner long past his prime, I recently have had to relearn to sit her properly despite the fact that I have been riding for 35 years. DiDi is nothing like any horse I have ever ridden before. She is alert, sensitive, sharp, intelligent, powerful and very forward going. Her docile manner in hand belies her true nature. One sits on this horse and she senses your heart beat. She moves off at all times with impulsion and there is never any need to urge this girl on. Put her into a trot either slow, working, collected or extended and she’ll trot until you instruct her to walk. She’ll go rounded on the bit or long and low on the buckle. If you know the buttons to push she’s quite a horse and as such she is probably wrong for an old man like me. But young Claire has the measure of her and it is a delight to watch the pair of them work out.
For me to exercise her in the arena is a hard exercise routine. Realistically I have to develop more muscles around my centre core. All that trotting, and the required action from the under thigh muscles puts strain on my aged frame. Maybe I ought to attend a second Pilates class each week.
Where are we going with the horse?
Well soon Claire will be taking her into first dressage competition. Then perhaps later we might see exactly how she can jump. Her broad muscular rump certainly gives her the power to do well. Sooner or later I am going to have to accept that she needs a younger owner than either myself or my wife especially as neither of us are in any way competitive. I am well aware that at my age it would be foolish to buy another horse and for this reason I am loathe to let DiDi go. However if she does show promise then if the right competitive home comes up then, for her sake, I must consider passing her on.
As it is, I miss her being in her paddock over the hedge at the end of my garden although the benefit has been that DiDi has lost some weight. She is not getting the treats she used to under my regime. The outline of her rump is becoming more muscular and her belly is lifting. She is quiet and relaxed reflecting the tranquillity of her new home amongst the farming community. She doesn’t seem to miss the outside world but it will be interesting to see how she reacts to the hustle and bustle of a horse show.
It is now Claire’s job to set DiDi’s daily routine and not mine but I still sense that when I turn up on the yard that DiDi recognises me. As I approach the gate so she walks up and lowers her head in greeting. She gives me a little nuzzle but in truth it is to see if there is a tidbit in my pocket. I certainly miss those early morning trail rides I used to enjoy with Joe, my stubborn hairy cob, but that never was DiDi’s scene. However life goes on and I must accept change.
I suppose this is all a bit like a parent sending the daughter off to college.
I think you did a right thing - you gave her an opportunity to get a job she loves! What can be better than that!
So do you plan on getting the one, which will wait for you outside the pub while you are done with the beer (or wine)? :D
They don't make them like Joe any more
Well Val - the fact of life is that although there are a few pubs where she is now stabled, indeed one just a mile away, she is not exactly the patient sort. And whereas my Boy Joe would wait for his salt and vinegar crisps - young DiDi would not wait for caviar on toast with bowl of champagne to accompany.
Maybe it was because he was a Boy and she is a Huzzy.
Lol! That's a nice pic! I know 2 pubs in area people do that too (ride, tie horses, and go for lunch). But they are not in mid of city, but kinda off the road. I did it too once, but while back, wouldn't do it with my mares - they are too impatient as well. :D
Ah Barry, I had wondered where Didi had gotten off to (had thought to PM you about it but here you've explained it all). I think you have made the right decision in sending her off to something she loves. If I recall Claire is the young lady who can get Didi travelling round and happily forward no? Though the picture in your mind of the horse you thought/had hoped Didi would be was a lovely one, truly there is nothing more lovely than seeing her at something she loves to do and at which she excels.
So the next question is, will you be getting yourself another lovely big boy to carry to the pub or are you now horseless??
I haven't lost the use of DiDi and I've been taking lessons from Claire in how to ride DiDi as a competitive rider might. I suppose I am now a 'riding-owner'. DiDi is exercised hard everyday to build the muscles up and she is beginning to change shape even after only a few weeks. I get to ride her when Claire has worked her.
The big problem for me currently is relaxing into her - especially as the flat arena has been cut into the side of a slope and there is no fencing around the sides. As a result, on the two down sides the right angled corners of the arena are about 5 foot above ground level. It always looks to be a big drop so there is a tendency for me to cut the corners - and that is a 'No-No'.
Then of course I must maintain my posture - no one handed riding, no sloppiness at any time is permitted. DiDi responds to the slightes shift of weight. Claire is a good teacher but it is a bit like being under the beady eye of the head mistress. There is absolutely no sympathy for the aches and pains which follow the next day. It is all very different from what I am used to.
The power of the horse is significant and flying around the arena at the extended trot is an awesome feeling. I start off with with a slight tension in anticipation of what's coming and then immediately I get into trot, I am carried forward by the impulsion. It is like driving a Porsche. One has to be very delicate with the accelerator and I am supposed to use my under thigh to slow down rather than resistance on the bit. That can be exhausting. I am told that if DiDi doesn't sweat I am not working her hard enough.
Then there will come the occasional mini shy - just to keep me alert. If I've made a slight mistake in my position, DiDi will tell me to wake up. The shy has the effect of making my mind anticipate the next one and I tense up. Then its, push heels down, wiggle toes and sing time in order to relax again.
If only I had discovered this horse and this teacher 25 years ago then maybe I would have a better chance.
But neither horse nor teacher were born then. However I am being told from time to time, that bearing in mind my age, I am doing well. Soon I suspect Claire will be a little reluctant to let me ride DiDi in case I ruin the work she is putting in ready for competition. The couple can't enter the basic level competitions because Claire is too experienced a rider.
This intensive dressage schooling is all a very different hobby. If DiDi is eventually fired up with high energy feed then I'll be in trouble. At the moment all she is getting is late summer green grass, hay and some supplements. I wince at what she'll feel like oated up.
If DiDi does do well in competition, then there will be some decisions to make about her future. But No, I am not going to buy another horse at my age. There are several horses here and there which I can ride as and when I want to ride. I even know of one little Welsh Cob mare who will be happy to take me to the pub and I would not have to buy her to use her. I suppose then I'll miss the explosive power of DiDi.
It is an amazing sport this horse riding. After 36 years of riding I still need lessons. And there is nothing like a soft lick of a horse to entrap you.
Barry, has one ever told you that you are as fickle as a woman? There is no doubt in my mind that you will ride that cob to the pub and then sit with your glass of wine and dream of DiDi powering you around the arena!
DiDi - What does the New Year bring I wonder.DiDi has been over at my friend Claire’s new place in Gloucestershire for several months now. DiDi is fast becoming a madame in the English horsey set. The sad fact of life which I have had to accept is that she is not a horse for hacking around the woods and being left outside the pub whilst I have a glass of wine. There is in fact a pub about half a mile away from the yard, but she would nag if I ever tied her up there and went inside.
DiDi is proving to be a Diva in the dressage arena. I am not sure how an Irish Huzzy up from the countryside is going to mix it with the top hat and white breeches brigade but we haven‘t reached those lofty heights - yet. She‘s only had three tests so far but the next test will be at Novice level.
We have forgone the delight of nearby quiet woodlands and country lanes. DiDi was not bred for hacking out, just her and me, she is too highly strung. The pheasants, rabbits and deer to be found in those woods gave cause for her to shy. Sadly, where she now resides, there are no nearby woods but there is a new Olympic sized sandy arena.
DiDi is nothing like any horse I have ever ridden before and the gap between us is widening. She is alert, sensitive, sharp, intelligent, powerful, very forward going and it shows. Her docile manner in hand belies her true nature. As you sit down on the saddle, she senses your heart beat. She moves off at all times with impulsion and there is never any need to urge this girl on. Put her into a trot either slow, working, collected or extended and she’ll trot until you ask her to walk. She goes rounded on the bit instantly and what’s more she seems to enjoy it. If you know the buttons to push she’s quite a horse.
Young Claire for the most part has the measure of her and it is a delight to watch the pair of them work out. But even Claire is wary of her when DiDi is having a strop, which from time to time she does. Most knowledgeable riders watch this dapple grey bombshell flying around the arena but so far no one has suggested that they ride her. I am not surprised.
We still don’t really know how high she can jump but if I am honest I don’t care. As it is, I miss not being able to see her out of my bedroom window.
With Claire her outline has become more muscular and her belly has lifted. Her diet has not changed and all she is getting is nothing more exciting than grass, hay and sugar beet. Not that she needs more. She is for most of the time quiet and relaxed reflecting the tranquillity of her new home amongst the gentile community but from time to time she seems to morph into a time bomb.
Her routine is now Claire’s to order. I still get a vague sense that when I turn up on the yard that DiDi recognises me because as I approach the gate of her paddock she walks up and lowers her head in greeting. When she demands her piece of apple or pear than I know she has recognised me. We both know that she is not getting the treats she used to get from me. She doesn’t seem to miss the outside world.
What is scheduled for the horse this year? Well, soon Claire will be taking her into her fourth ever dressage test, this time at Novice level. If she is successful she’ll move up to the Intermediate level. Claire reckons she can do it and do it well. We shall see.
DiDi and Claire at work
Here is DiDi strutting her stuff with Claire
Barry, I have so enjoyed reading this thread. How wonderful that you are allowing DiDi the opportunity to explore her potential. Sadly, it is not in the area that you enjoy. However this is where your love for this horse truly shows itself.
Your DiDi is a stunner, and I'm sure will love the focus on her during shows.
Please keep us updated on her progress. It is an adventure to be sure!
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