“We have recently been working with a couple from Longleat in Wiltshire who own two young Springer puppies. Bob and Sue are no strangers to working with animals as Bob is one of the keepers and stars from the television series ‘Animal Park’, based at the famous Longleat Safari Park, while Sue runs her own grooming parlour, so for these guys animals are a way of life. Bob spends his working life with lions and big game so training a couple of Springer puppies should be a breeze. Hmm, or so you’d think.
The two young Springers are from field trial stock and while Bob and Sue have no intention to work them in the shooting field - I’m working hard to change their mind - they have decided that the best way to use the boundless energy and enthusiasm that working Springers come with is to train them as they were bred to be.
Initially, we looked at teaching these two pocket rockets some basic obedience and self control, teaching spaniels to walk to heel is a big ask but Bob and Sue have made some great progress. Some trainers recommend that you resist teaching a spaniel to walk to heel too soon for fear of suppressing their enthusiasm for hunting. While in certain situations, this is excellent advice for people whose spaniels are pets first and gundogs second, the need for a dog that does not pull on the lead will be the first consideration.
Alongside and intertwined with the obedience training, we need to ensure that the pups enjoy all of this interaction with their handlers, which is no problem with these two; like most well bred and well managed gundogs, they love retrieving and this is where we hit our first hurdle. The puppies were desperate to get to the retrieve but reluctant to return with their prize and instead choosing to gallop off across the paddock.
No problem, as Bob and Sue’s enthusiasm for their dog training saw them go straight home and build a retrieving corridor in the garden. A couple of weeks with Bob sat inside the corridor has got the puppies flying back, keen to sit on Bob’s lap and share the prize with him. It is essential this first element of the retrieve gets a young dog keen to get back to you before we can further the training. This retrieving game will be the focus of the reward based training system that most gundogs are trained with.
Bob and Sue will be back to us in the next couple of weeks. The hard work, enthusiasm and effort that they are putting into the training of these two puppies is to be commended and it is the same qualities that will pay huge dividends in the next few months training.”
"After the long dry spell we now have rain, lots of it! Fields are already getting quite wet and muddy in the gateways and turn-out in some livery yards has already been restricted. Wet weather can be hard work, particularly if there is no shelter! On wet days we do try to have a change of clothes in the van so if we do get wet we can at least change out of damp clothes.
Work is continuing at a nice pace; for some horses this time of year is a chance for a break after the competition season and for others this is when the work really begins. The hunt horses are now coming to the end of autumn hunting and hunting will begin in earnest in the next week. The race yard will turn many of their horses out for a break following summer flat racing but many will begin to have their work load increased for all-weather racing over the winter and the youngsters are now in work to race as two-year-olds after January 1st – which makes for some quite lively shoeing!
Autumn can also be a time when some customers decide to have shoes removed for the winter, particularly if the horse is not being worked and the ground has become softer. The concept of going without shoes or being ‘barefoot’ is hotly debated amongst equine enthusiasts and can provoke some very strong opinions! As a business we believe in doing what is right for the horse and the owner; factors such as hoof quality, work load, surface the horse is worked on, underlying hoof/limb conditions and monetary issues are all considered. I have had some clients try going barefoot (one for in excess of 12 months) and have returned to shoes and I have others that are now without shoes and have been for some time. The bottom line for us is that we will work with the client for a solution that suits everyone’s (including the horse's) needs.
The Handmade Shoes Autumn Clinic took place on the weekend of 17th/18th October. Handmade is a leading farriery supplier in the UK and run by five times World Champion farriers Billy Crothers and his wife, Lucy. Mike, Robbie, Harry and Claire attended as I was needed elsewhere. The day certainly provided plenty of food for thought. The two guest clinicians were Jim Blurton AWCF and Grant Moon AWCF. Both fellow welsh team members Jim is a previous winner of the World Championships and is head of multi-farrier practise Forden Farriers based in Welshpool and runs his own tool and shoe manufacturing business, Grant Moon is six times winner of the World Championships and currently travels the world giving clinics as a representative of Mustad, the industry’s largest supplier across the world. The informative day included a talk from Grant on ‘horseshoeing philosophy’, having shod horses in 36 different countries he is well placed to pass on his thoughts, and one from Jim on running a multi-farrier practise, Forden Farriers currently has five vans on the road with five qualified farriers and five apprentices covering four counties and 547 clients!! The second part of the day included shoeing and shoemaking demonstrations.
Coming up in the next few weeks is the annual Master & Apprentice Competition at Holme Lacey College in Hereford. This competition involves Approved Training Farriers competing as a team with their apprentice – the 1st/2nd Year apprentices (Robbie) participate in a shoemaking competition and the 3rd/4th Year apprentices (Harry) participate in a shoeing competition. Both Robbie and Harry are busy practising and Claire’s horse Zak has been involved in practising for the shoeing competition! This is a great competition, very competitive, always popular with apprentices and their ‘masters’ and provides a valuable learning experience.
Farriers Pages was launched on 1st October and feedback has so far been great. We have had in excess of 2,000 individual visitors to the site so far. The website is a voluntary register (more farriers are registering on a daily basis) and we have already helped owners locate a farrier in their area. We are now looking to expand the Hoofcare Resource so please get in touch with ideas for articles!"
"I had a fairly quiet week this week. My one outing was to Catherston for a Young Professionals Award viewing day. It was an achievement to get that far as only 18 people were invited to a viewing day out of all the many applicants!
With my Mum still out of action, it was once again a logistical nightmare as I had to be there all day but my horse, Delboy (Headmore Delegate) was only needed in the morning, so I drove in the car with Andrew following in the lorry. We arrived without me taking any wrong turnings, yay!
When we arrived, we were given a talk by the two coordinators, Rachel Hillier and Janet Horswill, before the day started. Then, when the ‘interrogation’ was underway, I was first to speak to the coordinators. They asked for an overview of what I wanted to do in the future and various other questions about my career.
Then, it was my turn to ride. Delboy was cheeky in his changes, as usual, but his canter pirouette work, which he had only just started, was exceptional. He didn’t go at his best but it wasn’t awful!
After I had ridden, I got to watch the others ride and we discussed them with Jennie Loriston-Clarke, who was training. To get her insight into other combinations was fascinating, she is a true master!
After lunch, we watched Lizzie Murray ride her Grand Prix horse, Catherston Springsteen. She showed us all of the Grand Prix movements and Jennie gave a further insight into training a horse to that level and told us how Springsteen had progressed. It was a real treat.
The final part of the day was doing some in-hand work for piaffe with Catherston Whatadream. I had never done in-hand work before so I really enjoyed learning something new and watching the beginnings of piaffe with a young horse. Jennie then long-reined her to show us alternative training, something she had never done with that horse before, and on one side of the arena, Jennie had her in shoulder-in! Watching the master at work was just phenomenal.
Although I didn’t get through to the final, I really enjoyed the day and learnt an awful lot. The two riders that did get put through to the final were both considerably older than me and based with International Grand Prix riders, so it has given me inspiration to continue to train and try again next year."
Li'l Bud doesn't seem quite sure what to do with his ewes, pictured here with Dickie
"It seems ages since I’ve written my blog – and that’s because it is! We’ve been on holiday and have tried to take advantage of the few good days we’ve had to get on with various jobs.
The pigs have now gone – that’s always a bit of a watershed. The final trip was without incident; the carcases are now with the butcher and we’ll get our pork, bacon and sausages back next week. We’re really looking forward to it! I’m also looking forward to finding out how big and how fatty the pigs were.
We had a lot of rain before they went and one pen is like the Somme. I’ve cleaned out the ark – you wouldn’t believe how much dried mud there was inside. I’ve also dressed the pens with calcified seaweed. Although the pigs add manure, it doesn’t contain a balance of nutrients for plant growth, so we’re trying calcified seaweed this year. It looked like sand. With the prospect of a few mild days, I’ve sown grazing rye, hoping that it will get away before the weather breaks.
The Light Sussex have moved somewhat reluctantly into the big henhouse. Turns out one is a cockerel, which is a bit of a shame. They’re very tame – I can pick them up no problem. They are very tall and leggy compared to our other Light Sussex, who are chunkier, reminiscent of Lady Cluck, in Disney’s “Robin Hood”.
Ruby, the “pet” hen, has been poorly but seems to be recovering after a few days TLC in the broody coop. Once again, I’ve cleaned it out and put it away for winter.
Li’l Bud is now running with his ewes, with Dickie baa-ing encouragement from the sidelines. My chum’s tup is called Rambo and he’s been a bit quicker off the mark than Bud. I received a text saying “Rambo one, Bud nil”. I hope he works it out real soon!
While we were on holiday, someone took our two black kittens away and left us two black cats – or so it seemed. They have grown but, after a visit to the vet on Thursday, they are both a little bit lighter. Neither seems affected by their experience. I was encouraged to find a dead rabbit on the doorstep – I’m so glad they couldn’t get it through the cat flap! It was quite a big rabbit, so I hope the kittens will be very busy come spring time."
"Well, considering my season has now ended I thought things would be a little quieter, but this doesn't seem the case! I suddenly seem to be very busy again as some of the horses are back in, shoes on and off we go again.
This is the case with Joe (Jorrocks Curtis) and Bob (Good Sport II) and also Harry (Azeb). They have all had a sufficient break and so will all be hacking around the roads for a month now; let’s hope the weather holds out - walking on the roads can be very cold at times. Brian (Opposition Express) went home for a holiday – he has worked well this year and now needs time to mature.
I have just bought a new horse though from Susan Cox, a very nice four-year-old grey gelding called Charlie, who is jumping a few fences but is green. Exciting prospect to either keep or to sell, but he seems very amiable so far and pleasant to have around. He jumped out of his field today, which is always a good sign, especially as he did so from a walk and suffered no cuts or bruises. This now means we have 13 in and my holiday is not very close in sight at present! Not a problem as long as the weather isn't like Wednesday (rain, rain and more rain) everyday. My Anky jodhpurs are a godsend – they are completely waterproof and make a thoroughly miserable day not bad at all. They are also fleece lined so very warm – a must have if you want to stay dry and look good this winter, waterproof trousers are not nearly so cool!
I have spent most of this week preparing for Daisy Dick’s wedding. I was very excited about it as I have been looking forward to it for a long time. I am so pleased that she has met such a lovely man, Mr Charles Berkley. The wedding was near where she lived. The church looked beautiful, as did Daisy – her dress was divine. The whole thing was flawless from start to finish – amazing food, fantastic band... Great fun and a night to remember – I wish them all the best for the future.
I have started planning my winter in more detail now – I will be appearing in several places for demonstrations, talks etc. I'm looking forward to a busy schedule, I prefer to be busy, although I have plenty of social occasions pencilled in too."
“Winter on the Way is an exciting prospect. For me that’s all about big river roach and massive pike. I love both species equally and both pose their own problems and demand their own skill set. For roach, you can’t beat trotting a tiny stick float down river, hooking a big fish at perhaps 20 or 30 yards away.
For pike, the great challenge is fishing a lure down a weed-free channel, watching and waiting for a monster to intercept. Short days, yes, but packed with action and excitement.
One of my many business hats is Fishery Director at the Kingfisher Lakes and Apartments in mid-Norfolk. I love the job because, in reality, I’m dealing with four wonderful lakes and several miles of the River Wensum every day. But there is a problem.
Wensum roach stocks have been on the back foot now for thirty years, largely because of river mismanagement (no thankfully a thing of the past) and over predation by cormorants and, latterly, otters.
Everyone loves river roach and the Wensum is an iconic river. There’s a feeling that if we can put the Wensum back to rights, anything can be done in the roach fishing world. I’m hoping that Dr. Mark Everard (Dr. Roach to his fans) is going to visit in November and together we’ll walk the river, do some fishing and discuss how we might help the Environment Agency reinstate the River Wensum once again as the country’s premier venue.
Watch this space.”
Ruby with Claire Lush, Dogs for the Disabled’s puppy coordinator
“The week started with a one-to-one session with Claire Lush, Dogs for the Disabled’s puppy coordinator, to help me with a specific situation for which her experience and immediate support was invaluable.
At the weekend, Ruby had a rather concerning experience with another dog while we were in the town centre, and I wanted to ensure that she had no lasting ill effects.
As we were walking through the shopping area, a dog rapidly approached Ruby and immediately invaded her space whilst continuously barking at her. Ruby was very startled, and, although I quickly moved on, she was clearly shaken and unsettled.
To help address the potential issue of Ruby developing the same reaction on meeting all unfamiliar dogs, I immediately arranged to meet with Claire the following day at a local park.
Claire brought four other dogs to meet and then play with Ruby, where we also encountered a variety of other dogs as well. Fortunately, Ruby seemed to be absolutely fine, and appeared to thoroughly enjoy the meet-and-greet sessions – even taking quite a shine to a 12-month-old black Labrador called Jester.
I also used the opportunity to practice recall in the wide-open public space, both by voice and using a whistle. Ruby responded extremely well.
The later part of the week was quite upsetting for a different reason, as my own dog was taken ill and has had to stay in hospital for the last few days. So I have not done as much additional work with Ruby as I had planned, but she really has been an absolute star.
I returned home from the vet after one of the many visits and was feeling very upset. Ruby came straight over to me, put her little head on my knee and just looked up as if to give me the comfort and reassurance I needed. It was so sweet.
Mind you, ten minutes later she was outside, chasing my other dog around the garden, playing with him and teasing him in equal doses. The unsettling experience at the beginning of the week was certainly consigned to history!”
"There’s nothing better than a new stretch of river to explore, especially if you’re doing it with the girl of your dreams. Sarah was a dancer in her professional life so it’s always a shock, really, to see her walking the river in chestwaders. But what a week’s holiday she had. Her first barbel. Her first grayling, especially exciting as it was caught on a float and even her first minnow!
And do you know why we had a row one day? Because I tightened up her clutch when she was playing a big barbel and, half a minute later, the hook pulled out. I couldn’t keep my fiddling fingers to myself it seems! In all my years guiding, I’ve never been lambasted for losing a fish! Ah well, I’m keeping my fingers firmly to myself in the future."
Tina's clients in Scotland vary from prelim to PSG riders
"Another one of my Scottish teaching trips this week; I have been giving clinics to the Scottish Dressage Group for about 15+ years and it is always a joy to go up to help them as they are all very keen and have some lovely horses. I am made to feel very welcome and the clinics are always full, so it is a tiring three days. I coach all types - from students that are starting out on the dressage competition ladder to PSG and above. Although it can be very wild, wet and windy, I was very lucky this time and stayed dry.
We also had an Introduction to Side Saddle course on Wednesday; this proved very popular and everybody had a chance to have a go and also do some bareback riding as well. They have booked a follow up session next month, so that proves they all enjoyed it .On Thursday, I arranged a fire demo for all my staff and students so that they could learn what to do in case of fire, what equipment to use and how to avoid fires. A very worthwhile lecture was given by my fireman, Neil. Everybody was able to have a go at using an extinguisher which was great, so thanks Neil.
My best intentions of watching the first ever football game that my son and superstar vaulting team member, Zak, was playing in on Thursday went out the window. When I got to school to cheer him on and found him out of kit, I was told by the teacher that he had been knocked over in the playground at lunch time and hurt his shoulder. A&E, x-rays and doctors all confirmed he had broken his collarbone, so no sport for six weeks. Poor Zak!
On Friday night we went to a quiz for Zak’s school. A table full of people in the ‘horsey know’ and only one horse related question! We came second, losing by only half a point, which was almost devastating to the more competitive team members.
Saturday and Sunday saw the usual hustle bustle of lessons, the vaulting group and a Show Jumping day course.
On Sunday, I went to the ABRS AGM and conference up north and meet up with old friends who all run riding schools. We tried to put the world to rights but didn't quite manage it, but had a good and informative time while trying to do so.
Tuesday was our annual riding school inspection which is always very entertaining, giving Solo, Detzky and Zeus the opportunity to demonstrate how much they disapprove of those in the veterinary profession, usually including some reversing, rearing, etc. Well done to all staff and helpers for the horses being beautifully turned out and everything running very smoothly.
On Wednesday, we had another John Adams Show Jumping clinic. Only one involuntary dismount in the lessons and all horses behaved very well, if not slightly expressive! John was on very good form and as usual very helpful to all the riders with his explanations and advice. We look forward to his next show jumping clinic in November.
Now we have the Dressage demo on Saturday with John Bowen, then I think I will need a day off to recover from all the activities and be ready to start half term!"
“I receive a daily report from a fantastic organization called Dog Lost, these guys do an awesome job, an entirely voluntary operation, collecting, documenting and distributing information on dog related crime. Their area co-coordinators are experts in what is a huge problem for dog owners and their families. A dog is stolen on average every day, our relentless search for the four spaniels that were stolen from us means we are unfortunately now much more aware of this very serious problem.
Dog thieves seem able to carry out their crimes and then distribute and sell the dogs without any great fear of being either pursued or caught. We are regularly receiving information about dogs being offered for sale from the backs of vans in lay-bys.
Our overstretched police forces are doing their best but do not appear able to dedicate any serious resources to the problems we all face. It seems that a simple lack of man-power means that dog theft and rural crime continues to run rife. Depressing, yes, but a very serious problem. Please be vigilant, keep your ears and eyes open, do not sit back and believe it only happens to other people.
No sooner have we finished our game fair weekends and we are straight back into the shooting season; picking-up, walked up over pointers and a couple of days shooting partridges, topped only by a day as a guest on the grouse in Cumbria. I know your thinking the guy has the ‘Life of Reilly’ well it’s not all fun and games you know. Actually I lied, it is; I love my job, even when I’m working it’s with dogs or shooting.
Head trainer Annie Buckley and I went to Hertfordshire last weekend as guest trainers at Avis Boreham’s gundog training group. We had a brilliant time, the people were great, seven lady and one gentleman dog handlers. Someone said, ‘poor bloke’, I disagreed! Mostly…
We spent our time eating; breakfast, mid-morning, lunch and afternoon tea, interspersed with some dog training. This group was great fun to be with and had done a great job with their gundogs.
This weekend sees us start a new gundog training course, eight weeks, sounds like a long time and if we get it right the handlers should be able to make considerable improvements to their dogs skills.”