Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Delayed blog!

So apologies - we have properly fallen behind with the blogging, but are hoping to keep up with it now! Loads of stuff has been happening since the last blog, so we'll try to update you with it all now!

We now have a new horse in to try for the RDA and riding school. JR is a coloured cob, 5 years old who appears to be very quiet and sweet. He is in isolation at the moment, waiting for the results of his strangles test - which we take from all new horses when they enter the yard. Freddie is currently keeping JR company as he was a bit unlevel in front and we thought he would enjoy a bit of time out in a quiet field.
Dixie is still off and has her last session of shockwave this Friday..... she has injured her suspensory ligament, so will be getting walked out slowly after her last shockwave session and we are hoping that she will then come back to soundness and normal work - so fingers crossed!
Reggie has been doing well with his plastic shoes and has managed to keep them on. His feet are so good now, he only wears the plastic shoes in front and is barefoot behind at the moment. We will be shoeing him again in the summer so that he can enjoy some months of grass, but we're delighted that he is staying so sound at the moment.

The members committee have been quite busy - they have built a shelving unit in the coffee hut and are looking into new frames for educational posters for the portacabin.
We are also running an educational night on Tuesday 19th March titled "How to reduce the risk when buying a horse" at 7.30p.m. Sally is giving the talk and everyone needs to dress warmly as it is a practical talk in the indoor school. There will be horses in the school going round for everyone to compare/look at and it should be a good night for everyone to attend.

Right, thats all for now - we'll be back with another blog soon (hopefully)

Friday, 31 August 2012

Water, water everywhere

Crazy weather! Half our car park washed away last week in the monsoon conditions on the Saturday. We are ready to get the holes in the road filled in, but we need a dry day to do it, which is easier said than done!
Its been a busy few weeks at the club - we have been trying to fit everyone in for lessons as they return from their summer holidays. It is often difficult at this time of year, as a few children who have reached secondary age can no longer manage 4p.m. lessons, so we need to do a bit of reorganising to fit everyone in! This is why we tend to do the assessments just prior to the summer holidays, so that we can organise lesson moves easier when everyone comes back after hols - its a lot easier if someone has been recently assessed.
Reggie now has his 4 expensive shoes on and is sound and well after his antics with the drill and his artery. I have told him that he needs to do at least 2 lessons per week average to keep himself in credit, as he's proving to be rather an expensive beast at the moment! I'm sure he'll soon outfox us by pulling a shoe off the day before a jumping lesson.
Things are getting busier for the ponies with RDA returning after their summer break and RGU due to return at the end of September. RDA is a great piece of work for the ponies, as its all mainly walk work and the ponies enjoy getting out of their stables for a  walk round the farm/indoor school. RGU work is slightly harder for them, but there is nornally quite a good mix of standards so that the horses get plenty of variety.
We are also organising a few educational evenings for our members - there is one tonight (30th August) at 6.30 p.m with Martin, titled " how to do basic lateral work and what the point is". There will be a riding school horse and member demonstrating the lower level stuff (turn on the 4hand/leg yielding) and then a more advanced livery horse doing some of the fancier stuff.
Hannah is also running an eduational evening on Sunday 23rd September @ 6.30p.m, titled "conformation and how it affects the horses way of going". Both evenings are free for ARC members, and you just need to add your name to the list in reception - there is no charge for either evening as we are keen to promote further training/knowledge within our membership.

Sally is also running a British Horse Society training evening on Friday 28th September at 7.30p.m. The evening will demonstrate all types of groundwork/handling that you can do with a horse and how to deal with behavioural issues in some horses. It will include youngsters, horses that don't catch and horses that can be difficult to tack up. We will also be demonstrating how to loose school and the benefits to this type of work - if you'd like to come along to this, it is open to both BHS members and non-members, and a donation will be taken on the evening (all proceeds to Grampian BHS).

Lastly, Murphy is sadly still lame. He is comfortable in the field with Henry and Reggie, but has not come completely sound after his fracture. We are happy to give him plenty of time as long as he is comfortable, but it looks at the moment as though he is heading for retirement rather than coming back into work. We're sure even in retirement he will keep everyone on their toes, especially the staff and he will be a good field companion!

Thats all for now!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Haylage, x-rays, arteries and umbrellas.

Yes, this could be the weirdest blog title ever, but kind of explains our month - a bit weird, and definitely very hectic!!!!
Firstly the haylage:
Last year, we got 370 bales of haylage from our first cut (3rd week of June). Unfortunately, this year, due to the monsoon season type weather, we are around 7 weeks behind with our haylage, and have only just taken the first cut during the last fortnight. As normal, we split the first cut (take a few fields, and leave a few) - this kind or reduces our odds of losing the whole crop - particularly this year, when the weather has been so dreadful. When the grass is cut, we need at least 2 days of warm, dry weather - easier said than done this July! So we got 200 bales off the first section, then nervously waited last week once it was cut for our dry weather. The sun arrived Thurs/Fri so cue frantic activity on the farm with 4 farmers turning, baling and wrapping constantly. The good news is we now have 400 bales of haylage, which is great going considering what a dreadful summer its been. The bad news is that we have decided not to try to take a 2nd cut - we are too far behind, and just won't get the daylight hours in Sep/Oct to make it worth our while to try to get it to grow. This will leave us around 50 - 100 bales short, which we will need to buy in, but at least we have the majority of our stock!
Onto x-rays- we had the next group of school horses front feet x-rayed and hocks flexion tested last week. Reggie (surprise surprise) had changes to the joints in his front feet, and positive flexion tests so he will now have his fancy plastic shoes put on his front feet (as well as his back ones) and have his hocks medicated. Blaze, Charlie and Scrufty were also tested and are fine.
Onto arteries - and Reggie again. Our very kind farrier agreed to come in on Friday afternoon to replace one of his plastic hind shoes which he had lost. The plastic shoes require small holes to be made in Reggies feet to "glue" the shoe onto . Good old Reggie decided to jump just as the hole was being made, only to put the drill straight through his artery in his foot. Many dressings and a vet visit later, and Reggie is none the worse for wear, enjoying a few days in his stable before he gets another shoe on in a week.
Umbrellas have been causing a bit of a nightmare on the yard - unfortunately, many of our parents have no idea how terrifying they look for the ponies! We have had a couple of near misses where someone has put an umbrella up and a pony has shot off across the yard - so please, if you're reading this, try to put your umbrella down before coming onto the main yard!
And finally, a sad goodbye. We had Belinda put to sleep last Friday - which had been planned for this summer, as she was looking stiff in the field last winter. Whilst it is always a sad decision to make, it is nice to ensure that the horses are looked after right to the end, and Belinda gave us 2 lovely foals, although sadly we lost the younger one Melody earlier this year. So thanks for all your hard work Belly - you were a pleasure to own, even though you were a little "strong minded" at times.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Assessments, veterinary day and x-country fun

Hi Everyone,
Its been a very, very busy week at the yard and we're quite relieved its (nearly) over! Many members don't realise that the assessment week is the busiest week of the year- not due to customer numbers, but because we need to cover every lesson with two members of staff to make sure we have enough to assess everyone! Everyone seems to have enjoyed their assessment, and assessment sheets that are being handed out are going down well. Just a wee point - we try to make the assessments as public knowledge as possible - we put it on the website, on facebook, on here, on Twitter, in the paper newsletter, the electronic newsletter, on flyers on the desk in reception and on posters on the yard. Its dissappointing when we then have a couple of members complaining that they didn't know about it - we feel we are telling everyone in as many ways as we can, but if you have any ideas for other ways to get the information across, just let us know!
To try and let everyone understand why the assessments are such a busy week, we've done the timetable below from a member of staffs week - this will maybe explain why some of the assessments flip into the second week.
This member of staff would normally be off on a Sunday and a Thursday.
Into work for 8 as assessing all day so no day off. Help on yards and do surfaces, then assess straight through from 10.00 a.m. to 5.30p.m. Assessment sheets are done on computer, so need to get them all typed up whilst assessing, and sometimes have to do two lessons at once, which is a challenge! Finish at 5.30, but still have to ride 2 horses as no time during day. Home at 8.30p.m .

Into work for 8, no lessons at night as torch coming! Spend a few hours doing staff training, going over what had been noticed in Sundays assessments, teaching staff on Hagrid. Start assessing at 4p.m. till 5.30p.m. and then spend 2 hours ensuring all Sunday and Monday sheets are up to date (can't go home, as have to wait and make sure torch gets past without horses going bananas). Ride one horse, help livery with another. Home 9p.m

Into work for 8 - crazy day as vet coming to x-ray 4, do 6 teeth, vaccinate 4. Farrier is also here (shoeing 10) and private lessons on through day. Help vet with x-ray horses, discuss results, dash off to help livery with another vet for their horse. Try to ride at least one horse that has been booked to be ridden by livery. Start assessing at 4p.m., finish assessing at 6p.m but then due in x-country field to prepare demo riders for Saturday night x-country demo. Finish 8.30p.m, check own horse, home 9.30p.m.

Long lie! In at 11.30 (hour early as need to ride own horse), staff training for an hour, catch up with Tuesdays assessment sheets, get Wednesdays sheets ready.  Start assessing at 4p.m. Finish 8.30p.m. Home 9.30p.m by time yards checked and horses out.

Day off, well needed. Unfortunately, come in to ride own horse to find a complaint that Thursday lessons are not being assessed till next week - try to explain that a day off is needed.

Riding school closed. Own horse private lessons (3), do surfaces in prep for weekend, staff training, prepare Saturdays assessment sheets (busiest day with over 100 riders so takes a while). Finish 6.00p.m. ride two horses. Home 8p.m. Was meant to be admin day catching up with bookkeeping/wages - ooops.

Start at 8, catch up with another member of staff who is in to cover lessons for assessments. Start assessing 9.30a.m, finish 4.30p.m. No time for lunch break as lessons on continually. Dash home at 5.00p.m. to drop dogs off, back for 5.45p.m to prepare for x-country demo. Quickly scribble some notes on what to talk about, as no time during week for prep. Demo starts 6.30p.m, runs till 8.30p.m. Seems to be a success. Have a nice BBQ in school after, enjoy a well deserved cider and look forward to day off next day.

So whilst we think the assessments are great and that its a good tool for everyone (including us), we're glad its only once a year!
The veterinary checks all went well - the first lot (Hagrid/Henry/Apache and Chance) show no athritis in their front feet, have good balance and have perhaps the start of athritis in their hocks (expected) so their hocks will now be medicated with steroids. The next lot will be x-rayed next month.

Thanks to everyone who attended the x-country demo, a turnout of 50 was pretty impressive in the pouring rain for an outdoor demo!
Thanks again!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Assessments are coming!

So the assessments start this Sunday, 10th June - please don't be nervous about your assessment - we try to make it as nice an experience as possible! It is quite a difficult two weeks for the staff, so please be patient with your assessment! We can't confirm exactly what week out of the two your assessment will be, as it is dependant on a huge number of factors, but hopefully the following will explain it a bit more.
  • We have around 350 weekly riders. All of whom are due to be assessed.
  • The majority of the assessments are done by Sally, to ensure consistency across the boad, and also because each assessment needs 2 members of staff (Sally to assess and another to teach/command).
  • Between 4.00 and 6.30p.m. (and after 6.30p.m on a Monday) we have double lessons - one in small school and one in big school, it is very difficult for Sally to assess both at once, hence why it takes a fortnight. The same occurs at the weekends when we also have double lessons.
  • We run lessons until 8p.m Mon - Thurs and all day Sat and Sun. This is a long week! Whilst the staff commit to extra hours during assessments (each does an extra late night to cover the double staff), Sally needs to do each late night assessment and both days at the weekend - its impossible to fit all this into one week.
So how do the assessments work?
You will ride in your normal lesson, at your normal time - the only difference is that Sally will be sat somewhere in the school with a computer. You won't be expected to do anything different from normal, although depending on your standard, Sally may ask you some questions at some point in your lesson. After your lesson, you can leave as normal and then assessment forms will be available to collect from reception the next time you come for you lesson (they will be in reception with your name on the envelope). Its easier for us to hand out forms after the assessments are finished, but obviously if you have any questions about your assessment forms, then you can either ask Sally or your instructor, who will be happy to discuss it with you. You may need to move lesson, but only if Sally and your instructor feel that you would benefit more from another class - again, this will be discussed with you.
Please also remember that our assessments are not just to give you guys a grading, they also ensure that our lessons are set at the correct standard, our staff are teaching correctly and riders are keepimg their stable management up to date. Assessments should be looked at as a learning tool, and you should use the form/comments to help understand what you should be working on with your riding for the next 12 months.
So, enjoy it! And if you have a spare minute, why not make a coffee/tea for the isntructor/assessor, who have probably been sitting there for hours!!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The rain has finally stopped!

Yipee! The rain has finally stopped, the sun has come out and the horses have finally gotten their rugs off! Its so nice to get out in the sand paddock and ride out round the fields again.
So, whats new at Oldfold? Well, we have a great hacking track now, which John kindly put up around the farm - it means that we can now ride a big loop round the whole farm through the haylage fields without having to get off and open gates or turn back, so thanks John! The track has a big puddle on it because of all the rain - some of the horses have been very funny and tried to avoid getting their feet wet, but most of the horses love it and go paddling happily.
Henry is now happily in lessons too - he is proving to be a real gentleman and very popular with the members who have been lucky to ride him so far. He will be staying out in the field with Reggie overnight for the foreseeable future, as they are great friends and both a bit too polite and posh to go in with Scrufty and Boyo!
We are also running a "livery" grid lesson on Tuesday 29th May at 6.00p.m. The lesson is limited to liveries on horses over 15.2h.h., but is a great opportunity for riding school members to come along and watch the grid lesson and learn a bit more about distances e.t.c.
We are also running a cross country demo on Saturday 16th June, at 6.30p.m. The idea is that we will show members how to walk a cross country course, how to ride different fences and there will be a variety of standards of guinea pig riding round. It will be a great fun evening, which the members committee are organising and there is a barbeque as well, so hopefully you guys will all be able to attend!
If you would like to come along on the evening, entry is for members only and is free - just add your name to the list in reception.

Friday, 4 May 2012

New horses settle in

Hi Everyone,
Its been a bit quiet on the Blog front as we've been busy getting the horses out for the summer and getting the new ones into work. So its well overdue for an update!
Firstly, the new horses have settled in well after a slightly longer than anticipated isolation - they ended up in isolation for nearly five weeks! However they're down onto the yard now and happily settled in.
Henry has become very good friends with Reggie - they are both a pair of gentlemans, stay in at nights and go out with each other during the day, so they have been enjoying each others company and feeling very posh seperated away from the rest of the school ones! Henry has been ridden quite a bit by Hannah and did his first lesson (flatwork) last Monday. He will now start to pick up his jumping work a bit more, but has settled in really well and seems to enjoy the environment in the riding school.
KoKo took slightly longer to settle as she is younger and greener, and had become very attached to Jazz after their five weeks together in isolation. She has now been ridden by Sally and Martin, and is going to be a project for Sian to ride for a while as Sian is keen to do a bit more riding and KoKo seems ideal as she has a nice quiet way of going. She can be a bit pushy in her stable, so we are working on her manners a little bit too before she will fully join lessons.
Aria is doing really well and being ridden most days by Martin in walk/trot/canter so she will soon start some pole/jumping work. She is a nice forward going mare to ride, so we are hoping that she will become one that our more advanced riders can enjoy in years to come.
Murphy disappointingly has gone lame again after his 3 months box rest and pen rest, so he is back in annoying everyone with his door kicking! There is no real treatment available for Murphy after rest, so we are hoping that he maybe just overdid it in his pen and will look better after some more box rest. Amazingly, he still hasn't lost any weight, although he is stabled and not getting any access to grass, but fingers crossed he will trim up soon.
Thats all for now!