Saturday, 31 December 2011


I needed to take some pictures of himself today as I suspect his saddle doesn't fit any more and some kind people offered to give me their opinion.  He hasn't rolled for several days so I thought I'd just flick the dust off him this morning and take the dry mud off his legs so I'd have a nice clean horse for the photo session at lunch time.

You can guess what happened can't you??

I took some without the saddle as well, so just for reference here's a muddy Mr M at 498kg:

We've been out for a 20 minute walk today, his frogs have got thrushy again thanks to all the mud, but his walk is still completely regular on tarmac, so we'll keep treating with gentle road work and hibiscrub.  Just for reference, here's the worst one (near hind) today.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Crimble

Weigh-in day was a day late this week, but the tape this morning was right on the top of the 498kg band, which I'm happy with.  I've had a nice horsey Boxing day - this morning I spent an hour gently working through his mane and tail with a comb.  His mane still looks like a bad David Bowie wig, but at least the dreadlocks are gone.  Then this afternoon I'd planned to go and poop scoop the bottom field, but the wind was so strong it snatched the shovel out of my hands and flung it half way across the field, so I abandoned that idea and went and had half an hour of scritchies in the shelter instead.

I asked for Kelly Marks' Perfect Manners and Perfect Confidence for Christmas.  I've read Perfect Manners today and it's made me realise that we've made some quite large steps forward this year - a lot of the exercises that she recommends are things we do now that he wouldn't do at the beginning of the year, like respecting my personal space, moving his feet when asked, yielding to pressure and so on. 

I've been thinking that it might be an idea to do some long reining and work in hand to gently start building up his muscles rather than just plonking a saddle plus 10 stone of me on top, so I've got the two in-hand schooling books by Hinrichs and Hilberger on order from Amazon as well as the new Enlightened Equitation book.  The idea is that we can walk down to the beach, which will give his feet some road time (they're going to need a trim next month unless I start getting some tarmac miles in), do a little bit of work on the sand and then walk back home, gradually increasing the length of time I ask him to work - and if I can eventually long rein him down and back then I *hope* that will translate to less/no napping when I try hacking out again.

It's a good theory...

Thursday, 22 December 2011


We had a first this morning - first time Merlin has ever refused a bucket of food.  And this is a horse who'll happily eat buckets laced with wormer, antibiotics, bute and all sorts of other things that horses normally turn their noses up at.

Brewers Yeast, however, seems to be a step too far! 

I finished the Total Eclipse last night and mistakenly assumed that since I was adding three of the four ingredients in it to his bucket, it wouldn't be a problem.  However, the BY smells a lot stronger as a straight than it does made up as TE (I'm wondering if they actually use Yea-Sacc instead) and though I was ready to dive right in to his breakfast (it smelt like Marmite), Merlin gave it a long hard sniff, tried a bit and promptly spat it out, pulling the most hysterical faces.

Lesson learned, I'll just add the linseed tonight, then if he eats that I'll try linseed and magox in the morning and once that's going down OK, add the yeast back a granule or two at a time.

In other news, it's 11C here today and he's happily naked.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Weighty issues

It seems that as Merlin loses weight, I'm gaining it!  I daren't get on the scales at the moment, but none of my size 10 clothes fit properly at the moment which is Not A Good Thing.  I really have to get running again.  M is now in the middle of the 498kg band and, as decided last week, will have an extra handful of beet in his bucket from now on, which means he's on:

1 x handful of Greengold
4 x handfuls of SpeediBeet
2 x tablespoons of Total Eclipse

soaked in about 1.5l of water.  The Total Eclipse has nearly gone and I have micronised linseed, brewer's yeast and heavy magnesium oxide ready to take its place - basically Total Eclipse without the seaweed.  I'll get them decanted into suitable mouse-proof containers with the right-sized scoops tomorrow.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The food chain

The UKNHCP forum reckoned if it ain't broke, don't fix it, so we're carrying on with the Greengold.  I'll get another bag ordered for when I'm next down at the dentist in Inverness.  Merlin has a definite order of preference with food at the moment.  Grass is at the bottom of the food chain since the beginning of November, he'll make sure his haynet is empty before he goes in search of the green stuff.  There's always HorseHage hidden in his net somewhere and whether it's top, middle or bottom, that'll get carefully picked out and eaten before the drier hay.  And if, like this evening, I've done his haynet in advance so he could tuck in as soon as I took him into his shelter, he'll even abandon HorseHage in favour of his feed skip. 

He has lost a little weight now, we're at the top of the 498kg band.  His moobs have shrunk and there's a suggestion of shoulder starting to appear, but I still can't feel ribs and he still has fat pads on his bum.  It's supposed to be a fairly mild week this week and then cold again the week after, so I shall continue to feed him the same this week and then add another handful of beet both ends of the day next week and up the HH to hay ratio if required, as he still has weight to lose.

I have another forum to thank this week: HHO or Horse and Hound Online.  We were forecast gale/storm force winds on Thursday night and I posted to ask whether I should keep Merlin in (as there's a byre roof breaking up up-wind of the field) or leave him out as normal to make his own decisions.  Every single reply said leave him out and I'm so grateful to them because his very solid 18x12 field shelter, which weighs a couple of tons, migrated TWO FEET south.  I can't get the mats to fit back inside, so I've cobbled them together in a new configuration which only leaves a little bit of bare floor but at least has no lumps he can trip over.  Mick thought we might be able to move it back with a land anchor and a pulley system, but the ground's too soft behind it and we just ended up dragging the land anchor out!  Once it freezes solid again he's going to take his Navara down there with chains and hooks and pull it square. 

We went for our only clop of the week this morning and he was really pleased to be out and about again; ears pricked and a really good even stride.  We did the mile to the health centre and back which was obviously no problem for his feet, so we'll start adding on a few minutes on the Polouriscaig track, which is stony, and see how he does with that.  Feet are still smelling better despite the mud.  I nearly, nearly, nearly tacked him up and got on this afternoon, but I think he would have thought going out twice in one day was taking the piss and I had to catch up on the post-snow poo picking in the bottom field.

It's been an expensive week though, he's running out of Total Eclipse so I've got micronised linseed, brewer's yeast and magnesium oxide ordered from Pro Earth on eBay, then got a bag of Speedibeet from CLB because Hilltop Horses weren't sure if their delivery was going to arrive in time for me to have one from them, went to Hilltop the following day and it had, so got another bag of beet and two bales of shavings.  £85 in short order, but at least that's all the feed I'll need until I run out of linseed in about 3 months' time.  Next purchase will be an Enlightened Equitation forum subscription - I've rejoined the forum there as well after a 10+ year absence.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Winter weather has finally hit - more strong winds, bringing snow. 

Merlin is perky about it all, he's warm under his middle-warmth rug, he's dry in his shelter and he's munching his way through nets of hay and HorseHage.  He still has the freedom to go out into the fields if he wants to, but the ground is so saturated that the drainage ditch alongside the field shelter has overflowed, meaning there's a moat around the exit (the shelter itself is dry, it sits on a little mound of hardcore) and since he's a wuss about water he's more or less voluntarily stabled himself.  Unlike last year, when he was in with the gate shut, he's not pacing round the shelter or weaving, possibly because he can still go out and stand outside if he wants to, it's his decision to stay in.

This morning's weigh-in was still 504kg, but with the weather getting worse over the next few days, he's getting four handfuls of speedi beet in his evening bucket instead of three.  He's still looking great on this feeding regime, though I'm wondering whether to take out the Greengold and replace it with grass nuts - the more I read about lucerne/alfalfa and horses, the less I like, though he doesn't seem to react to it.  I shall ask the UKNHCP forum for their thoughts.

We only managed to get out twice this week, Monday and Tuesday, but I'm still squirting his frogs every other day.  One foot (the right fore, aka 'the dodgy one') still has a slight smell, but the rest are looking and smelling better.