About me and this Blog

I am a woman of a certain age who has finally been able to enjoy my love of horses Initially to ride them but as time has gone on I have learnt there is more to horses than riding them and want to share this with you.

I have 2 other blogs, feel free to browse,

you can follow me on Twitter @alisonbarton1

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Horse Rescue the good the bad and the ugly

I have just rescued a horse, it was not straightforward I experienced a myriad of difficulties I thought anyone out there thinking of doing the same might want to benefit from my mistakes and information I have come across from the wider Horse rescue community.
If you can go and visit ask questions don't be fobbed off

The overding and most fundamental piece of advice from several sources is, deal with a local rescue centre?

Well I live in the UK and rescued from Portugal, personal choice but makes things harder. The reason a local connection is encouraged is so you can develop a relationship with the centre, check it out, get to know the people involved ,the animals and witness the care etc given while the rescued animals are at the centre. Also you can check out other peoples experiences who have already rehomed a horse, your support can be gradual from volunteering  at the centre to fundraising and donating yourself as you gain confidence in their integrity.Finally resulting in offering a full time forever home when you are absolutely sure its right for you and the centre can ascertain you are right for them and offer after rehoming support and guidance.

If you decide to rescue from a rescue centre abroad  advice is proceed with care!
Obviously because you will find it difficult if not impossible to do any of the above regarding a local centre. Of course you can visit the centre, but my experience of that is you have to remember it is a tiny snapshot in time and the rescue and rehabilitation process for one horse can take 3 to 6 months, depending on their level of abuse and neglect when rescued. So again the advice is not to rush into anything. Watch listen and learn.

Rescuing Horses can be a noble and altruistic activity, however this environment can attract unsavoury personalities, both with regard to misuse of funds and /or misuse of the activity to fulfil an inapporpriate  egotistical or psychological issue.
This can sound alarmist, but think of the "mad catlady" notoriously seen in various news reports over generations. Animal hoarding is a recognised psychological problem. As is "Saviour syndrome or white knight syndrome and more general personality type that can hijack an operation like this is a sociapath. The bottom line is, although initially these people may seem well meaning and sincerre they have a different agenda to that of taking care of animals effectively and can mask this for a considerable amount of time resulting in further abuse and neglect to animals in their care and heart ache and anguish for the people drawn into their web of deciet.
How do you spot a centre run by people like this?
Avoid being manipulated by tragic photographs
Examine their online presence and social media messages, avoid any that continually draw you into their own personal tragedies  and emergencies for instance report break ins, robberies, cash flow problems, resulting in desperate need to replace large amounts of money.No food to feed themselves and family bereavements etc etc, even if these things are true they are hardly in a good place to care for vulnerable animals and  most genuine rescues would not attempt to capitalise on these occurences.
There is a main person(crusader) or a small group is centre stage in photos and in the narrative of comments, how hard it is, how they cried how they saved so and so. This type of person clearly craves attention and will use particularly sick animals or tragic stories to get you to donate funds immiediately. Avoid knee jerk responses when you are being manipulated.These personality types may react more strongly than most to being questioned or criticised.(no question and answer pages, no acceptance of mistakes made or lessons learned)

A bone fide rescue centre will be open and transparent in their dealings and operate in a professional manner  particularly with their suppliers, vets, farriers  other specialists, volunteers , the wider local community and prospective and actual rehomers.
They should publish accounts, fundraising targets and all sources of income/substantial donations. Numbers of animals in rescue, rehomed and progress of those long stayers should be clearly available to all. If not a registered charity it would be best practise to run along similar lines with a committee and open general meetings and open days. Animals in their care should improve in condition any failures to thrive should be explained. Standards of care should be published together with information packs to accompany horses to new homes re diet and care settling in. The rescue centre should aim to establish solid and longstanding relationships with professionals to support the operation regrading health and welfare of horses, training staff and volunteers and fundraising and accounts. Constant changes are disruptive and can indicate unsatisfactory practises and poor interpersonal skills, not ideal for working with vulnerable animals.

What a good rescue centre should look like when you visit..
Most profesionals will advise that you should be able to  visit without an appoinment, during opening times. The establishment should be fit for purpose normal horse welfare rules apply with regard to shelter, food, security water and safety. No shortcuts normal health and safety requirements need to be adherred to. It will be more important not less to provide the best of care to vulnerable and sick horses.  There should not be unused equipment stacked up and not in use where needed, ie rubber matting, head collars, water bowls, bedding etc.There should be a daily routine and staff should be industrious and helpful. There should be evidence of feeding times and exercise/medical interventions . Equipment and food should be properly stored and accessible. Reasonable questions should recieve reasonable explanations.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A twist in the tale!

What I have learnt from this last twelve months is , making plans is ok? but it doesn't really have anything to do with what will happen. Last January I was happily continuing my riding, even on those chilly days I was riding at least three times a week until I went bump. After a spell in hospital and six weeks in a brace waiting for my fractured verterbrae to heal, I really had no idea how all things horsey were going to pan out for me. It was a serious fall, in so much as the degree of impact it had on me and my loved ones. Obviously getting back to walking, driving and being independent was the priority, riding was not on the horizon at all. No argument from me, however perhaps a visit to the stables? just to stroke the horses. A life without horses was difficult to accept, so my visits continued and I enjoyed watching lessons, grooming the horses and generally helping out.

My consultant told me whatever I was doing was helping me and to carry on doing it so I did. One of my favourite horses at the stable, Spirit, needed a bit of TLC and in hand ground work so I offerred to take that on. I am not sure who benefitted more him or me?
I started to really love my time with Spirit and the exercise was very good for me and I could see the schooling was improving Spirit's flexibility and manners. Then I felt ok to lunge so took some lunging lessons and found this very enjoyable too. So the thought of not riding and working with horses on the ground was gaining favour.
My consultant discharged me and said come August I could ride again if I must! So I put that idea on the back burner and decided to just enjoy the summmer, doing what I was doing, then, because I had time on my hands I went on a trip to Portugal and visited a horse rescue centre and saw the state of some horses in the area of the Silver coast. I am sure some horses were ok in that region but what we saw made me mad and sad. When I came home we decided to rescue a horse each and bring them back to stay at Redbrook Equestrian with Hayleys others horses. I would not have done this without someone as experienced as Hayley to help as a mentor, but after alot of heartache and difficulties and a feeling that I was in fact rescuing my horse from the rescue centre, the two fillys arrived.
After initial rehab the two filly's enjoy a run in the school
My rescue horse Iona and my rescue dog Libby meet
I have changed remarkably since my accident from a person who just wants to ride to someone who has learned so much more about the joy of being with and taking care of horses. I do ride again now and still enjoy it, but I adore taking care of my horse, this is a journey I would not have set out on, without the unfortunate accident. I would probably never have bought my own horse let alone a baby I couldn't ride but, life's journey is a strange one and just when you think you are in the driving seat something will happen to take away the controls. This year's New years eve all I could say was here's to the next twist in the tale. Alison x

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Capture your time at Redbrook Equestrian and help rescue an abused horse

Sunday, 9 September 2012

100% Concentrate. No (fluffy) bits

This summer because Oscar was off recuperating, I have had the pleasure and benefit of riding three different horses, a return to my schoolmistress Flaire, Latina and Oliver. All very different and all teaching me something new.

Latina Oscar and me on Flaire
My biggest lesson of all though was returning to dear old Oscar. He had been lame and had been in receipt of a whole raft of intense therapy and care and is now sound again.  He had been out with the grooms at the stables and he was eager and lovely. After my lesson riding him this week, I felt like I had ridden in a rodeo and felt a little disappointed. Where was that special bond gone that feeling of togetherness. Vaporized like morning mist.

I looked and felt like a sack of spuds on his back when we cantered, my legs started to shrink and my back bent forward, he felt all out of shape with lumpy bits. I was frustrated and felt like one of them Roman generals, “bring me another one this is no good”. How callous am I how spoilt?. I did recognise it was my riding that was letting us down but I wanted Oscar to carry both of us.

Me and Oscar I should have listened more!
I had my lesson on Wednesday but only today Sunday have I had my, “Aha!” moment. I was walking the dogs and started reliving the ride we had had. I had got on him like the old friend he is, but whilst I might have patted him and given him a polo, I didn’t  engage with him, I didn’t enquire how he was doing I didn’t explore how he had changed  what mood he was in. He had put weight on (his girth was tight) but I didn’t think how that might make him feel breaking into a Canter. He has new super dooper shoes on with gel cushions and over reach boots a whole lot of new things for him to accommodate. He had been sleepy in the stable but pretty perky once we got in the school and I just wanted to get on with it. I didn’t respond to him or ride him with my brain and my legs and seat just went to bits.

How we were and how we will be again!
Of course we learn early on that all horses are different and need to be approached and ridden as individuals.In addition to that each horse is a bundle of contained energy and intelligence each having his own good and bad days. Oscar is not a car that has had his brakes fixed and a swift check of the brakes and off we go. He needs my care and respect and 100% concentration. Lesson learned Oscar I will be ready for you next time, no fluffy bits. I promise.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Pooch or Pony a problem solved ?

Horse and Hounds  come as a  set pack fab together

I love horses and I love dogs and if I had to live without one it would be a hard choice.  I love coming home to my dogs,  and love spending time with horses at the stables. 

Visiting the Monmouthshire show last week I was in heaven being amongst so many beautiful Horses and Dogs, together at the same time. 

To see Horses and dogs(hounds) bounding along side by side is breathtaking. So when you love both how could you choose one over  the other.? 
little or large there is a choice

Horses are big. and they can be gigantic
 like this huge Hunter, he must have been approaching 18hh. But right next to him is this lovely  little guy, small but perfectly formed and although you can't see in the photo he has a rider on his back too.. So there is a choice with horses, but perhaps not as much as with dogs? 
My Beautiful Beagles perfect dogs for us
I love the gun dogs, and Phil's favourite in the ring was a Pyrenean mountain dog which is huge of course. I loved the Irish Setter at the show but he was too big for me. 

We have beagles which are a perfect size and nature for us and so beautiful.  They can sit at your feet and snore gently while you watch T.V. At some point you have to leave your horse in the field or stable Don't you?.  

Well perhaps not, perhaps I could have the best of both worlds look at this little guy I saw at the show he's smaller than some dogs!

But this little fella is smaller than a lot of dogs

Could he be the answer? A horse I could have at home yeah !!! But then of course I couldn't ride him and he may be able to go into homes and many do as Guide Horses http://www.guidehorse.org/photo_page.htm  but my floors couldn't cope with it and what would my Beagles say . No I can't choose between them and while I can afford dogs at home and only get a horse fix with my lessons I have to have both in my life but just not together not yet not til I win the lottery.



Thursday, 26 July 2012

Going the extra mile at the stables

Its been a while  since my last blog and loads has happened, we've had a few ups and downs and some stuff I will tell you about another time. But today was one of those lovely days you want to have over and over so lets tell you about that now. Its hot, yes you know, well at our stables , that's Redbrook they really look after you when the sun is out. We walked into the tack room to see this notice, read the green writing carefully.

Line up and get your  bellie seen to!

The writing says: Very Important, 1st thing make sure everyone has suncream and cream on their bellies and wherever they need it. Well we are very obedient and if Hayley says we need sun cream on our bellies, well up come the T-shirts. We did think it was a bit excessive but she knows what she's doing and the lesson could involve some sort of exercise which exposed our bellies?

We may have lined up obligingly but the dogs just couldn't be bothered, so their body language told us come and slap it on if you want to.
its too hot you will have to come to me and do my bits

Chrissie me and Dorothy enjoyed our lesson and it was so hot we needed sustenance so we decided to join the other girlies, Hayley, Meg and Tony for lunch. We got changed first. Chrissie was a bit concerned that Latina wouldn't recognise her in her civvies, Latina looked blankly at her,"hey its me " . Chrissie  said.

Chrissie loves Latina 

Who are you?  whats this handbag you've never had one of them before!
The last two lessons I have ridden Oliver he is absolutely gorgeous and so clever, I miss Oscar but riding Oliver has made me happy again, please say hello to Oliver.

Alison Loves Oliver isn't he handsome?
Can you see the look of love in (both) of our eyes I am sure its mutual, but all I can give him right now is a  sugar lump and I am off for lunch, its just got to be done.

Tell me you love me too(its in the eyes)
 After a  busy morning rubbing sun cream in bellies and drinking loads of water and generally being pampered before during and after our lesson we retired to the pub, it doesn't get better than that. Lovely day thank you girls.
We need to eat too you know yum yum

Monday, 25 June 2012

Am I nearly there yet?

Here I go
Learning to ride, for me is like climbing a hill, but you can’t quite see the summit, but you feel you will see it in a little while just keep making steady progress and it will come clearly into view any minute. You feel the effort of walking uphill and your body takes a while to find a rhythm, eventually your breathing settles down and you feel comfortable, yet challenged at the same time. Keep going to the top you think.

Then you decide its not so close so you stop and admire the view, have a cup of tea even, enjoy the moment, to moment achievement of getting closer to the top. You have  what you think is your goal in view at last for it to turn out to be a bit of a plateau which stretches out for much longer than you could ever of imagined, whilst its sort of easy putting one foot in front of the other, you feel like you are not actually getting anywhere. Then your path starts to climb, much more steeply this time, you realise now that you are actually climbing a mountain. You stumble, quite a bit and take another rest and this time the view is magnificent, but its hard and you still are not sure if what you think is the end is really what it seems. You start to wonder if this height, is good enough, just stay put, why push on any further, how much better can it be up there. Then you consider all the options, rest longer, and enjoy being where you are. Throw the towel in and start back down where you would be much more comfortable, or keep going because it must be worth it.

still going!
While you are making up your mind you turn to your guide and ask “Am I nearly there yet” she looks at you kindly and answers, “nearly”.

Well if you don’t keep going and turn back you will never know what it‘s like to have actually got there, so……….