Peanut – progress at last

Peanut with Philip
Nearly a year gone

The weatherman on the TV tells us that summer is over and we are now officially in the autumn. Of course, there’s been no instant change outside but the end of the year is creeping up on us.

Also, coming up on a year since we brought Peanut home to OMEC, I’m looking back at what we’ve achieved. This time last year, I was still hopefully searching for George’s replacement. It was the old me out there: confident, assertive and looking for the horse to get me back into western riding competition.

So, the first and obvious conclusion is that I’m not that man any more. I can’t say that all my friends and business associates have suddenly noticed the change but, when it comes to horses, I’m in a different world. Peanut has done that. I look at the photo at the top of my first blog, and it’s me, beaming away. But poor old Peanut is staring anxiously into the distance, wondering where he’s landed up now.

This, as it turned out, was his fourth home in a year and, with what I’ve learned in the meantime, I almost want to cry at the thought of what was going through his head when that photo was taken. Of course, we found out soon enough. And, for me, it was a chastening experience.

Peanut becoming a horse again

Happily, for Peanut, it’s been the time he needed to start down the road of becoming a horse again. Back then, I would come home from a session with him and count the bruises left from his casual biting and nipping. Back then, I’d take him into the sand school and watch in awe as he exploded on the end of a 22-foot line.

But, as I’ve changed my way of going, so has Peanut. Whether it’s the relaxed, horsey, life at OMEC or the change in my approach, he’s clearly changing too.

Of course, he has his off days but they get less and less and if he rewards me with that little “nicker” as I rub his nose at the end of a session, it’s worth millions. Hopefully, it’s a combination of the two: as I am giving up my old ways, he’s finding a man he can trust.

Gently steering me through all this, Vivien has been a model of patience and encouragement.

Peanut with Viv & Philip
She runs a quiet, peaceful yard at OMEC and the arrival there of this big, black, bolshie young horse was probably – make that certainly – a test of everything she holds dear. But, thankfully, she’s been there for Peanut and me and I’ve learned that groundwork is good.

Lyla Cansfield clinic
Lyla Cansfield

I’m writing this as my first clinic with Peanut looms on the horizon. We’ve got Lyla Cansfield coming next week and we’ll have a day with her to take stock of where we are. Hopefully, we’ll also get a few good hints on where to go from here.

Lyla has an approach to natural horsemanship which chimes brilliantly with the way we’re going with Peanut. She believes you tackle understanding and confidence (horse and person) first. Then, it’s a question of body language to assess the horse’s posture. It’s also consideration of his movement and readiness for riding.

Finally, she works on balance. This is firstly in relation to the horse’s mental state so he is able to cope with life in the world at large. Also, it relates to his physical balance. He needs that in readiness for the instant response that we look for in a versatile horse.

It’s going to be good and I can’t wait!

A word about Webster
Webster & Philip

I can’t be writing this without a mention of my little friend Webster.

We had the most horrible morning last Saturday. It was a beautiful day and we were just getting ready for some work with KP when there was this loud “thump” and we looked up to see Peanut and the other horses running about in fright. The “thump” was the sound of Webster hitting the ground as he went down in his field in obvious agony. It looked like a bad colic attack and we had couple of nightmare hours getting him on his feet and keeping him there.

Fortunately the vet got there in a bit over half an hour after Webbie first went down. After he stabilised the little chap, we managed to get him into the trailer and down to Bell Equine. Oh, the relief you feel as a nurse takes the lead rope and a team of vets and nurses descend. For me, it was like history repeating itself but for poor Viv, whose love and care rescued the little man, it was just torture.

Surgery found a a benign cyst strangling his colon. I’ve always struggled with that word “benign” in situations like this. Of course, it means its not cancerous but there was nothing harmless about this horrible thing. We’ve now got everything crossed while we wait for him to recover. The news has been up and down since but he’s in good hands. He’s a tough boy and he’s hanging in there….






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