Monday, December 04, 2006

Getting to Canter

We had a fantastic ride yesterday, I was on Master Kai with Joanna on Sovereign and as usual she was worrying about me.

"Be careful, it's a bit windy, he will be very lively; and he's just been clipped so he'll be even worse."

Of course, as usual Master Kai wasn't listening, he was his normal self, slow and plodding! You see Master Kai knows that I can't really ride so he takes over, he knows he can pretty much get away with anything when I'm on him, taking odd mouthfuls of long grass and whatever bush he can reach, whenever I give him even half a chance.

I'm getting better, I'm starting to learn how to read the signs and I'm ready to stop him before his mouth gets anywhere near something tasty. Yesterday, that still didn't stop him grabbing a mouthful of overhead branch, pulling it down, and bashing me over the head with it three times, within a few minutes of setting out.

However I was rather pleased with myself yesterday because I've almost mastered the canter! Well, what I mean is I'm feeling much more comfortable and less "out of control", it's all relative.

I've had a few lessons in the past but have only really cantered for what seemed like a few yards so by the time I'd regained my balance from the transition from trot to canter, it always had been time to stop; yesterday was different. We were heading home through a field that Master Kai knew well; he knew it was on the route home, and he knew that's where he normally cantered, so needed no further encouragement from me!

With Joanna on Sovereign up front, Master Kai was like a coiled spring, there was no transition from trot, he just went from walk to flat out canter in one stride. I didn't have to worry about anything except keeping my balance and getting used to the movement.

I'm still having slight issues banging my crotch on the saddle and would be interested to know if other men have similar problems. Joanna finds it hysterical but can't offer any practical advice but I think I'm getting there. I've just got to keep practicing.

When we were almost home Joanna cantered up a bridleway, thinking that Master Kai with his long stride would only trot behind her, but he broke straight into a very comfortable canter that put me completely at ease. Maybe I really have mastered the canter. Next hurdle will be the gallop, after lots more practicing the canter of course!

Last night I found a site with a good article about Learning to Canter, if you click on this posts title it will take you straight there, the site is and it's really worth a visit.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cat Play Stations

Just found a wonderful website for all cat lovers,, they make some fantastic Cat Play Stations. Mostly rather large and mainly suited for outdoor use, but there are some smaller items that make a refreshing change from the standard cat scratching post. They are a based in England and obviously cat lovers, it looks like all their creations are tried and tested by their large family of cats!

Cats and hairballs!

We had been slightly worried about Rumba, our large British Blue / Persian cross as she had been vomiting rather frequently and, well lets just say that her usual well formed output from the rear end had stopped.

I suspected a hair ball as she was acting normally, purring rather loudly and seemed to have her usual healthy appetite but was vomiting 5 to 10 minutes after eating.

She has a very thick, soft coat and is not over keen on being groomed and is moulting like crazy, therefore it was quite possible that she has ingested too much hair. A quick search on Google found lots of information on the subject and it seems that many cats will naturally vomit once or twice a week to get rid of hairballs. But Rumba was vomiting several times a day.

Further searching suggests that what sometimes happens is a hairball can get stuck at the outlet of the stomach. After eating, the food can't progress down the intestine from the stomach and so the cat vomits. The cat feels OK and often then decides it feels hungry again so eats more food and the process repeats.

I went searching for the tube of hairball remedy that I remembered buying some time ago but it would seem that most of the hairball medications on the market are not remedies at all but are for the prevention hairballs. They are basically a lubricant that aids the movement of the hairball through the gut so probably wouldn't help remove a hairball that had already formed.

Joanna was getting slightly worried by this stage and wanted to rush off the the vet, but we have had loads of vet bills recently and I wondered what the vet would say that was different to all the veterinary advice I'd read on the Internet so decided to wait another day. After all Rumba seemed perfectly happy and was not distressed in any way.

We thought Rumba also hadn't defecated for a couple of days, it's possible she had been in the garden but that would be unusual, so I gave her a dose of Lactulose (2ml) Thursday evening and another Friday morning. The vet had previously prescribed it for Dolly so we know it wouldn't do any harm but it's easier said than done! I use a small syringe and try to avoid the sharp teeth. Most of it went in but I had a rather surprised looking cat. Poor thing, I think she thought I was trying to poison her.

Her appetite remained good, she stopped vomiting and much to our relief used the litter tray last night. The output was slightly sloppy but good volume! Is there any nice way to talk about this?

This morning, like normal she seems very happy, she is trying to help edit this post and if anything her appetite seems even better than normal.

I think we can safely say that's another crisis over.


Sunday, November 26, 2006


I had planned a lovely ride with two friends for today but this drought stricken land has produced it's normal November Sunday morning rain. And it's not just any rain.

The ground is already sodden from several days of very wet weather, yesterday it was almost torrential complete with hailstones and now, well lets just say "it's raining cat's and dog's."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Oh No.. I Think She Wants a Horse.

Those were the words that flashed through my head back in 2003 as we flew back from a holiday in Italy. We had only been for a week, to a small hilltop village in Umbria, it was idylic. Joanna had ridden as a child in Cumbria and had done all the Pony Club stuff. Her father seemed to revel in hitching up the trailer to an old MK1 Land Rover and taking her all over the place to various competitions. I had heard the stories many times but knew she haden't ridden since she left home at in her late teens.

I should have heard the alarm bells when she read the small card on the hotel reception desk advertising a one hour pony trecking session.

Images of empty bank accounts, muddy boots and mucking out and horse boxes flooded through my mind. But mainly empty bank accounts....

Two years down the line and we have all the above and horror of horrors I have started enjoying myself on horseback....