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As we all know, this winter was a little bit on the brutal side! We had a quiet winter in terms of client horses as we have plenty of our own to look after. We thought we’d give you a quick run through of what we got up to!

We still had Jazz (17.2 warmblood) with us, he was still a little bit tense and stuffy in the arena, but we changed rider with no massive problems and over time got some improvements. We did lots of work on getting him to open up and be more forward in the arena. We were rewarded with some much more expressive trot, and a first canter in the arena. Jazzy left us to go to a dressage yard for the next step in his education, and so far is going brilliantly, and shows all the potential to make it as a dressage horse.

Taz (16hh Irish sport horse) was also still here, he was schooling brilliantly and jumping well too! Taz did lots of hacking and when he was a bit spooky we made him work hard and do lateral work. He really improved and even got to the point where we could hack him down to the field bareback. He started jumping through grids to encourage a little bit more power and tidiness in his jump. Taz had a trip to Moores for the 70cm, growing in confidence and jumping a fantastic clear round second time round, including a water tray! He started carrying himself much more nicely in the arena, where previously he had been quite heavy on the forehand. Taz found his new home and left us on Christmas eve! He’s really happy in his new home, and his owner is doing exceptionally with him.

We had Griff (13.2 superstar pony) here as a sales livery, he was wonderful as normal, schooling and hacking like a legend. He had some great jump sessions also. We found him a lovely new home, in just a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out for them as the little girl wasn’t confident to handle him, but we stayed in contact with them and helped them to find him another home. He is now in the riding school down the road from us (where we got Flicker from), and it’s the perfect home for him.

Libby (16.2 TB, destined for the racetrack) was starting to get used to the tack, long-reining and starting to be leant over. We had a lot of work to do looking after her feet, as she had an abscess, but once she was finally sound we managed to get a full set of shoes on and move forward a lot more quickly. She progressed to walking out on a long rein with no leader in just two sessions, and was trotting with Flicker as company in her next session, and cantering in the following one. We were soon heading out to the woods for a good gallop. She left us to start her training with John O’Shea; fingers crossed she makes a racehorse!

We also had Daisy in to be restarted. She was a bit nervous of the weather when we first long-reined her, which was unsurprising in our horrendous British weather! She did settle pretty quickly though. We worked a lot on her leading, standing and general manners.

We did manage to ride her despite her being massively flighty in the conditions. She was a lot calmer next time and was hacking normally by the end of the driveway. She had a couple of nappy mareish moments when asked to trot, but once she realised she had a friend with her she relaxed and showed some beautiful movement. In general, she just needed to enjoy her work a bit more, and we soon had her cantering through the woods after Flicker. After a little while she was happy to take the lead and be a bit more forward. Even when she started having solo hacks she was really well behaved. She went home to continue her great work with her owner; hopefully she’ll have a lot of fun with her.

The gorgeous Oly came to us to be restarted and sold. He was cuddly right from the start, and loaded to come home with us like a little dream. We got on him on the first day and had a trot; he was so well behaved. Oly had his first canter hack in horrendous conditions, but even though we’d been told he had some issues with canter, he was good as gold. When he had his first session in the arena with Flicker, he did some super trot work and walked over poles for the first time. Within no time he was going solo in the arena like the little champ he is! Next step was canter in the arena, we used Flicker to help him out and he had his first canters and jumps. We then started to hack him alone, and he was so well behaved. We managed to find him an amazing, local home to do a bit of everything, and he’s getting on really well so far!

Miss T (name changed for anonymity) joined us for schooling out of rearing and bucking, as well as some general flatwork. She started learning about an outline very quickly. During her first arena session she threw all her toys out of the pram, but eventually settled for some incredible long and low work. The following day, she was much improved and worked much harder, with much less sass! We added another horse into the mix to try to distract her, but she managed to concentrate and just kept getting better! Her little jockey had a lesson on her before we sent her back and the two of them worked really hard. We also took her out to Moores Farm, just to see how she’d behave in a different environment. She had a rally on the day she went home, so we went with them to warm her up and see how she went. She was very well-behaved, so hopefully this will continue.

Another new arrival was Cally, who was with us to gain confidence over fillers and potentially be sold. He really was rather spooky, but we started by jumping from a trot and letting him find his own rhythm. He grew in confidence each time we jumped him, the first time at Moores Farm he had a sticky first round, but once he relaxed he jumped beautifully. He is an absolute gentleman to hack, we used him to nanny baby ponies quite a bit. In schooling sessions, we worked on his canter as he wasn’t very strong behind. He grew in confidence with every jump session and was soon flying jumps he’d not have approached previously. He went to Moores for a competition this time, and went double clear in both his classes and flew round the 70-75 to come second in a competitive class! He’s gone for a little holiday while corona is around, and will be up for sale afterwards.

Stormie arrived, and was here to hack for a couple of weeks while her new owner was on holiday. It was a good job she came to us first as she was strong and bolshy on the ground and to ride, with a very hard mouth. She soon learned any bend or flexion was good in our book, and started to behave more politely on the ground too. We did lots of work on standing at the mounting block, and spent lots of time hacking alone and in company, in front and behind. She has now gone home, so hopefully she will continue to be brilliant for her owner.

We also greeted Dora, who was here because she’d been rearing out hacking. She did show us some explosive moves pretty early on but realised it wasn’t really getting her anywhere and did settle down. She had the same reaction her first time in the arena, but again settled when she realised it didn’t achieve anything. She had lovely paces, and really improved just over one session, let alone by the time she left us! She really enjoyed her jumping, and her owner theorised that at home she may not be getting enough challenges, so it’ll be interesting to see how she gets on back at home. She had an amazing crack at the Little Bentley challenge to finish her stay with us, and absolutely flew!

Carrie and Luna also arrived, from the yard where Jysar now lives. The two were attached at the hip when they first arrived, but our lovely lot finally persuaded them to make other friends. Carrie was very opinionated at first, but once she realised we would show her respect and in return had expectations of her, she stopped trying to barge us on the ground and stopped trying to spin out hacking. Her schooling came on in leaps and bounds, to start with she wasn’t very straight and could be very strong, but she started to relax into an outline and strengthen her frame. She also worked well over poles, as the first stage before starting to learn to jump. When schooling she began to be suppler and use her body more effectively. We started to introduce her to some small jumps which she enjoyed. We were sad to see her go, but we hope her owner will have lots of fun with her now she’s had a little ‘level up’.

Luna had already been backed by her owner, but due to being a rescue and therefore uncertain when she arrived with us, we started from scratch with her. Cue some relaxing walks with Flicker to keep her company. She soon progressed to big girl hacks with no one on the ground to look after her, and started having some trots. It took a while for her to really relax, and once she was more settled she started having canter hacks too. She started to have a few arena sessions, just walking over the poles at first, and eventually progressing to trot. We would have loved to have more time with her, and we think there was lots more improvements to be made, but we think her owner will find her easier to work with now.

We also welcomed Boss in March, he was really good for his first hack in a couple of months, just a few spritely bucks! He did have a couple of other hacks which weren’t quite as well behaved, but we gradually got him into a routine which seemed to suit him. The idea of having him with us was to introduce him to jumping a little further, his first arena session started him over some poles and although he started a bit scared, he soon got used to them. He got even braver during his next Little Bentley challenge, and was so grown up. Catch our next blog for more about how he’s been going.

Rosie also arrived with us, she had a nice relaxing hack for her first day. She was with us because she had some issues in the arena, mainly bucking and bolting. We knew we had our work cut out, she seemed confused and struggled to maintain a rhythm, so we focused on showing her what we wanted and reassuring her when she got things right. She had plenty of pole work and small jumping sessions to keep her interest in the arena, and try to keep some forward momentum. We had some much-improved trot and canter and some lovely jumping. Again, there’ll be more about her in our next blog!

We also went to pick Cash up (you may remember him as Flynn) who we sold last year. His new owner had to go home to Spain early and so we had him for a while until transport could be arranged for him to Spain. He has been living at Hartpury and was rather naughty for his first ride out, we couldn’t really blame him after being stabled all winter. However, he certainly brought his A game to his first jumping session, and felt incredible. He was also brilliantly on the flat and over poles. Catch our next blog to hear more about him.

We welcomed Lucy as a sales livery. She is a 16.2 warmblood who had never hacked or jumped, just schooled. We found once we started cantering her that she was really struggling, and recommended that she see the chiropractor. Unfortunately, her owner got herself into difficulty financially, and signed Lucy over to us to pay her livery bill. We immediately got Amanda out, and since being treated she has been learning to canter properly. We also got her hacking straight away, and she’s taken to it like a duck to water. She has been doing a lot of pole work, she started doing the Little Bentley challenge as poles and progressed to small jumps as she got stronger.

Dreamer also joined us at the beginning of February. We were helped by some amazing people to save her from being put to sleep. The reason was her turnout related agoraphobia, if you turned her out she would try to spin and hightail it back to the stable, if you managed to get to the field she would stand at the gate and buck. We started to get her attached to other horses and managed within a few days to turn her out in our walled garden where she would stand right next to the house. We gradually tried turning her out in the field for a short period each day, and although at the start we had to lead her off another horse as she was so stressed (thanks Rose), she did improve bit by bit with a little help from her friends. She is now turning out normally and it gives us such happiness to see her running about, rolling and grazing normally. We started hacking her straight away, but did have some trouble with her getting her tongue over the bit. Rather than trying to tie her mouth shut or anything, we rode her in a bitless bridle before we could get the dentist out. We also took her barefoot, with the aid of Cavallos of course! She was really great to hack, she can occasionally be a bit excitable if she has any days off, but will hack alone or in company, in front or behind, in all paces. Our dentist confirmed when she saw her that she had lacerations on her tongue, probably the cause of her putting her tongue over the bit. It is taking some time, but now she is comfortable she has started work with a bit and is only occasionally getting her tongue over it. She has started to work over poles in the arena and the time we are on lockdown will only give her more time to improve.

We also still had Skye’s the Limit with us. She hacked out and schooled brilliantly with us. Unfortunately, she started to be lame in the same leg she had been prior to coming to us, and we’ve found her a long-term loan home as a companion.

Sienna started cantering in the arena, and jumped the fillers. She began with a lead for this, and progressed to solo sessions. She carried on hacking, and got better and better with traffic over time. We also started doing some lead rein sessions with Meg pretending to be a child, and she was amazing, following the leader off body language. She has been doing the same pole work and jumping challenges as the bigger horses and is amazing every time!

Cassie looked after Sienna when she was starting out in the arena, especially when she was first starting to jump. This did Cassie the world of good, taking the focus off her enabled her to relax a little and she’s grown up an awful lot. She really started to carry herself and not worry all her energy away. We spent more time schooling her bareback, and she strengthened up nicely and her canter improved no end. She had an outing to Moores, her first outing in over a year, and had two clears and was phenomenal. She followed this with a competition at Moores, for double clear and 4th in her first class and just a couple of poles in the next, jumping with such style and maturity! She’s also been enjoying the Little Bentley challenges during lockdown!

We started November with a full course of fillers up. Tom jump schooled really nicely, doing some work on dog legs which encouraged him to sit on his hocks and turn. He had plenty of great jumping and schooling sessions and did plenty of hacking over the winter. He also had a trip to Moores to school around the 70cm, the aim being to concentrate on him having a cool head. His flatwork has come on in leaps and bounds, he now tackles lateral work including traverse, shoulder-in, pirouettes and turns about the forehand. He has also really enjoyed tackling some Little Bentley jumping challenges, and has brought a good attitude to them.

Rose also had a great winter, schooling nicely on the flat and over jumps. We worked her over courses and also did some grid work which she finds quite hard. She worked hard on the flat too, doing lateral work and practising lead changes in canter. She also enjoyed her hacking. Rose had a couple of trips to Moores, where we encouraged her to take some longer strides into fences and be a little bit braver. She had a BS run at Moores in November, having a couple of poles in the amateur qualifier, and going clear and coming 4th in the BN. She then didn’t compete again until March (!) so had an UA outing and an amazing win in the 80! She has really enjoyed schooling over the Little Bentley challenge whilst being on lockdown.

Kerry has just been gently schooled and hacked over winter. His arthritis means that we have now semi-retired him, but keeping him in work for as long as possible will keep him healthier, so that’s our plan. He has very much enjoyed doing some pole work and small jumps in recent weeks, and we like to think lightening his workload now will keep him with us for much more time to come.

Flicker and Phoenix have had the odd hack out and kept busy being nanny ponies for schooling and backing liveries.

All in all, this winter has been one hell of a ride. There have been many days we’ve questioned why we’re doing it, and the support from our friends, family and followers have brought us up when we’ve been low, and kept us going, so thank you everyone.

Hesteyri Horses
Horsemart Brand Ambassador
Published on 29-06-2020
Hesteyri Horses are comprised of Meg and Lauren, based in Gloucestershire. They are a family owned horse training yard dedicated to helping all horse’s and ponies. “We are horse trainers with a difference. As well as our usual backing, training and competing, we also work with a lot of rescue and ‘problem’ horses. This started because almost all of our own horses were rescues or rejects of some form and we became known for being the girls who would work with any horse and make sure they all have as many chances as they need.”