Nat's blog: Hairy heads, clipping traumas and loose girths

We catch up with Nat as she's continuing the war with Diva's weight and making progress with pretty Polly's schooling... 

I write this blog having just returned to work after a lovely two-week half-term and also post discovery of not one, but several grey hairs on my head. 

The fact that I'm now clearly physically decaying has not much improved my back to work mood, I’ll be honest. 

My bodily decline aside, I don’t think I can remember an October being so warm before. 

The Diva was de-fuzzed a few weeks back, fully, apart from legs and face (the latter being due to the usual hysterics on her part), yet she has worn a rug just a handful of times since. 

The Great Muzzle War

Diva enjoying some Autumn sun

Diva enjoying some Autumn sun

The ongoing muzzle-war is not going well and for the time being, I've given up. 

Once Florence has got something in her head, there's not much anyone can do to convince her otherwise, and her muzzle-removal techniques were starting to verge on dangerous. 

She was walking through electrified fencing without a second thought and then hooking herself onto whatever she could find. 

If that failed, she was scraping her head along the floor at such angles that I feared her rather mighty neck could snap. 

Another attempt last week involved her ending up with the muzzle squishing her nostrils together so much that she sounded like she was breathing through a straw. Not ideal for a pony with already compromised airways. 

I had to face it, this wasn’t going to work. The smug look on her face when she's turned out every morning without it now says it all. 

She even has the cheek to knock the now hanging and redundant muzzle with her nose on the way out of the barn, scoffing at its uselessness. 

So, I had to devise a plan. Her condition can be exasperated further by weight gain, so it’s absolutely crucial that I keep it under as much control as possible. 

I've been experimenting with various breathing supplements for the last five months and I’ve spoken to vets and experts all over the globe in an attempt to find something that'll help her. 

For now, anyway, we seem to have landed on a combination of supplements and an exercise plan that is allowing her to do more ridden work. 

We've now managed three short sessions in the school in walk and trot and Florence has coped brilliantly. 

Evening riding

Evening riding

One of the simple changes I've made is to ride with a girth as loose as possible. 

This allows Flo to take deeper breaths without feeling any restriction. Anyone reading this who regularly rides a barrel on legs, will testify how much saddles like to slip in the absence of a wither, so it’s a rather good test of my balance at the moment.

One wrong move and I’ll likely be embarking on a round-the-belly trip, ending with a swift introduction to the ground! 

Still, I’m excited to see how we get on over the next few weeks and Florence seems to have really come alive again and seems to be enjoying having more of a job to do. 

I ride her very sympathetically and we have a lot of walking breaks (which I equally enjoy, I won’t lie!), but her stamina is improving all the time and I’m having to ask her to stop now, rather than her telling me constantly that she’s had enough.

Making progress with Polly 

Polly's currently sporting a small, clipped diamond patch on her shoulder - a snapshot of evidence from our clipper desensitisation sessions. 


It’s safe to say that she'll be getting sedated in the next couple of weeks to be clipped, because I value my life far too much to get into an argument with a highly-erratic prima donna. 

The ridden work is going well. The dark nights mean we're stuck in the school more than I like, but I'm careful to split the sessions up so she never does more than two days on the run. 

We’ve done less pogo-ing lately and I’m able to get almost 15 minutes out of her at the start of the session before she boils over, which is a huge improvement. 

Her canter transitions have massively improved and she no longer tries to send me into orbit every time I ask for one, but she still occasionally struggles with right canter and then has a complete meltdown because she’s made a mistake. 

The mistake that I was then making was to try and settle the trot down before I asked again, but all this did was have the effect of winding her up even more because she knew that I'd be asking for canter again, but she didn’t know when. 

So I’ve actually found it much better to simply ask again straight away and sit to whatever inevitable tantrum follows. 

Once she’s in canter, she gets over it, which just makes her even more hilarious.

The rest of the gang 

The Hooligan is still wintering well. I've fully prepared myself for him coming home if need be and each time I go to visit him I whip his rug off for a condition check. 

He enjoys my visits but largely, I suspect, because he gets a packet of polos out of me. They are fickle creatures, after all.

We had a bit of a sad week at home last week as our elderly cat, Gizmo, had to be put down very suddenly after suffering a stroke. 

She was a vocal little thing, with a coat long enough to cause her to vomit up fur balls on a mostly daily basis, so it’s a very quiet (albeit less vomit-filled) house without her.

‘Til next time,