Another month gone, and Santa is getting his ponies ready to pull the sleigh. Yes, it is a myth that he goes around the globe with reindeer; due to quarantine regulations for Foot and Mouth disease in many countries he would not be able to land his reindeer, so of course he uses flying ponies instead (Professor Pony used to supervise the team, but he found all the travelling too much so has now retired from that aspect, however I have it on his authority that the ponies are much more environmentally friendly, as they don’t produce the same green-house gases).

The article on using bedding last month was timely, as not long after it was posted we went to look at a horse for sale that was kept on rubber mats without bedding. Unfortunately for the horse (and the seller) it had obviously had problems overnight and had injured its leg, making it lame. Of course, injuries still occur when stables have bedding, but any form of softening the ground surface must help reduce the risk of the horse hurting itself.

As a grumble, it was very annoying to find that:
(a) the horse had had its white socks washed without the groom noticing that it had a big fat swelling just below its knee and that it showed signs of pain when its hoof was lifted.
And (b) the seller had booked someone else to look at the horse at the same time!

The seller was a dealer, not a private owner, so no excuses there. It does seem amazing how unprofessional some businesses in the horse world are, but there was only a brief apology and the comment that the owner hadn’t checked the horse herself that morning.

In the meantime, Carol is schooling on a lovely young Dutch-bred horse to see if she will make a dressage horse. Even though only 5, Diva has settled in very quickly and has started learning the basics of aids and balance. Some people are obviously braver than us, as she has been jumping courses up to 1.40m and has done cross-country, yet hasn’t yet been taught much about the different types of aids! It’s a bit like driving a car without a gear box and with a loose steering wheel. However, she seems very sweet and willing to learn so we will see how she goes.

See the Free Articles section for the first of our new series of articles on training yourself and your horse.

In other news: Jester, who belongs to Carol’s niece Claire, has started his dressage career, with his first look at dressage arenas and competitions – it must all be quite confusing to start with but he seems a cheerful type who takes things in his stride (especially when there is plenty of food on offer!). Having done mostly trekking and hunting in Ireland, he finds some of the things that ‘townies’ in suburbia have to put up quite strange; for example, going around in circles just to get back to the same place and getting his white bits washed for shows (of which he has rather a lot; unfortunately for Claire he is not the cleanest horse in the stable). Congratulations to both Claire and Jester for getting 2nd at their third ever outing.

Congratulations also to Robyn on the purchase of her very first horse! Although Robyn has leased horses before, she will now have the surety of knowing that this one is hers for as long as she wants. He sounds a lovely friendly chap and we look forward to following their partnership together.

Congratulations also to Sue (our neighbour) and her black Arabian mare ‘Keri’, who are thoroughly enjoying dipping their toes into endurance training rides and are collecting rosettes. Keri regards it as much more interesting than that dressage-stuff, although she wasn’t so sure on the day it was really wet and muddy!

Just a word from Professor Pony; feel free to send a Dear Abby letter for him to answer. He is not so busy at the moment as it is half-term, with all the ponies at the Academy having a good rest before studying more about humans in the winter term. There are some more letters this month, including a pony who enjoys playing games with its human and some complaints about the apple situation.

For those looking for a different form of dressage, check out the second competitor in this link:


That’s all for now,


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