Saturday, 28 February 2009
Friday, 27 February 2009
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Jack, feeling slightly guilty, helping with tonight's blog.
Anyway the next drama this morning was that Red was as lame as a crow. Yesterday she had done a really good piece of work on the grass gallops and really impressed. We were just beginning to think that she was going to be the star of the yard after all and that we were going to have some fun this season and then this. The whole leg was hot with just a little swelling above her fetlock. As the vet was coming anyway to blood test Dream we put a cold boot on and got ready for hunting with very heavy hearts. A year's rest.... just when she was beginning to show some form...
Dove, Frog and Dream went hunting with the Bicester. First time for us with them and they were a really friendly lot. The scent wasn't brilliant but perfect for first time out for the Frog who had had a little Sedalin and was very well behaved for the first hour but then gradually became more of a retard as time went on. Doug had to go on a spraying course anyway at 1.30 pm so was able to leave early before she completely flipped. Georgia and I stayed on until having to head back because of the vets visit at 2pm. Dove behaved really well with no more than a couple of half hearted plants at stressful times like going through gateways or just before going over a bridge. Dream was just ' Dreamy'.
Andrew Higgins from Avonvale has been my horse vet for over 20 years and is brilliant. He felt Red's leg and knew straight away it wasn't a tendon problem - she had an infection in the foot and the heat in her leg was referred heat from her foot. She had perhaps trodden on a stone which had broken the sole slightly and caused a small infection. Another massive relief. Not out for the season after all. Phew....
He also took blood from Dream, Dove and poo from frog to see if her lack of weight gain was anything to do with a huge worm infestation which the normal wormers were failing to kill. Results will be back tomorrow.
As we have had very little to celebrate lately we decided to crack open a bottle of fizz this evening - most people celebrate when things go really well. We have resorted to celebrating when things don't go too badly!!
Monday, 23 February 2009
It was so good to see Royal Auclair win at Fontwell in a Hunters Chase on Sunday. What a lovely genuine horse. He has now won over half a million pounds including three wins at Cheltenham and now looks all set to run in the Foxhunters there this March. It is so good when they have done so much racing and yet still have such enthusiasm. We were lucky enough to buy a relation to him at Goffs in Ireland last December. A yearling filly by Useful out of a half sister to his dam. She looks quite smart at this stage.
Have just been looking for Jack who has gone missing whilst hunting bunnies in the spinney near to the house. I am getting really worried now as he has been missing for more than 4 hours. It isn't like him to miss his tea...
I was a complete nervous wreck beforehand and after seeing them go down to the start disappeared off to the trailer on the pretence of checking that Dove was OK but also to have a Whisky Mac (for medicinal purposes only) The people in the next but one box to us had lost a horse in the previous race and were in tears. It had brought the horror of losing Blu back and I couldn't bear to watch the race so just reappeared when Dream arrived back - all in one piece thank goodness. We then had to celebrate her safe return and also shared a bottle of sparkling with Julie Houldey and Dave Mansell who had trained and ridden three winners respectively. we were trying to find out how it should be done... By the time we left I was fairly shabby, tired and emotional. Very pleased to have got that hurdle out of the way but also a bit disappointed - why is it always the good ones that die?
Friday, 20 February 2009
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
They are both Nuffield Scholars and were kind enough to award me the Alan and Anne Beckett award in 1997. I can honestly say that it has been the best thing I have ever done and I have not looked back since. So, thank you so much, Alan and Anne for giving me that unique opportunity.
Monday, 16 February 2009
Great weekend which is why there were no postings. Hunted on foot with the Pytchley on Saturday, a bit of scent but the hounds disappeared into the elephant grass near East Haddon and not much happened after that. There are acres of the stuff in that area - it looks just like Africa but sadly hasn't got anywhere near the same magic as Africa. Very sterile, no bird life and personally I don't think it does much for anything - least of all the environment.
Got home in time to watch the England v Wales Six Nations match. I was dreading it as I thought it would be completely embarrassing, instead it was just mildly embarrassing as it is never good to lose against the Welsh but we didn't lose by as much as I thought we were going to. Their defence was much better than last week against the Italians, discipline was still a problem with two men being yellow carded, too many individuals with little team spirit - and the bottom line is that the Welsh played better with more imaginative rugby.
Straight after the game I was whisked off to Valentines night in the George and Dragon at Chalcombe - first time we have been there and it was wonderful. Delicious food, and great atmosphere. Met the locals and felt it the next day..........
This morning the horse all went out in one lot as Lucy Docker, who is doing her university dissertation on heart monitors with horses came to ride out and update her figures. We went twice up the gallops, second time at a really good clip but still couldn't get Dove above 159 bpm. Dream went to 170 bpm and Frog to 205 bpm. Recovery was 87 with Dove, 92 with Dream and 99 with Frog. We didn't have a heart monitor on Red as we only have three available at the moment. We are going to do a bit more sprint work on the flat circular gallop now to see if that lifts the heart rate to the required zone.
Spoke to Jay on the phone today - it was good to talk to her as it has been a week since we last touched base and I was beginning to worry. She is in Vietnam at the moment but is moving on to a place called Guilin in China shortly. I have just looked at photos of Guilin and it looks amazing. I so wish 'gap years' were the thing to do when I was young.....
Friday, 13 February 2009
A much better day today - the sun shone and the snow is beginning to thaw. Georgia was in this morning so we took Red, Dream and Frog up the uphill gallop twice. We had heart monitors on the Frog and Red and it was interesting to see that although Red's recovery rate wasn't as good as before her lay-off her maximum heart rate was still pretty low at 159 bpm compared to Frog's at 206. She has managed to keep her fitness fairly well considering she has had nearly three weeks off. Both Red and Dove who are out of the same dam have incredibly big hearts - this can sometimes lead to problems if they are not trained properly because to work them anaerobically as opposed to aerobically you have to get the heart rate over 160 bpm. This is because in race conditions the heart rate will always be higher than it is at home (because of more effort and the excitement of the race). If the heart is not used to working anaerobically (over 160 bpm) it can lead to lactic acid build up and a very tired horse who will either fall or be pulled up. A big heart has to be managed differently, as surprisingly, it will need a lot more work than a horse with a smaller heart. Some horse's however, particularly the 'nervy' ones (like Dove) keep themselves fit because their heart rate shoots up when they see something 'scary'. However, a laid back horse with a big heart can be the most difficult.
Interestingly, a friend of mine, Linda Pestell, used to own a horse called Little Shilling, she bought a heart rate monitor and used it on him. She would tell us his readings - his maximum at the top of Ben Pollocks very steep gallops was only 127 bpm. We thought she must have got this wrong or alternatively he was potentially an absolute super star. He raced a few times and was very moderate so we thought she must have mis-read the readings. She sold him on to another trainer. Little Shilling has now won 6 races on the trot and is possibly going to Cheltenham. Could it be that the new trainer managed to work that huge heart in a more efficient way?
Thursday, 12 February 2009
Gallops still frozen and even colder than before so we ended up having rather a sociable day instead. Bill Adams, a local farmer popped around for coffee on his way round to check his cattle and then Emma who also trains a couple of pointers popped in. We were all a bit depressed with the weather so discussed our woes and then decided to go to the local pub for lunch. Sitting by the open fire with a glass of wine seemed very much the better option. Eventually we had to prise ourselves away and got back to do some office work. At about 3.30 pm it looked as though it had thawed out enough to try the gallops so we took Dove and Dream. I was a bit apprehensive as this was the first time Dove had been on the gallops since the 'Roy treatment'. I was delighted - she was completely happy in her work - no hesitation at all and although extremely strong it was keenness rather than 'running scared' as she was before with her head in the air. Dream also worked well in her normal 'Dreamy' way. We went three times around the circular gallop and once up the uphill gallop. They had been harrowed and were in good order. We used heart monitors on them and Dream's Maximum was 170 bpm, Average 105 bpm, Recovery 94 bpm - max speed 28.5 mph, Dove's - max - 150, Av - 105, recovery 87, max speed 35 mph. The average was a bit high because we didn't put the monitors on until the bottom of the gallops - normally we turn them on the way to the gallops when they are relaxed. We don't usually pay much attention to the maximum speed because getting a horse fit isn't about going flat out but sometimes it is interesting to see what sort of pace you are doing and then work that back to a race where you can find out what the average speed of that particular race was and see if your horse is any where near good enough.
More snow this afternoon but now beginning to thaw. Just heard that my terrier, Jack, is the proud father of seven pups! I am very tempted to have one.....
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Monday, 9 February 2009
Henderson said: "He starved himself to ride the filly that fell (Miss Sarenne) and he was genuinely gutted about that "He's ridden two finishes and I think he was the only person that would have won on either of them, the one that looked an easy winner goes and tips up - After that it was fair justice that we got it over with today.”
"It couldn't be wetter, it couldn't be colder, he's starving to bits, but he can go and ride finishes like that."
"He's quite extraordinary and that's why he gets to those quite incredible numbers."
This morning Georgia had to be picked up from Culworth because the Culworth road was completely blocked by cars unable to get up the hill. The snow has turned to rain making the roads if anything, worse. Dove, Dream and the Frog went out for a long hack in the snow over the hill at the back of the farm. Coming back the Frog was still full of herself and tried to buck Doug off so we thought we would take her and Dream to the long uphill gallop and try and get a bit of steam out of her. The gallop was still covered in snow and hard work for them. They both had heart monitors on and it was interesting to see the difference between an unconditioned heart and one that was relatively fit. It was also interesting to see how tough the gallop is now that it is covered with so much snow - They both went up twice and Dream's highest HR at the top was 187, Frog's was 220, the recovery rate for Dream was particularly pleasing - she was down to 88 in 3 mins whereas the Frog's was 113 at the same stage. Without the snow Dream's top heart rate would be between 150-160 bpm. However, we were amazed at how strong the Frog was - twice up with 16 stone on her back and she still had a buck in her on the way home! Quite extraordinary for a horse that has only been broken in for 7 weeks.
Sunday, 8 February 2009
This has gone on too long now! More snow forecast tonight. Very little racing on this weekend or likely to be next weekend. It is going to make the season really short. We have still got one more horse to qualify (The Frog) and are running out of time. Hopefully the hunting season will be extended.
We still managed to get all four horses out today for a hack around the farm. I was delighted with Dove who had her first outing since the Roy treatment. She walked and trotted with her head down in a lovely outline, whereas before she would be jogging sideways with her nose poked in the air. Her stride was much longer and she seemed much happier in herself. No planting or running backwards - fingers crossed we are getting somewhere with her. Red also had her first outing since her bruised withers - she went beautifully and was in no pain at all with the wither protector on so thankfully we can still work her. Doug rode Dream who needed his rather firmer riding as she can get rather lazy and she also went well and then the Frog who was very badly behaved as she didn't see the point in just walking and trotting and stuck a couple of bucks in and jogged sideways most of the ride. She needs a good gallop but the all weather gallop is covered in snow and wouldn't be safe so we are rather limited in what we can do.
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Went hunting on foot with the Bicester. As we haven't been in the area for long it was the first time we had been with the Bicester. It felt like we were the 'new kids on the block' and having been with the Pytchley for twenty years it was rather odd. Everyone was very friendly and even though the scent was non existent we still had a great walk with beautiful alpine scenery.
I have just watched the worse game of International Rugby I have seen for a long time. England against Italy in the Six Nations. I didn't watch to the end as it was so bad and even though England was winning they didn't deserve to as they only scored points because of Italy's mistakes. Martin Johnson must be tearing his hair out - there is simply no commitment, no will to win, no courage. I am just off to watch the Irish match where hopefully they will play with passion and determination even if they don't win I am sure it will be worth watching unlike the embarrassingly limp English spectacle.
Friday, 6 February 2009
Lots of office work to do but we decide to go sledging instead - we towed each other behind the quad, and as you can see I was much kinder to Doug than he was to me....
Thursday, 5 February 2009
At home in Victoria the temperature has been above 44 degrees all week and they are forecasting another week of 40+ temperatures. Power is failing, trains have stopped running because tracks are buckling under the heat . It’s just scorching and it seems that the people are not the only ones suffering.
Check out these photos of a little Koala which just walked onto a back porch looking for a bit of heat relief. The woman filled up a bucket for it and this is what happened!
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Foals playing in the snow (Velvet Dove's foal in the lead)
View on the way to the gallops
We are still struggling to come to terms with Blu's death. My daughter, Jay, who is on her gap year in Vietnam sent me this lovely e-mail - "hey ma, i hope your alright about blu, i'm so sorry you must be devastated at least she went doing what she was bred for and we were lucky to have had such an amazing horse. its just sad that she didn't have much time to shine. i hope your alright and i will ring soon, send my love to doug.love you xxxxxxx"
Life must go on and the snow is beautiful to look at but very difficult to work with. Whilst the gallops are fine to ride on the track getting to the gallops is lethal so the horses have just gone on the walker for today.