Not quite 'driving Miss Daisy'; driving Miss Bridget when she first arrived was no mean feat!
She was a nightmare to load- she is the only horse I have ever had that I have had to get my husband out of bed to help me load for an early morning departure- a brush behind her to push her up the ramp was the only way, and the brush travelled with us where ever we went for a couple of months! She was very particular about where on the lorry she travelled and how the partitions were spaced, and who she was next to, mild hysteria and rocking dramatically from side to side indicted that in no uncertain terms she was in an unsatisfactory travelling position. And if we had to drive close to trees or a hedge and the offending greenery scrawked the lorry sides - all hell would break loose- usually resulting in snapped partitions or something equally expensive!I am a firm believer that with horses (well most things actually!) that repeated good experiences, calm manner and consistent approach will reap rewards, and Bridget now leaps on to the lorry, and doesn't care who she stands next to!!
My first ever experience of a bad loader was an ex racehorse named Charlie who thought my little baked bean can of a trailer was not any form of transport he would be taking! It was dark when we left home and I think he loaded not really realising he was doing so- but every corner involved him scrabbling dramatically to stay on his feet and no matter how carefully I drove, the noise was horrendous! After a lovely couple of hours with hounds I went back to the trailers where my horse firmly planted his feet at the bottom of the ramp and refused point blank to move. I had to endure the humiliation of a steady flow of people returning to their transport, loading their horse and spending some time (depending on how long it took for the next unfortunate volunteer to arrive so they could excuse themselves) helping me trying to load my very determined horse! Lots of ideas, suggestions, some more constructive than others! until eventually 2 rather burley men arrived, dismantled my partition and physically lifted him in to the trailer! I am eternally grateful - (and still occasionally reminded about it). Needless to say loading practice ensued, days of patient persuasion, feeding in the trailer, short journeys, more food and always leaving plenty of time. He became a great traveller and I never did put the partition back in- and he never scrabbled around corners again!
Over the years I have had a few aside from Bridget, who have been tricky to load and usually a rope around their bottom, or long lines either side of the ramp are enough to encourage them on board, but some you see when out and about are not having any of it.
I often wonder what has happened to horses that I see in lorry parks standing at the bottom of their ramp, ears back, toes firmly dug in to the ground flatly refusing to put a toe on to the ramp! I, rightly or wrongly, am convinced that it is usually down to contentment when travelling. If you had to stand braced to go round a corner, struggling to keep your feet or lurching at every junction, you too may think twice about travelling. So consider when you are driving your precious cargo how they have to deal with stops and starts and moving round corners. Consider driving a bucket of water from a to b - 3/4's full. When you get there- is it still 3/4's full? if so, good job- you are ready to drive your horse about, if not, think about braking time- watch the road ahead and plan. Think smoothly around the corners and gently through the gears - your horse will thank you for it and you will reap the rewards of a relaxed horse doing his or her best for you in return!
Employers often need lorry or trailer drivers, and if you are a groom looking for employment with out these qualifications it may be worth you investing in your future and doing your hgv or trailer test- if you need any free advice on the best way to go about this, speak to us at Premier Equestrian Recruitment - and improve you career prospects for the new year 07714236765
Whatever equestrian job, dedication is essential
If you are contemplating a career in the equestrian industry, or are currently looking for a new job, it can be incredibly daunting looking at all of the possibilities on various web sites. There are reams and reams of jobs, you can select options to filter your results, but essentially your starting point must be know what you actually want to do and after that all you need a good dollop of dedication!
Eventing last week at Upton House I found my self looking around the lorry park and soaking up the activity. The grooms never stopped, grooming, studding up, tacking up, changing tack and boots, greasing up, washing off, de-studding walking round, bandaging, cleaning tack and finally loading up to go home. It was exhausting to watch, especially in the extraordinary heat we are experiencing at the moment, (although I did think the job is a little more appealing in these conditions with your shorts and strappy top on than when it is tipping it down with rain in a usual British summer) but at the end of the day, as girls and lads were sitting on lorry ramps eating ice cream waiting for riders/owners to return from the prize giving I was rather in awe of their work ethic, smiling all day, heads down and getting on with it.
And this is just eventing: what ever discipline you choose, whether you want to work in polo, show jumping or showing (to mention just a few) you will need to be dedicated. Professionals and amateur competitors alike require their grooms to have an understanding of the level of commitment that is required to be a top groom. I am never sure how to instill in a new candidate quite what is expected of them in any job, let alone a top job. The pre conceived idea of how much work a groom should be expected to do can be rather unrealistic, and when I learn that a groom has refused to start half an hour earlier on a show day, I know that he or she will not be in this industry for long. And with this statement I do not condone employees being over worked or abused, but there certainly has to be a degree of give and take from employees- if you start early one day, you will usually get an extra hour or two off during the easier non show days- it is the give and take attitude that is needed to make the job work! I worry that unless the next generation take on board the reality of working in equestrianism, and have the dedication necessary to stick at a job and learn their profession there will be a real gap in the equestrian employment market.
If you are a job seeker in the equestrian industry and are looking for a new job or a change of jobs give me a call, or drop me a message and let me help you unravel the tangled web of jobs that are available. I can offer you a personal approach to recruitment, I am very happy to chat about your career opportunities and options please call 07714236765 mail me at email@example.com or to view the current vacancies we have https://premierequestrianrecruitment.com/positions-available/
Ruggles fly sheet, Shires sweet itch sheet and Premier Equine fly masks
Part I - Flies
Whilst it is lovely to be basking in glorious sunshine and I would certainly NEVER complain about it! - it does bring certain stresses into caring for horses, whether they are in work or on holiday.
For the horse in work, the flies can be a complete nightmare. Trying to hack out on a thin skinned horse can be bad enough, but doing a dressage test with pesky flies intent on destroying your horses concentration can be a nightmare.
Fly spray, if regularly applied, is hugely useful, and we all, I'm sure, have our favorites. Even those horses averse to all things spraying seem to come to realize that you are only trying to help them and allow a generous application, although a word of caution about spraying around heads - I find spraying on to your hand and rubbing on to the forehead and forelock is the best method.
When out in the field for a couple of hours I think a fly rug is an essential piece of kit, not only keeping bugs at bay, but stops the sun bleaching hair and keeps coats looking competition ready! Masks are useful, I don't use them on everything, but some horses seem to attract flies more than others, and I have one who is the fly magnet in the field- he may look like a martian, but it stops him marching round the field trying to rub on other horses bottoms and running the risk of being kicked!
When horses are holiday and out full time, their coats are greasier and a little thicker, giving them a little more resistance to the irritation of bugs and alleviating the need for fly rugs; and I think it is so much better for them to get close and personal with the mud pit when they are having a break!
However, if you find that your horse is being pestered, it may be worth investing in a fly tag. These handy little gadgets tie in to a mane with a band and exude fly repellent, they seem to work rather well. As well as these I use red top fly catchers, purchased on the internet and hung in trees, after a couple of weeks it will astound you the numbers that flock to their demise in these traps!
Enjoy the sunshine.