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The dressage princess and a bit of bull

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Some fun and  games at our house in the past few weeks. The princess hasn’t done much in the training space but has been doing quite a bit of stockwork as our cows and calves have worked out that a short swim in the river gets them onto much greener pastures. Feed is a bit tight, so it doesn’t take much of a wiff of feed to get them moving (escaping).


The best bit about paddock work is the ability to get some very forward movement happening. The scariest bit of the paddock work is having the anatomy to stay with the very forward movement.


Our neighbour’s very nice and very quiet bull has been having a holiday with our girls for the past few months. We had more feed than he did and a few very young calves. But it was time to take him back this week.


To set the scene, last week Barney (the bull) rubbed a gate open and escaped into an oats paddock that was not quite ready to graze. I left him there for  a while, figured he wouldn’t eat too much in half an hour while I finished schooling the princess. Well the girls and the calves saw him and decided to adjourn from the bare paddock to the bar so to speak. Off we toddle to bring them back.


Amazing how fast a Charolais cow who has been trying to convince you she’s crippled and can’t move fast can go when faced with the choice between bare and oats paddocks. So off goes the princess in what I would call a somewhat exuberant extended canter. She loves going fast, but unlike those of the stockhorse breed, sometimes forgets that when the cow turns, she is supposed to go as well. Maybe I should give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was just being careful I didn’t suffer an unfortunate and unscheduled dismount.


All the time, Barney the bull is munching away, happy as a pig in s…


So we finally convince the cows they need to be in the paddock and head back to get Barney. Now remember, hes quite an old bull, fairly quiet but about 1000kg. Not the sort of target you would normally select for 500 kg of ditzy dressage princess to do battle with. So she pokes up to his face, right into his face so all he can see is her legs and chest, too stupid to know better and with me thinking all the time that she would pull up before this. Barney lifts up his head threateningly and shakes, so what does she do ? put hers down and ask if he’s speaking to her in that tone of voice.


After being reprimanded for his manners twice, he sulks off like a teenage boy back to his bedroom.


This brings us to this week.


Head down the paddock to separate Barney from the girls. Easy, he just walks out the gate as soon as I ask. He trots straight up the road. Two things wrong here. He never goes that fast, and two, he’s not used to being moved with a horse, we normally take him home with a trailer. Anyway up the road, and into the neighbours paddock. Whereby he turns into a lunatic at about the same time as the princess sees next doors trotters fanging about.


We’ve still got about a km to go to get him back to his girls and there is no way I was going within about 10m of him. Bellowing, shaking his head and pawing the ground. Typical aggressive, bull behaviour. So she’s having a brain freeze and he’s having a testosterone attack at the same time. Way to go Princess.


Unbelievable (bad pun) how much the personality changed with his environment, and yours truly glad to have him home.


Back to the arena this week and as the days warm up and get a little longer, so does the training. Off to a clinic this weekend with Jana Poppe. Don’t know her but worth a try. And then another with Carlos deCleermaeker  three weeks after that.


We haven’t had any lessons since March due to me starting my own business, and I can really feel my riding going backwards. We were on such a roll early on in the year. Now we need to get it all happening again.

A friend came for a visit this morning and she decided to take a few happy snaps- just wish we could do some airbrush work on the jockey.



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