From :

Wagon. A cranky contary female / an ugly female. She\'s some wagon eh?

wagon. wagon - an awful woman. than one is such a wagon!

wagon. a woman thats a bitch. dat ones a right wagon.

Wagon. A cantankerous old woman.. Yer wan's some wagon, I asked her could I feed the seagulls and she lifted me out of it!

wagon. car or other mode of transport. i'll drive my waggon.

Wanderly Wagon. A much loved Irish children's TV program which ran from 1968 to 1982

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


This is mostly for Beatrice Villaume, the French lady who will be looking after the horses' feet while they are in Cereste.  Barefoot fanatics may also be interested!

It is 19 days since the shoes came off.

GiGi, mare, age 14

Front left:

Front Right:

Rear Left :

Right Hind :

Flurry, Gelding, Age 7 (sorry about the hair)

Front Left:

Front Right :

Left Hind :

Right Hind :

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Another Busy Weekend and more Ernie pics

We're very lucky that we know someone fairly close by who has gone down the Barefoot route ahead of us.  On Friday afternoon, we called over to Frances for a chat and had a look at her barefoot horses.  She had printed off loads of information about measuring and sizing hoof boots.  She also showed us her hoof boots - Easyboot Gloves, Easyboot Gloves with a Powerstrap and Renegades - and demonstrated how to put them on and off.

Hal's foot - he's only barefoot two months

She also very kindly loaned us a pair of each, so that we could mess around with them ourselves and get a feel for what sizes we'll need to order.  It was really interesting to see the boots in real life, particularly the Renegades.  They look really clunky and plasticky in photos, but they are really solid and very well padded at the heels.
Hal modelling the Renegade boot
Anne was busy fundraising for IGDB all day Saturday - Roxy blogged about it here - while I was carless and housebound for most of the day.  I rode Flurry, he wasn't great, he's getting heavier on that damn left rein the whole time!  I don't know if it's the GP saddle or a bit of stiffness creeping in or if my riding has degenerated - I'll try him in the dressage saddle next time.
When I'd finished riding Flurry, I measured his hoofs and messed around with the boots for a while.  The Renegades seem pretty good on him.  I'll get a second opinion next time Anne and I are in the yard at the same time, but I suspect I'll be investing in a pair or two - although I'll go for bright orange, so that they'll be easier to find if we lose one on a mountain trail!
I spent some time drafting a document for Dressage Ireland later in the day - another item that still needs to be crossed off the list - and general house tidying.  Great fun :-(
Anne was caught in the house tidying trap on Sunday, but she also managed to get some gardening done - she got all her onions down (I'm so jealous!!).

I was gone for all of Sunday helping at the finals of the South Munster Dressage Autumn league.  It was a bit cold, but at least it was dry and even sunny sometimes.  The day ran pretty smoothly, due to flexible judges, cheerful competitors and plenty of willing help.  That's the last show I'll be at for six months - I think I'll miss it!  Seriously!
It was nice to find the whole family at home when I got there - fire lit, dinner in the oven.  Ahhhhh!
While I was scribing at the show, I realised as I wrote the date in on the first competitor's sheet that it was Nov 27th - one month to go!
Time to panic - either that or get my head down and get some Christmassy stuff done!

To finish, here's a few more photos of little Ernie at the ISPCA's Victor Dowling Equine Rescue Centre.  He's looking better and better thanks to the good care he's getting.
Thanks to Lisa O'Donovan for allowing us to use these pictures.
The ISPCA has introduced a simple fund-raising scheme this year, it's called the Hay Drive.  €3.00 will provide hay for one horse for a day - to donate your €3 (from Ireland), you just have to text HAY to 57802 - it couldn't be simpler!  You'll be helping little guys like Ernie and bigger guys like the ones in this ISPCA video (warning, these scenes may enrage horselovers).

 If you're one of our non-Irish readers and you'd like to help the ISPCA with their work, visit and THANKS from all of us here.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Friday Weather Watch

Cereste is still looking like a good decision!

On the positive side, it looks like the weather will be ok on Sunday for the South Munster Dressage Autumn league final.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Good Day

Aero looked great on the lunge...

Lorraine arrived later in the morning to check Gigi's saddle, and the good news is that it doesn't need re-flocking, so what caused her back problem is a mystery, but hopefully it won't return. So tomorrow I plan to start riding her again.

Lorraine also brought a new GP saddle for Flurry - so far Martine has been riding him in a dressage saddle, not ideal for the long trek. It fitted him well, but had a very different feel to the dressage saddle, but after a couple of turns around the arena, Martine pronounced it was OK.  Lorraine also advised using Prolite saddle pads, so there's two of them on the way.

Martine is starting to deal with her insomnia - Molly is now on Seahorse Atlantic Kelp as well (can't hurt and might even help her hair grow!), they tried burning last year's storm damage wood and it burns great, so no need to order more, forms have been filled out for redirecting mail and applying for European Health Insurance cards, the plumber is due tomorrow, all the raised beds are weeded and Dave-the-Vet will call to do Aero's teeth in the next few days.  Well, it's a start!

Fionn, who had developed an ulcer on his eye, had to have a small operation earlier in the week as antibiotics hadn't healed it.  The vet drew some blood from him to make some serum drops, and then drew a grid on his eye with a small needle to draw blood into the affected area. He's had to have serum and antibiotic drops in his eye seven times a day since the op, but a visit to the vet today showed that the ulcer has gone. More drops for a few days though to be on the safe side. I'm amazed he doesn't run now when he sees me coming !

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

More Horse Updates

Aero has been worrying me.  He still doesn’t look comfortable doing his walk therapy in the arena  and he’s really reluctant to move from a “good” surface onto a “bad” one – for example, to step off the rubber mat in the stable onto the concrete yard outside, or to walk from a muddy area onto an area with stone or gravel on it. 

I’ve been keeping him on the driest bit of ground we have, but he’s had to stay there on his own, otherwise it would quickly get churned up into a sea of mud.  Even though the other horses tended to stay just beside him (he is the Boss, after all) I think he’s really missed the social interaction and he’s been getting more and more mopey the longer he’s there.

So, I’ve decided to sacrifice another paddock to preserve his sanity.  It’ll give all of the horses a dry, non-hard area to stand on, for as long as it takes for them to destroy it, anyway.  It just means I’ll have to get two paddocks reseeded instead of one in the Spring. 

I took down the wire to the next paddock – GiGi and Paddy were through like a shot!  

GiGi & Paddy eating, Flurry rushing, Aero being jealous!

Flurry was up in the sandy area, but he strode down as fast as his little legs could carry him when he saw that the others were getting GRASS!

Three happy horses...

Aero was looking on enviously, so he was delighted when I caught him and led him down to join the others, heads down and munching!

Four happy horses!
Hopefully that’ll solve his depression issue.

Anja came back today to address the feet issue.  She wrapped his front feet with a resin-impregnated bandage which hardens once its been put on.  It'll give his feet more stability across the heels while he's adjusting to barefoot, but it still allows some movement which is essential in a healthy foot.

She put a tiny screw onto each side of the hoof at the back...

Aero couldn't bear to watch...

It looks a bit like "Hoof of Frankenstein"

Then the bandage is soaked in water and wound on, using the screws to hook it on at the start.  Once it's on, he had to stand with his foot on a foam pad so the bandage would mould to the shape of his foot while it hardened.

The wraps will stay on until they fall off, by which time he will hopefully have adjusted well to the whole barefoot thing.

He looked much better at walk in the arena, but was still quite stiff in trot.  We'll probably get his back checked out just to be on the safe side, but when I turned him out afterwards he was in great form!  Unfortunately, I missed all but one short clip, but this is getting more like normal "bouncy" Aero.

Flurry, meanwhile, took a backward step, probably because I did too much with him. 

He got his flu shot last week.  Last time, he was completely wiped out for three days afterwards, so this time I expected the same.  True to form, he was lethargic and dull the next day, so I thought “Poor little guy, I’ll just do a bit of easy lunging, mostly walk….” and off we went to the arena.

Well he leaned on that lead rope like you wouldn’t believe, to which my reaction was “Oh no you don’t, mister, not even if your feeling poorly”, so I tried to correct him by getting behind him a little more to get the back end working and doing give and take on the lunge line so he wouldn’t have anything to lean on.

He was not impressed and tanked off in a hissy fit, towing me behind him!  Ok, I thought, I’ll just loose school you so I don’t get dragged around the arena.  I sent him off in walk and he EXPLODED!  Sick and fluey?  Don’t think so! 

Next day, I did a normal schooling session with plenty of lateral work, transitions etc.  He was leaning on the left rein a lot to start, but he lightened up before the end so I was happy enough.

Unfortunately, next morning he had a lot of heat in the heel of the left hind.  My theory is that the extra-high frog on that foot is causing the heel area to become sore when I work him.  Leaning on the left rein is probably a symptom of this – he’s reluctant to use that leg properly so he has to lean on my left hand to compensate.  We’ve now stepped right back to 20-30 minutes of walk/trot work and the heat in the heel disappeared within two days.

I'l have to accept that although he's the best of the three, he won't be up to "full" work for a while.

GiGi has been stuck in a slightly stiff, slightly sore place.  Some days she seems good, then the next day she'll be quite stiff and shuffly again.  She had one day of "chestnut mare" attitude, where she didn't want to go forward at all, then when Anne insisted, she exploded!

Anne: I was more worried about her today, there were no tantrums like yesterday when I took her for her daily stroll, but when I was leading her back to the yard, across the uneven ground, she stumbled quite badly in front. Then when I led her out for Anja to look at her she was very stiff, and stumbled again when I put her out. I will just have to wait and see how she is tomorrow, I could feel no tenderness along her spine, but then I'm no expert!

Aine the chiropracter will  see her again before we go, and sooner if she gets any worse.  Lorraine O'Brien is calling on Thursday to check her saddle fit, so for the time being I can do no more.

We started all three horses on a new kelp supplement this week.  It's made from organic kelp grown off the West coast of Ireland, which is full of all sorts of good stuff - lots of minerals, plus Vitamins C, B2, B6, B12 and K.  It's called Seahorse Atlantic and is made locally in West Cork.  The manufacturer assures us we'll see a difference in their coats within 6 weeks, and ultimately we should see an improvement in the quality of hoof growth as well. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Panic Panic Panic

I had planned on having Gigi out to grass for the month before I left, but with the whole barefoot thing, and problems with Gigi's saddle, she is still at Martine's, and is so taking up more of my time than I had intended, but as it was mostly my idea to go barefoot so soon I can hardly complain.

I am slowly ticking things off the to do list, but there as just as many new to do's arriving, hence the panic. Martine pointed out that Gigi had never been registered in my name, so today I posted her papers off to the authorities along with her microchip documentation, and they assure me I will have them back in good time.

Lorraine from O'Brien's Saddlery is calling to Gigi on Thursday to have a look at her saddle, and we'll see is that the cause of her back problems.

The whole transport thing is very up in the air still, and Martine is doing stalwart work there, and I am looking at transport for the last leg of the journey to Céreste, but as we have no dates yet it's a bit tricky. Will I be there when they arrive in which case I can maybe rent a van and collect them, or will they arrive in January in which case Martine and I can collect them.

Fionn has a problem with his eye, and had an operation yesterday, and now requires drops in his eyes 7 times a day, which is a just a wee bit restricting for me. But he does seem a lot better today, so hopefully the op has worked.

I still have to train in the new treasurer at the local school, as I have resigned this year, find a hotel for the trip down, get the house into a fit state for the people moving in while I'm away, along with a myriad of other small things, like weed the vegetable patches and get the winter crops in, Christmas shopping, car service, dentist for me, no wonder I'm panicking! At least I don't have to host Christmas as Martine is doing, but I am leaving earlier.

Hellooo Insomnia!

Anyone who knows me knows that there are times when I’m not very good at the whole sleeping thing.

My Silver Spurs sidekick, Naomi, could tell you about three day road trips during which I’m running on two hours sleep a night – or less – while facing into eight hours of competition organising and three hour drives during the day.  I’m the same when I’m running a particularly big local show or when I have to get up early or when I have to travel.

It’s not that I lie there in a blue funk thinking about all the things that can go wrong – believe me, we have coped tremendously well with some catastrophes in Silver Spurs land!  I’m not a nervous traveller, I’m not lying there with checklists flying through my head or panicking about not hearing the alarm.  I’m just lying there thinking, damn I can’t sleep.  I guess it’s just a certain level of tenson and anticipation at what lies ahead.

Right now, it’s 5am on the 22nd November.  I’ve been awake on and off since 1am.  I am starting to panic.  There are lists and thoughts whirling through my head.  We are leaving five weeks from today.  Everything we need has to be sorted out before Christmas.  Should I get the trailer serviced?  I must apply for European Health Insurance Cards.  Flurry is sore on his near hind.  Aero is depressed.  Molly is bald.  Cinnamon is polydypsic or at least she was until I tried to measure her water intake whereupon she promptly stopped drinking.  I need to pick up Cookie’s passport.  We still don’t know when the horses will travel or how they will cross the last 300km.  Will elderly Molly be ok on the ferry crossing?  Have to insure Anne on my jeep.  Finish prepping the raised beds & get some winter planting done. I still don’t have a GP saddle.  Must order more firewood so Tansy doesn’t freeze while she’s living here.  Make sure the jeep insurance will be valid in France for four months.  Sort out redirecting the post.  Get the water leaks fixed.  Christmas shopping.  Tidy the house.  What clothes will I bring?  What horse gear will I bring?

Oh dear, I think I am facing into the mother of all insomnia attacks.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ernie Update

....and meanwhile the Clock is Ticking
Anne is leaving in four weeks!  Panic is setting in as she is starting to realise how much she needs to do before she goes - presents to be bought, house to be tidied, bags to be packed....
I can't afford to be smug, because we are leaving a mere nine days after her - gulp!  We have a big family Christmas planned two days before departure day - really looking forward to it, but it's going to be chaotic!

We still don't know exactly when the horses are leaving.  Mullins should have a truck going to the South of France or Italy mid December, but it may work out that it is too early for us - if Anne is not there yet we may have trouble organising someone to collect the horses.  If that's the case, the horses will go mid January, when we will have the opposite problem of organising their departure from a distance.
Whatever happens, I'm sure it'll all work out fine in the end!

Anyway, the main reason for this post is that I got an update from Lisa O'Donovan, the ISPCA inspector who led the rescue of Ernie the foal (see Wagons to the Rescue).

Look, he has a roundy bum and you can't see his spine!
Ernie is doing really well, he has filled out and grown.  He's also developing a bit of personality - or maybe that should read attitude!

Here he is enjoying himself in the paddock at the Victor Dowling Equine Rescue Centre in Mallow, with staff member Chris.

Hasn't he got a completely different look in his eye in these photos?  He's carrying himself like a little horse now and looks bright and alert - a far cry from the dispirited little fellow who trudged up the ramp of my trailer three and a half weeks ago!

I'm hoping to call up to see him before I leave - I have a couple of tiny head collars and some rugs that may be useful to the folks in the rescue centre.  They assured me that they'll take any second hand gear they're offered - it'll all be used.

Lisa is convinced Ernie will end up with me some day... you never know, maybe I will need a companion pony at some stage or maybe I'll need a little pony for future grandchildren.....

(That last sentence is guaranteed to horrify both of my daughters!)

Huge thanks to Lisa O'Donovan for sending the photos and allowing us to use them here.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Friday Weather Watch

I can't believe it's Friday already!  I've had a crazy week, first there was the gargantuan dressage show that ran from 8.30am to 5.45pm on Sunday, which then ate into a lot of Monday as well, as I sorted out results and wrote up a report for the Irish Field.  My room-mate from college came to stay on Sunday night as well, which was great, but it added to to the general business of the day!

Anne and I have both been kept busy for the rest of the week, with therapeutic walking or working of the three barefoot horses, starting to weed and tidy up our vegetable gardens and I've even begun some house tidying in aniticipation of Christmas visitors.

Strawberry bed weeded and runners
set for next year

Anyway, here's this Friday's Weather Watch :

What's missing from these Yahoo! forecasts is the wind - it's still quite windy today (Friday) after yesterday's gale force conditions.  The Met Eireann forecast is a bit different, too, they are saying that the weather will improve a little from tomorrow.  We shall see....

Meanwhile Equine Preparations Continue....

Yesterday (Thursday) the weather was spectacularly foul.  All four horses were huddled on the dryish hard standing area, because that's best shelter from this wind and rain.

Anne: Gigi has been stumbling behind from time to time and at first I thought it was just laziness, but when the dentist was up to do her teeth, he had a quick feel of her back and discovered a tight spot behind the saddle. So an appointment was made with the chiropractor, Aine Dillon,  on what turned out to be one of the worst days weatherwise we have had for a while. Having battled with a 12 foot solid wooden gate, in gale force winds, doing a drive and dash with the trailer before it blew shut again, we reached the safety of the yard.

Gigi quietly succumbed to an examination while munching on a huge pile of haylage.  I'll say this for my mare, as long as there is food and company, she is quite happy.  She had quite a few problems, neck, back and pelvis all needed manipulating, and she has some heat in her hocks, which I am just hoping is due to the hoof trim, and a different alignment of her back legs.

So a check of the saddle is called for, and hopefully I can get it fixed before the departure.

Martine: The day was so awful that comfort food was called for, so I made a great big pot of potato and jalapeno soup - yum!  It warmed us all up no end.

Later in the afternoon, Dave-the-Vet came up to do routine flu vaccs for GiGi and Flurry.  He was also meant to bring the dental gag so he could check Aero and Flurry's teeth, but unfortunately he forgot it, so he'll be back tomorrow.

Flurry has awful teeth - if I'd known how bad they were I may not have bought him.  He is prone to diastemas, which is when there is a gap at the bottom of two teeth.  Food matter gets wedged in the gap, rots and causes infection - imagine a piece of steak stuck between your teeth for weeks and you get the idea.  The treatment is a General Anaesthetic job - knock out the horse and carefully open up the diastema from top to bottom by means of judicious drilling, rounding off the edges, so that food can just pass through and will no longer cause infection.

So far, Flurry has had to go through this twice since I bought him - for four diastemas the first time and I think five the second time.  Thankfully we have a brilliant Veterinary practice locally, Tower Equine Hospital, whose head Vet, John Hyde, has a special interest in equine dentistry - he's done a great job each time.

I'm just hoping that there aren't any more diastemas threatening to cause trouble, but it's way more sensible to get him checked out now before we go than to risk having trouble with his teeth while we're in France.