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Posted: Thursday 10 May, 2007

by Rosemary at 9:40pm in Equines 7 comments Comments closed

As you will know, Smokey and I have been learning to drive over the winter and into spring. It's all been going very well and he has been an absolute star.

Last Wednesday, however, we had a bit of a setback. For various reasons that I won't bore you with, there was a bit of a carry-on in the field, so Smokey was a bit hyped up. I wanted to take Smokey driving (a pal of Dan's was going to backstep for me), so I caught him, harnessed him up and started to lead him along the track to the road, where I usually get on. I'm not really sure what happened, but Smokey got more distressed and bolted. I simply couldn't hold him. He went along the track, on to the road, round a 90 drgree bend, then tipped the buggy at the next 90 degree bend.

By the time we caught up, the buggy was on its side, Smokey was on the ground facing the buggy and trapped in the harness. I told Dan to call the vet - I expected him to need a humane killer. We unhitched the buggy (I have safety devices on the swingle tree - thanks, Claire) and cut him free. Then he stood up and walked away.

He had a cut on his off hind leg, on his nose and on his eye; his knees were grazed as was his neck. But he wasn't lame at all. The vet gave him a shot of penicillan and an anti-inflammatory. When I looked out the window on Thursday morning, Smokey was having a really good roll.

I have a broken finger and a few bruises. I can't believe how lucky we are. I thought I'd lost him.

Anyway, this is really background. The real point of this post is Smokey's head. Although he wasn't badly hurt physically, he was so uptight and spookey. He's always been a very laid back horse - left brain and dominant. But he couldn't stand still - at the slightest noise or movement, he was off. I was pretty upset about this. We've had our ups and downs over the last five years, but I've tried to work on our relationship and I thought I'd lost it..

So I've been spending quiet time with him. Just having a carrot (or bread and Marmite, which is lick lippy), a scratch, a lean on each other. This morning, I walked up the field to give him his bread. As I walked back, I heard hooves coming fast behind me. It was Smokey, just checking in for a scratch.

Tonight, I was taking the empty feed buckets out the field, when he came trotting down for a scratch. I was leaning on him, scratching, when Johnny came over. I sent him away (protecting my herd of two). As I did so, one of our dogs started barking at him and he took off up the field. To my delight, Smokey chose to stay with me. He didn't even move. It made me cry.

A few years ago, Smokey and I started to follow a natural horsemanship journey via the Parelli Programme. Recently, for a number of reasons, we've drifted from it (although I try to follow the principles). Last night, I watched a DVD of Linda Parelli working with a scared horse. And I knew we were doing the right thing by not doing very much and I know we're going to be OK.

I've booked today to go to the Parelli event at the NEC in August. There are a lot of people now promoting natural horsemanship (which is great), but the Parellis are something special, not just in their horsemanship, but in they way they can communicate with us ordinary mortals, and let us communicate with and understand our horses.

I realised today that the most important thing for me isn't DOING anything with Smokey but it's about just being with him, in a relationship. If all I did with him was hang out in the field, and he wanted to be with me, that would be good for me.

I'm sure all you horselovers will understand.



Friday 11 May, 2007 at 1:02am

That's scary. I'm glad everyone is mostly ok. I use Parelli training also. I think it works well with fearful horses. I've also used flower remedies with fear. www.equilie.com has some blends made for horses. Good luck!


Friday 11 May, 2007 at 7:56am

Greetings from the Low Countries. I've been regularly reading your diary for a while now and just wanted to wish you a speedy recovery of finger as well as horse-human relationship. Parrelli is a good way to go, I've done a workshop with a loaner-horse once myself and like it immensely.

By the way, we'll be on vacation in Scotland next month. If we pass your place we'll wave :-)

All the best, Janneke (the Netherlands)


Friday 11 May, 2007 at 12:06pm

Woa - that must have been scary on so many different levels. Thank goodness you are both ok.



Sunday 13 May, 2007 at 3:25pm

Nasty experience. I carriage drive once a week (or backstep) and i can imagine how frightening something like that must be. I'm glad to hear Smokey and you aren't too hurt though. Keep going with the driving, i do have dreams of owning my own carriage horse when i'm older and would hate to see someone give up such a wondeful dream. Good luck to you both!


Monday 14 May, 2007 at 3:24pm


I had something like that happen to me and my mare when we were harnessing her up, we were very like that i managed to hang on and keep her on a circule until my husband got the carriage loose she then took off with the harness on through fencing and god know what else.

It was very scary, but she was ok and we took her straight back for a drive and she was fine.

You may have to start again with breaking him to harness or it may be that he will never drive again but you are all ok and then is the main thing


Tuesday 15 May, 2007 at 10:11pm

Thanks all. I think we're both on the medn although my finger's a funny shape!

I'm hopeful that we'll get back to driving but there's no rush. Slow and right beats fast and wrong!


Friday 25 May, 2007 at 11:30pm


Glad to hear that you and Smokey have recovered. My wife gave me a suitable telling off on my return for encouraging you to take the trap out and said that the sight of a stupid northerner wearing a high-vis jacket and a bicycle helmet would put any animal into a spin.

Sorry once again. Hopefully we'll have the opportunity to visit again soon and drink some wine.

Hope all at Longcarse Farm have a good bank holiday weekend.



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