The unspoiled world of senior cobs, David and Master Dibble

Location: United Kingdom

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A marvellous party

Quite an early start today. I should have known when they gave us a bath yesterday; it usually means something is pending.

Dad and Other Dad arrived at 8.30 or so and started up the lorry. We were then groomed and dressed up in our travelling boots, tail guards and blue travelling rugs. Dibbs was loaded first and then me. We didn't get a haynet on the way there.

When we arrived we recognised it as Solihull, where we have been before. When the ramp came down I could see lots of horse boxes, trailers, cars and other horses.

When we were unloaded and undressed, we were groomed and tacked up. I wore my double bridle. Dad and Other Dad changed into the black jackets, best breeches, boots and hats - and wore gloves. Dad put studs in for Dibbs, but said I didn't need it since we shouldn't be cantering. We then walked over the road from the lorry park onto the main field and warmed up for forty minutes or so.

One nice thing happened on arrival. Andy, who bred Dibby gave him a very warm welcome. She also said I looked like a show cob. Dad said Andy is very knowledgeable and that this was a compliment indeed

Our CRC walk and trot test was first and was in arena 1 at the edge of the field next to the hedge. This time there was no strange lady under a tree waving her binoculars at me - so I didn't spook. We entered well and did a straight centre line. Dad was pleased that I softened and was round in trot for most of the test the first time. The test was much more measured and calm than previous ones and I even managed a square halt - as shown in today's photograph.

After my test we warmed down after we had a go at canter in the big warm up area for the first time. I didn't get excited when we did this and Dad was pleased.

Dibbs Prelim 7 test went well. His head was on the vertical in trot and the walk on a long rein seemed particularly good.

After both tests, we were rugged and booted up again and put on the lorry with our haylage whilst the Dads collected our sheets. Dibbs did very well and came 4th in an open competition - and won a very nice green rosette. I came 7th and just missed out, but could tell Dad and Other Dad were pleased with me too. We both had lots of mints and an apple as reward.

We were home by 1.40 or so. Since it was overcast we were put out in our lightweight rugs and grazed for the afternoon until 5.00 - by which time our stables were ready.

I was quite tired when we came in and was glad to get into my stable for tea and my haylage. It has been a very good day - travelling on the lorry, seeing all the other horses and competing. We cobs do like a good party.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

First bath of Spring

Dad and Other Dad must have been thinking that Dibbs and I have been out to graze too long this week. Today, they kept us in the stable with a middling haylage net for most of the morning.

Dad came to the yard by about 11.00 and tacked me up in my double bridle and dressage saddle. He took me in the school and we practised walk, trot and canter with special emphasis on roundness - as Teacher Steve directed - and ran through the walk and trot test we are supposed to do tomorrow at Solihull.

Other Dad soon brought Dibby in and practised his Prelim test. This went well and fortunately Dibbs stayed sound. We hope he will be OK tomorrow

When we went in and were untacked, we were given our first baths this year and had our tails shampooed. This was very pleasant - except that I don't like water on my face and Dad has to do that part with a sponge.

We then went out for the afternoon until 5.15 - the latest so far this year. When we came in, Dad removed the cotton wool from our stud holes and put in fresh in case we need studs tomorrow. He is worried that since our shoes are refits, the studs won't screw in properly. Dibbs and I aren't too worried and say "Que sera, sera". Cobs are surprisingly fatalistic, you know.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Another lesson

Another morning out in the field before coming in early to be groomed and tacked up.

Becky had a lesson first on Patch, so we started later than usual. Dad put me in my double bridle and we warmed up gently before the lesson in the Spring sunshine.

We started with walk on both reins and progressed to trot. We then started to run through elements on the CRC Beginners Test 1a. We concentrated on maintaining roundness especially when turning down the centre line and on the corners of the school. Steve said our accuracy was good but that we needed to concentrate on maintaining roundness. He said we would be working on this in the coming months. In particular Dad needed to ensure he kept a firm hold on the outside rein and didn't give the contact away when I softened. One of the best tools in doing this was to touch the corner strap of the numnah with his little finger - to ensure that hand was in the right position and not too far forward.

Teacher Steve broke off from the lesson at one point to check Dibbs over . After quite a thorough but gentle warm up in walk and trot he confirmed he thought Dibby was sound and that Other Dad could take him to Solihull for the dressage on Sunday.

We both went in to be groomed, put in our rugs and given our teas. Dad and Other Dad agreed we were putting on a little to much weight with the Spring grass, so it looks as though our hard food will be reduced. The trouble is we cobs are what we eat.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Schooling in my double bridle

Since it was another fine Spring morning, Other Dad put Dibbs and I out to graze - once he had trotted Dibbs up again in front of Becky. Di was off this morning and they forgeot to give us our haynets with breakfast, but it didn't really matter since we went out and started grazing quite early anyway. We had a pleasant day with Cricket and Leo.

Dad brought us in at about 4.00 in the afternoon. Once I was tied up outside my stable, Dibbs was trotted up again. Although Kate saw Dibbs was lame in the field, he didn't look too bad in hand. Both Dibbs and I were tacked up and taken into the manege for a quiet school.

Dad put me in my double bridle -which seemed a little tighter than the pelham. We worked in walk and trot on both reins and then ran through both walk and trot tests and Prelim 1 with some canter. I occasionally lifted my head to the left and complained but did some good work eventually. I know it left Dad wondering whether to have go at the test on Sunday in my snaffle even though I probably wouldn't be round or even to put two reins on the pelham. We might ask if this might be allowed, when we ring for our times this evening.

Dad watched Other Dad ride Dibbs and felt he was even. He then rode Dibbs in walk and trot as Other Dad watched. Again Dibbs seemed level. Kate still felt he wasn't right and so they will check him out again tomorrow morning. They will also consult teacher Steve and try to call the vet out if necessary and if he will come this time.

It was quite a warm afternoon and both out rugs were left off in the stable, so that Other Dad could come down and put them on at about 7.30 or so. I know Dad is wondering whether Dibbs will be fit enough to compete on Sunday and, if not, how I might behave there on my own. I have been to Solihull alone a few times and didn't misbehave, but that was some time ago and inside; we cobs aren't machines, you know.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

First rugless day of Spring

A pleasant dry morning. Other Dad checked Dibbs out again first thing and found he was still a little unlevel. Then, since it was dry and mild, he put us both out without rugs. Dibbs and I tried to groom each other, but it was tricky with Dibbs in his muzzle. Later, I groomed with Leo, who like me hasn't got a muzzle yet.

We were brought in about 3.00 in the afternoon. Dad groomed and tacked me up and took me into the school. We warmed up in walk and trot on both reins and practiced turning on the forehand.

We then ran through the Solihull and CRC Walk and Trot tests and finished with the new Prelim 1. I did the canter transitions in the Prelim test correctly and so Dad was pleased. We came in and Dad sponged me off and put me in my red string cooler rug to cool down before tea.

Other Dad had hoped to get Rob, the vet to look at Dibbs when he visited Paddy and Leo this afternoon, but he hadn't time today. Other Dad will check Dibbs again tomorrow morning and call the vet if he isn't better. Cobs are a worry sometimes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Day off

A quiet day for once. Other Dad trotted Dibbs up again first thing, but he was still unlevel. If he is not back to normal tomorrow, they will ask Rob the vet to look at him. We were both put out to graze by about 8.30 this morning...which was nice.

After all the lessons over the last few days it was pleasant to potter about in our field in the spring sunshine.

We came in about 4.00 to be groomed, put to bed and given tea. When we have days off like these Dad makes sure the grooming is extra thorough and he treats our hooves with green Tecsin spray. He also uses the black rubber knobbly massager in circular motions over our hind quarters to remove all the scurf before brushing it all away. It's nice for a cob to be spoilt once in a while.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Group lesson on a Spring evening

A busy start to the week. Other Dad came early and trotted Dibbs up in front of Di and Becky, who could see he was a little unlevel behind. It seems he tweaked a muscle in jumping yesterday - perhaps wasn't warmed up enough.
Dibbs and I went out to graze in our rugs. Being clipped the weather still didn't seem good enough to do without them.
Dad brought us in at about 4.00 in the afternoon. He then groomed me and tacked me up in readiness for a group flatwork lesson with Liz at 5.30.
I enjoy these lessons. There were six horses in each session; with me there were Leo, Jinsky, Bonny, Kamara and a new chestnut gelding whose name I forget. We warmed up in walk and trot concentrating on roundness and giving with the hand. We did leg yield in walk and sitting trot - which was challenging - and worked on sitting trot generally.
For the first time, we worked on turns about the forehand which I found quite difficult but managed to do, after a fashion. We also cantered in a circle with two other horses and in a grand finale all cantered together around the school. This was an interesting execrcise and I got a little excited, which meant Dad had to practice taking a pull and letting go and sitting up and back to avoid getting carted. It was quite tiring but good to practice with such a large group.
After the lesson, Dad sponged me off and let me cool downand gave me an apple and herby treats - which Dibbs had too. Then he put on my rug and after about half an hour gave me my tea. I enjoyed the session, but missed Dibbs joining in; however we professional cobs get used to missing the odd fixture with injuries from time to time.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jumping Clinic

Another busy day. Dad was with me by 9.00, or so, this morning. I was put in my gp saddle with my usual pelham. I wore my white wraps on my legs (which needed a wash- the wraps not my legs, that is - but never mind) and Dad carried the smaller crop.

When we went in the school, it was set up with a lot of fences. I was in a group of four; the other horses were Tod, Jinsky and Mary. The teacher was a lady called Fran - who is a well-known teacher and also has taught Caroline and Mark, although they go to Fran's yard.

We were the beginners/nervous adult group. Fran spoke to each rider to find out the horse's history and capabilities. She said our saddle was too short - given the long length of Dad's thigh. He needed an 18" - whereas our jumping saddle is 17 1/2". Also the girth straps were too short: an expensive problem. We adjusted our stirrup length and tightened the girth as far as it would go and went on to do walk, trot and canter.

We began with some pole work and practised jumping position. This part was OK, since I could do one batch of poles and then turn to another. We needed to work on not falling-in on the turn. Fran then put a cross pole at the end of the run of poles and I managed that a couple of times.

I did have some problems when we had to do a larger course of cross poles in trot. As previously when practising with Dad in trot I chose to go through most of the fences. Fran said Dad hadn't done it wrong, but that it might be a good idea to get a more experienced rider to school me in trot over some grids/ bounces to remind me to pick up my feet.

I think Dad sort of expected me to knock the poles down from trot. It might have been interesting to try some canter poles, but it may have seemed too risky to jump from canter before Dad's position - and our saddle - was more secure. In the light of this, Dad doesn't think there's any point in joining in another clinic until we have progressed a little; we can practice in private for the time being.

Even though we didn't do the jumping well, Dad didn't fall off and I behaved well and had a nice time joining in with the other horses, so Dad patted me a lot. After the session finished I was groomed, given some new herby treats and rugged up to go in the field with Cricket and Leo

Dibby did the third session of the clinic with Bonny, Leo and Harry and did some good work and had fun, but seemed to tweak a muscle about half way through and dropped out before the larger fences. Other Dad and Dad trotted him up to check this out and he didn't look unsound, so he was rugged up and put out in the field with me. Dibbs will have a few days off to make sure he is better

All in all, a mixed day for both Dibby and me, but like jumping, a cob's life is has its ups and downs.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Saturday's a school day

Dad came quite early to day. He gave Dibbs some haylage and tacked me up in my gp saddle and pelham. We went into the school and, after warming up, did some pole work and attempted a small cross pole in both directions.

Then Sue came and rode for a short time and watched as we tried some more jumping.

We did a variety of work for the rest of the session including some without stirrups and cantering on both reins.

As we were schooling, we were joined by Becky on the coloured cob, Patch - who had a little jump too - with about as much success as me. Also Di schooled Flare, but she didn't jump.

Dad and I did some sitting trot, which was quite good, but I think both of us were a bit tired and jaded after yesterday's lesson.

Shortly after I had been groomed and put out to graze, Dibbs came back from his hack and joined me. Although it was sunny, they thought we should have our light rugs on, since we had just been clipped.

Dad seemed to be at the yard for most of the day. By the time he had prepared out stables, it was after four, so he brought us in and put us to bed. He said it was just like having babies: that's not very dignified for repectable cobs.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Schoolin' in the rain

As usual onFridays, Other Dad came and put us out to graze early. Dad mucked out the stables and watched Alex take Boo off in the trailer. Boo was excited because they were going off to play battles - she will be a Cavalier cavalry officer, which sounded fun. Being a cob, I suspect I would end up being a roundhead, but it would be exciting to join in - like when I used to go hunting.

We came in about 1.15 and Dad got me ready for the lesson. He put on my black, fleecy exercise bandages, dressage saddle and pelham.

The school had been levelled today and we were first to use it.

The rain had eased off when we started, but it soon began again. We did some walk, but as the weather grew worse we went up into working trot. Dad had shown Teacher Steve the walk and trot test we are due to do at Solihull on Sunday week and he broke out most of the movements for us to practice with lots of work down the long sides, huge diagonals, turning down the centre line and ten metre half circles through X. We did ten metre loops back to the track like in Prelim 10. We also practised walk on a long rein and lots of upwards and downwards transitions.

By the time the first half hour was completed we had had a thorough workout and Dad was soaked through from the rain. He asked if we could also practice some canter and that went well on both reins. Teacher Steve was pleased and said it was the best canter we had ever done. We then cooled off with a walk around the school on a long rein before going in.

Once inside, I had some mints and an apple and, once my rug was on, went in the stable for a rest and my tea. Teacher Steve said I was different from when we first started. Then I was overweight and my eyes "would glaze over" when we struggled with some difficult movements, wheras now I am fitter and find I can do most things and am more interested in what we do. Obviously I do prefer eating apples or playing with the Shetlands over the fence to schooling, but I do try to be professional: it's a cob thing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cool, clipped Dave

Another showery April day. For yet another morning we weren't put out to graze first thing - which usually means something is happening.

Other Dad topped up our haynets once and Dad gave us a little more when he arrived at ten-ish and started mucking out.

Clipping Clare then arrived with Sally the dog. My coat was apparently longer than usual for this time of year and, instead of a quick trim on my mane and legs, I had a full clip.

Unlike a lot of other horses, my evasion when Claire wants to clip a tickly part like my head and ears is to lower it rather than hold it up in the air. Other than this I wasn't naughty and when I was finished Dad brushed the loose hairs off and then sponged me all over. He then put me out in the field with Cricket and Leo until Dibbs was done.

Dibby needed a full clip too so Dad is broke this week with lessons imminent.

For the rest of the afternoon it rained on and off and my schooling, scheduled for the early evening, was postponed; so all in all I had an easy day. When we were brought in later Dad took a photograph showing my clip: as the rapper said..Cool Dave...he's clipped, smooth, sharp and cobby..he 'aint no Mr Blobby....Cool Dave.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Spooky, rainy Wednesday

It was our day off today. Other Dad put Dibbs and me out to graze quite early. We only shared the field with Cricket, since Leo had to see the vet to have a wolf tooth extracted and start the treatment to remove a sarcoid.

It seemed to rain for most of the time, which didn't bother us in our rugs. We just faced away from the wind and rain and continued eating.

Dad and Other Dad brought us in about 4.15. It was drizzling and a little windy. As I was coming out of the field I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye and took off a little. Actually, I span Dad around like a windmill - but didn't tread on him. Well, whatever it was in the grass or wind or the farrier working nearby, it frightened me.

Anyway, we got inside safely and I calmed down and ate my haylage whilst Dad picked out my feet, removed my wet rug and groomed me. Some people said they hadn't seen me like that before...blah, blah. Dad told me "Well they should get out more." We were both relieved when they turned their attention to something else.

It's funny being a cob sometimes. Everyone seems to expect you to perform like a well-behaved robot - unlike thoroughbred mares who get to do what they like when they like - whatever the consequences. Cobs have sensitivities too, you know.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A jumping Tuesday

Since Spring seemed to have arrived, Dad decided it was time to do some pole work; so, for the first time in a year, he brought out my GP saddle. It was quite dusty and dirty, so after giving Dibbs and me some extra haylage, he set to and cleaned it thoroughly.

It felt very different in my GP rather than the dressage saddle, but it made a change. When we went into the school, Anne was setting out fences for a round of showjumping. That kind of thing doesn't worry me and so we just got on with warming-up and practising with much shorter stirrups riding in and out of the fences. Anne and Other Dad set out some trotting poles and we had a stuttery go on both reins.

Then they put up a small cross pole and, try as I might I just kept going through it and knocking it down in trot. We then had a go in canter and I found it a lot easier. We eventually managed to jump the cross pole and a straight pole sucessfully a few times and Dad and I were pleased.

We then went in for a reward of apple and mints and a groom and Dad put me out in the field without a rug for what seemed the first time in months. It was nice being able to feel the sunshine on my back.

Dad went back into the school where Other Dad was schooling Dibby and he had a go too. Other Dad also rode Anne's horse, Bailey in walk, trot and canter and enjoyed it. I hope Dibbs doesn't get jealous.

Later in the afternoon it started to rain a little and Dad and Other Dad brought out our lightweight New Zealands in the field. Dibby and I just stood there whilst they put them on us and didn't run off; we cobs are good like that.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Holiday Monday

Another fine spring day. Other Dad came down early and made sure our haynets were full. Dibby ate all of his quickly, but I wanted to watch what was going on. Dad came down mid-morning and tacked me up - back in my pelham again.

After warming up in the school, Auntie Sue - my friend Syd's mum - came to ride me. She didn't wear a hat, which - despite being a very reliable cob - worries me. Anyway , it was alright and we didn't have any mishaps. She did walk and trot and was gentle, so that was alright. When she got off, I heard her say to Dad that I was much softer and more flexible than before....which I think is good.

Actually, from my point of view, the conversation went "Yada..yada..yada..David..yada..softer and more round..yada...flexible..yada..David...cobby sort...yada..David...minties", so you have to admit I didn't do too badly in understanding really.

After Auntie Sue rode, Dad remounted and "put me through my paces" including a very jolly gallop down the long side. We then did some quiet work for a little while and went in for an apple and mints.

I was then put out in the field with Cricket and Leo until Dibby came back from his hack. Leo was out without a rug which looked comfortable in the sunshine. Dibbs and I look forward to going out without a rug soon.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday

I can't resist showing another snap of Dibby and me in our new rugs. Trouble is you can't groom each other in them - let alone when one of you is wearing a muzzle. A quiet Easter Sunday really. Other Dad came for a chat early and put us out to graze after breakfast.

Dad turned up by 1-30 or so to deal with our stables and bring us in. As I suspected, he was reminded of the benefits of lungeing seeing Patch have a session yesterday.

Since Dad hadn't lunged me for about a year he seemed to have forgotten how to put on the tack and it took ages. He did swap the straight bar snaffle for a loose ring pinchless one to try and make me more comfortable.

He made the mistake of starting me off on a single lunge rein in one hand and a lungeing whip in the other . I'm afraid I couldn't resist the temptation to kick on a bit and to forgot the downwards transitions to walk and halt entirely. Dad seemed to know this one however and just kept me trotting on and on and on and on..... until I got a little tired.

At that point I decided to co-operate with the verbal commands even though it was much less fun. Once he had done this he decided to lunge with two reins which cramped my style even more. By the end I had some exercise and even softened and stretched down a little. I guess you could call it an honourable draw.

After that it was back to the stable to put on my stable rug and have my tea. Dibby and I had extra carrots, but no Easter eggs.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Saturday

The Yard was busy this morning with several liveries entered in the Hunter Trials at Swallowfield. It was a fine day and close enough for some to hack there and back.

Dibbs and I got off to a quiet start watching the comings and goings and eating our haynets until mid-morning. Then Dad arrived and groomed and tacked me up. After yesterday, he put me in a straight bar snaffle to save another rub.

We had the school to ourselves for a while and did lots of walk, walk-halt transitions, leg yield and shoulder in. We worked on a circle a lot to try and increase my roundness but I didn't really do it as well as I could.

After half an hour or so Dibbs joined us and when he had warmed up we trotted and cantered around two abreast, which is a new game for me. When this was going on we could see Patch being lunged at the other end of the school. I think this gave Dad an idea for next week.

After quite a long school we stopped and had extra strong mints. We then went in to be sponged down and put in our rugs. Before going out they let us have a mutual groom in the washbox, which was cool. I was given a new pale blue lightweight New Zealand from the sale a few weeks ago and yesterday my Other Dad bought one for Dibby. I wasn't sure Dibby thought something in bright blue and pink checks was fitting for such a very senior cob, but there you go. I heard Dad say there were now only two structures visible from outer space - the Great Wall of China and Dibby's new rug.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Quite a Good Friday

Another full day. My Other Dad put Dibbs and I out in the field nice and early. Instead of cantering around and bucking, we just walked off and started on the spring grass; cobs are really cool like that. Actually I feel a little guilty since they've put Dibbs in his muzzle already, whilst I get to eat as much of that new grass as I want. Dibby put his head over the fence at one point and Edward grabbed the muzzle and gave it a good shaking, but it wouldn't come off.

It was sunny and we had a nice morning. After preparing our stables, Dad came and brought me in by about one o clock.

I was allowed to eat my haylage tied up to my stable whilst he groomed me and put those smart black bandages on each leg and then tacked me up.

For the first time in about six weeks we had a lesson today. I thought it would be fun to stick my nose out and refuse to go round, but the Teacher made Dad be very strict with me. Apparently, I'm "full of myself" just now.....whatever that means. He made me trot and trot and trot and trot "to get the liveliness out of me."

I must admit I did get a little tired and by the end found it easiest to do what Dad wanted - until next time, anyway. I was quite hot by the time we had finished and even though I had been a little naughty Dad gave me extra strong mints and a large apple.

By this time, Dibby had come back from his hack so we both cooled off in our stables before our tea - with extra carrots.

My pelham had rubbed my face a tiny bit. The Teacher said this was because I had been resisting more than usual and that the bit itself was OK. Dad put some cream on it and said we would have to school in a pinchless snaffle for a few days. No brakes; that should be fun.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Starting my diary

Greetings, readers! My name is David and I'm a cob. Now that I'm 13 years old I thought it was about time to keep a teenage diary and share with you a grown-up cob's perspective on the world.

For the last two years or so I've lived at a yard on the outskirts of a big city. It's a big place with quite a lot going on.

I have a large stable with Dibby next door on one side and Edward on the other. Dibby is a piebald and is seventeen now. He and I go back a long way. I belong to Dad and Dibby belongs to my Other Dad.

Dibby and I share a field with another cob, Cricket and a spotty appaloosa called Leo. Cricket is much older than me and a little grumpy, but we get on alright. Leo is only four and plays a lot which is OK too.

Dibby and I get on best of all. Although he joins in the games he doesn't fight; he mostly eats the grass and sets us all a good example. I'll tell you some more tomorrow.