The unspoiled world of senior cobs, David and Master Dibble

Location: United Kingdom

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Schooled, wormed and innoculated

When Dad arrived, I was lying down again and I stayed there whilst he sat next to me and gave me some minties. I even lay back even more with my head on the straw and pretended to go to sleep for a while as he scratched my wither.

After my day off it was back in the school this morning. We carried on practising the things we had learned in the Riding with your Mind sesssion starting with position: sitting on seat bones, straight line between heel, hip, shoulder and head, hands forward as much as possible , breathing, straightness, bearing down and thigh on/lower leg off .

Dad thought I responded well. Trot was difficult at first but improved when Dad relaxed a little. We also cantered and warmed down on a long rein.

I rejoined Dibby in the field until we came in at 3.00. After grooming, we were given our wormer ( this time, Equest - yum...not). We had some minties to take away the taste and then had tea. Dad also used a weight tape to check how heavy I was. I weighed 600kg and Dibby was 634kg.

After this it was our turn to be seen by Rob, the vet. He gave us our annual 'flu and tetanus injections and dropped off some joint supplement for Dibby. He saw Dibby trotted up inside but needed to be in the light on a better surface. Rob will come again next Thursday to examine him again and check on his arthritic changes.

So that was quite a busy day: schooled, wormed and innoculated. Cobs cope well with a busy schedule.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Funny day. Dad was preparing me to go into the school at the same time as Dibby when he had to return home to enable the BT engineer to fix the telephone, so I went out to graze instead. By the time he returned it wasn't worth tacking up again so I have had a lazy day. I guess we shall make up for it tomorrow. Cobs have a well-developed work ethic.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quiet time

Dad took me in the school this morning. We practised the various things we had learned on Sunday in the Riding with your Mind session. We worked on sitting directly on seat bones, leg back at the correct angle, thigh down and lower leg off, toes resting on stirrups, foot level or with heel down a little, back straight, shoulders relaxed, hands forwardand not pulling and breathing from the diaphragm.

We worked in walk and went up into trot. I softened quite well in walk and went on the bit. Dad found trot a little easier than on Sunday but didn't want to get in too extreme a position as regards leaning forward and pushing his heels back. We tried some canter which went reasonably well and even ran through Prelim 17 on the large arena several times. The medium walk and walk on a long rein were quite good. The trot needed a lot of practice and the canter was pleasing including striking off on the correct leg. I even offered canter earlier than I should -which may say something about the trot.

We walked around on a long rein to warm down and I then joined Dibby out in the field for the afternoon. We grazed until 4.15 and came in to have our hooves hosed, be groomed and given tea. Dad sat in my stable for a while after I had tea whilst I was eating my haylage which was pleasant. Cobs enjoy some quiet time at the end of the day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A kind of balance

Other Dad put Dibby and me out to graze before 9.00 and we had a day at leisure in the field before coming in at 4.00. The group lesson this evening was postponed so we were groomed and given tea. A simple day after the new things yesterday: cobs like that kind of balance.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Riding with our minds

Dibby and I went out to graze early this morning, but Dad came and brought me in by 10.00. He tacked me up and took me in the school at 11.00 to receive a Riding with your Mind lesson from coach Denise O'Reilly, who trained with Mary Wanless.

Denise saw Dad ride me in walk and trot on both reins and then spoke about the elements of Mary Wanless's method. Dad's stirrups were shortened and levelled and his riding position adjusted to bring his thighs onto the saddle behind the knee roll and calves off my side. He moved his seat forward in the saddle a little and adjusted his posture to balance on his seat bones -which he has always found difficult. Heels didn't have to be forced down but needed to be still and the hands were often lower and wider and sometimes pushed forward to give me the chance to take the bit forward and down.

The work in walk went well and I tracked up properly and went on the bit. Dad struggled with the trot a little more since it was necessary to rise from the knee and push the pelvis forward rather than rise too high. We eventually managed some reasonable strides in trot before the end of the session. It was noticeable that when Dad got his position right, I responded by softening, tracking up or going on the bit - so he will know when he's getting it right or not.

We found the lesson very interesting and will practice the techniques we covered in the hope of getting consistently on the bit and soft and moving better.

I went back out in the field whilst Other Dad and Dibby had their 45 minute session with Denise after 1.00. Dibby rejoined me after his lesson. We stayed out until about 4.00 and came in for grooming and tea. It will be interesting to see how Dad manages to build on today's tuition on his own - particularly with a group lesson pending under the lights tomorrow evening. Fortunately cobs try to be accommodating.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Damp Saturday off

After a rainy night, the morning was mild and drizzly. Dad came before 9.00 and put us out to graze in our rain sheets whilst he put up our beds.

We grazed until 4.00 and came in to have the mud hosed from our hooves, be groomed and given tea. Not the most constructive of days, but cobs don't often get to set the agenda.

Friday, November 24, 2006

In credit

Since storms were forecast for later today and throughout Saturday, Dad wanted to school this morning. Although it was windy the rain held off for the most part and we exercised for forty minutes.

We began on a long rein, moving up to medium walk and some halt transitions and then a little trot. Dad wanted to work on his own position and my roundness and willingness to go on the bit. I was a little resistant and he had to make his point by holding his position until I gave. He then made a fuss of me and we continued with some better quality work on the bit.

Towards the end of the session, we practised Prelim 17 twice. My paces were reasonable, but I wasn't round enough. Both upwards transitions were correct and my canter generally was more controlled, so overall we had made some progress.

We spent the afternoon out in the field and came in as the rain started at about 4.00. If the weather is as predicted tomorrow I guess we shall have the day off. Fortunately, Dibby and I have a lot of day's schooling in the bank. Cobs like to be in credit.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Morning cobs

When Dad arrived this morning I was still lying down in my stable and so he joined me and sat down on the straw for a chat and gave me some minties. We stayed like that for quite a while before it was time to get tacked up and go in to the school.

We worked in the school for about half an hour until it started to rain. Before then we managed to warm up on a long rein and practice in medium walk and trot and then go through Prelim 17 couple of times. We finished off with a walk around the arena with Dibby on a long rein. It was also windy and cold, so we were pleased to come in.

Dibby and I had the afternoon in the field and came in when it was getting gloomy. Dad hosed the mud off our hooves, but avoided getting our legs wet. We were groomed and given tea and were pleased not to be going out in the school on such a damp night. Cobs prefer to school in the morning and have the evening to themselves.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Since the weather was forecast to be rainy and both Dads were due to go out to lunch, Dibby and I were given the day off. We went out to graze at about 8.30 and came in by 4.00. It had rained on and off during the day and our rugs were soaked.

Dad noticed a small overreach on my near hind leg and was told I had been racing around and bucking - showing off to the mares recently installed in the adjacent field. Despite my invitation Dibby and Cricket didn't join in with me and - being senior cobs - just carried on eating. By the time I came in I was quiet and subdued. It's tiring showing off to the ladies, even for a cob in his prime.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Warm wugs

We made the most of a dry and sunny morning by schooling again. Dad tried my snaffle bridle without a flash today. He found I mouthed the bit a lot but didn't take advantage of it, so he will probably continue with the experiment for a while.

We worked in walk stretching down on a long rein and practising straightness and after quite a while shortened the rein and worked in medium walk. We also ran through Prelim 17 about three times in the long arena and Dad was pleased with my accuracy, walk on a long rein and canter - particularly down the longside on a right rein.

We finished off walking around with Dibby and then went out to graze in the autumn sunshine for the afternoon.

When we came in and were groomed we tried on our new winter stable rugs which cover our necks - called "Wugs". They looked very comfortable and smart. Other Dad brought a 6'6" and 6'9" to try on and we both preferred the larger size so the smaller one can be taken back to be swapped. For the present, we will wear our warm green rugs in the stable and swap when it gets even colder. Cobs do like a warm wug...weally.

Monday, November 20, 2006


After our poor performance in yesterday's lesson, we went back in the school this morning. We worked mainly in walk trying to regain relaxation and to stretch down initially and then become rounder and on the bit on a shorter rein. This was working reasonably well and we had trotted around the arena a few times when it started to rain and so we came in.

We had schooled for forty minutes or so and so Dad put Dibby and me out to graze. The afternoon was dry and we came in for grooming and tea just before it started to rain again. Dibby had a small overreach on his near hind which Dad treated with salted water and purple spray. Fortunately, as well as being a very senior cob, Dibby is generally hardy.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gone with the wind

Sunday morning was cold and blustery with a cloudless blue sky. We had a private lesson from Liz in the school at 10.30. We hadn't warmed up when the lesson began and I was much more obstinate and slow than usual about going round and soft.

We worked on a circle with walk, halt transitions, leg yield, shoulder in, turn about the forehand and some trotting. I find turn about the forehand difficult.

The session was enlivened when someone went across the nearby field with a dog and set off the horses. Leo was in the next field and had a great time galloping about and bucking along the fence line where I was working. I couldn't resist looking at what was going on but didn't misbehave and join in as some others might have done. So the minus was my slowness in softening and distraction and the plus my calm behaviour.

After much prompting I started to go round in walk and for some of the time in trot. Our homework will be to practice achieving this more consistently.

Dad asked if we could run through Prelim 17 in the large arena. Time permitted us to do this once and we managed the manoeuvres accurately in walk, trot and canter. The second canter was quite well controlled. Liz thought we did the shapes reasonably well but weren't anywhere near being consistently round or soft, so we won't enter a Prelim test for now.

We then cooled off on a long rein and went in for grooming and to be put out to graze with Dibby.

We came in when it was getting dark and were groomed and given tea. Having worked so hard recently in our schooling, Dad was disappointed how it had gone and that our prospects of competing had disappeared, but as Scarlet O'Hara said in Gone with the Wind "Tomorrow is another day"; she might have been a cob.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

No complaints

Back in the school this morning. Since the large arena was still laid out, we made the most of it. After loosening up on a long rein, we practiced Prelim 17 several times. Dad was pleased he remembered the test. I was moving forward properly and hit the markers accurately but needed to be rounder in walk and trot. The canter went well although I was slow on the final transition down to trot - which was a tad hectic, to say the least.

We cooled of working on a long rein whilst Other Dad practiced tests on Dibby and then went out to graze for the afternoon.

When we came in at 4.00 we were groomed, had our muddy feet picked out and were given tea. Just before leaving Dad noticed I had a wooden splinter in my face just below my left eye. I eventually let Dad touch it and fortunately he was able to remove it and apply some ointment. Then I carried on eating my haylage. It's just as well Dad noticed it since cobs tend not to complain.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rainy day off

We awoke to rain and wind this morning. Other Dad put us out to graze before 9.00. For the most part the day was quiet. At one point Connie started to run around which set Dibby, Cricket and me off plus Bailey, Tom and Little Bailey in the next field. Dibby joined in, squealing and bucking very effectively as he charged around. We all like a good hool when it's getting cooler.

We came in at 4.00. Helpfully, the wash box was occupied and Dad tidied our feet up as best he could. In retrospect he wasn't too unhappy since, in an effort to avoid mud fever, he's trying not to wet our legs this winter unless essential. So he picked our feet out, brushed the mud off and applied Tecsin to ward off thrush. Then it was grooming, rugging up and tea. For cobs rainy days have their advantages.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thinking of parties

The day began with light drizzle and Dad put us out to graze at 8.30. There was a change this morning since Bailey, Tom and Little Bailey had been turned out in the adjoining field, so Dibby, Cricket and I introduced ourselves with much squealing and nonsense over the fence. Eventually we all settled down to graze with the odd eruption of running around and what I suppose you would call "horseplay".

We came in whilst it was still light at 3.45 and Dad tacked me up and took me in the school. The fences had been removed and a large arena set up. After warming up on a long rein we ran through Prelim 17 three or four times. Dad was very pleased that I was forward going and all but once got the canter transitions correct. We warmed down on a long rein in the twilight.

We came in to cool off, be groomed and given tea. I can tell Dad is wondering whether to enter Prelim 16 or 17 at Solihull next month or perhaps in January. I hope he does; cobs do enjoy a Christmas party.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Quietening the mind

As anticipated, Dibby and I were given the day off today. Dad put us out to graze shortly after 8.00 and we stayed out until 4.45. He could tell I had eaten more grass than usual since the glands on my neck were a little enlarged. We came in to be groomed and have Tecsin applied to our hooves before tea. Cobs find that quiet time in the field encourages a quiet mind.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

God bless Dessie

Dad was sad and subdued today because the great and much-loved Desert Orchid had passed away overnight at the age of 27. Dessie was Both Dads' all-time favourite: one Gold Cup, four King George VI Chases and 34 wins out of 71 runs. A joy to behold whose like we shall never see again.

Anyway, life - however prosaic - continues, so making the most of the weather before it broke, we schooled alone this morning, whilst Dibby had the day off. We worked with music concentrating on roundness and getting and remaining on the bit. We began with the usual stretching exercises on a long rein and then went up into medium walk and trot. We did some lateral work and then circles and oblongs in trot and going large, finishing with some canter.

At the end of the session we did a long warm-down with Dad working on relaxation and soft eyes, getting me to relax too.

We came in for grooming and an apple and then Dibby and I went out for the afternoon. By the time it was growing dark, it had started to drizzle and we were glad to be in for tea. I suspect we may have the day off tomorrow, but who knows. A cob's life isn't always predictable.

God bless, Dessie.

Monday, November 13, 2006


The morning was dry but very blustery. We went in the school and worked around fences -some of which had been blown over. We used the opportunity to practice relaxation and did lots of work in walk with leg yield, half halts, halt transitions and shoulder in. We progressed up to trotting around the arena on the bit and tried a little canter on both reins.

Dad was pleased with my increasing softness and roundness on the bit in a snaffle.

We spent the afternoon grazing and came in when it was getting dark at 4.30. Dad was relieved that although I had a strong wind under my tail for most of our session I had been very disciplined and obedient; cobs do restraint.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


As predicted, we schooled again this morning. Since someone else was in the school initially, we exercised without music. We loosened up on a long rein but with a decent contact and went up into medium walk whilst trying to stay on the bit.

Dad concentrated on breathing and relaxation and worked on his position as we manoeuvred around the fences in the arena. We also trotted concentrating on roundness and did only a little canter. We finished off walking around with Dibby with Dad trying to hold the reins higher and more forward once I had softened.

We came in to grooming and tea at 4.15 before the rain. I had another small overreach, this time on my near fore which Dad bathed in salt water and treated with purple spray. He was a little confused as to how I managed this, since I had been put out in my overreach boots as a precaution, but then cobs are ingenious

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Not machines

Dibby and I were given the day off today - which was nice. Cobs do like a nice catch phrase.

When we came in I was a little excited and Dad could tell from the overreach which needed treatment on my near hind that I had been running around. It was bathed in salt water and had purple spray applied.

I calmed down when plied with mints and groomed and expect to be back in the school tomorrow morning. Still we're not machines; cobs are only human, you know.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cobs rule

When Dad arrived at 10.15, I was lying down in my stable and he came in and sat next to me on the straw, had a chat and gave me some minties.

Trying to build on the good work yesterday, we schooled again to music this morning whilst it was bright and dry. We worked in walk with some leg-yield and in trot on a twenty metre circle and going large trying to sustain roundness on the bit. We schooled alongside Dibby for some of the time and then both went out to graze for the afternoon.

We came in at 4.30 or so as it was getting gloomy and before the forecast rain started.

Referring back to my visit from Dad in my stable this morning, I think in the eighteenth century, when royalty received visitors like that, it was called a "levee"; hence the phrase "cobs rule", I suppose.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


After a couple of days off, we went back in the school this morning. It was dry and sunny and we again worked to music with plenty of walk and trot and later some canter. We focussed on roundness with lots of leg yield and shoulder in and tried to go right around the school on the bit. I struck off on the correct leg in canter each time and so Dad was pleased.

Dibby joined us after a while and we walked together and worked in a circle for a while.

Dad gave me a massage when we came in and then we spent the afternoon out in the field.

Because we went out quite late Dad let us graze until 5.00. It was getting dark by the time we came in to be groomed and given tea. We didn't mind getting back to work; cobs are quite industrious.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Both Dads came at 8.30 and put Dibby and me out to graze in our rugs. They prepared our stables and left fresh haylage and water before driving off to Catherton Common above Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire to visit Dibby's previous owners Jo and Chris.

They walked on the common with Jo and Chris and their dogs and and visited Chris's eventer Sparky and Jo's new cob Johnson. Johnson is a lovely seven year old cob - black with a wide blaise and four white socks like me.

They had a pleasant lunch and were able to look at a video of Johnson schooling and this year's album of Dibby and me.

Becky brought us in in the afternoon and gave us our tea but Other Dad came down in the evening to see we were Ok. He skipped us out and gave us some apples, carrots and minties; so everyone was a winner. Cobs prefer win-win solutions

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Virtue rewarded

After our efforts in our group lesson last night, Dibby and I had a relaxing time in the field. We grazed, played with Paddy over the fence and came in for grooming and tea after 4.00. It was a pleasant day off; for cobs it was about the rate for the job

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dancing in the dark

After spending the day out in the field, Dibby and I came in at 4.30 to be groomed and tacked up for a group lesson with Liz at 5.30.

By the time we went out it was dark and foggy and the lights were on in the school. Our group consisted of Patch, Meg, Kamara, Dibby and me. We started with some work in walk with halt transitions to get used to the conditions which included some fireworks in the distance. We steered clear of the fence until we had grown accustomed to the gloom. Dad worked on breathing, relaxation, stretching legs, heels down, stomach in, back straight and shoulders back.

When we had warmed up a little we trotted large and in twenty metre circles at each corner and practised leg yield in walk and trot. We focussed on softness and roundness and generally remaining on the bit. My favourite part was showing lengthened strides in an extended trot on the longside - which was fun and quite exciting. Dad said I pointed my toes and did exend somewhat.

As the others walked around, we each cantered alone in a circle at the centre of the arena. I struck off on the correct leg and sustained the canter reasonably well, but we need to practice. We finished off with some good quality trot. Each member of the group behaved well and no-one shied. Our homework for the next session will be to focus on roundness and practice the canter and trot so that I can complete a whole circuit of the arena whilst still properly on the bit.

We came in to be groomed, rugged up and given an apple and minties as a treat and then tea. Dad was very pleased that I was obedient in the dark and worked well. The lesson was fun. I enjoy a group session; cobs are normally extremely sociable like that.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Dancing on Bonfire Night

We made a fairly early start for a Sunday and were in the school for 10.00. Dad played the tape again and we schooled to music, doing much more trot than usual. He was pleased with my roundness, relaxation and application and thinks schooling to music is very beneficial.

We were joined by Other Dad on Dibby and had fun working in a 20 metre circle and 20 x 40 shape together.

We spent the afternoon out and came in at about 4.00. Since it was Bonfire Night Dad came back at 8.30 or so to check we were OK and had not been upset by the noise. We were fine. He skipped us out and topped up our haylage to carry us through to our 10.00 net. We also had an apple and some minties. Cobs prefer to ignore annual rituals like Guy Fawkes Night unless they involve guaranteed treats.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Rewarding day

After a good work-out yesterday, Dibby and I enjoyed a day off in the field. It was quite cold but dry and sunny and we stayed out in our warm rugs from 9.00 until 4.00. Cobs find virtue brings its own reward.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dancing with David

A bright blue end to the week. Last night had been cold at 2 degrees or so below. Because of this and our clips Dibby and I had been put in heavier stable rugs and were quite warm enough.

Dad took me in the school at about 10.30. He had prepared a tape including music from shows such as Mack and Mable, Me and My Girl, Gypsy and Chicago for us to school to. He put the tape in a walkman and attached two small holiday speakers. It wasn't too loud but was fine for our purposes working on a 40 x 20 area.

We worked mainly in walk and trot with only a little canter. It was fun regulating our work to suit certain tempos and seeing if tunes fitted my paces. Certain of the pieces suited my way of going better: All that Jazz and Mr Cellophane from Chicago, Side by Side from Company, You'll Never get Away from Me from Gypsy and Every Breath you Take not surprisingly by Puff Daddy. We practised dancing for an hour or so, with Dibby joining in and then went for a walk around the field in the sunshine.

We spent the afternoon grazing and came in at 5.00 for grooming and tea. We may not be up to Bonfire's standard, but cobs do like to have a go.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Clipped and demonstrative

Another bright blue morning. Claire came at 10.00 and gave me a full clip and then Dibby. We were brushed down and put out to graze. When Dibby joined me he rolled and jumped up squeaking and bucking, just like it was Spring. Who says cobs are not demonstrative?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Avoiding confrontation

The morning was clear and cool with a blue sky. We went in the school alone for thirty minutes or so and worked in walk. Dad was focussing on using gentler and more subtle rein aids and trying to get me to relax and take the contact forward and down. This worked quite well - in our terms, anyway.

Dad was also able to work on his position, breathing and relaxation whilst keeping his back straight, stomach in, shoulders back, legs stretched, hands up and forward and heels down. We did some good work and came in.

Dibby and I spent the afternoon out until 4.30 or so. Dad and I aren't really clear if any of this will translate into dressage tests, but is certainly a more pleasant way of riding for us both with much less tension or confrontation. Cobs can manage quite well without confrontation.