The unspoiled world of senior cobs, David and Master Dibble

Location: United Kingdom

Friday, July 31, 2009

Elusive joys

Today Dad felt a bit weary and aching after schooling me yesterday without wearing his normal chaps. One had broken as he tried to put it on. He has such good hands. Anyway, his legs are sore and he now understands why chaps are worn!

We went out to graze without rugs. Copying Dibby, I soon removed my fly mask. Strangely, I noticed later in the day how much I was being troubled by flies around my face and eyes. Funny that.

Dad brought us in about four once he had prepared our beds, water, hay and teas. It's so important to have good staff, I find.

The continuous wet weather is already affecting our frogs and so, after picking and brushing out our hooves, he applied Tecsin - so we have fetching jade green soles. Then, we were groomed and Dad gave me thirty minutes on the TENs machine, which I found therapeutic.

Dibby and I enjoyed today; Dad looks knackered. I admit the joys of owning a cob are sometimes somewhat elusive.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rug free

After yesterday's downpours, Thursday started brighter, if rather windy. Dibby seemed to have no more ill effects from his sedation and was his usual self. Dad found another reservoir of water inside my lightweight rug and managed to empty it, so perhaps it can start drying out now. We went out rug free, but Dad put me in my fly mask to see if I would keep it on. He has given up on Dibby's mask for now since he just won't tolerate it. Such rebelliousness for such a senior cob.

After a showery day, we came in at 4.30 and Dad took me into the school. We shared the arena with Bailey for a while and did our usual routine of lengthening and softening adding flexions, leg-yield. shoulder-in and fore with transitions , some rein-back and trot straight and in circles of various sizes. I eventually concentrated and softened and we cantered a little on both reins, although it wasn't sustained enough.

Dad thinks he needs to be even more ordered and purposeful in the schooling and to persevere at particular manoeuvres longer, rather than changing too soon when things aren't going well.

Overall, he was pleased where we ended up particularly after such a disrupted week and thought the session worthwhile.

After a good hose down and groom, I enjoyed some minties and my tea. Tea should be the highlight of any true cob's day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Both Dads came to check on Dibbs last night and cool-hosed him gently some more and walked him. He had settled down by evening hay time at ten and he was comfortable this morning. So a better start to the day, other than the heavy rain. The inclemency put pay to any schooling and we went out in our light mackintoshes to graze free from flies.

When we came in we were soaked through. Interestingly, the water seemed to have leached into my rug and was swishing around as though I was wearing a very large hot water bottle. By the time I came in it was very wet and incredibly heavy and had to be turned upside down and "emptied" rather than dried. Dad said some horses might have panicked with such a heavy weight slapping and sloshing around them without explanation, so he gave me extra minties for being a brave and sensible cob. All quite bizarre for July. Perhaps it was that wet St. Swithin's Day after all.

Once inside, we were toweled down, groomed and put in our aertex cooler rugs for our temperatures to normalise before tea.

Dibby managed to roll in his cooler rug and since it had no leg straps it ended up over his head and he had to be rescued. Dad made a mental note never to leave us in those rugs unsupervised even for an hour. For a senior cob Dibby has managed to give both Dads quite an interesting few days.

On the quiet, after yesterday we quite enjoyed the inclement Wednesday; cobs don't really mind warm rain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not all glamour

On the delicate subject of cleansing Dibby's, shall we say "undercarriage", the time had come this morning the take the matter in hand.

Unlike my own which conveniently puts in an appearance more or less when required, Dibby's undercarriage was much more shy and retiring, as befitted a senior cob of considerable dignity and gravitas.

After consulting the vet, Dad gave Dibbs the recommended dose of Sedalin which was supposed to bring the item on question into view. When this did not work, he administered some more and then more. With Dibby eventually thoroughly sedated, it emerged and Dad was able to attend to his task very gently with warm soapy water and a sponge and it was soon done.

Given the heavy sedation, Dibby was kept in for the afternoon. Dad brought me in to join him when I became agitated at being alone when the adjoining fields emptied at lunchtime. We stood in for a while and when Dibby had come round properly, we went out into the field for an hour later on.

When Dad came to bring us in, he was concerned that Dibby was swollen and needed to get advice from the vet as to how to treat the problem. He was advised to apply ice or cold towels and cold-hosed the area very gently as well as walking, which seemed to help.

Some horses, it seems, ocasionally have a reaction to ACP like this. What a shame it has to happen to Dibby, who so intensely dislikes anyone getting too close to that area. Not a pleasant day for anyone concerned.

On a lighter note, Dad said he didn't remember seeing pictures of Carl or Anky in their marigolds in Horse & Hound. As he found today, a cob's life is not all glamour.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Waxing lyrical

No more carpentry for Dad this morning. We just went out to graze as the pattern of mugginess and heavy showers continued. Cricket is still exiled away from us due to Muzzlegate and Dibby and I are on our own. At least we have each other and can talk to the Shetlands over the fence.

Showers continued on and off during the afternoon and we came in at 4.30. It was brighter now and Dad tacked me up and took me into the school whilst Other Dad hacked Dibby down the lane and back.

We had the arena to ourselves and the surface was reasonably firm after the showers.

We warmed up on a long rein and then worked on flexions and softening on a thirty metre circle for a change with transitions to halt-walk and rein-back and trot sitting and rising on both reins.

We went up to canter both ways on the correct leg most times and Dad tried to improve my inside bend and get me more between leg and hand and to sit up in canter to stay as deep in the saddle as possible.

Quite a few horses and people were coming and going but I concentrated so Dad was pleased.

We finished just as Dibby returned and so we went in to be sponged down and given tea. After a muggy morning and wet afternoon, the evening ended pleasant with a cool breeze. Cobs can wax lyrical sometimes.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


A dismal start to the day, dull, dark, dank and drizzling. Cobs are fond of alliteration. When Dad arrived before nine he found Edward had kicked some long fencing rails down overnight and the fence was left invitingly open. Once Other Dad arrived to assist, Dad had a go at running repairs with his hammer and pliers before we could be put out to graze. When that was done and we were out, he could attend to our stables, water and feeds. Such are the privileges and entitlements of cob ownership.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Quiet sunny Saturday

As forecast this morning was dry and sunny. Both Dads came at nine and put us out to enjoy the sunshine.
There were lots of horse flies about and we had to wear our fly rugs. Fortunately, being black I can carry off the pale blue.

When we went in the field, I wandered off as usual to graze. Dibby, of course, wanted extra carrots and fuss and to be photographed with Other Dad.

Our field has been topped again and looks smart. It's important to make the most of it before the winter. Shame Cricket isn't with us to share it, but he has taught Bailey next door to remove his muzzle and he's in a paddock on his own for the moment.

We came in at five for grooming and tea. A quiet day and a quiet mind: not to be sneezed at for a cob or anyone really

Friday, July 24, 2009


Dad gave up trying to find a gap between the showers in which to ride yesterday and so we all had the day off. Some on the yard were sufficiently organised or brave to go in the school, so Dad felt guilty. I didn't. Cobs don't really do guilt. I find it much healthier that way.

Today, we came in about four amidst towering dark blue rain clouds. For once Netherwood seemed to be in a dry patch and so Dad quickly tacked me up and took me into the school.

We schooled for forty minutes or so around the fences whilst Rosa and then Bonnie had lessons at the other end of the arena. We were joined by William and Dad found me more distracted by the company than usual - although perhaps I just wanted my tea. I guess we will be working on that in the future.

We practised in walk and trot with leg yield, shoulder in/fore and halt-walk-trot transitions and some rein-back. I softened quite well and my sitting trot was consistent and relaxed. We didn't canter today, given the volume of traffic around and about and my variable steering - probably for the best. Dad was pleased with the session - particularly since he thought the rain would intervene.

When we came in Dad took me into the wash box for a hose down. A vet visiting another horse passed and greeted Dad. Looking around the yard in which Dad was the only man, he joked "You're a rare breed here".

Dad smiled, nodded and said, "Yes, rare and endangered."

Fortunately, cobs don't really understand cynicism.

After minties it was time for tea. I knew I was right not to feel guilty yesterday. Usually being right is a cob thing too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Il pleut...some more

Yet another wet morning. Hope it has nothing to do with that rainy St Swithin's Day last week or we have forty or so more damp days to endure. Out to graze by ten or so. Not cold, so rug-free and just a dab or two of Channel # 5 fly spray. A perfunctory mutual groom and then heads down for the grass.

We came in at four and stood whilst our stables and teas were readied.

Since the rain had abated, Dad took me into the school. The surface had benefited from all that rain and was much firmer. We practised walk, trot and canter with lots of transitions rein-back and leg-yield. We shared the school with Molly and then Sport, who was having a lesson and I concentrated well and wasn't distracted.

Dad was pleased that my walk had more purpose and energy and that I softened reasonably well.

My canter transitions went off on the correct leg and I bent to the inside quite well. Dad tried hard to sit into the canter as he had been told in our last lesson.

We warmed down on a long rein in both directions and again Dad was pleased that I walked into it energetically. We came in after forty minutes in time for minties and tea. Cobs like giving a pleasant surprise occasionally.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Il pleut...

Plans for schooling this morning and later in the day were put on hold due to the ongoing inclemency. So Dad got to attend to our stables and prepare our feeds and water. Dibby and I got to graze in the July rain, be groomed and eat our tea and hay. Seemed a good deal to me.

Monday, July 20, 2009


After yesterday's exertions we enjoyed the day off. No fly-rugs, fringes or mackintoshes: nude. Cobtastic.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

By the gate

Sunday lesson with Fran

Dibby and I stayed in our stables with some hay this morning. Dad came at ten and groomed and tacked me up. We warmed up for twenty minutes or so before Fran arrived, which was useful.
After a little stretching, we walked on both reins with flexions in and out and lots of inside leg into outside rein. Dad added some halt transitions to confirm my roundness when I was on the brink of sticking my head in the air.
He then shortened the rein and didn't let me take my head so low and we moved up to trot. Although Dad had been pleased with the improved quality of the walk, he was disappointed with the inconsistency and resistance in trot and the way my nose stuck out. When he gets dispirited about things like that he says I'm "ungenerous."

He had to take lots of flexions and use a lot of leg to improve it. Exhausting. This needs real work if we are ever going to get to that mythical Prelim test. It explains why so many teachers have just given up on us both. Fortunately, Fran is prepared to keep trying and Dad will keep plugging away.
After some prolonged work in trot we went up to canter on both reins. Dad has to work on the quality of trot and to bend me both ways to stop me running away. He needs to sit into the canter to control it, even if it means I take it as an excuse to fall out into trot. He will experiment with not carrying a crop in canter and see what difference that makes. I sometimes went into canter from walk. I thought this was just being helpful and showing a bit of initiative, but when I do that we have to return to trot and I have to do the canter transition when instructed: spoilsports.

We finished the session with walk and trot on a long rein. I stretched my neck down well and Dad was pleased.

So it was a mixed session with some good walk and variable trot and canter. Dad was disappointed with my lack of consistency in trot and will concentrate on improving this.

This was particularly clear after watching so many clinics recently where the horses were assumed to have an established outline and be round and on the bit without any battle of wills. We have a distance to go to achieve an acceptable degree of submission, but will keep trying.

We certainly have a long list of things to work on before our next lesson on 1 August.

After being hosed down, I joined Dibby in the field and made up for lost time grazing. I think Dad was left with more to think about from the lesson than me. I suppose he was right: from his perspective, sometimes cobs can be ungenerous.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

David's World

Here's a watercolour version of a snap of Dibby and me in the field yesterday. Dad says it reminds him of a favourite painting by Andrew Wyeth in 1948 called "Christina's World", which he saw in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Apparently, this was in the days before horses, when he could afford to go there.

Rising above such remarks, I would comment that most horses might assume the painting was in oils or even a detailed watercolour. This simple cob however would suggest that Wyeth's medium was tempura on a gessoed panel.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Satisfactory Friday

After schooling two day's running and with rain forecast, we were given the day off and put out to graze in our light mackintoshes. This prompted general rejoicing and a bout of mutual grooming.

From the field we could see the posher horses participating in the Spencer Wilton clinic in the school during the day - all bendy necks, crispy cantering and everything.

Not much to add. We came in before the heavier rain in the late afternoon to be groomed and given tea. From a cob's perspective, a satisfactory Friday. Work resumes tomorrow, I guess.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

After school

The weather was forecast to be good at first today with rain in the late afternoon and we were put out to graze early. Dad brought me in after he had finished the stables at about 1.30.

We went into the school and had company during our session, including Tod, Gem and Jethro. Everyone just got on with their schooling and were very well behaved.
We carried on working on softness and roundness, much the same as yesterday. Again I found the flies difficult. I'm sure they bother me more than other horses, but that may be paranoia, itself an unusually long word for a cob.

My irritability meant that rein back was occasionally quite exciting.

We ran (literally at times) through Prelim 1 for a change. Dad was pleased with the canter transitions but disappointed with the way it fell apart and my general wobbliness. We will return to it quietly and go through each element separately before trying to tie it all together again - or that's the plan anyway.

After schooling, we came in and I was untacked and given an apple. It took two hosing downs to cool me off today. I had half an hour with the tens machine to soothe my back. I only shook it off onto the concrete floor once. With my fly rug on Other Dad put me out again for an hour or so with Dibby. Dad took a snap of us going out. I'm the serious one on the left.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Drawing the line

Clipped and in our fly rugs, we went out to graze this morning. As with much of July, we saw a mixture of sunshine, wind and showers of rain. We cheered ourselves up with some mutual grooming up in the corner.

We came in at about four. Dad took me in the school for forty minutes. We shared with Honey and Kai for a while. We continued to work as last time, but I was troubled by flies and it affected my concentration. We worked on straightness and inside bend large in walk and trot. We practised transitions, sitting trot and rein back and went up into canter reasonably consistently on the correct leg.

I was relieved to come in and have a long cool hose down before tea. Cobs are amiable and believe in live and let live, but draw the line at horse flies.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dibby's celebratory roll ~ in seven easy steps

First: find a suitable spot in which to roll - preferably flat with a little dust or loose earth to adhere to a damp coat.
Secondly: move around the chosen spot animatedly to announce that rolling is about to be enjoyed.
Thirdly: gingerly lower oneself with front legs first - with the dignity appropriate to a senior cob - to enable rolling to commence.
Fourthly : with considerable energy, fling one's body from one side to the other, creating a pleasurable pressure on the back and sides and a sense of freedom.

Fifthly: complete the rolling manouvre, taking care to throw the legs surprisingly high and to wave the tail.
Sixthly: after an enthusiastic roll to the right and back to the left, stand up and regain balance, followed by a generous shake from head to tail.

And finally, swish the tail and canter off sqeaking to celebrate the freedom from hair, a refreshing bath and a jolly good roll worthy of a senior cob.

Dibby's clipped too

Becky clipped Dibby next. Like me Dibby was quite hairy and very relieved to be relieved of his coat. As a senior cob he behaved well during his clip and stood quietly; he would have been most offended at any suggestion of a twitch. He looked very smart.
After his clip Dad gave Dibby a bath and then put him out to join us in the field.

Clipped-out and then out, clipped

The sharpened blades duly arrived in the post and Dibby and I were clipped this morning. I went first and Dad gave me a shampoo as soon as I was done. I went out in the field with Cricket without my fly rug to dry off and waited for Dibby. Cobs do like a haircut.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Baby cobby steps

Quiet start to the week. Ken's clinic continued in the school and Other Dad put us out to graze before nine.

Dibby had managed to rip his fly rug in record time and Other Dad took it to Sally to repair. Fortunately she was able to attend to it on the spot, so Dibbs will have some protection when the flies get worse again as they assuredly will.

Dad took me in the school after we had stood for a while on coming in. We worked on rounding and bendy necks with leg yield, shoulder fore and lots of transitions. He had to be quite firm with some outside flexions until I started to co-operate and stopped setting my neck/jaw against his hand. When I softened so did he. Funny that.

Other Dad came into the school to watch and flag up when I was or wasn't straight or round which was a great help. He also stood in front to monitor straightness as we practised rein back.

Dad was pleased that this consistent work and some sitting trot made me soft and round well before the end of our session. He hopes that we will be able to go through the same routine before our next lesson with Fran and have a longer time round in the lesson. It will be interesting to see what we might be able to do with that.

Then in for an apple and tea before it rained. Cobs are good at appreciating progress, however small - a few baby cobby steps towards a bendy neck and a Prelim test.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Happy Birthday Other Dad! The glorious birthday dawned a tad dull but warm with the odd shower. Dad came and sorted us out - syringed Dibby's molars with water as best he could - groomed, doused in fly spray and put us out to graze by 9.15 or so.
Ken's clinic continued in the school, but Dibby and I aren't joining in this time round. Dad and I will have to practice bendy necks a little more and see if there's any point. Unlikely, but Dad says we shall keep trying. At least I think that's what he meant when he said "Cobs are trying."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Meet me on the corner...

Funny Saturday morning alternating between July sunshine and drizzle. Quite humid and appealing to the horse flies.

Put out after breakfast. We could see Ken's clinic continuing in the school. After a graze we stood at the corner at the highest point in the field to catch the breeze and ward off flies by swishing each other with our tails: an example of co-operation amongst cobs for their mutual benefit.

Dad says there is an old song by Lindisfarne called "Meet me on the Corner." He will probably sing it to me when we are next schooling. I prefer acid house, although Dibby admits he quite likes early Fairport Convention.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wet snap

A dry and warm morning. Dad tacked me up and took me into the school at about 9.30. Other Dad took Dibby on a hack over the Warwick Road for an hour or so

We warmed up on a long rein longish and lowish and covered most things -some leg yield, shoulder -in and fore, transitions, rein back and sitting and rising trot.

Generally we worked on softening and rounding - and squashing horseflies which were numerous despite the breeze.

Ken was teaching in the school at the same time and between lessons asked how we were getting on. Hopefully, we will be ready to have another lesson on a future visit, when we have worked on consolidating softness and a more consistently round outline.

For a change, Dad worked in walk and trot without stirrups for fifteen minutes or so . It was then interesting to put the stirrups back down and work on a much bouncier trot and go up to crispy canterings for a few circles.

Overall, Dad was pleased with the session and we came in for an apple and cool hose down -which is why I look wet in today's snap. Damp or not, cobs enjoy a photo opportunity.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Quiet day in the field. Quiet Dibby, quiet Dads and quiet me. Not unlike the Quakers, sometimes cobs do quiet.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

With the Shetlands

We had visitors in the field today and welcomed the Shetlands who normally live in the starvation paddock next door. My sources haven't said yet whether they were put in here or had made another of their daring escapes - for which they are well-known in Shetland circles.
Our visitors - known to their friends as William and Scooby - seemed intent on the grass and didn't have time to explain their presence. To a cob, this priority seems entirely reasonable

Since the clipper blades had still not materialised, no haircut for me today and we stayed out until after four. By then it was still bright and dry and Dad took me into the school for forty minutes or so.

The surface had just been levelled and we had the top end in front of the mirrors to ourselves whilst Honey schooled in the other half. We practiced the things covered in our lesson on Sunday, including transitions, leg yield and shoulder in/fore. The transition from halt straight to trot is hard. We worked large and on smaller circles and in rising and sitting trot.

We were troubled by the odd fly, but Dad made me work through this - and a degree of irritability about missing my tea. We finished off with stretching work long and low in walk and rising trot

By the end I was reasonably consistently soft and round-ish. After a hose down and some minties, I had tea. I suppose expecting three days off in a row would have been too optimistic. Above most things, cobs are realists.